Havlik's return to wrestling successful
Mitchell wrestler Brent Havlik made a decision during his eighth-grade year that he and all of his teammates laugh about today.
He joined the basketball team.
Now a sophomore, Havlik is enjoying a strong start to the wrestling season, but whenever the thought of shooting hoops comes up in the practice room, Havlik gets picked on.
"I think he'd be the first one to tell you he made a mistake taking a year off (from wrestling)," Mitchell coach Travis Carpenter said. "We're glad to have him back.
"He did take a one-year sabbatical, but he's back and doing great things for us."
Ten matches into this season, Havlik hasn't been beaten.
So much for thinking about basketball anymore.
"I missed it and loved the atmosphere of wrestling," Havlik said of why he went back to the mat. "I love the state tournament and everything about the sport."
Over the weekend, Havlik doubled his win total on the season. He and the Kernels went to the Rapid City Invitational -- a 32-team invite -- and took sixth place as a team against some stellar competition.
Havlik, though, had a bit more success individually in the 160-pound weight class.
He won all five of his matches en route to the championship, giving him a 10-0 record on the season.
For his performance in Rapid City, Havlik has been named The Daily Republic's player of the week, as voted on by the newspaper's sports staff.
"When we went out to that tournament we really didn't know what to expect," Carpenter said. "(Brent) is wrestling really well right now and we're expecting big things from him.
"Out there, he wrestled some really good kids and stayed composed and did some really nice things."
He recorded a technical fall over his first opponent after getting a bye in the first round and pinned his opponent in the third round.
After cruising through the first three rounds, his matches in the semifinals and the finals weren't nearly as easy.
In the semifinals, he defeated Kyle Gorsuch of Rapid City Central 8-6 in overtime. At one point in the match, Havlik led 6-2.
"He kind of went into conservative mode," Carpenter said. "He got called for stalling a couple times, and then he got taken down to tie it up as time expired to send it into overtime."
Just like hitting a big late-game shot on the court, Havlik picked up a takedown early in overtime.
"There was one second left when he took me down to tie it, and I knew he was tired," Havlik said. "We have good conditioning, so I knew I could take him down."
The championship match wasn't as difficult, Havlik said. His opponent from Casper Natrona (Wyo.) was a greco-style wrestler and he knew as long as he kept away from being thrown, he'd be able to win.
Havlik picked up a takedown midway through the second period to take the lead. He went on to win and be the lone Kernel to stand atop the podium at the tournament.
But that's not the only podium Havlik hopes to take this year.
During his freshman season, he won the regional championship, but was eliminated from the state tournament on the first day.
This year, he looks to make a large improvement come state tournament time.
"Looking at the people who are in my weight, I want to be at the top of the podium at the state tournament," Havlik said. "To do that, I'm going to have to be competitive with Jordan (Reiner) and Kyle (Larson) in the wrestling room."
Havlik will try to keep his undefeated season alive Thursday night when Mitchell travels to Yankton for a dual. The Kernels are also at the Ray Wellman Invite Saturday in Sioux Falls.