Rapid City Stevens coach Travis King had good reason to experience a degree of satisfaction when the 2017 Rapid City Invitational wrestling tournament wrapped up on Saturday afternoon at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.
Last year Stevens finished sixth in the team standings, trailing event winner Pierre by a substantial 102.5 points (235.5-133). This time around it was but a narrow two-point margin (194-192) that separated the Raiders from the three-time state champions.
“We are trying to knock off the giant, winners of five of the last six state titles. They have set the standard; still have great quality kids and we are trying to catch up,” King said. “That we’ve been able to narrow the gap some is an indication of hard work from top to bottom and a credit to our kids.”
Pins (a tournament leading 29) and a couple of individual titles by the Turman twins, Lincoln (120 pounds) and William (132), along with a couple of runner-up finishes pushed the Governors over the top while giving notice that the road to a 2018 Class A state title will likely still go through Pierre.
“We have been absolute staples in our lineup the last four or five years, and that’s kind of a testament to what they do, they find ways to win matches,” said Pierre coach Shawn Lewis. “Anytime you can pull off a win at the Rapid City Invite, you have to be pleased. What impressed me most with our kids is that we wrestled better than last week, and that was our goal coming in. To have a better showing than we did last week and let the chips fall where they may.”
Though Pierre and Stevens separated from the pack to a certain degree, balance prevailed elsewhere as Rapid City Central (154.5) edged Aberdeen Central (150) and Bismarck (149) for third place.
The individual competition exemplified similar balance with 11 different teams represented on the top step of the podium, as only Pierre, Hettinger N.D., and Thunder Basin, Wyo., were able to capture two individual crowns.
One of the Pierre titles came in one of the most anticipated matches of the day pitting William Turman, a three-time state champion, against Rapid City Stevens senior Spencer Stockman, the reigning Class A 126-pound champion.
Turman won the match in what may be a sneak peak at a state tournament pairing, using a first period single-leg takedown and a third period reversal enroute to a 4-2 decision in the 132-pound title match.
“I knew he was good on top and would be tough to keep down, so I had to win the takedown race to pull the match out,” Turman said. “In the third period, I was pretty tired, and I was just trying to get one (point), but I saw a chance to get two, so I hooked a leg and jerked him and rode him out to win.”
Two other Raiders advanced to the finals as well. Sophomore Declan Malone, who fell behind early and was unable to recover in dropping a 5-1 decision to top-seeded Eli Fischer (Milbank), and senior Dante Colisceski who resuscitated Raider pride with a 3-0 decision over Huron’s Wyatt Larsen at 182.
Colicheski jumped out to a 2-0 first-period lead, went up 3-0 with a second period escape, and kept Larsen at bay thereafter.
“These guys are really strong at 82, so I don’t like to get close and tie up with them,” Colicheski said. “And I’m definitely an aggressor, so it’s hard to shoot on me and score points. We’ve been working more on my takedowns this year, and fortunately he bit on the single.”
Other Raiders with top five finishes included Cody Stockman (fifth, 113), Cody BeVier (third, 126), Cooper Voorhees (third, 145) and Zechariah Patterson (fourth, 285).
In another battle of unbeatens, Rapid City Central’s Kolby Kost dropped a tightly contested 7-5 decision to Casper Natrona's (Wyo.) 152-pound champion Brett Brenton, who won the tournament “outstanding wrestler” award.
Cael Larson (third, 106), Bridger Kraye (third, 182), Mathais Thompson (220), and Ty Olson (285) capped off a solid weekend with top five place finishes.
A couple of Sturgis standouts ended the day on a sad note as well. State Class A 145 champion Brailey Brengle dropped a semifinal match earlier in the day and had to settle for sixth, and Joel Carpenter, top-seeded at 220, fell to Terren Swartz of Thunder Basin by fall (4:00).
Stone Durham (St. Thomas More) placed fourth at 160, Garrett Heil (Hot Springs) was fourth at 182 and Kody Hagen (Hot Springs) earned a fifth-place medal at 145.
The most dominant performance of the weekend was turned in by Chamberlain's Nash Hutmacher, the reigning Class A 285 titleist. Currently ranked sixth in the nation at 285, the impressive sophomore cruised through five matches recording five pins in a combimed time of 11:03. So dominant has Hutmacher been during his prep career that he had to ponder a moment before remembering when he last lost a match.
“I last lost three years ago, I think, my 8th grade year at state,” Hutmacher said. “It’s been a while I guess. To win here is a great start to the year. I’m looking to do the same stuff that I did last year but improve on it.”
Other champions crowned on Saturday included Reece Osborne (Sheridan, 6-2 dec. over Jace Bench-Bresher, Pierre); Kyle Burwick (Hettinger, 6-2 dec. over Ryan Ripplinger, Bismarck); Cale Schalesky (Hettinger, 10-8 dec. over Tyson Stoebner, Lennox); Devin Steidler (Bismarck, 4-3 dec. over Michael Lusk, Pierre); Trevor Jeffries (Thunder Basin, 4-1 dec. over TahJae Jenkins-Harris, Huron); Collin Haar (Aberdeen Central, SV-1 3-1 over Briggs Havlik, Mitchell); Nick Casperson (Beresford/Hudson-Alcester, 8-1 dec. over Matthew Kahlor, Bismarck Legacy); Nash Hutmacher (Chamberlain, fall 2:36 over Kaden Johnson, Aberdeen Central).