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Kernel wrestling team returns six state qualifiers

Kernel wrestling coach Travis Carpenter looks to get strong performances from his returning six state qualifiers.

Trey Hohn (138), Ethan Parr (145), Alex Herrick (152), Matt Larson (160), Tyson Sprinkel (195) and Robert McCardle (285) are all back for Mitchell with state tournament experience.

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“From 138 on up, we’re going to be pretty strong,” said Carpenter, whose team opens its season against defending champion Pierre in an Eastern South Dakota Conference dual at 7 tonight in Pierre.

Others returning for a spot on varsity are Briggs Havlik (126), Zach Smith (170), Preston Skinner (182) and Chase Klingaman. Among the group are a slew of seniors in Hohn, Herrick, Skinner, Sprinkel, Klingaman and Mitch Morgan.

Despite the strength beginning in the middle weight classes, the Kernels suffer from holes at the lower weights. Heading into the first dual, Mitchell has open spots at 106, 113, 120 and 132.

“The issue that we have is numbers,” Carpenter said, adding he has 20 kids out. “And many are at the same weight classes. It’s one of those deals where we have low numbers in the middle school and it’s catching up.

“It’s a struggle to spread out and fill the lineup, but the kids that are in the lineup should do well.”

He added some younger kids have the potential step in and fill the spots as the season progresses.

“As far as a team goes, duals are going to be tough when you’re giving up four weight classes,” Carpenter said. “Tournaments will be better for us.”

The Kernels look to improve as they struggled last season, finishing tied for 23rd at the Class A state tournament. It was the first year since 2008 where Mitchell didn’t have a wrestler in the state finals. Sprinkel returns as the only state placer from last year. He took eighth at 220 for Mitchell, which finished tied for 23rd.

Rapid City Central, which finished second at state last year, and Aberdeen Central are two of the favorites in Class A, said Carpenter. After today’s dual with Pierre, the Kernels turn back around and head to the Watertown dual tournament Saturday.

“Just like any other team, we’re ready to lineup on the mat against someone other than teammates,” Carpenter said. “We’ll be able to learn from this weekend and continue to work and get better.”

Brooke Cersosimo
Brooke Cersosimo is The Daily Republic's sports editor.