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Three area wrestlers compete in Disney Duals

ORLANDO -- Chamberlain's Spencer Kirkpatrick and Nick Claussen and Mitchell's Robert McCardle competed at the 2014 AAU Wrestling Scholastic Duals June 26 through July 1 in Orlando, Fla.

"This is the top folkstyle tournament in the country," Freeman's head wrestling coach Chris Sayler said. "And it's only getting bigger."

The tournament, also known as the Disney Duals, is divided into two divisions with wrestlers who have placed in a state tournament in the "community division" and all other wrestlers are placed into the "developmental division."

South Dakota sent wrestlers from across the state who were represented in three different teams, South Dakota Blue, South Dakota White and South Dakota Red.

McCardle, who qualified for the state tournament in the heavyweight division last year as a junior for Mitchell, was placed on South Dakota Blue and had an individual record of 8-1 during the tournament.

"It was awesome," said McCardle, who has wrestled at Disney Duals for three years. "I thought the tournament was a real confidence booster for myself, and I am hoping to really build on the momentum."

The Disney Duals is a team-style tournament, instead of individualized, that serves as a showcase for college coaches and a chance for wrestlers to improve on their skills during the offseason.

Sayler, who coached the South Dakota Red team, said wrestlers who dedicated the time and effort to making wrestling a year-round sport will definitely see the benefit during the high school season.

"Developmental kids won't be on this team again next year because they will become a state placer next year," Sayler said, "because of this experience alone."

With more than 155 teams competing in the dual-tournament atmosphere, each competitor is guaranteed to wrestle around 10 matches, making the trip a strong learning experience for young wrestlers.

Sayler said each South Dakota team placed fifth or better in their respected divisions and Claussen's individual performance was "dominant." Claussen was the only South Dakota wrestler to go undefeated during all of his matches.

"Nick will create some headaches for 220-pounders in Class A next year," Sayler said. "I think this experience will really propel his high school season come this winter."

McCardle added both Claussen and Kirkpatrick had strong showings in Florida, and it was a fun experience to represent South Dakota wrestling with them.

"It was just great to know that all three of us could compete with the competition from across the nation," McCardle said.

Claussen and Kirkpatrick will be juniors this season for the Cubs, while McCardle will wrestle in his final season with the Kernels.