Greenway back at it for MHS
Mitchell wrestler Justin Greenway set a goal for himself this season, and he's sticking to it.
Despite missing almost the entire season with a cast on his broken leg, the 135-pound freshman said still hopes to place in the state tournament next weekend now that he's returned to the mat healthy. First, he has to get through Saturday's regional tournament.
On Dec. 6, the Kernels were at the Watertown tournament, and in an overtime match against Aberdeen Central's Lance Habeck, Greenway broke his leg near the edge of the mat, handing him his only loss to date this season.
Then, up until the final dual meet of the year against Aberdeen Central, Greenway waited impatiently for his leg to heal.
Although he didn't get a rematch against Habeck, Greenway grabbed a 4-1 win in his first live action back on the mat.
Greenway said he spent much of his first few practices gaining trust in the leg, and Mitchell head coach Travis Carpenter said he could tell Greenway's confidence was ready almost instantly.
"When you have something taken away from you, you get that little extra motivation to prove you could be there all year," Carpenter said. "Justin is one of the kids who can put the work in when something like this comes about."
The work paid off for him the next weekend at the Eastern South Dakota Conference tournament when Greenway took first place in the 135-pound bracket.
He defeated three ranked opponents, all juniors, including a rematch with No. 9-ranked Habeck in the finals that Greenway pulled out 5-2.
Earlier in the day, Greenway defeated No. 11 Gabe Messler of Yankton and No. 8 Trevor Hupp of Huron.
"I just wanted to make it through the day without having a heart attack," Greenway said, who is now ranked No. 7. "But I was better than I thought I was, and I was happy I got to wrestle (Habeck) and win."
Going into the ESD tournament unranked and then beating three high-status wrestlers should give Greenway a better seed going into Saturday's 3A Regional tournament in Pierre.
The top four finishers from each weight bracket advance to the state tournament Feb. 27 and 28 in Watertown, and while Greenway took sixth at last year's state tournament, he's sticking to his season-opening goal of placing higher this year.
"It doesn't matter who it is, when you miss that much time there's going to be a bit of a curve for that region meet," Carpenter said. "But he's a good enough type of kid to pull off being ready."
The Kernels have been doing a little extra work in and out of the wrestling room to get ready for the next two weekends.
Carpenter said he hopes each of his wrestlers is peaking in their conditioning for the most important two weeks of the year, and to do so, he's organized morning runs and turned up the intensity in practice.
In Greenway's 135-pound bracket, aside from Habeck and Hupp, he may see Pierre's Tyler Sarringer, who fell out of the rankings this week, or No. 5 Jesse Docken from Winner. Greenway's teammate Jordan Reiner is ranked No. 1 at 171 pounds and is undefeated on the season. Reiner's toughest competition in his bracket Saturday will come against Winner's No. 7 Steven Storms, who Reiner pinned at the Jerry Opbroek, and Aberdeen's No. 10 Josh Larson.
And, wrestling for their final times in for Mitchell will be seniors Skyler Neugebauer (112) and Austin Havlik (160). Havlik took first at the ESD tournament and is ranked No. 4 in Class A.
The Kernels' 215-pound junior Kyle Larson could see his third match against Aberdeen's Baker Haar in the past three weeks Saturday. Larson, a junior who is ranked No. 3, has lost to Harr, the senior who is ranked No. 2, on Feb. 14 and at the ESD tournament in the first-place match.
Last season, Mitchell was able to send 12 wrestlers to the state tournament, which included Reiner, Neugebauer, Havlik, Larson, Nick Kummer, Justin Greenway and his twin brother Jason Greenway, after qualifying through the regional tournament held in Mission.
The Kernels also won the team title over Aberdeen by 19.5 points, but this year that task may be more difficult as Aberdeen won the ESD conference and dominated at the ESD individual tournament.
"My goal is for everyone to get (to state), and if we didn't have that goal for them, then they wouldn't have it for themselves," Carpenter said. "It's going to take everyone to score points for the team to do well, and I hope they all take that team aspect to heart and compete as at team."
Other wrestlers tentatively competing for Mitchell on Saturday will be Lakin Neugebauer (103), Kummer (125), Ryan Buck (140), Brent Havlik (145), Cole Johnson (189) and Wes McPherson (285).