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Havlik eyes strong finish on the mat

Cutting a little weight has turned into a big gain for Briggs Havlik. The sophomore Mitchell wrestler started the season competing at 152 pounds, before dropping seven pounds to compete at 145 pounds at the Jerry Opbroek Invitational on Jan. 16. ...

Mitchell's Briggs Havlik, right, wrestles during a meet against Huron earlier this season at Mitchell High School. (Eric Mayer/Republic)
Mitchell's Briggs Havlik, right, wrestles during a meet against Huron earlier this season at Mitchell High School. (Eric Mayer/Republic)

Cutting a little weight has turned into a big gain for Briggs Havlik.

The sophomore Mitchell wrestler started the season competing at 152 pounds, before dropping seven pounds to compete at 145 pounds at the Jerry Opbroek Invitational on Jan. 16.

A month later, the move has seemed to pay off for Havlik, who has a 24-10 combined record this season.

Mitchell head coach Travis Carpenter said Havlik has done a good job of maintaining his weight and handled the cut-down well.

"It was one of those things that we were planning to do all along and it was probably a better place, for him," Carpenter said. "Anytime you wrestle more to your size, it's going to be beneficial. When they are all bigger than you, it makes it a lot tougher."

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Since moving to 145 pounds, Havlik has placed in every tournament the Kernels have competed in. He was the Kernels' highest placer at the Jerry Opbroek Invite with a third-place finish at 145 pounds in January.

"I wasn't cutting very much weight to begin with, and I thought I could compete better if I cut down," Havlik said. "I've been lifting a little bit after practice, and that's been helping out. I've just been doing the little things outside of practice, and that's helped me a lot."

Currently ranked seventh in Class A at 145 pounds, Havlik followed up a top-3 finish at the Jerry Opbroek by picking up Mitchell's lone win in a dual against Huron on Jan. 21 and then won the River City Rumble on Jan. 23 in Chamberlain.

"I'm on my feet and working on everything," Havlik said. "Top, bottom, on my feet, going hard for six minutes. I've been trying to get myself conditioned."

After winning the River City Rumble, Havlik finished in third place at the Brookings Invite on Jan. 30, placed fifth at the Yankton Invite on Feb. 6 and placed fourth at the Huron Invite on Saturday. Havlik narrowly lost a 4-2 decision in the semifinals to Clark/Willow Lake's Jess Karber, who has a record of 44-2 this season, at the Huron Invite. After losing the semifinal match, Havlik sat out the third-place match to rest and avoid picking up an injury.

Along with Cade Carpenter, Carson Max and Alex Klingaman, Havlik is just one of four Kernels that qualified for the state tournament last season. Competing at 132 pounds last year, Havlik went 0-2 at the state tournament as a freshman.

However, this year, Havlik said he is eyeing a top-four finish at the state tournament. Before he embarks on a state tournament journey, Havlik has to qualify for state at Saturday's Region 3A meet in Pierre.

"My goal is to go out and win regions," Havlik said. "Everybody is going to have to work hard this week. Everyone is going to have to push themselves, and as teammates, we are going to have push each other."

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Heading into the final days of the season, Carpenter said his sophomore standout has already proved he can wrestle with the top 145-pounders in the state.

"He needs to keep working hard and battle in every match," Carpenter said. "He needs to be offensive, looking to get after it and looking to score at all times. He can't take any time off on the mat."

Related Topics: WRESTLINGKERNELS
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