Brooke Cersosimo is The Daily Republic's sports editor.
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PARKSTON -- Blake Bietz is cool, calm and collected. But once the sophomore steps onto the wrestling mat, he's awakened the beast. "He's relentless," Parkston first-year head coach James Boehmer said. "Even when he comes off the mat after a victory, it's never enough for him. If it's not complete domination, it's not enough, so he always has that itch to compete more. "Win or lose, you have to wait about 20 minutes before you go up to him to let that steam settle." The physical 145-pounder wrestled his way to his second state title on Feb.
After three previous trips to the NAIA Wrestling National Championships, Kyle Gerlach and Dusty Paulsen know what to expect. They Dakota Wesleyan University 157-pound seniors are looking for their best finishes at the event, which begins at 10 a.m. today in Topeka, Kan. "I expect them to wrestle extremely hard and perform at a high level," DWU head coach Boomer Fechko said earlier this week. "They both know how to win close matches.
On the heels of a state junior varsity championship, the Marlin girls varsity team will attempt the same this weekend. Mitchell heads into the state tournament as the fifth seed and faces Sioux Falls at 2 p.m. Friday in Rapid City. The Marlins (9-10-1) have lost all three regular-season contests against the Flyers, but head coach Cody Denne knows his team can pull off an upset. "We outplayed them, but just had small mistakes that led to goals," he said.
In several sports, the South Dakota High School Activities Association has taken the right steps to ensure the best teams advance in the postseason. Basketball isn't one of them. In the Class A and B girls and boys state basketball tournaments, one-fourth of the games were blowouts of 20 points or more. Forty-six percent of the games were decided by fewer than 10 points, but more than 50 percent of the contests were decided by 10 points or more. In Class A and B, a basketball team must win every postseason game in its district and/or region to advance to the state tournament.
The Winner boys basketball team finished 7-0 to win the Big Dakota Conference title. Chamberlain was second with a 6-1 conference record. Winner and Chamberlain each had two players earn all-conference selections, including Brendan Harter, Nathan Galbraith, Seth Friesz and Adrian Farmer. Honorable mention selections are Chamberlain's Tiegan Priebe and Winner's Lattrel Terkildsen, Sam Naasz and Devon Leiferman. On the girls side, Winner, Todd County and McLaughlin tied for the Big Dakota title with 6-1 records.
KIMBALL -- The 195-pound weight class was arguably one of the toughest at the Class B state wrestling tournament. "There were three or four kids who could've ended up on top," Kimball/White Lake/Platte-Geddes wrestling coach Thomas Konechne said. KWLPG senior Turner Blasius was one of them, along with Parkston's Miles Semmler, Mobridge-Pollock's David Jensen and 2014 state champion Lukas Forsling, of Elk Point-Jefferson. Prior to the state tournament, Blasius had lost to Jensen twice, but got vengeance Saturday.
For the first time this season, the Corn Palace was silent at the end of a Dakota Wesleyan University men's basketball game. In the semifinals of the Great Plains Athletic Conference tournament, No. 3-seeded Midland upset No. 2-seeded DWU 81-74 on Saturday afternoon in front of 2,200 people. "You have to give Midland a lot of credit. They're an athletic team," said DWU second-year coach Matt Wilber, whose team suffered its first home loss of the season. "They played with a lot of energy and juice, and made a lot of plays down the stretch." Despite the loss, the Tigers' season isn't over.
At the 2002 Class B state wrestling tournament, Scott Andal got lost in the moment. McCook Central's heavyweight wrestler Alan Tuschen won the state title after beating Tri-Valley's Casey Van Duyn 2-1 in 2OT -- provoking Andal to do something unexpected. "I did a belly flop," Andal, McCook Central/Montrose's head coach, said. "I have no idea why. I was in amazement. We weren't supposed to win, and that win moved our team from ninth to seventh place, so we got a plaque." Wrestling enthusiasts have learned that the sport's coaches are unlike any other.
HOWARD -- The great thing about champions is they always want more. More wins, more titles, more records. In his senior year at Howard High School, Luke Loudenburg has accomplished more feats than some could think possible. But he's not done yet. Loudenburg, Kain Klinkhammer and Nick Wolf are the only Howard wrestlers to win three state titles. Loudenburg has a chance to become the only Tiger wrestler to win four state wrestling titles this weekend at the Class B state tournament, which begins at 11 a.m.
On Wednesday night, Jalen Voss showed why he's arguably the best player in the Great Plains Athletic Conference. "He really carried us offensively inside, and our guys love giving the ball to him," Dakota Wesleyan University men's basketball coach Matt Wilber said. "He handled a lot of contact and finished a lot of plays. It's the Jalen Voss we know and get everyday." The 6-foot-7 senior forward had a double-double with 28 points and 11 rebounds to lead the No.