After winning three straight Class A Wrestling titles, and five over the last six years, Governor wrestling fans have come to hold high expectations for their team at the beginning of every season. With these high expectations, the Governor program kicked off the 2017-18 season on Saturday at the annual Watertown Dual tournament. Solidified by six experienced seniors in Lincoln Turman, Michael Lusk, Barry Browning, Austin Senger, Logan Meyer and Pryce Dyk, and three other returning state qualifiers the Governors lost a key matchup against Watertown in the opening round, then rallied to finish 3-1 on the day against two other top five programs. The team was without William Turman, Garrett Leesman, and Gunnar Gehring who are expected to return to action in the coming weeks.
Two time returning state champion Michael Lusk works to turn Garrett Mitzel during the final dual against Aberdeen. Lusk went on to earn the first period pin to finish 3-0 on the day.
In their opening dual, the Governors wrestled a solid Watertown Arrow team which also served as the ESD matchup for the year. In his first outing in a Governor singlet, Hayden Shaffer faced off against #2 ranked Ty Altholff and lost a 9-5 decision. This was followed up by a major decision for Jace Bench-Bresher over Ben Althoff, and a technical fall for Lincoln Turman against Mason Stoick. With the 9-3 lead, the Governors suffered three straight losses at 126 through 138lbs. With William Turman sitting out to recover from knee surgery, Tyson Johnson filled in at 126 and lost by tech fall in his match-up with #5 ranked Robert Coyle. Up a weight class, Jack Van Camp lost a 9-3 decision against Peyton Johnson, and despite holding a lead late into the 3rd period, Cade Hinkle suffered a pin with time expiring. Two time returning state champion Michael Lusk brought the Governors back within five with a 9-3 win over Jake Werner, but Watertown regained a eight point gap with a 9-3 victory for Nathan Tuttle over Barry Browning.
For the remainder of the dual, the two teams traded victories with a pin by Austin Senger at 160lbs, then a 3-2 loss by Maguire Raske against Sam Stroup. Logan Meyer lost by pin against Jayden Hartford, yet those points were recouped with a pin for Gage Gehring over Ledgend Thorson at 195lbs. Lincoln Stahl won by pin over Wesley Harsma late in the first period as he stepped in to fill the 220lb spot for Gunner Gehring due to injury, and the dual concluded with a 7-2 loss for Pryce Dyk against #2 ranked Dane Stahl. As the dust settled, the Governors suffered their first dual loss at the Watertown Invite during the past two years and start off the ESD season with a 38-24 loss. In reflecting on the initial outing for the team, Governor head coach Shawn Lewis noted "We wrestled like our overall team is currently, 'inexperienced.' We had many highs and lows, at times looked great, and at times looked bad. That comes with inexperience. Those things will need to work themselves out soon."
Gage Gehring elevates Ledgend Thorson during their 182lb match in the first dual against Watertown. Gehring eventually secured the win with a third period pin.
When reflecting on the performance of the Governors opening dual, assistant coach Travis Heasley stated, "I think as a team we wrestled flat and didn't have the drive we needed to win close matches. We had a couple of matches we were in control and allowed our opponent to get back into the match and win. We have a few that are wrestling some heavier weights than they are used to, and it will take a little time to figure out how to wrestle those weights. I know that against Watertown, 170 was a match we needed, as well as 132 and 138. However, there were other places we left points that we needed. The dual was a wake-up call for a few and a learning experience for others."
Barry Browning secures a take down against Watertown's Nathan Tuttle during their 152lb match. Browning finished the day with a 2-2 performance for the Governors.
During the second round, the Governors squared off against Harrisburg, earning wins at the first four weight classes resulting in a 20-0 lead. Shaffer secured his first Governor win with a pin over Kayden Kummer, followed up by a major decision for Bench-Bresher over Hirschkorn 10-2. Lincoln Turman won by fall over Blakney, and Van Camp majored Dylan Hage 11-3. Daniel Tafoya stepped in at 132lbs and was pinned by Jacob Hanssen, followed a loss by fall for Hinkle against Nolan Hoback. The Governors then traded a series of wins over the next four weight classes starting with a major decision for Michael Lusk over Quinton Abrahamson, and a last second loss for Browning against Mason Shoenhard 4-3. Austin Senger defeated Ryan Meyer 5-1 at 160lbs, followed by a pin for Nick Schirado over Logan Meyer. Maguire Raske shifted up to 182lbs to earn a tech fall over Gulbranson to maintain a 31-21 lead for the Governors. However with two pins for Harrisburg for Tassler against Gehring, and Warzecha over Harsma the dual came down to the HWT match between two rated opponents in Sam Detert and Pryce Dyk. Down 1-0 going late into the third period, Dyk was able to hit a Peterson roll from the bottom to secure Detert on his back and generate the pin for the Governors resulting in a 37-33 victory. Following the win Lewis stated "Pryce solidified himself as a contender at HWT as he battled three really rough heavyweights today. He was in every single match and did a bunch of great things. If he keeps working as hard as he has been, stays focused on the end goal, and trusts his coaches, he will be in the mix with a handful of heavyweights vying for medals come February."
Pryce Dyk earns the critical pin against Sam Detert of Harrisburg to secure the 37-33 victory over Harrisburg. Dyk finished the day with a 2-2 record overall.
To conclude pool play, the Governors wrestled Milbank who put their first points on the board with a 8-3 victory for Eli Fischer over Shaffer in the 106lbs matchup. The Governors then proceeded to put up 54 unanswered points until Isaac Fischer defeated Logan Meyer 5-2 in the 182lbs weight class. Bench Bresher, Turman, Van Camp, Johnson, Hinkle, Lee Snyder, Browning, Senger and Raske each earned either pins or forfeits in their matches. Tanner Kettwig defeated James Lees 5-2 to generate the final 9 points for Milbank, as Gehring and Dyk both finished with forfeits resulting in a 66-9 victory. As the Governors were wrestling Milbank, the Watertown Arrows were defeated by Harrisburg resulting in a three way tie in the pool with three teams finishing 2-1. In the other pool Huron, Aberdeen, and Mitchel also each finished 2-1 and the tournament directors went to criteria to determine where teams would advance for the placing round. Total team points were used, and the Governors finished with 127, followed by 132 by Watertown, and 135 for Harrisburg. As a result, the Governors finished third in their pool and were set to wrestle Aberdeen for 5th in the placing round. Harrisburg went on to tie with Mitchell in the championship match which was eventually awarded to Harrisburg based on criteria.
Hayden Shaffer catches Harrisburg's Kayden Kummer in a cradle during the opening match of the dual. Shaffer eventually secured the pin in the first period.
The fifth place dual came down to two teams who have won six of the last Class A team titles. Brenden Salfrank started Aberdeen on the board with a pin over Shaffer. Bench-Bresher then defeated Ethan Allen 7-1 and Lincoln Turman pinned Martin in the first period to create a 9-6 lead. Jacob Moore then pinned Johnson at 126lbs, and Van Camp generated the first period pin over Beadle to increase the Governors lead 15-12. The Governors came out on top for the next four matches with first period pins for Hinkle, Lusk and Browning followed by a 5-3 win by Senger over Will Jarrott to extend the lead to 36-12. The Golden Eagles countered with a 9-5 win by Collin Haar over Raske at 170, and a tech fall for Dillon Stoebner over Meyer at 182lbs. Gage Gehring earned the first period pin over Hopfinger and Aberdeen generated the final nine points with a forfeit to Fullmer, and a 5-1 win by Kaden Johnson over Dyk at HWT.
Austin Senger works to topple Aberdeen's Will Jarrott during their 160lb match-up. Senger won 5-3 to generate a 36-12 lead for the Governors.
Overall the Governors had four wrestlers that finished the day undefeated in Bench-Bresher, Lincoln Turman, Michael Lusk and Austin Senger. Despite being a state qualifier at 126lbs last year, Bench-Bresher looked natural at his more ideal weight of 113lbs. Heasley, indicated, "I thought he wrestled great on his feet and stuck to his game and controlled the action. He got into some bad positions on top but recovered and continued fighting."
Jace Bench-Bresher drives to take down Ethan Allen during their 113lb match in the final dual against Aberdeen. Bench-Bresher won a 7-1 decision in the match.
This coming week the Governors will travel to Rapid City to compete at the highly competitive Rapid City Invitation. The tournament includes 37 teams from both A and B programs across Wyoming, South Dakota and North Dakota. In practice this week Lewis noted "We will focus on staying in better positions throughout the matches. Our offense will be priority number one. We have to take the things we do well and refine them until they are unstoppable." The Governors have five returning place winners from last year’s Rapid City Invite including 6th place finish by Cade Hinkle, a 4th place finish for William Turman, runner-up for Austin Senger, and two time returning Rapid City Invite champions in Michael Lusk and Lincoln Turman.
Lincoln Turman works to pin Brock Martin during their 120lbs match. Turman won by fall and finished 4-0 on the day.
The Governors will look to get back to their winning ways as they attempt to repeat as team champions at the event this coming Friday and Saturday. The overall performance for all Governor wrestlers during varsity action on Saturday includes:
- 106 - Hayden Shaffer - 1-3
- 113 - Jace Bench-Bresher - 4-0
- 120 - Lincoln Turman - 4-0
- 126 - Tyson Johnson/Daniel Tafoya - 0-4
- 132 - Jack Van Camp - 2-2
- 138 - Cade Hinkle - 2-2
- 145 - Michael Lusk - 3-0
- 152 - Barry Browning - 2-2
- 160 - Austin Senger - 4-0
- 170 - Maguire Raske - 2-2
- 182 - Logan Meyer - 0-3
- 195 - Gage Gehring - 3-1
- 220 - James Lees/Wesley Harsma - 0-3
- 285 - Pryce Dyk - 2-2