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Parkston wrestling reliant on middleweights as postseason nears

PARKSTON--It's going to be an uphill climb for the Parkston High School wrestling team to win its fourth straight state championship in February. Entering the season with only 20 wrestlers, the No. 4 Trojans lack the depth of the 26 wrestlers the...

PARKSTON-It's going to be an uphill climb for the Parkston High School wrestling team to win its fourth straight state championship in February.

Entering the season with only 20 wrestlers, the No. 4 Trojans lack the depth of the 26 wrestlers the 2014-15 team had. With fewer wrestlers on its roster, Parkston will have a harder time earning points in the Class B state tournament wrestleback matches in the quest for a four-peat.

"The last two years, we were fortunate to have enough depth where if one guy got knocked off, others could pick him up," Trojans head coach James Boehmer said. "It's been a spectacular run the last three years and this makes you appreciate it more. We're not done trying to go for the title by any means, but small towns like us will have big years and down years. I wouldn't call this a down year, but our depth is certainly down a little bit."

Boehmer said the Trojans will face stiff competition for the crown from No. 1 Canton, No. 2 Philip Area and No. 3 Stanley County, among others.

"Everyone is gunning for us. But we're never down and out," Boehmer said. "Right now, we're happy with where we're at. We have some studs on our roster and we can compete in any tournament. If everyone competes to their capability, we could be up there. It's going to be a challenge, but we have the kids and the potential."

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To make a deep postseason run, the Trojans will have to rely heavily on their middleweights.

Junior Blake Bietz, senior Austin Ripp, junior Logan Mahoney and sophomore Dawson Semmler are all ranked in the top-five of their respective weight classes.

Perhaps the most likely to walk away with an individual title is Bietz, a defending state champion in the 145-pound weight class. Now wrestling at 152, Bietz is ranked No. 1 in Class B in his division with a 27-1 record prior to Thursday's triangular at Sioux Falls Lincoln.

"Blake is always out there to be the best," Boehmer said. "He expects himself to never lose a match the rest of the season. That's the mentality we expect out of him. He's had some great matches this year, and he's not satisfied yet. We want to get into the range to where he dominates every opponent he faces, he has that mindset."

Meanwhile, Ripp (170-pound weight class, 23-4 record) and Mahoney (120, 17-5) are ranked No. 3 in their weight classes.

"The last couple of years, Logan has always been in the conversation," Boehmer said. "He always had (former Bon Homme/Scotland state champion) Duncan Stoebener in his bracket but now Logan is always just looking to improve. As for Austin, he's worked for everything he's got. He knows it's his last year and he's going for it. He's going to finish the year knowing he's given everything he had."

Semmler rounds out the group coming in at No. 5 in the 145-pound weight class with a 7-1 record.

To have a success at state, Boehmer said the Trojans need all four middleweights to earn a top-three individual finish.

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"Every state tournament, things need to go right," Boehmer said. "We're leaning on our middleweight guys pretty heavily, but we're hoping some of our other guys can pick up a few wins here and there. Our goal is to see every individual compete to their highest. Every good team wants to finish on top, but I'm never a score watcher, I just concentrate on individual effort. That's what it takes to win a title."

As of now, Boehmer said the Trojans are focused on preparing for the all-important state qualifying Region 3B meet on Feb. 20. After that, the Trojans can turn their full attention to producing "two outstanding days of wrestling" at the state tournament on Feb. 26-27 in Rapid City.

Related Topics: PARKSTONWRESTLING
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