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Parkston, 10 others aiming for invitational crown

All eyes will be on the Parkston Trojans Saturday as they try to become the first Class B school to win the Jerry Opbroek Invitational since 2008.

Wagner was the last Class B team to win the tournament, which begins at 11 a.m. today at Mitchell High School.

Last year, the Trojans scored 163 points, finishing second to Class A state championship Pierre, which has won the invitational for the last three years.

“It would definitely be big to win this one,” Parkston wrestling coach Jared Digmann said. “This is the only tournament we didn’t win last year, so we definitely want to win it. This is another stepping stone toward the end of the year and getting ready for the state tournament.”

The tournament features a mix of Class A and B schools and one out of state team. Class A teams participating are Pierre, Mitchell, Watertown, Sturgis and Rapid City Stevens, while Bon Homme/Scotland, Parkston, Wagner, Winner and Howard represent the Class B teams. The only out of state team is Totino Grace (Minn.), which competed in the event last year.

“It doesn’t matter what class you are in,” Digmann said. “It is one guy against another guy when it comes down to matches.

“This is a tough tournament. I think it is one of the toughest one-day tournaments in the state. It is definitely going to take everything we have to try to win it.”

Coming into the event, the Trojans are the top-ranked Class B team in the state, having only two losses this season. Both losses came at The Clash in Rochester, Minn.

Parkston lost to Bettendorf (Iowa) and Totino Grace, but the Trojans have yet to lose to an in-state team this year.

Parkston brings a host of top flight wrestlers into the tournament, including reigning state champions Blake Bietz (22-1) and Brady Reiff (24-2).

Reiff, Wes Dvorak (17-2) and Mitch Heisinger claimed individual titles at the Jerry Opbroek Invitational last year. Three other Trojans have dropped five or less matches this season in Myles Semmler (24-5), Austin Bertram (16-4) and Andrew Semmler (20-4).

Winner coach Matt Chambers said the tournament is one of the best in the state.

“We haven’t seen Parkston yet, and they are one of the top teams, so it will be interesting to see how they look,” said Chambers, whose team is aiming for a top 5 finish today. “It is always fun to see the out-of-state teams, so watching Totino Grace will be fun as well.”

Last year, the Warriors finished tied for ninth, but Sean Bice and Tate Novotny claimed invitational titles.

Other returning area Jerry Opbroek Invitational champions are Bon Homme/Scotland’s Duncan Stoebner and Wagner’s David Kocer.

“It is hard to find a great competition like you are going to find at this tournament,” Chambers said. “There will be top teams and great individual wrestlers.”