Kernels ready for state tourneySeven Mitchell High School wrestlers will compete at the Class A state tournament in Watertown Saturday.
By: Aaron Saunders, The Daily Republic
Seven Mitchell High School wrestlers will compete at the Class A state tournament in Watertown Saturday.
That number is down from last year’s total of 10.
Last season, the Kernels finished fifth as a team at the tournament, which begins at 10 a.m., and two individual state champions.
Eight of 10 of those state qualifiers from last year’s team graduated, including Jason Greenway and Brent Havlik, who won state titles at 160 pounds and 170 pounds last season.
“I am happy for the seven kids that got in,” Mitchell coach Travis Carpenter said. “This is what we worked all year for and hopefully they do what they need to in these next few days to prepare themselves to go get a place in that state tournament.”
Junior Alex Herrick and sophomore Robert McCardle are the only two wrestlers on the team who competed in the Class A state tournament last season.
“It feels good to be heading back to the tournament,” McCardle said. “It is big to have experience in a tournament like this and hopefully, I can take advantage of that experience and place.”
But two other Kernels on the roster also have state tournament experience — junior Tyson Sprinkel and sophomore Matt Larson.
Sprinkel and Larson both qualified for the Class A state tournament in 2011— Sprinkel as a freshman and Larson as an eighth-grader. The duo along with McCardle (285) and Herrick (132), will once again get the chance to earn a state title this weekend.
Joining the quartet of Mitchell wrestlers with state title experience are first-timers Ethan Parr (138), Trey Hohn (120) and Ben Kummer (160).
Heading into state, Parr and Herrick are ranked ninth in the state polls, Sprinkel is ranked seventh, Larson is ranked eighth and Hohn is ranked tenth.
Kummer and McCardle are unranked. Kummer is the lone senior out of the group of seven.
McCardle (30-15) wrestles Sioux Falls Washington’s Chris Vroman in his first dual, while Kummer’s (6-21) first match is against Shane O’Connell from Rapid City Central.
“They all have a chance to win, that’s why they wrestle,” Carpenter said. “Everybody is 0-0 at this point. … If you get in the tournament, you have a chance to win it. If you didn’t, then you are sitting at home.”
McCardle has 30 wins this season, the most of any Kernel wrestler.
Parr is second with 26 and Larson third with 20.
Parr (26-11) competes against Sioux Falls Lincoln’s Skyler Castilleja.
Sprinkel, Herrick and Hohn have 19, 17 and 15 wins respectively.
Hohn (15-16) takes on Spearfish/Lead-Deadwood’s Gene Trimble in the first round, while Sprinkel (19-7) takes on Madison’s Blake Gusso in his opening match.
Kummer is the only member of the group who has less than 10 wins.
Larson and Herrick have each been out the last few weeks before qualifying for the state tourney at the Region 3B tournament.
Larson (20-10) wrestles Millbank’s William Hins in the opening round and Herrick (17-6) faces Sturgis’ Jesse Skidmore in his opening match.
“They have to take things one match at a time and if they do that, they will do well in the state meet,” Carpenter said. “I look for big performances from all of them and if they do that, they justify the work they have done this season and that is what this tournament is about.”
If no Kernel reaches the finals, it will be the first time since 2008 that no Mitchell wrestler was a state finalist.