Coaches saying Parkston favorite at state wrestling tourneyCoach Jared Digmann isn’t taking much stock into what other people are saying. Class B coaches are calling his Parkston High School wrestling team the overwhelming favorite at this weekend’s state wrestling tournament in Aberdeen, which starts today and runs through Saturday.
By: Luke Hagen, The Daily Republic
Coach Jared Digmann isn’t taking much stock into what other people are saying.
Class B coaches are calling his Parkston High School wrestling team the overwhelming favorite at this weekend’s state wrestling tournament in Aberdeen, which starts today and runs through Saturday.
“People have said it over and over that it’s (Parkston’s) to lose, and I don’t agree with that,” Digmann said. “I think we’re going to have to go up there and wrestle to the best of our ability. There’s some good teams in this state and no one’s going to lay down and give it to us. Everybody’s got their own job and it’s going to take our whole team to get where you want to be.”
Parkston qualified 12 to this weekend’s tournament, and what makes the Trojans’ strong lineup so unusual is its youth. Only one of Parkston’s qualifiers is a senior.
At the Region 3B meet in which Parkston cruised to the championship, the Trojans sent 10 wrestlers to the championship match, getting five region champions, out of a possible 14 weight classes.
“With their numbers and the way they came out of the region, they have a good opportunity to take the tournament,” Mount Vernon/Plankinton/Corsica coach Tim Pranger said, “and I think they might take it by 20 points.”
Parkston’s lone senior competing this weekend is Myles Bialas (138). In other state qualifiers, Parkston has two juniors in Mitch Heisinger (152) and Andrew Semmler (195), five sophomores, one freshman, two eighth-graders and a seventh-grader leading the charge toward the school’s first state wrestling title since 2007.
Sophomore Brady Reiff (220) is 40-0 this season and is looking to become the third Reiff brother to have won a Class B state wrestling championship. Riley Reiff and Eric Reiff were both state champions for Parkston.
Other sophomores wrestling for Parkston are Ethan Murtha (126), Weslee Dvorak (145), Miles Semmler (170) and Austin Bertram (285). Freshman Austin Ripp (132), eighth-graders Logan Mahoney (106), Blake Bietz (113) and seventh-grader Dawson Semmler (120) will also be looking to add points to the Trojans’ lineup this weekend.
“It’s going to take every guy wrestling to their full potential,” Digmann said. “We’re taking 12 guys and as I look at the brackets, there’s nobody backed up into a corner. I think all 12 of our guys have a shot at placing. Now some of them are going to have to wrestle at their peak performance to do that, but I think they’ve got a shot.”
Nine of Parkston’s state qualifiers are consecutive state tournament qualifiers, including five who placed in the top six. Last year, Heisinger was second at 145, Bietz was third at 106, Reiff was fourth at 182, Dvorak was fifth at 120 and Bialas was sixth at 132. All three Semmlers qualified last year as well as Bertram. As a team last year, Digmann’s squad took seventh place.
Last year’s experience was another factor several coaches pointed to Parkston as this weekend’s favorite. Wagner’s Chas Welch, Lyman’s Chad Johnson and Winner’s Matt Chambers were just a few coaches who said Parkston has the most potential to end up on top.
In this year’s regular season, the Trojans won all of their duals and all but one of the tournaments they entered. The only tournament Parkston failed to win was the Mitchell Invitational in which defending Class A champion Pierre took first place.
“Their dominance has shown throughout the season,” Johnson said.
Coaches said Philip, Canton, Tri-Valley, Bon Homme, Wagner and Burke/Gregory as teams that should be near the top of the standings at the end of the tournament.
In the Mitchell-area, Wagner, Winner and Howard all earned top-eight team finishes a year ago.
Howard, which took eighth last year, qualified eight wrestlers to this year’s tournament.
Howard’s Luke Loudenburg is looking to become a two-time state champion after claiming the 106-pound title last year. The sophomore is wrestling at 120 this year and holds a 45-1 record for the Tigers. Howard’s Bailey Neises took second last year at 113 and is looking to get back to the championship match this year at the same weight.
Winner finished in fifth place last year and qualified 10 to this year’s tournament, including state runner-up Tate Novotny.
The senior 170-pounder lost in the championship match last year’s to McCook Central/Montrose’s Dominic Blindert.
“We wrestled well at regions and hopefully we can improve on that,” Warriors coach Matt Chambers said. “If we can hold together, we’re still hoping to battle to a top-eight position. Our goal all year long was top-eight finish.”
Wagner finished fourth last year but is without a multiple-time state champion for the first time. Five-time state champion Alex Kocer graduated after last year’s tournament and is now competing for South Dakota State.
The Red Raiders qualified nine for this weekend and have two wrestlers back who earned top-three finishes last year. Junior David Kocer is wrestling at 160 this year with a 32-1 record. Last year he lost in the 145-pound semifinals and went on to take third place.
Tyler Dion lost in the 126-pound championship last year. Dion, a senior, is 33-2 this season and is wrestling at 138.
“They both fell short of their goal last year,” Welch said. “They both wanted to win last year and that has made them work harder this year. They’re as prepared as they can be to get the job done.
“But we’re just looking for good, solid performances from not only David and Tyler, but all of our eight guys who qualified.”