RAPID CITY -- Winner Area couldn’t have asked for a better Saturday night.
A year after the Warriors lost four championship matches, they went 4-0 in them at the Rushmore Civic Center to cap their second-place finish in the Class B standings with 140.5 points. Canton won the Class B title by breaking its own record set last year with 200 points.
“I told the kids to go out and wrestle your match,” Winner coach Spencer Novotny said. “The team score got away from us (Friday), so we were just worried about individuals and that’s how we finished.”
Kaden Keiser (120 pounds), Wyatt Turnquist (138) and Sam Kruger (160) all avenged last season’s second-place finishes, while Trevor Peters claimed the 152 title after losing in the semifinals a year ago.
Being that close made it even sweeter this time around, especially for Kruger who entered with a trio of top-three finishes in his career.
“It’s about time,” Kruger said. “It’s (my) third time in the finals. It’s about time.”
The night started with Novotny coaching back-to-back winners.
Peters won a 6-1 decision over Faulkton Area’s top-seeded and returning champion Alex Aesoph. And Kruger earned a 3-1 sudden victory overtime win over Parkston’s No. 2 Lucas Bietz (38-3), who Kruger (42-3) said was hard to get in on and score against due to their familiarity. Kruger broke through, though, and took Bietz down with four seconds left in their extra period.
Peters (44-5) relied on a late takedown, too, as he drove Aesoph to the mat with 24 seconds remaining in the third period.
“He was wrestling a little more cautious and that’s what I usually do,” Peters said. “So it kind of left us slow. … I finally took a shot and went for it.”
Keiser (46-1) started to take shots in the second period as he used last year’s runner-up finish as extra motivation. It showed as he continued Winner’s success with an 8-1 decision over No. 2 Bradyn Robbins, which was highlighted by a six-point second period to grow a 6-0 lead.
“(I thought) just keep going, don’t stop,” Keiser said, of his second period. “Don’t stop on my attacks and don’t get frustrated. Just keep going.”
Keiser was quickly congratulated by Turnquist after he left the mat.
“He’s my (practice) partner,” Kesier said. “We’ve been friends since preschool. We’ve been through it all.”
For Turnquist -- a Northern State University signee -- he never wanted to feel the pain of losing a state championship match again. But he also didn’t want to ruin Winner’s string of success.
“I didn’t want to be the only one who didn’t (win a state title),” Turnquist said. “Obviously you have those partners in the room and you see them win. Coach always says, ‘Winning is contagious,’ and it definitely is.”
Turnquist (46-2) came out attacking Wessington Springs/Woonsocket/Wolsey-Wessington’s No. 3 Tate Haider (37-7) because he tells his coaches, “I’m going to score 1,000 points.”
His strategy worked, earning a quick takedown in a 5-3 win. The senior -- who started the season at 132 -- stayed on top of Haider for most of the first two periods and had another takedown in the third period to build an insurmountable 5-1 lead.
“Wyatt’s a great kid,” Novotny said. “He’s always smiles. He’s always business. He’s one of the nicest kids I know. It’s great to see (Wyatt) as a senior go out and get a state championship.”