First season of MHS girls wrestling sees pair of state tournament placewinners in Danny Borja, Frankie Kranz

Borja, a freshman, took fifth place at 120 pounds and Kranz, an eighth-grader, finished seventh at 106 pounds.

Mitchell's Danny Borja holds down Pierre's Kezrey Benning in an attempt to pin during the third round of wrestlebacks at the South Dakota state high wrestling tournament on Friday, Feb. 24, at the Summit Arena in Rapid City.
Landon Dierks / Mitchell Republic

MITCHELL — Friday's placement round at the 2023 state wrestling tournament marked a successful conclusion to the first season of the Mitchell High School girls wrestling program.

The Kernels sent two individuals — Frankie Kranz at 106 pounds and Danny Borja at 120 — to the state wrestling tournament and both returned from Rapid City with hardware for their efforts.

Borja took fifth place, finishing the year with a 38-9 record, while Kranz came in seventh and was 36-14 overall. Both wrestlers outperformed their seeds entering the state meet, slotted with Borja at No. 6 and Kranz at No. 8 prior to the first match.

“They absolutely exceeded my expectations this year,” said MHS coach Andy Everson. “If you’d have told me at the start of the season that they were both going to be on the podium, I’d have said, ‘Yeah, there’s a chance,’ but I wouldn’t have necessarily believed you.

“That’s a lot of pressure,” Everson continued. “They’re representing the program for the first time ever on this stage and both got it done.”


To take fifth, Borja recorded a fall in 4:08 over Aubrey Jensen, of Viborg-Hurley/Irene-Wakonda, an opponent Borja hadn’t seen during the season.

Kranz's opponent in the seventh-place match was more familiar, having been pinned by Belle Fourche’s Kyra Vandenberg for first place at the River City Rumble in January. But the second time around, Kranz controlled the bout and earned a 12-2 major decision.

For the tournament, Borja accumulated a 4-2 match record, claiming three wins by fall and one by decision. Meanwhile, Kranz went 3-2 with two falls before the major decision. Winning their placement matches to cap the year, Borja and Kranz both felt an extra sense of accomplishment, adding to an already prideful debut season.

“The entire tournament, all my coaches were telling me was to take shots and on the last one, I got my shots in, so I was proud of myself for that,” Borja said of her fifth-place finish.

“Coming back for redemption in some of my matches and beating girls that had beaten me in the past was a really nice feeling to end the season,” Kranz said of her placement match. “There’s something about finishing that little bit higher that makes it so much better.”

Mitchell's Frankie Kranz attempts to pin Rapid City Central's Mataya Jacobs during the first round of the state wrestling tournament on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023, at the Summit Arena in Rapid City.
Landon Dierks / Mitchell Republic

In Everson’s view, those final matches represented growth for both not just from the beginning of the season, but also in the short term across the handful of state tournament matches.

“There were some nerves, a little bit of pausing and being hesitant under the lights, but when it came to the placement round, they both opened up and wrestled,” Everson said. “You could tell they settled in, relaxed and just wrestled, and that was really good to see.”

Borja and Kranz both agreed that the finish to the season validated their hard work and topped what they had envisioned when deciding to go out for wrestling.


“It went a lot better than I thought it would go being an eighth-grader wrestling girls who are way older than me and with more experience,” Kranz said.

“We’re very happy, very glad that we chose to do the sport and did what we did,” Borja added. “I know I was proud of myself. It was a long season, and I really enjoyed it.”

Given Borja and Kranz’s youth and the desire both have to make even more strides in their second season with the program, it’s clear both have a promising future in the sport. As a result, the future is bright for Kernel girls wrestling as a whole, but it’ll take more than Borja and Kranz to keep pushing the program forward.

Everson hopes that the pair’s early successes will help continue to grow the sport in Mitchell and draw more girls into the wrestling room to bolster the program for seasons to come.

“What we need now is to have more girls see this and say, ‘Hey, that’s something I could do,’ and come out and try it so we can start filling out the team,” Everson said. “We’ll go places, I think, if we can get that going.”

Dierks covers prep and collegiate athletics across the Mitchell Republic's coverage region area, focusing on Mitchell High School football and boys basketball and area high school football, volleyball and basketball, as well as Dakota Wesleyan women's basketball. He was also the lead on the Mitchell Republic Gridiron Spotlight, producing video and providing live play-by-play for the traveling weekly prep football broadcast during its first season in the fall of 2021. Dierks is a Mitchell native who graduated from South Dakota State University with his bachelor's degree in journalism in May 2020. He joined the Mitchell Republic sports staff in August 2021. He can be reached at and found on Twitter at @LDierksy.
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