Three of the four top teams in Class A wrestling matched up in dual action on Thursday night, preceding the big Rapid City Invitational today and Saturday.

When the mats cleared, Aberdeen Central lived up to its No. 2 billing, defeating third-ranked Rapid City Central (43-24) and fourth-ranked Sturgis (34-32) at Howard Naasz Gymnasium.

In other dual action, Rapid City Central defeated Huron 48-21, and in a quick moving match featuring nine pins, Sturgis fell to Huron 42-39.

In a battle of the Centrals to open the evening, Aberdeen used pins by Jacob Moore (106 pounds) and Victor Padilla (126), plus a Cobbler forfeit (120) to grab an early 18-5 lead, with Rapid City points coming on a technical fall (19-4) win at 113 by TJ Morrison. It was the first of two wins by the 8th grader on the night and a nice follow-up to a championship at last weekend’s Mandan Lions tournament.

“I got taken down early and I just found my base and got to my feet and then took him down and turned him,” said Morrison of his win over Aberdeen’s Daymon Steuck, after giving up an early takedown and trailing in the match. “I just catch their wrist and tilt them up. I’ve maybe surprised myself a little bit so far, but I’ve been working hard and I’m pretty proud of what I’ve done so far.”

Wins by Braydon Burrus (fall, 1:48) and a Blake Anderson 10-2 major decision at 160 drew the Cobblers to within 25-21 before the Nelson twins (both top-ranked in their division) took over for Aberdeen. Braiden decisioned Cobbler Zach Solano 5-2 at 170 and Bradley, the defending 182-pound state champion, won by first period fall over Anthony Knodell.

Following another Aberdeen win at 195, a Jake Flakus 8-2 decision over Mathais Thompson, Timmy Paris, the top-ranked grappler at 220, won a tight match over Aberdeen’s Trajan LaRocque 2-1, before Aberdeen’s Austin Maunu pinned Donavan Spencer at 285 to close out the match.

“We have to focus on the basics,” Cobbler coach Lance Pearson said. “It’s a little discouraging in that maybe we are trying to do too many big things. And we have to do a little better job of knowing where we are in the match. A couple of times we wrestled ourselves back into a match and then got too aggressive and gave it away.”

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The Cobblers bounced back utilizing bonus points to topple the Tigers. Morrison, Kadyn Kraye (126), Riley McSherry (145), Solano, Paris and Spencer won by fall. Cael Larson (106) posted a technical fall win and Anderson  won his second match of the evening by major decision.

For Sturgis, an inability to fill the 285-pound division proved the Scoopers undoing as in both matches, wins by No. 1 ranked Joel Carpenter (220) vaulted Sturgis into the lead, only to see the dual win slip away due to a six-point forfeit in the final match.

“We came out flat and maybe weren’t quite ready to go against Huron,” Sturgis coach Mike Abell said. “But against Aberdeen, Joel Carpenter had a big win and Jake Sailer battled against the No. 1 kid and Jeremiah Palmer had a pin so we had a lot of bright spots. We have a lot of green in our lineup and have a lot of areas to work on and we will get a little better every day.”

The duals served as a fitting prelude to this weekend’s Rapid City Invite which kicks off today at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. The annual two-day event will feature 36 teams and some of the best wrestlers in South Dakota, North Dakota and Wyoming. The action begins today at 2 p.m. and continues on Saturday morning at 8 a.m.

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