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Parkston repeats as Class B champion

Diane Murtha, right center, celebrates after her nephew Andrew Semmler wins a fifth-place match at the Class B state tournament Saturday at the Barnett Center in Aberdeen. Also pictured is Mandy Murtha, front left. (Nick McCutcheon/Republic)

ABERDEEN — Parkston wrestling coach Jared Digmann said every match this season was a stepping stone to the state title.

The team marched through its schedule and brought the attitude of a champion to the state tournament over the weekend at the Barnett Center in Aberdeen. The Trojans looked the part of conquerors throughout the competition and walked out with a second straight championship trophy at the Class B state tournament.

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“We are trying to build a culture of expectations here,” Digmann said. “As a coach, you have to set the bar high so the kids will have high expectations. That is how you build a winning program.”

Parkston scored 158 points as a team to finish ahead of second-place Philip Area by 24 points.

The Trojans’ point total over the weekend was the second most in Class B history. It was just shy of the 164 points Parkston scored in last year’s state tour- nament, when it broke the state tournament points total record of 157 set in 1981 by Redfield.

At the Class A tournament, the Mitchell Kernels improved from a year ago with a 10th-place finish and 76 points. Senior Alex Herrick had the best Kernel run, taking second at 152 pounds. For full Mitchell and Class A coverage, see Page B1 of today’s edition.

Howard’s Luke Loudenburg joined a rarified class, capturing his third state title at the Class B tournament. The junior topped Philip Area’s Rance Johnson 9-3 in the 138-pound final Saturday.

While on the podium after finishing off its state championship weekend, Parkston gathered for a team photo, displaying more confidence than emotion.

“We knew it was coming,” Parkston senior Mitch Heisinger said of the title.

The team knew, and so did the majority of those in attendance. The Trojans were the talk of the tournament, placing 12 wrestlers out of 14 weight classes.

“We have set building blocks and people are going to want to live up to those,” said Parkston eighth-grader Dawson Semmler, who placed fifth at 125 pounds. “The target on our back doesn’t bother us because we always know we can get it done.”

The possibility for a third straight championship for Parkston is strong, as the team graduates three seniors who competed at the state tournament. Next year, Parkston returns nine state placers and another state qualifier.

“We will have people step up and fi ll the spots that are going to left by the graduating seniors,” Digmann said. “We have some talented kids that we weren’t able to get into our varsity line up this year that will be able to contribute for us next year.”

The Trojans’ lone individual state champion, Brady Reiff, will be back after winning a second-consecutive 220-pound title Saturday. Freshman Blake Bietz (132), who won an individual title at 113 pounds in 2013, and junior Weslee Dvorak (152) each finished third in their respective weight classes and will return to help Parkston attempt to become just the third school in Class B history to win three straight team titles. Wagner was the last team to accomplish the feat, doing so in 2008, 2009 and 2010.