RAPID CITY- Although Mitchell High School did not bring home any champions from the state tournament on Saturday in Rapid City, two reached the finals, four wrestlers managed to place and the team recorded its best finish since 2013.
The Kernels placed ninth in Class A with 79 points, and while Rapid City Stevens ran away with the championship with 162.5 points, teams that finished No. 5 through No. 10 were separated by 18 points.
While Mitchell did not meet its goal of placing in the top six, it was still a strong way for Travis Carpenter to go out, as he is opting to resign at the end of the school year after nearly 30 years of teaching and 13 seasons as the Kernel head coach.
"I've had a blast," Carpenter said. "The kids have been awesome, the parents have been awesome, the Mitchell wrestling community has been phenomenal. ... We've been a family ever since I've been involved and I'm not going to go away, I'm just going to go do something a little different for a while."
Carpenter's final tournament as the Mitchell head coach is an example of the finality the state meet can bring for everyone involved. Moments earlier, Kernel senior Carter Max experienced how an entire prep career can evaporate in one swift motion.
With his arms resting on his knees, Max (39-4) sat on the mat with a wry smile on his face as he scanned the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.
After his high school career came to an end with a 3-1 overtime loss to Brookings' Gus Miller in the 220-pound finals, a variety of thoughts raced through his head before walking off the mat for the final time.
"Obviously you want to win a title, but you just look back at how far you've come as a person through this whole thing," Max said. "I just thought of who I've become, friendships I've made along the way-everything that comes with wrestling-just all flashed through my head at once."
Shortly after Max exited the mat, everyone in the arena bore witness to Chamberlain's Nash Hutmacher dispatching Mitchell's Beau Foote (35-10) in nine seconds for his third consecutive 285-pound state championship.
Perhaps lost in the mix, however, was Foote's run to the finals. The freshman began the tournament as the No. 6 seed and managed to decisively beat No. 2 Kaden Johnson (Aberdeen Central) and No. 3 Trevor Ellis (Yankton) to reach the championship match.
"Beau had a great tournament," Carpenter said. "Everybody knew they were fighting for second and Beau did that. He had a great weekend. He's a freshman-what a great future ahead of that kid."
Foote's classmate Brock Sparks also reached the podium in his first tournament, placing fifth at 106 and senior Max Schoenfelder finished eighth at 182 to wrap up his high school career.