Last weekend's state wrestling tournament in Sioux Falls was familiar territory for Strugis's Jacob Wood. The 106-pound grappler had been to the tournament last season and won the 106 title.
This year was different though, this year was special.
Wood successfully defended his title, beating Rapid City Central's Cael Larson 1-0, and he said this year was more satisfying because it came with some adversity.
"It was really great, it happened last year too but I think this year was even better because of the adversity that happened this year and overcoming everything, it was just great," he said. "I’m lost for words on it, it was a crazy time."
After sitting out half the season for disciplinary reasons, Wood sprained his ankle as soon as he came back. After having not wrestled all year, he was rusty in a weight class that featured many strong wrestlers.
"It gave all of my opponents the opportunity, me being out most of the year and then hurting my ankle, it gave them the opportunity to get me in a match but I knew I was still the same me, so it didn’t really matter," he said. "Just getting the experience, because matches are obviously way tougher than practice, I didn’t get a whole lot of that. At the beginning of the year I could tell that there were some spots where I didn’t really understand what was going on but towards the end of the year it was automatic, it felt natural."
The weekend started with Wood at 16-0. He made quick work of Tucker Bahm of Yankton in the first round, Eli Fischer of Milbank was next in the semifinals.
Wood and Larson had already met that season, at the regional tournament where Wood won 4-1.
He said he knew if he could be defensive and keep Larson from scoring, there would be no way for him to win.
"I felt pretty good about myself yeah, I knew if I could stay in position and not get scored on I couldn’t lose," he said. "Me and my coach talked and he said ‘bottom line, if no one scores on you how are you supposed to lose?’"
In the first period, although there were some good scrambles, no one scored. Wood started the second period with choice, and decided to start down. He was able to escape and Larson went down.
The third period was Wood trying to hold off Larson, and he said almost got reversed in the final moments, but was able to get his hips back to the top and ride out the rest of the period to win his second straight state championship.
"Right away you’re just like ‘wow, you did it again’ you look up at the crowd and everyone is standing up, everyone that supported you all year long," he said of the moments following a state championship. "You feel like you just pulled through for them. You did what you were supposed to, you did your job for your teammates, for everybody. It just feels great."
The Junior said he's going to retire from the 106 weight class. He is hoping to wrestle in college, and the lowest college weight class is 120 and he hopes to be closer to 140 by the end of the summer.
Other athletes considered:
Maleighya Estes, Lower Brule girls' basketball: Estes was on fire Thursday, scoring 24 points as the Lady Sioux topped Oelrichs 82-40.
Lower Brule continued the week with a 55-48 win over Wall Saturday to qualify for the Round of 16. It will face No. 6 seed Ethan in the Round of 16 Thursday at Huron Arena at 4:30 p.m.
McCoy Peterson, Philip wrestling: Peterson claimed the Class B 120-pound state title over the weekend in Sioux Falls.
Peterson finished the season 31-0 with a 6-0 win over Atlas Willuweit from Warner.
Bailey Brengle, Sturgis wrestling: Wood wasn't the only Scooper to leave Sioux Falls with some hardware. Brengle won the Class A 152-pound title and ended the season 41-3.
The senior took down TahJae Jenkins Harris, a sophomore from Huron.
Dante Colicheski, Rapid City Stevens wrestling: Colicheski accomplished the goal he set out to accomplish at the start of the season, winning a state title.
In a battle of cross-town rivals, Colicheski topped Rapid City Central's Bridger Kraye in the Class A 182-pound title bout.
Colicheski won on a 9-2 decision and finished the season 47-1 while Kraye finished 52-8.