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Notebook: Former DWU wrestlers assist Titans

ABERDEEN -- It's been a while since Josh Geppert has been on the high school state tournament wrestling mat.

As a senior in 2006, Geppert took fourth place at the Class B state meet in Sioux Falls, competing at 171 pounds for Mount Vernon/Plankinton.

Geppert, a former All-American for Dakota Wesleyan University's wrestling team, was alongside Mount Vernon/Plankinton/Corsica head coach Tim Pranger Friday at the state meet. Now in his first year as an assistant coach, Geppert was helping MV/P/C's two wrestlers at state.

"He was a welcomed addition to the team," Pranger said.

Geppert is a Plankinton native who wrestled for DWU and earned All-American status as a heavyweight in 2011, taking sixth place at the national tournament. He now works for Aurora Plains Academy, a therapeutic treatment and education center for children, in Plankinton.

APA encourages some of its members to participate in high school athletics, and Geppert was instrumental in signing up one member to the team before the season. Earlier this year, four students from APA were members of the Plankinton High School football team.

"We want to get them more of the high school experience," Geppert said. "They've never really known what it's like to have the team aspect, and to have that camaraderie is so valuable. Sports can teach you a lot of life lessons and these kids don't always get that."

Since Geppert was at practice each day, Pranger decided it would be a good idea to sign him up as an assistant coach. Geppert's late father, Charlie, was a head wrestling coach for Mount Vernon/Plankinton in the '90s and early 2000s.

Danny Hutcheson, another former DWU wrestler, is also an assistant for MV/P/C. Both Hutcheson and Geppert have been at practices, duals and tournaments all season long.

"They've helped bring a lot of technique into the room," Pranger said. "It's refreshed me as a coach. I'm sure hoping both are back again next year."

MV/P/C's two qualifiers are both wrestling in the wrestlebacks Friday night.

Cody Heezen (182) lost his first-round match, won in the first-round wrestlebacks and lost his final match Friday to get knocked out of the tournament. Cameron Kostal (195) won his first-round match, but lost in the quarterfinals. He went on to win his last match of the night Friday and is wrestling to get to third place.

Pins abundant in heavyweight, 170-pound weight classes

In the first round of both the heavyweight and 170-pound weight classes, seven of the eight bouts ended in pinfalls Friday at the Class B state wrestling tournament.

Before this year, there had not been seven pins in one weight class of the first-round at the Class B tournament since 2008. That year, heavyweight had seven pins.

Friday, five of the seven pins at heavyweight in the first round came in the first period, the fastest was a 1 minute, 4 second pin by Scotland's Dan Stibral. At 170 pounds, five pins were first-period pins and three were under a minute, including Winner's Tate Novotny's 16-second pin over Mason Kilker, of Britton-Helca. Bon Homme's Blase Vanecek had a 26-second pin and Wagner's Trevor Lensing recorded a fall in 43 seconds.

The least amount of pins in the first round came at 145 and 152 pounds, where only one first-round pinfall was recorded.

This year, there were 53 first-period pins and five technical falls in the first round. That's slightly down from last year but just above the five-year average of 52 first-round falls. Last year's tournament in Rapid City marked the five-year high at 57 first-period pins and six technical falls. The five-year low came in 2010, when the tournament was held in Sioux Falls and there were 48 first-period pins.

Heavyweight is the weight class that's had the most first-period pins in the last five years at 27 total, averaging about five per year.

Slykhuis to earn officiating award

Scotland High School graduate Clark Slykhuis, of Letcher, will be recognized with the National Federation Officials Association Active Officials Award at the Class B state tournament this weekend.

Slykhuis wrestled for Scotland's varsity for six years and was a four-time state qualifier, placing fourth and third in his junior and senior years.

He added Dakota Wesleyan University and graduated with a degree in elementary education. He wrestled at the school until an injury ended his career in 2000. He started officiating in 2001 and has been at the last nine Class B state tournaments with his brother, Cory.

Slykhuis is not one of the officials at this year's state wrestling tournament.