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Kernels start slow, finish strong on first day

Mitchell's Carson Max wrestles Jake Flakus, of Aberdeen Central, in their Class A 195-pound quarterfinal match Friday during the state wrestling tournament at the Premier Center in Sioux Falls. (Matt Gade / Republic)

SIOUX FALLS -- A rough start was followed by an encouraging evening for the Mitchell High School wrestling team.

After 11 of 12 wrestlers dropped their opening match, MHS head coach Travis Carpenter feared the worst, but he said he was happy with how his team responded on the first day of the Class A state wrestling tournament on Friday at the Premier Center in Sioux Falls.

“We had a slow start to the day and it was a little disheartening, but the kids came back and a couple of them got wins,” Carpenter said. “I’m proud of them. I’m hoping it’ll a stoke a fire for our kids, so more of them are wrestling on Saturday in the future.”

The Kernels had four grapplers -- Logan Sparks (126 pounds), Briggs Havlik (152), Kyle Foote (160) and Carson Max (195) -- advance to the second day of the tournament. As a team, Mitchell finished with 26 team points and sits tied for 15th place out of 28 Class A schools. Pierre, the two-time defending state champions, leads the team competition with 84.5 points.

Max was the lone winner for Mitchell in the opening round. Competing at 195 pounds, he pinned Yankton’s Trevor Elli 1 minute and 25 seconds into the match.  

In the quarterfinals, Max earned a narrow 1-0 decision over Aberdeen Central’s Jake Flakus.

Flakus beat Max in an ultimate tiebreaker six days ago in the semifinals of the Region 3A tournament, but Max had three wins over Flakus entering Friday’s match.

“As the year has gone on, it’s been tougher to beat him,” Max said. “I rode him out and I haven’t done that all year. I just wanted to leave it all out there.”    

Max, a sophomore, will face top-ranked Spencer Sarringar, of Pierre, today in the semifinals.

“I got nothing to lose against him,” Max said. “I want to give him a run for his money and you never know what’s going to happen.”

Sparks, Havlik and Foote each had to win two wrestleback matches to stay alive in the tournament.

Sparks picked up a major decision and pinfall victory in the consolation bracket, while Havlik had two wins by decision. Foote picked up an impressive 5-4 win over Vermillion’s Carter Kratz, who placed third at last year’s state tournament.

“Who would've thought Kyle Foote would beat Carter Kratz. It’s the state tournament, anything can happen,” Carpenter said. “Our four kids will show up tomorrow and decide how high do they want to place. We want it to be an odd number of some sort.”

Hutmacher, Powell advance to semis

Chamberlain entered the state tournament with three wrestlers competing on Friday and all three will wrestle again today with Collin Powell (120) and Nash Hutmacher (285) each advancing to the semifinals.

“We showed up to wrestle and we had a great week of practice,” said Chamberlain head coach John Donovan, who credited his entire team for helping prepare his state-bound grapplers. “It was a team effort.”

Powell picked up a 6-0 decision over Brookings’ Carson Klinkhammer in the opening round and outlasted Sturgis’ Shae Owens 2-0 in the quarterfinals.

Hutmacher improved to 42-0 on the season and advanced to the semifinals, picking up two pinfalls along the way. The freshman standout pinned Dell Rapids’ Nick Palmer in 57

seconds and pinned Rapid City Central’s Donavan Spencer in the quarterfinals (3:02).

“Collin isn’t going to kill you with flash, but he’ll kill you with hard work because he keeps coming and coming,” Donovan said. “Nash looked great. He’s focused on what the goal is and he wants it.”

Chamberlain’s third wrestler -- Max Donovan (113) -- pinned Douglas/Rapid City Christian’s William George in 42 seconds in the opening round, but fell to Pierre’s Lincoln Turman 5-0 in the quarterfinals.

Donovan bounced back with a 3-2 decision in the second-round wrestlebacks.