By Brett Nachtigall
BELLE FOURCHE – The top-ranked Class “A” Rapid City Stevens wrestling team dominated the 22-team field this past weekend at the two-day Belle Fourche Invitational as they scored 328 points to place first, well ahead of runner-up Sturgis with 250.5 and third place Dickinson, N.D., with 214.0.
The combined Custer/Edgemont team placed fourth with 149 points, while Hot Springs – which had only five wrestlers competing – was a distant 12th place with 63 points.
Despite being short-handed, all five of Hot Springs’ wrestlers finished in the top-six of their weight class, led by junior Garrett Heil who was the runner-up at 182 pounds. Hot Springs’ other placewinners were sophomore Teejay Atwood (3rd at 170 lbs), junior Chad Kelso (5th at 182 pounds), freshman Marcus Harkless (6th at 195 lbs) and junior Caleb Maciejewski (6th at 220 lbs).
“All five of our guys wrestled a solid tournament in Belle,” said Hot Springs head coach Ray Ringstmeyer. “We did get some big individual wins, like Teejay who got another win on Custer, as well as some others, but obviously we also found out that we have a lot to work on. Stayin on our toes and off our knees, better set ups for our takedowns, driving through our finishes at an angle instead of straight through.”
Heil (31-5 overall) went 2-1 in his three matches, first defeating Ben Sobczak of Rapid City Stevens JV with a 4:24 pin and then earning a 5-2 decision over Kameron Clark of Dickinson, N.D., in the semifinals. He however was pinned in the championship by Rapid City Stevens’ Class “A” top-ranked Dante Colicheski.
Atwood (23-10) had a very strong tournament and finished 4-1 over the two days, with his only loss coming to eventual champion Kaleb Bucks of Lemmon in the semifinals Saturday morning. Atwood then won his next two matches to win third place following an 11-4 decision over Tanner Jarrett of Dickinson, N.D., and then a 2:25 pin over Jarret Woodward of Custer.
Kelso (20-14 overall) wrestling JV at 182 pounds behind teammate Heil, finished with a 3-2 record and won his fifth place match by pinning Pacen Gifford of Niobrara County in :48.
Harkless (23-11 overall) earned two pins to finish 2-3 in the tournament, defeating Gavin Robinson of Sundance, Wyo. (1:31 pin) and Michael Streeter of Belle Fourche (1:37 pin), but losing by major decision to Tice McVay of Sturgs in the fifth place match.
At 220 pounds, Maciejewski (21-20 overall) went 3-3 in the tourney which included defeating Mason Finsterwalder of Douglas with a 12-4 major decision in wrestlebacks, after losing to Finsterwalder in his opening match on Friday.
led a trio of wrestlers who finished as runners-up in their weight class, including Edgemont’s Chance Grill at 138 pounds, and Levi Mines (152 pounds) and Micaiah Grace (160). Other place winners included three more placing fourth including Brennan Hanes of Edgemont, along with Jarrett Woodward (170) and Blake Kainz (182). Eli Mines (145) and Jestyn Woodward (106) placed sixth while Irail Griffin (138) placed eighth.
Chance Grill (27-5 overall) placed second at 138 pounds with a 3-1 tournament record, including a pair of pins in the first two rounds followed by a 11-1 major decision over Reece Jacobs of Sturgis in the semifinals. Grill however lost the championship match by a 6-2 decision to the No. 2 Class “A” wrestler Brandon Sharkey of Rapid City Stevens.
Edgemont teammate Brennan Hanes (23-13 overall) finished fourth at 132 pounds by earning a 3-2 record with both of his losses coming by decision versus Justin Burnham of Sturgis. Hanes’ three victories were highlighted by a pair of pins and a 9-1 major decision over Chris Pinto of Dickinson, N.D.
Both Hot Springs and Custer/Edgemont will be in action this Saturday in Hill City for the Black Hills Classic. The following weekend, the teams will come together again for the Black Hills Conference tournament taking place in Hot Springs on Saturday, Feb. 10.
“Two week is a lot of time to improve,” said Hot Springs’ Coach Ringstmeyer. “Right now, our No. 1 goal is to bring that Black Hills Conference trophy back home, but we need to have our best team on the mat.”