On any given evening, there are a number of factors that can contribute to winning an important conference dual match-up in the ESD. Earning bonus points, fending off bonus points, staying healthy, and depth in the line-up to allow a coach to bump wrestlers at key weights just to name a few. However, for the past few years the Pierre Governor and Aberdeen Golden Eagle ESD dual have come down to one essential element: winning the coin-toss to start the dual. If you read my blog post after the Golden Eagle victory last year, even the novice wrestling fan can come to appreciate how the requirement to show at critical swing weights can change the outcome of the dual. The match-up tonight didn't disappoint, as the Governors came into the dual evaluating a number of possible scenarios for thier lineup, with many of their preferred strategies needing Aberdeen to show at 106lbs, and then every other weight class throughout the remainder of the dual. Head coach Shawn Lewis indicated “Duals are all about getting the proper match-ups. We knew beforehand the match-ups that we would like as they move their lineup around frequently. Winning the coin flip allows us to determine the match-ups at the weight classes that we thought were key.”
Jace Bench-Bresher finishes a takedown on Aberdeen's Ethan Allen in their 113lbs match. Bench-Bresher went on to earn the major decision 14-4 in the second match of the dual.
After the Governors won the opening toss, Aberdeen was required to check in first to begin the dual and presented #6 ranked Brendon Salfrank at 106lbs. The Governors were short Hayden Shaffer due to illness, and sophomore Will Van Camp filled in, but lost by fall late in the first period. Jace Bench-Bresher approaching the technical fall in the 113lb match against Ethan Allen, finished with a 14-4 victory to bring the Governors within two points with the major decision. With Lincoln Turman coming off knee surgery just five days ago, the Governors had limited options at the 120lbs weight class, having weighed in both Turman and Daniel Tafoya in order to assess the wrestler that Aberdeen would submit to the table. If #2 ranked Jacob Moore reported, then Tafoya would wrestle for the Governors, but the Golden Eagles bumped up 113lb junior varsity wrestler Brock Martin allowing Turman the opportunity to wrestle. Turman secured a :16 second pin to put the Governors in the lead which they would retain for the remainder of the dual. Jacob Moore came out to wrestle Jack Van Camp, and following an impressive outing by Van Camp the third period concluded with a 9-8 victory by Moore to secure the decision for the Golden Eagles and bring the dual within one point.
# 1 ranked William Turman secured an early first period pin over Logan Beadle at 132lbs, followed by a solid 7-0 victory by Cade Hinkle at 138lbs over Garrett Mitzell to firm up a 19-9 lead for the Governors. At the 145lb weight class, #1 ranked Michael Lusk earned the major over Austin Cihak with a 18-8 victory, which was followed by a 5-4 victory for Aberdeen's Will Jarrott over Barry Browning at 152lbs. Tied up 4-4 with less than :20 second left, Browning was hit with his second stalling call to generate the critical one point victory for Jarrott resulting in a 23-12 lead for the Governors. Force to check in first at 160lbs, Aberdeen advanced #1 ranked Colin Haar who faced Logan Meyer as he could fill in as an alternate at either 160 or 170lbs for the Governors. Despite keeping the gap close at the end of the first period, Meyer lost by fall to Haar in the second. “We as a coaching staff felt that this dual was going to be won or lost by one match,” said assistant coach Travis Heasley. “We needed the ones that our kids were supposed to win, and the ones that were in tough matches not to give up bonus points. For the most part we did that. Two matches that could really turn the dual for us were Jack Van Camp at 126lbs vs. #2 in the state at 120lbs, and Barry Browning against another ranked wrestler at 152lbs. I felt both wrestled well and Jack had a great chance at an upset. I felt that as a team we wrestled the best we have all year.”
Stepping in against # 1 ranked Collin Haar of Aberdeen, Logan Meyer works to fight off a leg attack during the first period of the 160lbs match.
Lewis bumped Austin Senger up to 170lbs to face Dillon Stoebner and scored an important takedown at the edge of the match as time expired in the third to win 15-4 and secure the major decision. This then pushed Maguire Raske to 182lbs where he faced Brock Baker, and despite giving up the considerable size advantage was able to pull out the 4-2 victory and extending the Governors lead to 31-18. With three weight classes remaining and still an opportunity for the Golden Eagles to secure the victory with bonus points, Gage Gehring pulled out the critical 10-1 major decision over Alex Hopfinger at 195lbs and put the dual out of reach. “The dual went pretty much as planned down low due to winning the coin flip,” said Lewis. “We made a move at 160, bumping kids up from there. Those match-ups we knew would be key to win 170 through 195. Those ultimately sealed the deal. Wrestling up a weight class is tough but Raske and Senger proved they were tougher.”
Austin Senger elevates Dillon Stoebner during thier 170lbs match during the closing seconds of the 2nd period. Senger went on to secure the major decision 15-6.
At 220lbs, Gunnar Gehring lost by pin against Noah Fullmer bringing the dual within ten points. In the heavyweight match, Pryce Dyk squared off against #3 ranked Kaden Johnson. In their two previous match-ups, Dyk lost 3-1 at the Watertown duals, and then a 3-1 overtime loss in the quarterfinals of the Rapid City Invitational. Tonight, Dyk suffered a similar fate as Johnson secured a late takedown as time expired in the second period to take a 2-1 lead. He followed that up with an escape early in the third to produce a 3-1 victor and bring the Golden Eagles within seven. However as the dual came to a close the Governors were able to generate the important ESD victory to bring their conference record to 1-1 and still be in the hunt for an ESD title. In reflecting on the victory, Lewis noted “Staying in the hunt for the ESD was goal number one tonight. It makes every dual from this point forward a must win. If we would have taken a loss we would have been out of the hunt, and may have looked for match-ups in duals rather than a focus of winning first.”
Over the past six years, Governor wrestlers have become accustomed to entering every dual with an opportunity for a team victory. This has required many to sacrifice for the team to secure the dual win. In some instances, wrestlers are bumped from winnable matches against opponents at their designated weight classes and walk onto the mat with a primary goal of keeping the match close. Heasley noted that “I think the wrestlers approach it with a team first mentality. In duals we have had so far this year we have needed to shift some wrestlers, and we haven’t heard one complaint about being bumped. They go out and try to do their job every time.” The Governor wrestling team has earned a much needed break as they will be out of action until January 5th when they travel to the Bismarck Rotary in North Dakota. A year ago, the team returned from a short Christmas break to begin preparing for their invitation to The Clash. Individual performances for each of the Governor wrestlers tonight include:
- 106lbs - #6 Bendon Sulfrank won by fall over Will Van Camp
- 113lbs - Jace Bench-Bresher won by major decision over Ethan Allen 14-4
- 120lbs - #1 Lincoln Turman won by fall over Brock Martin
- 126lbs - #2 Jacob Moore won by decision over Jack Van Camp 9-8
- 132lbs - #1 William Turman son by fall over Logan Beadle
- 138lbs - #8 Cade Hinkle won by decision over Garrett Mitzel 7-0
- 145lbs - #1 Michael Lusk won by major decision over #6 Austin Cihak 18-8
- 152lbs - #5 Will Jarrott won by decision over #4 Barry Browning 5-4
- 160lbs - #1 Collin Haar won by fall over Logan Meyer
- 170lbs - #3 Austin Senger won by major decision over Dillon Stoebner 15-6
- 182lbs - Maguire Raske won by decision over Brock Backer 4-2
- 195lbs - Gage Gehring won by major decision over Alex Hopfinger 10-1
- 220lbs - Noah Fullmer won by fall over Gunnar Ghering
- 285lbs - #3 Kaden Johnson won by decision over #7 Pryce Dyk 3-1