Mitchell setting goal of top-five finish at stateThe Class A state wrestling tournament takes place Friday and Saturday at the Barnett Center in Aberdeen.
By: Kevin Pottebaum, The Daily Republic
The Class A state wrestling tournament takes place Friday and Saturday at the Barnett Center in Aberdeen.
The Mitchell Kernels will be represented with 10 wrestlers in the tournament.
“You’d like to get them all in,” head coach Travis Carpenter said. “But that’s not realistic.”
Carpenter said that the team’s original goal for this season was a state championship, but after dealing with several key injuries, the Kernels hope to finish in the top five.
The Kernels finished sixth in team points last season.
Mitchell’s two state champions from last season, Jason Greenway and Brent Havlik, are looking to finish at the top again this year for the Kernels.
“Obviously, those two have been there and done that,” Carpenter said. “There’s a couple of key matches that they’re excited about.”
Greenway (36-1) won the 152-pound division at state last year and wants to finish his Mitchell career on top. This year he competes at 160 pounds.
Havlik (35-1) hopes to be only the second Mitchell wrestler to win three state championships. Doyle Everson is the only Mitchell wrestler to have accomplished the feat, winning the state crown in 1980, 1982 and 1983.
“It’s been a goal and it would mean a lot,” Havlik said. “It’s been my goal since my sophomore year.”
Havlik has won the previous two titles at 160 pounds. This weekend he will be competing at 170 pounds.
“I think there will be just as much pressure as any of the other state tournaments,” Havlik said.
One of the most anticipated matchups of the tournament could come in the semifinals at 170 pounds.
Havlik’s only loss on the season came to Aero Amo (46-4) from Rapid City Central. The two are considered among the best wrestlers in the state and could face each other in the semifinals.
Havlik has won three of four matches against Amo this season.
“The matches seem like they’re close every time,” Havlik said. “I’m going to wrestle to win. Hopefully, I can put myself in a situation where it doesn’t have to be a 1- or 2-point match."
At 126 pounds is Mitchell’s Lakin Neugebauer. Neugebauer (29-4) finished runner-up last season at 112 pounds and is hoping to get over that hump.
“His goal is to find his way back to the title match,” Carpenter said. “It’s something that drives you and motivates you to get back to that and get that opportunity again.”
Landon Neugebauer (26-17) is also hoping to reach the podium again this season. Last year he placed seventh at 130 pounds. This season, he is competing at 138 pounds.
Dylon Bollock (26-16) and Alex Herrick (32-13) are the other two Kernel wrestlers who are returning to the state tournament. Bollock is competing at 113 pounds, while Herrick wrestles at 120 pounds.
Tanner Henkel (13-31), Nick Kummer (26-12), Logan Parr (4-25) and Robert McCardle (9-28) are all making their first appearance at the state tournament.
Another Class A school in the Mitchell area is Chamberlain, which had several wrestlers come close to qualifying for this weekend, but only has two competing at state.
“We had a rough round on Saturday,” Chamberlain head coach Josh Donovan said of the regional tournament. “I expected to get a few more in. It was tough for me to take and awfully tough for them to take.”
The Cubs are sending Russell Felicia (31-7) and Josh Valandra (22-10) to the tournament. Both wrestlers competed last year at state, Felicia placed sixth at 119 pounds a season ago and will be wrestling at 126 pounds this year.
“He wants to be higher up on the podium,” Donovan said. “He has the work ethic to get there and you can tell that he’s got it on his mind.”
Valandra won the region tournament in the heavyweight division, but the coaching staff still feels that he gets overlooked.
“A lot of people look by us,” Donovan said. “Ratings mean nothing, (but) he won the region tournament and the guys we beat didn’t drop in the ratings. It wasn’t a fluke that he won.
“They can go ahead and look by Josh. It’s a lot of motivation for him. He wants to prove how good of a heavyweight he is.”
Action begins at 10 a.m. on Friday in Aberdeen.
Mitchell and Chamberlain’s opening-round matchups
113 — Dylon Bollock (MIT) 26-16 vs. Brandon Steenholdt (Vermillion) 18-14;
120 — Alex Herrick (MIT) 32-13 vs. Kyle Yasgar (SF Roosevelt) 28-17;
126 — Lakin Neugebauer (MIT) 29-4 vs. Ty Welsch (RC Central) 24-24; Russell Felicia (CHAM) 31-7 vs. Kasey Klapprodt (RC Stevens) 25-20;
138 — Landon Neugebauer (MIT) 26-17 vs. Blake Stone (RC Central) 20-9;
145 — Tanner Henkel (MIT) 13-31 vs. Mason Bender (Brandon Valley) 29-7;
152 — Nick Kummer (MIT) 26-12 vs. Levi Davis (Yankton) 20-19;
160 — Jason Greenway (MIT) 36-1 vs. Derek Diefenderfer (Belle Fourche) 18-20;
170 — Brent Havlik (MIT) 35-1 vs. Austin Eigenberg (Brandon Valley) 12-25;
182 — Logan Parr (MIT) 4-25 vs. Thomas Hudson (Harrisburg) 41-5;
285 — Josh Valandra (CHAM) 22-10 vs. Ty Dixon (Pine Ridge) 8-7; Robert McCardle (MIT) 9-28 vs. Jake Weber (RC Central) 45-3.