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Class A state wrestling notebook: Chamberlain's Gabe Skustad wins state title exactly 40 years after grandfather Doug Foley

Skustad capped a high school wrestling career that included 177 career wins with a 3-2 decision over Pierre’s Tyson Johnson in the state finals. Exactly 40 years earlier, Skustad’s grandfather Doug Foley captured the 138-pound state championship with a win over Brookings’ Jim Strande in Watertown. It also happened to be Foley’s birthday.

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Chamberlain's Gabe Skustad has his hand raised after winning the Class A 145-pound state championship Saturday at Rushmore Plaza Civic Center in Rapid City. (Nick Sabato / Republic)

RAPID CITY — Chamberlain’s Gabe Skustad was at a loss for words following his Class A 145-pound state championship. His grandfather was also speechless watching from his northern Wisconsin home.

Skustad capped a high school wrestling career that included 177 career wins with a 3-2 decision over Pierre’s Tyson Johnson in the state finals. Exactly 40 years earlier, Skustad’s grandfather Doug Foley captured the 138-pound state championship with a win over Brookings’ Jim Strande in Watertown. It also happened to be Foley’s birthday.

Foley’s 1981 state championship was the first recorded by a Chamberlain wrestler — South Dakota records date back to 1958 — and it would take 36 years for another Cub to reach the top of the podium, when Nash Hutmacher won his first title in 2017.

Like Foley, Skustad’s final prep match resulted in a state championship, coming after placing three times at the state tournament without reaching the finals.

“I’ve heard a lot of his stories over the years and it was my dream to have my name up by his,” said Skustad, who finished the season 45-4. “I took seventh my freshman, fifth my sophomore year, third my junior year and finally got it done my senior year. It’s just a dream come true.”

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Skustad spoke to Foley on the phone before leaving for Rapid City, and once he stepped off the podium Saturday, searched for his phone and placed a call to Foley.

Despite not being able to attend the tournament in person, Foley watched the match intently on the internet. Watching his grandson take the mat took Foley back 40 years, almost as if he was wrestling again.

“The match was identical in many different ways of my match,” Foley said. “He did win the match with his double-leg takedown, which is what won my match in ‘81. His respect for the opponent was good to see and Gabe has always been willing to learn.”

For years, Skustad heard stories of Foley having an unstoppable double-leg takedown, and while the match-winning point came on an escape in the final minute of the third period, Skustad’s first-period takedown of Johnson dictated the course of the match.

Skustad is undecided on plans after graduation, but if the match was the last of his life, he believes there was no better way to finish.

“With it being 40 years to the day and the way everything went, it was a great ending point,” Skustad said. “To be honest, that was more than likely the last of wrestling. It’s a good time to hang up the shoes and a great way to end it.”

Class A’s 285-pound division moves from Nash to Navarro

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Brandon Valley's Navarro Schunke battles for position with Mitchell's Beau Foote during the Class A 285-pound state championship Saturday at Rushmore Plaza Civic Center in Rapid City. (Nick Sabato / Republic)

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After four years of seeing Hutmacher dominate the Class A 285-pound division , some felt it would be up for grabs moving forward.

Not if Brandon Valley’s Navarro Schunke can help it.

Schunke won the 220-pound state championship last season as an eighth-grader, but entered the football season at 6-foot-4, 270 pounds. By wrestling season, he was able to bump up to 285, cruising to a 46-0 record and a state championship.

In his first three matches, Schunke pinned each opponent before beating Mitchell’s Beau Foote in a 6-2 decision in the finals as the Lynx captured the first state title in school program history.

Twenty-nine of Schunke’s wins came by fall this season, and although any early comparison’s to Hutmacher are lofty, he competes with a similar style. Like Hutmacher, Schunke rejects the typical heavyweight tug-and-pull style, instead relies upon shots to ground his opponents.

“I’ve been taught to shoot my whole life,” said Schunke, who is 85-2 thus far. “I never got taught a headlock when I was young. I never got taught all the things heavyweights normally do. They just tug and pull on heads and try to get a high (single-leg takedown). I’ve always been taught to shoot and never back down or back away and wait for somebody to come after. I’ve always been trained to move forward.”

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