Parkston takes first state title since 2007 with young teamABERDEEN — Herb Harris was quick to explain the difference between Parkston’s 2007 state champion wrestling team and this year’s record-setting squad that claimed the Class B state tournament title Saturday.
By: Luke Hagen, The Daily Republic
ABERDEEN — Herb Harris was quick to explain the difference between Parkston’s 2007 state champion wrestling team and this year’s record-setting squad that claimed the Class B state tournament title Saturday.
“They’re definitely younger than we were then,” Harris said while celebrating Parkston’s title at the Barnett Center in Aberdeen. He coached Parkston’s wrestling team, either as an assistant or head coach, for 20 years.
Harris led the Trojans to team titles in 2004 and 2007, but the town earned its third state wrestling championship over the weekend under the direction of coach Jared Digmann.
Digmann watched as his 12 statequalifying wrestlers compiled 164 points to break a record that’s held strong since 1981, a year Redfield scored 157 points for the all-time scoring mark at the Class B state wrestling tournament.
“It’s been a good weekend,” said Digmann, whose team won all but one of its tournaments this season and came out on top in every dual. “Once we got rolling, we were rolling.”
Parkston finished the tournament with 10 place-winners and two state champions in Blake Bietz (113) and Brady Reiff (220).
Bietz is an eighth-grader, Reiff is a sophomore who went undefeated at 44-0 and sophomore Weslee Dvorak was the runner-up at 145 pounds. Of the state qualifiers, Parkston had one senior, two juniors, five sophomores, one freshman, two eighthgraders and a seventh-grader.
The success of the town’s wrestling program in 2004 and 2007 gave this year’s state-champion team something to work toward, Harris said.
“We have excellent little kids’ coaches that put on a great program and keep feeding our varsity,” he said. “We just have the numbers. They watch the success, want to be a part of it and keep building on it.”
Besides Harris, four members and an assistant coach from Parkston’s 2007 state wrestling team were in attendance to see this year’s Trojans win the title. Tyler Welch, Jeff Harris, Brady Nolz, Riley Reiff and former assistant coach Pat Harris each cheered on their hometown team, some from the crowd and others from the mat.
Brady Nolz took third place at 140 pounds in 2007 and is now an assistant coach at Beresford High School. He was more than happy to see Parkston on top.
“They’re a great group of kids and they’re exciting to watch,” Nolz said. “Even now that I coach another team, it’s still good to see your home town do well. It’s hard to cheer for them when you’re wrestling against them, but when it’s a neutral match I’m all for them.”
Trojans assistant coach John Gilman has been a part of all three state wrestling championships in Parkston. Gilman, a South Dakota high school wrestling historian, moved to town in the fall of 1972 as a football coach. He was also forced into being an assistant wrestling coach, despite not knowing anything about the sport.
After Friday’s first day concluded, Gilman said he wasn’t even sure his team would be able to win the title. He was concerned about Philip and defending state champion Canton, which both finished about 50 points behind the Trojans in the final standings.
“I maybe slept three hours and was up at 5 in the morning that night,” Gilman said. “I was pretty nervous. Then Saturday morning, we started wrestling pretty well and I was feeling better.”
With such a young roster coupled with the experience of this year’s success, Harris, Gilman and the rest of the Parkston wrestling community are expecting plenty of good things in the near future from Digmann and the Trojans.
“They put the pressure on themselves,” Harris said. “They have to relax and enjoy this right now. Next week, they can start thinking about next year.”