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Class B preview: Parkston's Bietz seeks third state title

PARKSTON -- Blake Bietz has lost one time this season on the wrestling mat. The Parkston High School junior is committed to keeping it that way this weekend at the Class B state wrestling tournament in Rapid City. At 41-1 at 152 pounds, Bietz is ...

PARKSTON - Blake Bietz has lost one time this season on the wrestling mat.

The Parkston High School junior is committed to keeping it that way this weekend at the Class B state wrestling tournament in Rapid City.

At 41-1 at 152 pounds, Bietz is going for a third state champion as a Trojan wrestler, after winning as an eighth-grader in 2013 and a sophomore in 2015.

The success, he said, will come if he focuses on one match at a time.

"You have to take them one at a time," he said. "That's how I can control what I need to do."

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Bietz is already tearing through the Parkston High School wrestling record books. With his senior year still ahead of him, he has the school record for career wins with 221, blowing past the record held by two-time state champion Ryan Meyer (205). His 49-win season a year ago is also Parkston's single-season school record.

He can become the second Trojan in school history to win three state championships if he's successful this weekend. Current Detroit Lions offensive lineman Riley Reiff did it in consecutive years in 2005 to 2007 at 215 pounds in the first two seasons and then at heavyweight in 2007.

Parkston coach James Boehmer said it's guys like Reiff that set the pace for younger wrestlers and Bietz is among those who have continued that tradition of working hard and winning championships.

"He's everything you could want in a wrestler, because his work ethic is unquestioned," Boehmer said. "He's raised the level of wrestling for everyone on the team."

And he's improved. Boehmer said they've focused on pushing the pace and having Bietz continue to be the aggressor, mainly because underdogs facing Bietz and many of his teammates try to drag out the match and stay in it until the end.

"I know I have to stay on offense and stay in charge of the match," he said this week. "It's my job to keep the match going and go out and win it."

The only blemish on Bietz's record came over the Christmas holiday break at the Floyd Farrand Invitational in Sioux Falls. Bietz lost in the championship match of the tournament to Sioux Falls Washington's Hunter O'Connor by a 3-2 decision. O'Connor, who is 43-1, is wrestling at 152 pounds in the Class A bracket and is considered to be the favorite, after finishing second at 138 pounds in 2015.

The loss had plenty of teaching moments for Bietz.

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"It was a wakeup call for the season and showed where I needed to be," he said. "It wasn't a great feeling and it motivated me to finish the season without another loss."

Today, when action starts in Rapid City at 11 a.m. Central time, Bietz will take on Canton's Kyle Seibel in the first round of the tournament. Bietz said he's tried to focus on staying loose and nerves are in the back of his mind.

"Nerves are fine but you want to be focused and you want to be prepared," Bietz said. "In a lot of ways, you have to treat it like just another tournament."

Trojans plan to be in team title hunt

Bietz and company probably won't be far from the Class B title hunt this weekend. The three-time defending team champions are ranked second in the final wrestling rankings of the year, behind Canton. Beresford is the No. 3 team and Philip is close behind in fourth.
Parkston has just six wrestlers at the tournament - Bietz and his brother Lucas at 160 pounds, Logan Mahoney (120), Kyler Holzbauer (138), Dawson Semmler (145) and Austin Ripp (170). They've all been there and they know what expect, Boehmer said.

"There's not a coach on our team or any of our wrestlers that don't understand what it takes for us to be successful," he said. "We just have to be confident that we can do our jobs and we'll be in good shape this weekend."

McCook Central/Montrose has eight qualifiers and could very well frequent the medal stand Saturday night. They are the No. 6 team in the rankings heading into the tournament and coach Scott Andal said the team is prepared as they can be.

"We've done everything we can so far," Andal said. "There's a little fine tuning to do yet, and it'll was a big week of practice. It wasn't as long because it's hard to change things, but we're going to give it our best shot."

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Bon Homme/Scotland brings brings seven wrestlers to the state tournament off of last year's second place team finishers. Six of this year's participants placed a year ago, including a second place finish from Alex Caba, who is at 138 pounds this year and is 35-4. Coach Darren Kriz said his team will be motivated off the region competition.

"We're fired up to be there," Kriz said. "It's the state tournament and your blood is going to be going. We're going there to have some success and I think we can certainly do that."

Winner Area has eight wrestlers at the state tournament, including region champion Colby Curtis at 126 pounds. Burke/Gregory and Kimball/White Lake/Platte-Geddes each have seven participants. The Storm will look for strong finishes from Jeremiah Beck (152) and Noah Beck (160), while Sam Kruger is the No. 2 ranked wrestler at 106 pounds off of his championship at the Region 3B tournament.

Related Topics: PARKSTONWRESTLING
Traxler is the assistant editor and sports editor for the Mitchell Republic. He's worked for the newspaper since 2014 and has covered a wide variety of topics. He can be reached at mtraxler@mitchellrepublic.com.
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