By Brett Nachtigall
RAPID CITY – A total of seven Fall River County wrestlers are headed to this week's State Class “B” Wrestling Championships in Sioux Falls, where they will compete within 16-man brackets versus the top grapplers in the state at the Denny Sanford Premier Center.
Their qualifications for state were locked in this past Saturday in Rapid City at the Region 4B Tournament, hosted by Hot Springs but taking place at Rapid City Stevens High School along with the Region 4A Tournament.
Amongst the 16 teams competing in the Region 4B tourney, Mobridge-Pollock emerged as the top team with 181.5 points, but followed closely by the Custer/Edgemont team with 174 points as the runner-up. Philip Area placed third with 163, with Bennett County (116.5), Hot Springs (109), Lead-Deadwood (90), Stanley County (55) and Lyman (53) rounding out the top-eight.
In order to qualify for the state tournament, wrestlers needed to finish in the top-four of their respective weight class, and earning that honor for Hot Springs was eighth-grader Keaton Bissonnette (120 lbs), junior Kody Hagen (145 lbs), junior Garrett Heil (182 lbs), freshman Marcus Harkless (195 lbs) and junior Caleb Maciejewski (220 lbs).
“Qualifying five wrestlers again is something to be proud of, but still short of our goal,” said Hot Springs head coach Ray Ringstmeyer. “I thought we really had a good chance at anywhere from seven to nine, and we had four lose in the consolation semis, two of them close.”
Coming just one win away from a trip to state were eighth-grader Pierce Sword (106 lbs), senior Alex Phelps (138 lbs), senior Wyatt Pulscher (152 lbs) and freshman Caleb Priem (160 lbs.).
“I'm just glad our seniors came back from their various injuries and gave it a shot,” Coach Ringstmeyer said. “Both of them could've easily called it a year with the type of injuries they are battling, but they went out and gave it their all.”
The Custer/Edgemont team featured two Moguls who qualified for state, including sophomore Brennan Hanes (132 lbs) and junior Chance Grill (138 lbs). In addition to Grill and Hanes, the combined Custer/Edgemont team qualified a total of six others for the state meet, also including eighth-grader Jestyn Woodward (1st at 106 lbs), senior Wyatt Dooley (3rd at 113 lbs), senior Eli Mines (4th at 145 lbs), junior Levi Mines (1st at 152 lbs), sophomore Micaiah Grace (1st at 160 lbs) and senior Blake Kainz (3rd at 182 lbs).
Hot Springs' Hagen (39-8 record) will enter the state tournament as the highest seed of all the Fall River County qualfiers, after he won the 145-pound region title with a perfect 4-0 record including a 15-0 tech fall victory over Colby Fitch in the championship finals. He will be the Class “B” four-seed and face Zach Johnson of Bon Homme/Scotland/Avon in his opening-round matchup.
“Kody had a phenomenal tournament,” said Coach Ringstmeyer. “The 145 weight class has been tough everywhere we go, and to pin or tech his way through the tournament should definitely send a statement to the rest of the state that he's someone to be on the lookout for.”
Also winning an individual region title for Custer/Edgemont was Grill (35-5) , who finished with a 3-0 region record as well, including a 3:25 pin over Shawn Marrs of Bennett County in the championship finals. Grill will compete as the eighth-seed of the 138-pound weight class and face Hunter Pranger of Mt. Vernon/Plankinton/Corsica-Stickney in his opening round matchup.
Hot Springs' Heil (35-7), who is making a return trip to state after qualifying last year for the first time as a sophomore, was the Region 4B runner-up at 182 pounds, with his only loss coming to top-seed Stone Jensen of Mobridge-Pollock. He will be the No. 7 seed at the state meet.
“Garrett wrestled a good match in the finals, but needs to get after it a little bit more,” Ringstmeyer said. “He wrestled a very good kid close, but more aggression and we might have another champion.”
At 220 pounds, Maciejewski (25-23) had one of the best region tournaments of any Bison as he finished with a 3-1 tourney record, including a victory in his final match to place third overall with :55 pin over Traven Pharris of Newell.
“Caleb Maciejewski is wrestling with confidence,” Ringstmeyer said. “He is such a great all-around, strong athlete and now he is getting his mindset to match it.”
Hanes (31-14), for Edgemont, also won his final matchup of the tournament to place third overall at 132 pounds, following a 9-6 decision over Kurtis Mooney of Bennett County in the medal match.
Placing fourth in their respective weight classes at regions were both Harkless (30-15) and Bissonnette (31-22). Bissonnette is returning to state meet for the second time after making it as just a seventh-grader last year in the 113-pound division. This will be Harkless's first trip to a high school state meet, however he is no stranger to the big stage of state competition after winning multiple state wrestling championships at the AAU level.
“Marc and Keaton battled into the state tournament with great consolation semi-final wins,” Coach Ringstmeyer. “Keaton avenged an earlier loss to the Bennett County opponent, and Marcus fended off a very dangerous Philip kid.”
The two-day state tournament begins Friday, Feb. 23 and continues through to the championship finals matches on Saturday night. Live results are available through Trackwrestling which can be accessed through www.sdhsaa.com.
Following are the individual region results for the county's seven state qualifying wrestlers.
120: Keaton Bissonnette of Hot Springs (31-22) placed 4th
Quarterfinal - Kamron Pearman (Mobridge-Pollock) 22-16 won by decision over Bissonnette (Dec 9-3)
Cons. Round 1 - Received a bye () (Bye)
Cons. Semi - Bissonnette won by fall over Clarence Winter (Bennett County) 20-10 (Fall 3:44)
3rd Place Match - Kamron Pearman (Mobridge-Pollock) 22-16 won in tie breaker - 1 over Bissonnette (TB-1 10-6)
132: Brennan Hanes of Edgemont (31-14) placed 3rd
Quarterfinal - Won by fall over Cody Homan (Hill City) 25-20 (Fall 1:41)
Semifinal - JD Carter (Stanley County) 30-12 won by decision over Hanes (Dec 11-7)
Cons. Semi - Won by fall over Trinity Brady (Lead-Deadwood) 24-18 (Fall 4:37)
3rd Place Match - Won by decision over Kurtis Mooney (Bennett County) 24-12 (Dec 9-6)
138: Chance Grill of Edgemont (35-5) placed 1st
Champ. Round 1 - Grill received a bye
Quarterfinal - Won by fall over Jacob Hoffer (Lyman) 11-23 (Fall 2:38)
Semifinal - Won by fall over Tyler Arnold (Hill City) 34-13 (Fall 1:30)
1st Place Match - Won by fall over Shawn Marrs (Bennett County) 18-4 (Fall 3:25)
145: Kody Hagen of Hot Springs (39-8) placed 1st
Champ. Round 1 - Won by major decision over Reid Wieczorek (Stanley County) 17-27 (MD 12-0)
Quarterfinal - Won by fall over Brandon Scherich (Red Cloud) 20-19 (Fall 3:06)
Semifinal - Won by fall over Eli Mines (Custer/Edgemont) 30-16 (Fall 4:37)
1st Place Match - Won by tech fall over Colby Fitch (Philip) 24-8 (TF-1.5 4:26 (15-0))
182: Garrett Heil of Hot Springs (35-7) placed 2nd
Quarterfinal - Won by fall over Chandler Schopp (Lemmon/McIntosh) 6-29 (Fall 1:35)
Semifinal - Won by fall over Tee Allen (Bennett County) 31-12 (Fall 5:16)
1st Place Match - Stone Jensen (Mobridge-Pollock) 38-5 won by decision over Heil (Dec 4-3)
195: Marcus Harkless of Hot Springs (30-15) placed 4th
Quarterfinal - Won by tech fall over Ty Dailey (Custer/Edgemont) 8-21 (TF-1.5 2:14 (16-0))
Semifinal - Sam Adams (Harding County) 34-6 won by decision over Harkless (Dec 11-4)
Cons. Semi - Won by injury default over Victor Dennis (Philip) 6-19 (Inj. 4:29)
3rd Place Match - Jason Gerry (Mobridge-Pollock) 27-13 won by fall over Harkless (Fall 3:58)
220: Caleb Maciejewski of Hot Springs (25-23) placed 3rd
Quarterfinal - Won by fall over Jeremiah Briggs (Bennett County) 19-16 (Fall 1:56)
Semifinal - Jory Rodgers (Philip) 24-5 won by fall over Maciejewski (Fall 2:57)
Cons. Semi - Won by fall over Jon Keller (Mobridge-Pollock) 6-15 (Fall 2:32)
3rd Place Match - Won by fall over Taven Pharris (Newell) 28-13 (Fall 0:55)