Cael Larson doesn't want to just be a part of the Rapid City Central wrestling team, he wants to leave his mark.
In many ways, the 106-pound wrestler already has.
Larson won at 106 at the Les Tulustos Invitational in Brookings over the weekend by taking down Nolan Archer from Brookings 14-2.
"The goal was to get my offensive going, get my attacks in," Larson said of the weekend. "I knew I’d come out on top and that’s what I got."
The win moved him to 45-2 on the season, and the weekend put him within sniffing distance of a goal that he set at the start of the season.
The Class A take-down record for South Dakota is 256, Larson is now at 222. By the time the season is over, he wants there to be a new Class A take-down record.
"I want to achieve something, I like take downs and offense so that’s what I wanted," Larson said. "I like to pick goals out and go for them."
Those goals extend beyond this season. The freshman wants to etch his name in Cobbler lore when he's done.
"I want to dominate people and put points up on the board. I want to be a four time state champion," he said.
Larson was called up wrestle at the 106 varsity level when he was in seventh grade. His drive was one of the first things Central coach Lance Pearson noticed about him when he was called up.
"Even when we pulled him up as a seventh grader he had high expectations for himself," Larson said. "He’s always been a wrestling gym rat, that’s his sport. He works on it year round, he does offseason tournaments, he’s in at every open mat that we have, he’ll sometimes go hit one on the other side of town, or he might hit one in another town. He’s very focused on what he wants to accomplish."
The old Cobbler take-down record was 130, which Larson has sailed by. He has two more regular season duals before the state tournament in Sioux Falls to accomplish his goal.
Although he was called up young, the road hasn't always been easy for Larson. While he is one of the larger kids in his class now, Pearson said when he started he was one of the smallest kids in the smallest varsity weight class and it showed.
"He was a small 106-pounder, definitely his first year we were just above the legal weight limit. That’s a tough weight class, when you’re giving up 10, 15, 20 pounds at that weight it’s almost 10, 15, 20 percent of your body weight," Pearson said. "I think all those battles and those tests he had those first few years have made him be where he is today. He’s very determined, he knows he’s one of the bigger 106-pounders so he wants to take advantage of that.
"He’s wrestling very confidently and he does have some very lofty goals that you need to have if you want to do the type of things he wants to do in his high school career."
He's rolled through his matches this season as well. In addition to his last weekend in Brookings, he's also won the Bismarck Rotary, the Mandan Lions Invitational, went 7-0 at the Pat Weede Tournament in Gillette, Wyoming, 5-1 at the nationally renowned The Clash National Dual Tournament in Rochester, Minnesota.
That came from an offseason of hard work, already a take-down artist, he worked on moves with his bottom half and was able to bulk up to the point where he wasn't only not getting pushed around, he was doing the pushing.
He plans to keep pushing.
"It doesn’t really matter who he’s wrestling, whether it’s the first round or the championship he’s trying to get five, six, seven take-downs whenever he’s out there," Pearson said.
Central travels to take on Campbell County, Wyoming Thursday before ending the regular season with a dual against its cross-town rival, Rapid City Stevens Feb. 8.
Other athletes considered:
Juneau Jones, Rapid City Central girls' basketball: Jones had a career night Friday in a 58-38 win over Scottsbluff, Nebraska. She had 12 steals, which set a Cobbler single game record, to go along with 19 points, seven rebounds, four assists and one block.
Jaedyn Finkbeiner, New Underwood girls' basketball: In a blowout win against Harding County Saturday, Finkbeiner was a solid combination inside and outside on offense and was able to grab rebounds in a 67-29 win.
Finkbeiner had 24 points and 11 rebounds as New Underwood moved to 11-2 on the season.
Ryan Nolan, Rushmore Thunder boys' hockey: Nolan had a huge game in the Thunder's 10-1 win Friday over Fremont, Nebraska.
Nolan scored two goals and registered four assists. He leads the Thunder in points with 26 (13 goals, 13 assists) second in the South Dakota Amateur Hockey Association behind Spencer Wedin of the Oahe Capitals who has 28.