A battle of heavyweights figuratively and literally capped off the final day of the State Wrestling tournament. In an exciting Class A nip-and-tuck race throughout the night, Pierre nipped Rapid City Stevens 159.0 to 157.5 in a battle of perennial powers to earn the school’s fourth consecutive state title.
Sturgis, behind state titles by Jacob Wood (106) and Bailey Brengle (152), claimed third (113.5), followed by Rapid City Central (109.5) and Aberdeen Central (106.5).
Heavily favored Canton (165.0) lived up to expectations winning the Class B championship trophy. Winner finished second (111.5) ,followed by Howard (100.0) and Philip (96.5).
Though able to crown only one individual titleist, Dante Colicheski at 182 pounds, Rapid City Stevens overcame a bad case of Saturday morning blues in which the Raiders dropped four of six contests in the semifinals. They bounced back with a big rally in the 4th round wrestleback to grab a lead heading into the evening championship round.
Unfortunately for the Raiders, Pierre capitalized on a couple of three-time state champions to move back ahead midway through the championship session as seniors William Turman defeated Raider Spencer Stockman in the 132 pound finale, and Michael Lust squeaked by Vermillion’s Trey Hage 3-2 at 145.
“Both teams came and laid it all on the line in one of the best state tournament runs by both teams that I’ve seen in a long time,” Pierre coach Shawn Lewis said. “Congrats to Stevens, they have nothing to be ashamed of, but fortunately our seniors who have been a big part of all of our championships and anchors of our team, so it’s nice to see them go out on top.”
The narrow margin of victory wasn’t decided until the last match featuring a competitor from one of the two schools as the Raiders’ Colicheski could have moved Stevens ahead with a pin of Rapid City Central’s Bridger Kraye. Though dominated throughout on the way to a 9-2 decision, the senior wasn’t quite able to get Kraye turned.
“I knew what I would have had to do, and my coaches emphasized making sure to get my state title,” Colicheski said. “But I wanted the team title and was looking for the pin the whole time, but he’s tough and he didn’t want to roll over.”
Other Raider top placers included Cody BeVier (126), Brandon Sharkey (138) winning third-place matches and Cooper Voorhees claiming fifth at 145.
As Stevens’ coach Travis King pointed out, a win or a pin anytime during the two day competition would have accomplished the same objective.
“All 14 of our guys could have got the points,” King said. “No one can hang their head. We had a great season. I told you it would be a five-point spread or less. We needed some help tonight, but that’s how wrestling goes sometimes. Our kid are still champions in my eyes and they should feel that way, too.”
Sturgis run to the third-place finish started early as Wood defended his 106-pound crown with a narrow 1-0 decision over Central freshman Cael Larson. Wood used a second-period escape before riding Larson out in the third period.
“I went out there with the thought that if I can’t be scored on, how can I lose? So I just kept good positioning the entire match and did what I usually do on top to win a match. Top is my favorite position to be in because I like to use my hips a lot and move the guy around that way” Wood said. “It feels good to be a two-time champion, though it will be better to win three, so it’s back to work.”
Scooper teammate Brengle added a second consecutive crown as well, following up a 145-pound title last year with a 152-pound gold medal this year. The win didn’t come easy as Brengle needed a third overtime period to escape and post a 3-2 win over top-seeded TahJae Jenkins Harris of Huron. By virtue of winning the first point of the match, Brengle had the choice of up or down in the third overtime and chose down
“Winning the first point is huge in a match,” Brengle said. “It gets your confidence up, and after getting that first point you can start opening up and do some things while countering. As for moving up a weight, I train with some of the best training partners you could have year around, so I wasn’t too concerned about it.”
Joel Carpenter bounced back from a tough semifinal loss at 220 with a win the third place match.
“The two championships were huge for us and Joel Carpenter coming back for third,” Scooper coach Mike Abell said. “We actually had kind of a rough day, but we ended up with seven state placers so that was awesome.
Central came up empty in three championship matches with Larson (106) and Kolby Kost joining Kraye with reserve champion medals.
“A state tournament is full of highs and lows and other than the team that wins it, everybody else as a bunch of what ifs.” Cobbler coach Lance Pearson pointed out. “We had a great morning and punched three into the finals and really wrestled well, and then Cael (Larson) loses a 1-0 heart-breaker and Kolby dropped a tough match when he seemed to be in control, and Bridger (Kraye) just had a tough opponent.”
Douglas/RC Christian’s William George earned a spot in the finals as well and gave top-seeded Riley Hollingshead of Sioux Falls O’Gorman all he could handle before falling 3-1 in overtime.
Philip’s fourth-place finish was keyed by a state title by eighth grader McCoy Peterson (120), who decisioned Atlas Willuweit of Winner 6-0.
“Not really,” Peterson said when asked if he came into the year expecting to win a state title. “When I first started, I wasn’t too good, but I have some good practice partners and started going along. I practice with my brother (older brother Hunter, another of the state’s top wrestlers who had to miss the year due to injury) sometimes in the living and scare my mom a little.”
Peterson’s win was the only state individual title won by a Black Hills area B school.
And in the literal aspect, in a battle of unbeatens Chamberlain's Nate Hutmacher used a third period takedown to decision Beresford’s Nick Casperson 3-1 in one of the most highly anticipated matches in South Dakota tournament history to close out the night.