Buzz growing for possible Casperson/Hutmacher title match
There's a buzz surrounding the South Dakota state wrestling tournament unlike any previous year. That's because there's potential for two nationally ranked wrestlers to meet in an ultimate showdown. Beresford/Alcester-Hudson senior Nick Casperson...
There's a buzz surrounding the South Dakota state wrestling tournament unlike any previous year.
That's because there's potential for two nationally ranked wrestlers to meet in an ultimate showdown. Beresford/Alcester-Hudson senior Nick Casperson (34-0) competed all season at 195 pounds, but he bumped up to 285 pounds in the Region 2A tournament. Casperson, who went 47-0 and won the Class B 182 title last year, is ranked No. 8 in the nation by FloWrestling and made the move in hopes of challenging Chamberlain sophomore Nash Hutmacher for the Class A heavyweight championship. Beresford/Alcester-Hudson moved up to Class A after competing in Class B last year, putting the two standouts in the same class.
Hutmacher (42-0), the defending Class A state champion, is the top seed and unbeaten in his past 86 matches, dating back to the 2016 state tournament. Casperson is the second seed for the state tournament, which begins on Friday and concludes on Saturday at the Premier Center in Sioux Falls.
Casperson's decision to move up two weight classes has local wrestling fans and even some non-wrestling fans buzzing about the possible top-tier match.
"It's a gutsy move by Casperson. He's going to be giving up around 80 pounds," longtime Parkston wrestling assistant coach John Gilman said. "It's two super people. You know Casperson is excellent and you know Hutmacher is excellent. It's going to be great and nobody will be leaving early."
Gilman added Casperson's move to bump up a weight class is very similar to what South Dakota State standout Seth Gross did in January. Gross, ranked No. 1 at 133 pounds, moved up to wrestle Wyoming's Bryce Meredith, who was No. 1 at 141 pounds, during the teams' dual match.
Former Bon Homme wrestling head coach Mark Stoebner, who will be inducted into the South Dakota High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame at the state tournament, said he couldn't remember a similar situation with a wrestler moving up two weight classes right before the state tournament.
"It's great for the sport and it's got people talking about the sport," Stoebner said. "We have two nationally ranked guys in South Dakota that could possibly meet in the state finals. There'll be a lot of eyes on that match, if it happens."
Mitchell High School wrestling head coach Travis Carpenter said he remembers former Wagner standout and current Red Raider head coach Robert Kokesh facing Webster standout Logan Storley. Both Kokesh and Storley went on to have All-American careers wrestling for the University of Nebraska and University of Minnesota, respectively.
"They wrestled early in the season and whoever lost decided they'd go to a different weight class so they could both win one (a state title)," said Carpenter, referencing a match in Gregory in 2009. "To see Casperson step up and do this is great for our sport. It's going to be one heck of a match."
Carpenter added he's seen both Casperson and Hutmacher in action this season and praised the quality of both grapplers.
"It's no different than a No.1 vs. No. 1 matchup on the basketball court," Carpenter said. "Nick put his state title on the line. He could have won it at a different weight class but he's putting it on the line and that's great for the sport of wrestling."
Once all the state championship matches are set, a fan vote conducted via social media by the South Dakota High School Activities Association and South Dakota Public Broadcasting will determine which match will be the final match. And Gilman is confident a Casperson-Hutmacher title bout would be the grand finale.
"It's great for wrestling and we need all the good publicity we can get," Gilman added. "I'm sure that will be voted as the premier match. I wouldn't want to be wrestling on the other mat. No one is going to be watching them."