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Mitchell's Brent Havlik honored as Daily Republic wrestler of year

Mitchell junior Brent Havlik has been named Daily Republic wrestler of the year (Chris Huber/Republic Photo)

Brent Havlik's junior season will be the topic of many future lectures given by Mitchell wrestling coach Travis Carpenter.

It wasn't only Havlik's hard work, determination and leadership that Carpenter will be talking about to inspire his teams. Of course, when one thinks of Havlik, those are obvious characteristics that shine.

But what Carpenter will remember most about Havlik's junior season was his ability to set and achieve one goal in order to win his second straight 160-pound Class A state championship.

Havlik was a self-proclaimed underdog going into the state tournament despite winning the title a year earlier. Two of his four losses were against Rapid City Central sophomore Aero Amo, who was a potential semifinals opponent at the state tournament.

When the matchup came, Havlik defeated Amo 4-3 on his way to win another state title.

"He's got an extreme amount of character and willpower and determination," Carpenter said. "He's not going to let anything stand in his way if he puts his mind to it, and that's what happened at the state tournament."

For winning the state championship in his junior season and defeating an opponent who beat him twice earlier in the year, Havlik has been named The Daily Republic's wrestler of the year.

Havlik received 14 points in a system that awards five points for a first-place vote, four points for second, three for third, two for fourth and one for fifth. Havlik will receive a plaque inscribed with his name on it for winning the annual award, which is voted on by the newspaper's three sports staff members.

Wagner junior Alex Kocer, who won the 152-pound Class B championship was second in voting with 13 points and Parkston's Eric Reiff was third with seven points.

All six wrestlers who received votes won state titles, but it was Havlik's strong season and underdog role in the state tournament that set him apart in the voting. Where many other wrestlers were considered favorites in their weight classes, Havlik needed to defeat Amo for the first time en route to becoming a state champion.

"It was probably, out of all the matches that I've wrestled, one of the most memorable ones," Havlik said.

Amo pinned Havlik in their first matchup of the season. The second time around, Amo won 3-0. But Havlik said he worked specifically to prepare himself for another rematch."We looked over tape to see where I could improve and what I could improve on," Havlik said, who finished the season 35-4. "It felt good after I won, but it felt really good after I won the state finals match."

Havlik defeated West Central's Tim Weber 5-3 in the finals to win his second state championship. He defeated Weber in overtime during his sophomore year to win his first championship.

In the last two seasons combined, Havlik has won 69 matches and has 31 pins. He's been taken down only eight times in the past two years and has racked up 170 takedowns.

With those numbers, he's hoping to turn some heads from college wrestling coaches. Last week, Havlik and Carpenter sat down and e-mailed coaches at Nebraska, Missouri and Minnesota in hopes of getting recognized for a Division I scholarship.

With a couple of responses back, he was notified that he will be watched at the National High School Coaches Association junior national tournament that begins today in Virginia Beach, Va.

Havlik will also be at Fargo, N.D., and the Disney Duals in Florida, which are both considered to be some of the toughest nationwide wrestling tournaments in the year.

"The college thing is really going to be determined in the offseason and whether he turns some heads," Carpenter said.

Havlik said it's his long-term goal in the sport to become a Division I wrestler. But he knows he'll have to continue to use the drive he worked with during his junior season to be heavily recruited.

As for a rematch with Amo next year, Havlik says bring it on.

"If we end up wrestling at the same weight class ... I guess if he wants to chase me, I'm not going to have a problem with that," Havlik said. "I'm going to give him all he can handle."

Here's a capsule look at the other five wrestlers who received votes:

Wagner's Alex Kocer won his fourth straight Class B state championship this year. As a junior, Kocer won 39 of his 41 matches, including a 3-1 win over Mount Vernon/Plankinton's Kyle Gerlach in the 152-pound state finals match. Kocer received 13 points in the voting.

Eric Reiff went 34-2 for Parkston in his senior season, which included a Class B 215-pound state title. Reiff pinned 32 opponents on the season and defeated Kimball/White Lake's Jack Carda 3-2 in triple overtime in the state finals. Reiff received seven points in the voting.

Jason Greenway, of Mitchell, won the Class A 152-pound state championship by defeating three-time champion Jarrett Jensen, of Rapid City Stevens. Greenway finished his junior season 37-4 and had 16 pins. He had 79 takedowns last year and gave up 12. Greenway received six points in the voting.

Jay Kriz, of Bon Homme, defeated Redfield/ Doland's Ben Gillette 5-3 in overtime to win the 125-pound Class B state title. Kriz went 36-3 in his senior season to win his first-ever state title. Kriz received four points in the voting.

Kimball/White Lake's Zane Nightingale went 45-1 in his senior season to win the 189-pound Class B state title. Nightingale defeated Ryne Baier 9-2 in the championship to win his first-ever title. Nightingale received one point in the voting.

Past winners

1996-B.J. Jones, Mitchell

1997- B.J. Jones, Mitchell

1998-Hannon Hisek, Bon Homme

1999-Matt Evers, Mitchell

2000-T.J. Christensen, Mitchell

2001-Andy Everson, Mitchell

2002-Andy Everson, Mitchell

2003-Nate Hansen, Gregory

2004-Tyson Reiner, Mitchell

2005-Tyson Reiner, Mitchell

2006-Riley Reiff, Parkston

2007-Riley Reiff, Parkston

2008-Dan Koupal, Wagner

2009-Robert Kokesh, Wagner

2010-Robert Kokesh, Wagner

2011-Brent Havlik, Mitchell