Perennial wrestling power Rapid City Stevens hasn’t won a State Class A wrestling title in seven years (2011). The Pierre Governors haven’t lost one in four years (2014).
Both streaks could end on Saturday at the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls as Stevens sits atop the leaderboard heading into championship Saturday.
A slim lead but a lead at that, as the Raiders behind a strong showing in the lower weight class and a gutsy performance in wrestleback, particularly on Friday night will go into Saturday morning’s semifinal action with a 3.5-point lead (88.5-85.0) lead over the three-time state champion Governors in what is clearly a two-team race for the championship trophy.
Sturgis (62.0) leads a tightly compacted field for the third spot with Rapid City Central (59.5), Aberdeen Central (58.5), Harrisburg (58.0), Huron (54.0) and Brandon Valley (51.5) all in the hunt.
Meeting high expectations in the championship round and bouncing back from adversity in the wrestlebacks typically frames opening day action, and nobody did that better on Friday than the Raiders.
The Raiders advanced six grapplers to the semis: Declan Malone (106), Cody BeVier (126), Spencer Stockman (132), Brandon Sharkey (138), Cooper Voorhees (145) and Dante Colischeski (182).
“We have six in the semis and I think we have five others still wrestling tomorrow,” Stevens coach Travis King said. “Tomorrow is where it’s at. You can only set yourself up today, but tomorrow morning with the semis is where it’s at, but overall I’m pretty happy with the way the kids battled today.”
Still alive in the wrestlebacks for Stevens are Cody Stockman (113), Logen Fischer (120, Nate Allen (152), Hunter McMath (220) and Zechariah Patterson (285), as the quintet all came up big in the evening session.
“That round tonight was so hard,” King pointed out. “Your whole season is out there and so there is so much pressure on each one of those individual matches. I like to think that part of our success is that we wrestle our shoes off every day in the gym to be sure we are in the one-point match in these circumstances.”
While Pierre doesn’t have the numbers advancing as does Stevens — five to the finals and five in consolation brackets, the Governors will come with quality including multiple state champions Lincoln Turman (120), William Turman (132) and Michael Lusk (132).
Rapid City Central advanced three wrestlers to the semis: Cael Larson (106) Kolby Kost (170) and Bridger Kraye (182), while Kadyn Kraye (126), Nolan Smith (195), and Mathias Thompson (220) advanced through the wrestleback into Saturday action.
“We won the matches we were favored in, and in the others we were kind of hoping to knock somebody off,” Cobbler coach Lance Pearson said. “It’s that time of year and you want to win some of those matches that maybe you aren’t supposed to win and blow the seedings up, and we just weren’t able to do that. We lost a couple of matches that were heartbreakers, including a triple overtime, and that hurts our chances going into tomorrow.”
Sturgis has seven wrestlers still alive including semifinalists Jacob Wood (top-seed at 106, Tristan Permann (113), Bailey Brengle (152, a state champion at 145 last year) and top-seeded Joel Carpenter at 220.
Douglas-Rapid City Christian’s William George (113) won his matches to advance to the semis, while teammate Colton Jackson (145) is still alive in the consolation bracket.
Form framed the Class B action, as heavily favored Canton (79) effectively put a headlock on the title, advancing seven wrestlers to the semis. Howard (58), Winner (57), and Region 4B Philip (48) and Mobridge-Pollock (47) round out the top five.
Black Hills area teams struggled for most of the day, though Philip did advance three grapplers as top-seeded McCoy Peterson (120), Jadyn Coller (126), and Keagan Fitch (170) advanced into the semifinals.
Other area Class B wrestlers still in the hunt for an individual state title include: Levi Mines (Custer/Edgemont, 152), Kody Hagen (Hot Springs, 145), Sam Adams (Harding County, 195), while Region 4B champion Mobridge-Pollock sent Jayden Schilling (132), Nathan Bauer (170) and Stone Jensen (182) to the semis.
St. Thomas More’s Stone Durham (160) and Corten Dobesh both lost their opening round matches, won their initial match in the consolation round before failing to advance in Friday night action.
State tournament action resumes today with first session semifinal and third round consolation matches at 9 a.m. (MT). Place matches are scheduled for 3 p.m. with the championship matches to follow at approximately 5:30 p.m.