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Stoebner embraces coaching sons

Bon Homme's Duncan Stoebner wrestles in the quarterfinals of the 106-pound weight class Friday at the Class B wrestling tournament in Aberdeen. Pictured at back is Bon Homme wrestling coach Mark Stoebner. (Luke Hagen/Republic)

ABERDEEN -- Mark Stoebner wonders how he'll react if either of his children qualify for the state championship wrestling match.

The 14-year veteran Bon Homme coach could very well end up finding out the feeling today.

At the first day of the Class B state wrestling tournament Friday, Stoebner watched his two kids earn spots in the semifinal round, one step from the biggest stage a high school wrestler can compete on.

With one win today, Lincoln and Duncan Stoebner will be wrestling in the finals.

"Until it happens, I don't know if it will be different," said coach Stoebner, who's coached all three of his sons in wrestling. "I've never had that opportunity, but it doesn't matter if it's your son or another guy on the team. With those title matches, that's a big stage and you can just feel the nerves, no matter who it is."

Duncan Stoebner is a sophomore 106-pounder who's undefeated this season. He'll wrestle Philip's Jed Brown in today's semifinals, which start at 10 a.m. at the Barnett Center on Northern State University's campus. Duncan picked up a 14-1 major decision win in the first round over Deuel's Devon Sievers to move into the quarterfinals, where he beat Dirk Wolf, of Lemmon/McIntosh, 5-2.

Lincoln Stoebner, a four-time state qualifier, is a senior at 126 pounds. His semifinal match today is against Winner's Tyrel Haley. Lincoln pinned his first-round opponent, Stanley County's Lukas Chase, in the third period and defeated Garretson's Thomas Howe 5-0 in the quarterfinals.

While on the mat today, Lincoln will remember exactly what his coach taught him ever since he started wrestling.

"You've got to wrestle disciplined and not do anything dumb," Lincoln said.

Stoebner has coached 10 wrestlers to 16 state championships in his career, the most recent coming in 2011 when Jay Kriz won an overtime battle for the 125-pound championship. This year, Bon Homme has six wrestlers qualified to the state tournament and three who are still alive wrestling to get to the championship match. Beside his two kids, Stoebner will be coaching Alex Caba (113) in today's semifinals.

Early in his coaching career, Stoebner led Bon Homme to a team championship and dual championship in 2002, a year the state held two state tournaments.

"The highlights are when the team does well," Stoebner said. "It's not always easy coaching your own kids. They lose, and you have another match to go to. You have to let their loss go. You can't go over and talk to them or sit on the loss. You have to continue to coach the rest of the team. Sometimes, that's a difficult part of it."

This year, Stoebner hasn't had to dwell on many of his kids' losses. Duncan is 39-0 and Lincoln is 38-3, both winning Region 3B championships last weekend in Wagner.

This weekend is the third time he's coached two of his own at state. Last year, both Duncan and Lincoln were qualifiers with Lincoln taking sixth place.

In 2010, Dylan Stoebner - the oldest child - was a senior who finished in fifth and Lincoln was a freshman, who qualified but did not place. Dylan Stoebner was matside Friday during Duncan and Lincoln's quarterfinal matches to bring the entire Stoebner family wrestling squad together. Stoebner says he's enjoyed the extra time he's got to spend with his kids during wrestling season, but he does everything to treat them like just regular members of the team.

Lincoln said he sees both faces of his father, coach and dad, during the wrestling season.

"He's probably more of a coach during the match and a dad after," Lincoln said. "When he's coaching during the match he can get real fired up, yell and treat you like any coach would in certain situations.

"After the match, he'll explain why he got so fired up, which we pretty much understand because he's our dad. After the match, he's much more calm."

Both Duncan and Lincoln set goals to make the finals this weekend, but Bon Homme has set a team goal of placing in the top eight, which would earn the school a spot on the final podium.

Sometime today, Stoebner will watch Lincoln wrestle his final match.

"It's always hard to watch them wrestle their last match, whether it's the state championship or for seventh and eighth place," Stoebner said. "But you feel that with all of your seniors. ... When it's your own kid who you spend a lot more time with, it is a little different."

After this year, Duncan will be the final Stoebner kid on the team who wrestles. He is set to be a senior and graduate in 2015. Will coach Stoebner call it quits after he graduates?

"Not sure," Stoebner said, adding that he would like to get into officiating once he quits coaching. "It just depends who we have to step in. I don't want to do this for the rest of my life, I can tell you that."

Right now, he's just enjoying the state tournament, watching his kids and the rest of the team wrestle. Friday made him proud as a dad and as a coach.