Kernels take 5th place in team raceABERDEEN — Head coach Travis Carpenter set a goal for the Mitchell Kernel wrestlers to finish in the top five at the Class A state tournament in Aberdeen over the weekend. The Kernel wrestlers did that, finishing fifth in team points with 110.0 points. “I can’t complain about how we wrestled,” Carpenter said. “The kids wrestled hard, and they saved their best for the last.”
By: Kevin Pottebaum, The Daily Republic
ABERDEEN — Head coach Travis Carpenter set a goal for the Mitchell Kernel wrestlers to finish in the top five at the Class A state tournament in Aberdeen over the weekend.
The Kernel wrestlers did that, finishing fifth in team points with 110.0 points.
“I can’t complain about how we wrestled,” Carpenter said. “The kids wrestled hard, and they saved their best for the last.”
Mitchell had two wrestlers win individual state championships. Brent Havlik at 170 pounds and Jason Greenway at 160 pounds added to their legacies with the Kernels. Greenway finished his career at Mitchell with two state championships, while Havlik became only the second Mitchell wrestler to bring home three individual titles.
“It feels good,” Havlik said. “I’ll feel better later.”
Havlik defeated Dell Rapids’ Jackson Entringer 9-7 in overtime for the championship. Greenway won by major decision 9-1 over Huron’s Hartman Katz.
Lakin Neugebauer was the only other Mitchell wrestler to compete in a championship match. Neugebauer lost 8-1 in the 126-pound championship to Sturgis Brown’s Morgan Engbrecht. Neugebauer had the closest match with Engbrecht, who had two pins and an 18-4 decision in the state tournament.
“I would have liked to win one (state title),” Neugebauer said after finishing runner-up in his last two seasons with Mitchell. “I can’t be too sad. He’s an all-around good wrestler. If I had to lose to anyone in the finals it’d be him.”
Engbrecht, like Havlik, won his third state title. He was also named outstanding wrestler, an award given to the tournament’s top wrestler as voted on by the coaches.
“It feels great,” Engbrecht said.
Alex Herrick, Landon Neugebauer and Nick Kummer were the other Mitchell wrestlers to make the podium, an honor for wrestlers who finish in the top 8 in the state in their respective weight classes.
Herrick lost a tough 2-1 match in the semifinals at 120 pounds but bounced back with an 8-0 victory to put him in the third-place match. He fell 10-4 to West Central’s Cole Tirrel to take fourth place in his sophomore season.
“I’m happy with Alex,” Carpenter said.
The sophomore will be looked at as a team leader next season, when the Kernels will have a young squad as several seniors will be leaving the team.
In Havlik and Greenway, the Mitchell wrestling team will be losing the two wrestlers who tallied five state championships for the Kernels.
Mitchell will also be losing state qualifiers Dylon Bollock, Neugebauer, Nick Kummer and Logan Parr to graduation. Justin Greenway, who missed the season due to injury, is another wrestler who the team will miss next year.
“They’re going to be missed,” Carpenter said. “I could go on and on about seniors. They’re a great group of kids.
Landon Neugebauer is ready to be another young leader as the freshman took sixth place at this year’s state tournament at 138 pounds.
“We’re going to have a super young team next year,” Landon Neugebauer said. “Me, Herrick and (Matt) Larson are hopefully going to be the captain’s next year to lead the team.”
Larson competed in last year’s state tournament at 125 pounds as an eighth-grader, but injury issues kept him from being able to have a chance at returning to state competition.
Kummer ended his senior season with a fifth-place finish at 152 pounds.
“Nick’s a battler,” Carpenter said. “I’m proud of him.”
Kummer was glad to end his career on a win but was even happier he could help the Kernels reach their goal of fifth place in the tournament.
“It feels good,” Kummer said. “That was a really big match for us.”
Fellow Eastern South Dakota conference member Pierre took the team title, scoring 158.0 points over the weekend.
“It’s been a long time,” Pierre coach Ryan Noyes said. “I’m real happy with the way the team competed this week. I don’t even know what to say other than I’m proud of our guys.”
Huron finished second with 145.0 points, Rapid City Central had 143.0 points for third place and Sturgis Brown was good enough for fourth place with its 132.5 points.
Mitchell just edged Rapid City Stevens to make the top five. Stevens finished 8 points behind the Kernels.
Chamberlain, another Class A school in the Mitchell area, finished in a tie for 25th place with 10 points as the two wrestlers that qualified for the tournament both made the podium.
“To come here with just two wrestlers and put them both on the podium is really nice,” Chamberlain head coach John Donovan said. “For Josh Valandra to get up on the podium in just his second year wrestling is pretty impressive.”
Valandra, a senior heavyweight, didn’t wrestle until his junior year and he made that state tournament. He made his way back to the tournament and was able to get eighth place over the weekend.
“A lot of kids wrestle their whole lives and never get on the podium,” Valandra said. “I think it just shows that if you work hard at the sport, you can achieve a lot.”
Junior Russell Felicia finished sixth place at 119 pounds last season and was hoping to improve on that finish. Felicia did just that as he placed fifth at 126 pounds.
“I had some ups and downs,” Felicia said. “My goal is to be at the top. I obviously didn’t get my goal but I’m going to keep working towards that for next year. I’m going to work my butt off and see where I go from there.”
The other wrestlers to qualify for the state tournament from Mitchell were Bollock (12), a senior at 113 pounds, 145-pound Tanner Henkel (9), 182-pound Parr (12) and heavyweight Robert McCardle, a freshman.