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Three Kernels take first at ESD Conference tournament

ABERDEEN -- The Mitchell wrestling team can claim six all-conference wrestlers after Saturday's ESD conference tournament in Aberdeen. Taking first place for the Kernels was Justin Greenway at 135 pounds, Austin Havlik at 160 pounds and Jordan Re...

ABERDEEN -- The Mitchell wrestling team can claim six all-conference wrestlers after Saturday's ESD conference tournament in Aberdeen.

Taking first place for the Kernels was Justin Greenway at 135 pounds, Austin Havlik at 160 pounds and Jordan Reiner (171).

"The six kids that placed wrestled relatively well," Kernels' head coach Travis Carpenter said.

Mitchell's Kyle Larson fell to Aberdeen Central's Baker Haar in the finals in the 215-pound weight bracket to finish in second place, Nick Kummer (125) grabbed an 11-3 win over his Watertown opponent for third place and Jason Greenway lost in the third-place match against Jake Dempsey of Yankton, 10-6, to finish in fourth.

Justin Greenway had only three live matches up until Saturday's tournament after breaking a bone in his foot. The unranked freshman pinned his first-round No. 11-ranked Yankton opponent, then he defeated Huron's No. 8-ranked Trevor Hupp in the semifinals, 4-3, and he defeated the No. 9-ranked Lance Habeck from Aberdeen Central in the finals, 5-2.

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"I'm not really surprised, but pleased over his progress the last couple weeks," Carpenter said. "For him to come off that injury and to win the conference, that's a great confidence builder going into the regional."

Undefeated and No. 1-ranked Jordan Reiner won by tech fall over a Brandon Valley opponent in the semifinal match, and then he pinned Garrett Blankinship of Watertown in the finals at 3:19.

Austin Havlik (160) won in his finals match 4-2 against Pierre's Terrance Maier and had another close match in the semifinals against a Yankton opponent, winning 6-2. Havlik has now defeated Maier twice this season after losing to him in their first matchup earlier this year.

Larson, who wrestled Haar for the second time this season, lost to him by only a takedown for the second time.

"It was a hard fought battle," Carpenter said. "We got out of position early and gave up a takedown, and who ever gets that is usually going to win a match like that."

Brent Havlik was the only other Kernel to win in the first round. He pinned his first opponent, lost to a Brookings wrestler in the semifinals, 5-0, but Carpenter said in the match to go to third place, he got thrown in a head lock and was pinned while holding the lead.

Cole Johnson (189) and Wes McPherson (285) both went 1-2 on the day. They each lost in the first round, won in their first wrestle backs, but lost in the match to go to the third-place match.

Mitchell wrestlers who went 0-2 in the tournament were Lakin Neugebauer (103), Skyler Neugebauer at 112, Ryan Buck (140), and Steven Skinner at 152.

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"Besides the winners, we could have had some kids place that didn't, Carpenter said. "And next weekend at the regional meet, in order to make a run, they're going to wrestle better."

The Kernels start their quest for a state title Saturday when they travel to Pierre for the Region 3A meet. The top four place finishers in each bracket advance to the state finals, which is on Feb. 27 and 28 in Watertown.

"We weren't perfect Saturday, but the good thing is we have a week to rebound and have some time to do some things before the regional meet," Carpenter said.

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