Sunday at Spearfish high school, the state of collegiate wrestling in South Dakota was on display.
South Dakota State, Augustana, Dakota Wesleyan and Northern State traveled west to Spearfish for the Dakota Showcase, a quadrangular tournament where each team would face each other once and participate in three dual matches.
SDSU went 3-0 with a 51-4 win over DWU, 45-4 over NSU and 49-0 over AU.
DWU went 0-3, the Vikings went 2-1 and Northern went 1-2.
"It doesn’t matter the level of competition, we’ve got to go out and score points, we always preach that and that’s what we did, so hopefully they got some confidence and now we can go out and do that against a top 15 team in Division I," SDSU coach Chris Bono said. "We want to come out here and showcase our program to the whole state, and this whole thing is to showcase it to all the kids who have a desire to wrestle after high school, there’s three divisions here and there’s opportunities for these kids to go wherever they want to go and wrestle. I think every coach here will take any South Dakota kid who wants to wrestle and that’s why we want to do this."
The Jackrabbits are now 3-2 in duals and face Central Michigan in Brookings Friday.
It was also a chance for local wrestlers to see kids who used to be in their shoes wrestle at the college level.
Nate Rotert, the senior No. 7 ranked 197-pound wrestler in the country for SDSU, went to Spearfish and won two state titles at 195 pounds. After he graduated, his current teammate and Rapid City Central graduate Martin Mueller won the two state titles at 195.
Muller, a sophomore, now wrestles at 184 for the Jackrabbits, both went 3-0 on the day with two pins each.
For both, the chance to come to Spearfish was a way to show-off where they are from to teammates.
"There’s two sides to South Dakota, Brookings is beautiful and has so much to offer, but to take someone and kind of see why you’re molded the way you are is really cool and my brothers on the team, they love it," Rotert said. "They love being out here and I appreciate them making the six hour trek down I-90."
It's a trip that Muller has wanted his teammates to take for a long time.
"We always talk about in the summer, we’re always working out, me and Nate always say 'we need to get those guys out to the Black Hills for four or five days,'" he said. "You really cherish where you grew up when you move on to someplace else, so the Black Hills definitely have my heart."
It was something Bono said the program was happy to do.
"You think about when you go to a Division I school you’ll never wrestle in your high school gym again, you’ll never wrestle in your city again," he said. "To bring it back here is special for those guys, it’s special for our program. They’ve both done so much for us and it’s just us trying to give back a little to those guys.
For Augustana, it was also a homecoming for two wrestlers, as Central alum and senior Aero Amo wrestled at 184 and Custer grad and junior Clayton Wahlstrom wrestled at 197.
Wahlstrom saw essentially the entire Wildcat program make the trip to see him and freshman DWU wrestler Forrest Lewis.
"It’s good to see, I’ve been removed from high school for awhile but it’s some of the younger guys that I’ve helped coach in the youth program," he said of the cheering section. "It gives them a sense of ‘anyone can make it’ even from little Custer, or even Rapid (City), it just gives them a little motivation."
Wahlstrom and Aero went 2-1 on the day while Lewis went 0-3.
Dakota Wesleyan is next in action against Hastings College Wednesday, Northern takes on Concordia-Moorhead Wednesday and Augustana faces Drury Saturday.