Despite having won the last three Class A State Wrestling titles, many forget that the Governor's wrestling finished in the runner-up spot at the 3A Region tournament four years ago to a favored Aberdeen Central team. While they lost by just under twenty points to the Golden Eagles that Saturday in February, they were able to secure their first of three straight state title in four years the following weekend with a tight 1.5 point margin in 2015. With a core group of seniors with significant postseason experience, the Governors entered a difficult field with just four number one seeds at the event that included three weight classes where #1, #2 and #3 ranked wrestlers would compete to earn important state tournament seeding criteria. Although the Governors were able to advance eight wrestlers into the finals, the team came away with only three champions and were able to advance a total of 12 wrestlers to the Class A State Tournament scheduled next week on Friday and Saturday. This number is short of the 14 advanced in 2016, and 13 advanced last year, but the team is posed with a number of potential point earners that should place high on the podium. When reflecting on the performance of his team head coach Shawn Lewis indicated "We did not have our best day overall, but it was nice to see us not have our best day and still qualify 12. That speaks to both our depth and high expectations of ourselves."
The Governor Wrestling team pose their Region 3A plaque after winning their third straight title. The Governors advance 12 of their wrestlers to the Class A State Tournament next weekend.
The Governor's first champion was William Turman who advanced to the semifinals with a first-round bye and then won by pin against Dilen Anderson (Chamberlain) in the first period. In the finals, Turman pinned Sparks from Mitchell in their third match-up of the year. Senior Michael Lusk also capped off his final region tournament with first-period pins over Foltz (Chamberlain) and Riley (Todd County) during the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds. In the finals, he won by major over Carpenter from Mitchell with a 12-1 decision. The wins for Turman and Lusk marked their fourth straight Class A Region titles which they both first won during their freshman campaigns. The final champion for the Governors was Gage Gehring who advanced to the semifinals with a bye, then pinned #2 ranked Rieger from Huron late in the third period to make his first region finals appearance. In the finals, Gehring was to square off against #1 ranked Max (Mitchell) who injury defaulted due to a shoulder injury.
William Turman attempts a shot on Chamberlains Dilen Anderson during their semifinal match. Turman went on to secure the takedown and win by fall in the first period.
Jace Bench-Bresher was the first runner-up for the Governors who advanced to the finals with a first-round bye and then defeated Schneck from Milbank by tech fall 15-0 during the semifinals. In the finals, he lost a 4-1 decision against Max Donovan (Chamberlain). Lincoln Turman faced #2 ranked Collin Powell from Chamberlain in the finals who he had narrowly defeated 1-0 at the Rapid City Invite earlier this year. To get there Turman won by fall in :34 and :54 seconds over Radke (Huron) and Krause (Milbank). In the finals, a late reversal by Powell tied the score to 5-5, and then Turman gave up a takedown midway through the sudden victory period to suffer just his second loss on year 7-5. Jack Van Camp advanced with a first-round bye, then defeated McGinnis (Mitchell) 6-2 in a matchup with important seeding implications for state. "Jack Van Camp really helped himself with the win over McGinnis," noted Lewis. "As did Gehring who pulled out a huge win in the semifinals against a wrestler who beat him three weeks ago in the Huron Dual." In the finals Van Camp lost 7-2 against #3 ranked Moore (Aberdeen).
Lincoln Turman elevates and returns Krause from Milbank during their semifinal match. Turman won by pin early in the first period to advance to the finals.
Current #1 ranked Austin Senger entered the tournament with the #2 seed, and after a first-round bye won a tight 3-2 match against #3 ranked Haar from Aberdeen. Of the top three wrestlers at 160lbs, Senger is the only one to remain undefeated against Haar who had previous win against Havlick from Mitchell in the finals at the Rapid City Invite. The win in the semifinals forced the sixth match-up with Havlick who holds the margin of victory over Senger with a 3-2 match lead thus far this season. A pair of escape in the second and third period produced overtime, and after no score, in the sudden victory period, both wrestlers earned escapes in the :30 second ride outs. Havlick scored first with the second period escape, and when given the choice you chose down with Senger unable to complete the thirty-second ride out needed to secure the victory. He lost the Ultimate Tie Breaker with a 3-2 score. In each of his four previous region tournaments, Senger had come out on top as a region champion dating back to his 8th-grade season.
Austin Senger defends an attack from Colin Haar during their semifinal match, for Senger to advance to the Region 3A finals.
The final Governor runner-up was Pryce Dyke who continued his pinning streak as he won by fall against Cardona (Huron) in the first period, then drew #2 ranked Johnson from Aberdeen who had defeated him three times earlier this season. After a scoreless first period, Dyk looked to be on his way to being ridden out in the second period before hitting a Peterson roll and backing Johnson. With :12 second left, Dyk punched his ticket to the finals and his first state tournament appearance. In the finals, he faced #1 ranked and returning state champion Hutmacher who won by fall in the first period. "I think the big wins we had were Pryce over Aberdeen and Gage over Huron," noted Travis Heasley, assistant head coach. "Pryce was waiting a long time to get that win and it shows how far he has come. Gage wrestled great and beats the #2 in the state. These are huge matches going into state."
Pryce Dyk rolls Johnson from Aberdeen and secures the pin late in the second period to advance to the finals.
Despite a solid first round, the Governors have four wrestlers lose in the semifinals, requiring a win in the consolation finals to advance to the state tournament. Cade Hinkle won by pin against Janssen (Todd County) in the opening round, but then fell to Mitchell's Cole Gehrke by 5-3 decision in the semifinals. In the wrestle-backs Hinkle won by fall in :26 and then defeated Mitzel (Aberdeen) 6-1 to finish third. Barry Browning also finished third overall and his path included a :58 pin over Fredericks from Mitchell before losing 3-1 against Jarrott (Aberdeen) in the semifinals. Browning secured a return trip to the state tournament with a :28 second pin in the consolation semifinals and then pinned Evans (Chamberlain) in his final match. Maguire Raske advanced to the semifinals with a first-round bye where he lost by pin to Stoebner (Aberdeen). In the wrestlebacks he won by major over Holtquiest and then defeated Schoenfelder (Mitchell) by major as well to finish in the third place spot.
Maguire Raske works to secure Stoebner from Aberdeen during their semifinal match.
The lone fourth-place finish came from Hayden Shaffer who won his first round match by pin over Sparks from Mitchell then lost a major decision against Salfrank (Aberdeen) in the semifinals. In a must-win match in the wrestle-backs, Shaffer found himself down 2-0 at the conclusion of the first period against Harris from Huron who then chose down to start the second period. On top, Shaffer secured an early cradle and then with just three seconds left generated the much-needed pin to punch his ticket to his first state tournament as an eighth-grader. In his final match, Shaffer lost 7-2 against Skudstad from Chamberlain. When reflecting on the places where wrestlers may be impacted by loses on Saturday, Heasley noted "As far as losses, I think losing to Chamberlain at 106, Mitchell at 138, Aberdeen at 152 and 170 were big losses for us. These are all matches we can and need to win next weekend."
Only two Governors were unable to advance to the state tournament on Saturday. Garrett Leesman lost his opening match 1-0 to former Governor wrestler DJ High Bear (Eagle Butte), and then after earning a second-period pin in the wrestle-backs, he lost a 2-1 decision against Max from Mitchell. Gunnar Gehring also lost his opening round match by major to #1 seed Siemonsma (Huron) then was able to win with a pin in the wrestle-backs before losing a tight 2-1 loss in overtime in the consolation semifinals. "You want to take all 14 wrestlers to the state tournament because any points that you can get help," indicated Heasely. "As far as Leesman goes I feel he could have maybe placed, but he had a very up and down season with some good wins that we can build off for next season. Gunnar had a tough season at 220lbs but came a long way from the beginning of the season. I would have loved to see Gunnar make the state tournament because I know how hard he has been working."
Gunner Gehring earns an escape to take his final match into overtime but eventually lost 2-1 in the sudden victory period.
The Governors will practice at home the first three days this week, then travel to Sioux Falls on Thursday for a practice session at the Denny Sanford Premier Center. Wrestling will begin at 10:00 on Friday morning, and the quarterfinal and wrestle-back session beginning at 3:00 later that afternoon to determine the place winners for each weight class. The Governors will need to wrestle in peak form this coming weekend to fend off tough Rapid City Steven's and Sturgis teams who are vying to get themselves back to the top of the award stand. Lewis's goal this week is to keep the team focused as "We look to our first matches and keep focused on individual goals. If we all stay focused on individual goals our ultimate team goal will take care of itself."