Parkston's Bietz 'shows what's possible'
PARKSTON — Blake Bietz has been a successful high school wrestler since the seventh grade.
And a few years ago, he set his goals on becoming a college wrestler.
"In my sophomore year, everyone was talking around Parkston, saying 'I think you can do it,' Bietz recalled. "I started getting that in my head and my junior year came around and coaches started talking to me and that really sparked my interest. I wanted to go and do it."
As of Thursday, Bietz has done it. He signed his national letter of intent to wrestle at South Dakota State University in front of friends and family at Parkston High School.
Bietz won't be on the mat this season, as he recovers from a knee injury suffered just before wrestling was set to begin. He had surgery a few weeks ago and is now undertaking therapy.
"I'm excited and excited to see what comes next year," he said. "I've got to get through therapy and everything like that and it's going to be baby steps."
While he visited a couple of other colleges, Bietz said SDSU was the frontrunner for him. He intends to study business.
"It's been crazy," he said. "They've made leaps and bounds in the last few years and that's a credit to Coach (Chris) Bono and he's led them to some huge victories."
Bietz is a five-time state placewinner and a three-time state champion in Class B. The two-time Daily Republic wrestler of the year was 45-1 a year ago and won the Class B 152-pound state championship. He won state championships at 113 pounds as a eighth-grader with a 47-3 record in 2013 and 145 pounds as a sophomore in 2015 with a 48-6 record. He was third as a seventh-grader (106 pounds) and as a freshman (132 pounds).
He also was part of three Class B team titles, as well, and those trophies were on the table as Bietz made his decision official Thursday. The rest of the Parkston wrestling team was on hand for the ceremony and Trojans coach James Boehmer said the day was as much about Bietz's offseason work as it was about his time during the season and winning on the mat.
"This shows what's possible," he said to a group of about 40 wrestlers and supporters.
Bietz, who was set to enter the season at 160 pounds, said no promises have been made to him regarding his role at SDSU.
"I'm just going to listen to the coaches and do whatever they say and see what happens," he said. "And that's fine with me."