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Wagner sitting in first place after first day of Class B tourney

(Luke Hagen/Republic) Wagner's Nick Dion tries to pin his opponent with a headlock in a Class B state tournament match on Friday in Rapid City.

RAPID CITY - Wagner is making another run at a state Class B wrestling title.

The Red Raiders, who won three consecutive state championships starting in 2008, are in first place after the tournament's opening day.

They have 63 points and lead second-place Webster, which has 59 points.

Tyler Dion (126), David Kocer (145), Alex Kocer (152) and Derek Dickerson (160) each went unbeaten Friday at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. They'll all be wrestling in the semifinals today, looking to earn a berth in state championship matches.

"Those four wrestled well, but we have to keep on rolling," Wagner coach Chas Welch said. "It's good for us to be up toward the top, but the first day means nothing."

Alex Kocer is going for his fifth straight state title today, and Dickerson will be going for his second straight. David Kocer and Dion both wrestled in the semifinals last year and suffered 1-point losses.

"They remember that," Welch said. "They're very focused and will be ready."

Besides the four in the semifinals, Wagner's Austin Soukup (138) and Trevor Lenson (170) are alive and will wrestle in the wrestleback round.

Wagner's Nick Dion (113) got a first-round wrestleback pin, but lost his third match of the day and was eliminated. Elijah Heth (220) also got a wrestleback win, but lost in the final round of the day. Wagner's Miles Kreeger (132) was knocked out after two matches.

Wagner finished in fourth last year, 11.5 points shy of Webster, which won the team title with 106.5 points.

This year, Webster has three wrestlers in the semifinals.

"We knew coming in here that we don't have quite the power that Wagner and Tri-Valley do," Webster coach Wade Rausch said. "We're going to have to win some matches in the wrestlebacks."

Today's team title will likely come down to the semifinal round between Wagner, Webster and Tri-Valley, which also has four in the semifinals.

Parkston, which is making a strong case for a top-five spot, has three wrestlers in the semifinals: Blake Bietz (106), Myles Bialas (132) and Mitch Heisinger (145). The Trojans are in sixth place and have 46.5 points.

"Wagner is wrestling well, and I knew they have the team to win it," said Parkston coach Jared Digmann, whose team won the Region 3B title last weekend over Wagner. "I'd like to see them succeed."

Digmann said Bialas was one of the biggest surprises of the day. He pinned both of his opponents, including a semifinal win over Flandreau's Jace Christiansen, who beat Bialas twice earlier this year.

"That was a huge win for us," Digmann said. "Myles had a great day, and we're hoping he can continue that into (today)."

Howard and Winner both have two wrestlers in the semifinals.

Luke Loudenburg (106) and Evan Donahue (138) both lost in state championship matches last season. They each went 2-0 and earned a spot in today's semifinals.

Winner's Tyce Meyer (160) and Tate Novotny (170) are also both in the semifinals. Winner is in fourth place with 50 points. Canton is in fifth with 48.5 points.

Other wrestlers from the Mitchell area who are in the semifinals are Burke/Gregory's Kurt Braun (113), Bon Homme's Lincoln Stoebner (126), McCook Central/Montrose's Dominic Blindert (170), Scotland's Mitch Fuerst (182) and Marion/Freeman's Bryce Sayler (195).