Nine Kernel wrestlers to take mat at Class A state tournament
The Mitchell Kernels had a bad taste in their mouths after last year’s state wrestling tournament.
Mitchell had just one wrestler advance to the second day of competition and place.
The disappointing showing in 2013 has motivated the Kernels for this year’s Class A state tournament, which kicks off at 10 a.m. Friday at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center in Rapid City.
“It gives us extra drive that we didn’t have last year,” Kernel senior Alex Herrick said. “We knew what we did wrong last year, which has helped us progress this year.”
Mitchell head coach Travis Carpenter said his team put a lot of time in during the season and is ready to go after a top-eight team finish.
“To be honest, there weren’t many people at the beginning of the year that thought we could (finish in the top eight), but we’re kind of right on the edge,” said Carpenter, whose team took 23rd last year with 16 points. “The kids have that in their minds and that’s their goal going in. They don’t just want to place individually. They want to get our team back on the podium where it belongs.”
Herrick, who is 39-9 at the 152-pound weight class, is one of nine Mitchell wrestlers competing this weekend. Herrick and senior Tyson Sprinkel, who is 29-9 at 195 pounds, each won the Region 3A tournament last weekend.
“Tyson and Alex are sitting in really good shape from winning the region,” Carpenter said. “They’ve got to beat kids they’ve beaten before to get into the semifinals.”
Sprinkel was Mitchell’s only state placer last season, taking eighth.
Other Mitchell wrestlers going after a place on the podium are eighth-grader Briggs Havlik (18-22) at 126 pounds, senior Trey Hohn (24-22) at 132, junior Landon Neugebauer (24-11) at 138, junior Ethan Parr (29-18) at 145, junior Matt Larson (33-13) at 160, senior Chase Klingaman (27-19) at 220 and junior Robert McCardle (15-11) at 285.
Carpenter said his wrestlers have continued to improve throughout the season.
“In the past month, we’ve started beating some kids that maybe we weren’t expected to beat and we’ve had some kids who have stepped it up a level or two. I do think they have gained confidence,” Carpenter said. “From day one, it’s about building and getting better and hopefully, peaking at the state tournament.
“If we come out with six or seven place winners, then I think we’ll have a good chance at getting on the podium.”
The clear team favorite going into the tournament is Aberdeen Central, according to Carpenter.
“If they don’t win it, something bad happened with their group,” he said.
The two-day tournament concludes with championship matches Saturday evening.