The Bismarck Demons have been a model of consistency when it comes to competition on the mat, but injuries and emerging talent around the state are challenging the defending five-time state champs.

The Bismarck Rotary Tournament can be a measuring stick for where you’re at as a team, but a fourth-place finish is far from the norm for the Bismarck Demons. Signs of improvement presented themselves throughout the weekend.

“Some guys out at the tournament,” says Co-Head Coach Jeff Schumacher. “They are working out the next morning and stuff, asking questions, trying to get better, and I felt we are. Plus, I felt it was a really strong performance for ourselves on Saturday morning.”

Now into the dual season, it’s all about getting the best out of each wrestler. That’s basically a guarantee when you’re talking junior LJ Araujo, who’s taking on new challenges this year.

“We feel we can throw him anywhere,” says Schumacher. “We really feel we can throw him anywhere. And he’s been awesome about it. Asking what am I wrestling this weekend? We’re going to put you at this weight class, we’re going to give him tough competition because that’s what he wants.”

Araujo wrestled 152 at the rumble on the red, and then a few days later, moved up to 170, before finally dropping to 160 for his most recent competition at the Event Center.

“If you go out there and pin everybody right away, you’re not going to get that much better,” says junior LJ Araujo. “Even from the rotary, that guy that I wrestled in the finals, I made some mistakes and I’m going to work on them and learn from them. That’s the point of wrestling good guys, it’s to see what you’re doing wrong and work on it and get better at it”

As for the team, every point will matter. Injury issues have plagued most teams this season. Senior Tate Olson is a state title hopeful who is just coming off an injury, coming back with a message to his teammates.

“It’s a big factor,” says Senior Tate Olson. “We need our kids not to say they’re just hurt and still wrestle if it’s just a little injury, but we have to obviously sit out if we have to because we can’t risk state cause that’s the big thing. We want to win a state title again this year.”

“You’re going to come to some duals and you’re going to be wondering who’s going to win,” says Schumacher. “And so it’s the team that’s going to be ready for it and it’s the team that’s going to be most injury free.”