CHAMBERLAIN-All of the awards were handed out and the state wrestling tournament concluded when Chamberlain junior Nash Hutmacher stepped off the stage at Rushmore Plaza Civic Center in Rapid City.
Fewer than 20 minutes earlier, Hutmacher became the first South Dakota heavyweight to win three consecutive Class A state championships when he pinned Mitchell's Beau Foote in 9 seconds to run his winning streak to 124.
A throng of people were waiting for him. Small kids wanted autographs or a photograph with him, parents of teammates congratulated him, parents from other schools congratulated him-even girls from other schools wanted to take pictures with him. Everyone knows Nash.
The secret has been out for a couple years now, particularly after winning two highly-anticipated state final matches and success on the junior national stage as a four-time All-American, but after a dominating 33-0 season in which he pinned 32 of his opponents (the other was a forfeit), Hutmacher has become a must-watch attraction.
When opponents come to Nash Nation, it is typically a short visit. Hutmacher pinned 31 of his 32 opponents in the first period, including all four in the state tournament. As a result, he has been unanimously selected as The Daily Republic wrestler of the year, becoming the first to win the award three years in a row.
Six other wrestlers received votes for the award, including five state champions: Bon Homme/Scotland/Avon junior Josh Crownover, Winner Area's senior Wyatt Turnquist, freshman Kaden Keiser and sophomore Sam Kruger, Wagner junior K.J. St. Pierre and Mitchell senior Carter Max.
Building a brand
When it was apparent Hutmacher had a bright future, his parents decided to help promote him as much as possible, particularly through social media.
A family friend suggested the name "Nash Nation" and he adopted it as his Twitter handle. A parent of a teammate gave him the nickname "Polar Bear" when he was a child thanks to his bright blonde hair - it stuck ever since.
One of the results has been countless Division I scholarship offers, not only in wrestling, but football as well.
"His wrestling on the national stage got his name out there," said Joe Hutmacher, Nash's father. "As people started retweeting his matches and spreading word through social media, the coaches we talked to said, 'We first learned about your son through social media and then we started watch film.' So, it's definitely helped."
Then again, there's not too many high schoolers in South Dakota who are deadlifting 500 pounds and benching more than 375 pounds, posting lifts with their dad-a former competitive powerlifter-and becoming a social media strength sensation all at the same time.
A state final win over Brookings' Eddie Miller-the defending state champion-as a freshman put Hutmacher's name on the map in South Dakota high school wrestling. Winning last season's 285-pound battle of unbeatens against Beresford/Alcester-Hudson's Nick Casperson to win another state title put him over the top.
As Hutmacher continues to win in an increasingly more dominant fashion each season, more people want to bear witness. The state final match did not have the buzz of the past two seasons, but it was still voted by fans to be the Class A spotlight match-and he does not shy away from the spotlight.
"There's more and more people that have been coming up to me and I love it-especially the kids," Hutmacher said. "I love taking the pictures with the kids, saying hi to the kids and talking to them."
Hutmacher is among the most popular athletes in the state, but that is irrelevant to him.
As his reputation continues to grow, he gives his time to anyone who asks, regardless of the situation. When he steps onto the mat, there is no trash-talking or intentional intimidation.
While admitting this year's state tournament had a different feel with no marquee match at the end, Hutmacher still put forth the same intensity. Not only did all four of his matches end in a first-period pin, but the total of those matches lasted 1 minute, 59 seconds.
"He loves being around people and he's a good kid," Chamberlain head coach John Donovan said. "He does all the right things. He's just so social and loves having great conversations. When it's go time, it's go time. When it's not, he's jokey-jokey."
Perhaps one of the biggest strengths for Hutmacher is the ability to rev up his intensity prior to a match.
During the state finals, other wrestlers were stone-faced and deep in thought before their matches, while Hutmacher was smiling and loose. It did not take him long to ditch the smile just before stepping onto the mat and rolling to another state title.
"I'm not the kind of guy that needs to be serious for 2 hours before every match," Hutmacher said. "I'm usually pretty loose for 30 or 40 minutes before my match and then I'm in the zone when I'm getting ready to go."
The next step
Despite a long-standing winning streak and three state championships, Hutmacher still has more goals to achieve during his upcoming senior campaign. A fourth consecutive state title is within his sights, as is the state record for consecutive pins of 48, which is held by former 1984 Olympian and Rapid City standout Randy Lewis.
As evidenced by being voted into the spotlight match and his performance during the state tournament, many fans are now moving from checking to see if Hutmacher extended his winning streak, to how fast he did so.
"I'm sure that's what some people are wanting and that's not really the goal," Hutmacher said. "The goal is to go out there and dominate every match and not worry about how fast I'm going to pin them. I just want to look smooth and slick out there on the mat and dominate."
Here's a look at the other wrestlers who received points in the voting:
Josh Crownover, Bon Homme/Scotland/Avon (12): Crownover claimed his second straight state championship in Class B, and did so again in thrilling fashion. He defeated Canton's Shaeden Scheidt once again for the state title at 170 pounds, after doing so at 160 in 2018. Crownover, who finished 41-5, beat a previously undefeated Scheidt by a 6-5 score, following up on a 3-1 overtime win a year ago. He's the seventh wrestler in Bon Homme history to win back-to-back state titles.
Wyatt Turnquist, Winner Area (11): Turnquist, a senior for the Warriors, won the Class B championship at 138 pounds, taking down Tate Haider of Wessington Springs/Woonsocket/Wolsey-Wessington in a 5-3 decision. The Northern State signee won the state championship for the first time, capping a 46-2 season.
Kaden Keiser, Winner Area (7): Keiser, a freshman, capped a strong 46-1 season with an 8-1 decision over Redfield Area's Bradyn Robbins in the 120-pound championship match. Keiser helped the team to a second-place team finish, and led off the Warriors' school-record run of four individual state champions.
K.J. St. Pierre, Wagner (5): St. Pierre, a junior, won the 220-pound weight class with a 6-1 decision over Mount Vernon/Plankinton/Corsica-Stickney's Jesse Hastings, capping a year-long battle with some of the top wrestlers in the weight class in his own region. The 35-5 championship season capped a big jump from St. Pierre's sophomore year, in which he finished seventh at 195 pounds.
Carter Max, Mitchell (4): Max entered the Class A 220-pound class as the No. 1 seed. Max finished the year at 39-4, taking second place at state 3-1 overtime loss to Brookings' Gus Miller. The senior owned victories against the Class A and B 220-pound state champions.
Sam Kruger, Winner Area (1): Kruger, who had previously twice finished second in the state championship round, broke through for his first state championship as a sophomore. He topped Parkston's Lucas Bietz in sudden-victory overtime, winning 3-1. Kruger finished his season at 42-3, and helped the Warriors to a second-place Class B team finish.
Past award winners: 1996: B.J. Jones, Mitchell; 1997: B.J. Jones, Mitchell; 1998: Hannon Hisek, Bon Homme; 1999: Matt Evers, Mitchell; 2000: T.J. Christensen, Mitchell; 2001: Andy Everson, Mitchell; 2002: Andy Everson, Mitchell; 2003: Nate Hansen, Gregory; 2004: Tyson Reiner, Mitchell; 2005: Tyson Reiner, Mitchell; 2006: Riley Reiff , Parkston; 2007: Riley Reiff, Parkston; 2008: Dan Koupal, Wagner; 2009: Robert Kokesh, Wagner; 2010: Robert Kokesh, Wagner; 2011: Brent Havlik, Mitchell; 2012: Alex Kocer, Wagner; 2013: Brady Reiff, Parkston; 2014: Luke Loudenburg, Howard; 2015: Blake Bietz, Parkston; 2016: Blake Bietz, Parkston; 2017: Nash Hutmacher, Chamberlain; 2018: Nash Hutmacher, Chamberlain; 2019: Nash Hutmacher, Chamberlain.