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Girls divisions to be contested for first time at Mitchell's Opbroek Invitational

Mitchell High School Activities Director Cory Aadland said with the Kernels having an inaugural girls squad, it felt like the right time to offer a girls division at the school’s flagship tournament.

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Mitchell's Bobbi Jo Middendorp, right, wrestles Flandreau's Jayden Lange in the McCook Central/Montrose girls wrestling invitational on Friday, Dec. 30, 2022, in Salem.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic
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MITCHELL — For the first time, Mitchell’s Jerry Opbroek Invitational will include a girls wrestling division on Saturday.

It comes in conjunction with Mitchell’s first season of having a formal girls varsity team, with 10 weight classes expected to begin competition at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Mitchell High School Gym.

Mitchell High School Activities Director Cory Aadland said with the Kernels having an inaugural girls squad, it felt like the right time to offer a girls division at the school’s flagship tournament.

“This season, it felt like the right time,” Aadland said. “We wanted to make sure that we were putting together events that had some legitimacy in how we were deciding titles. But at the same time, we had to make a commitment to start. It’s a little bit of a chicken and the egg situation.”

The competition will be modest. As of Friday afternoon, 29 participants from six schools are scheduled to be involved in the event. In most cases, the divisions are being decided by round-robin competitions or best-of-three series in the divisions that have only two competitors.

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“We want to make sure that we’re creating some competition and that it’s something that will be a good experience,” Aadland said. “We are excited that we’re getting to offer this for the first time.”

Aadland said that in recent years, Harrisburg had a large girls wrestling tournament on the same Saturday of the Opbroek and Mitchell chose not to compete with that. But Harrisburg’s tournament has moved to Friday, allowing for an opening this year.

Mitchell accepted entries from schools that aren’t participating in the boys side of the tournament, such as Andes Central/Dakota Christian, Clark/Willow Lake and Dakota Valley. To keep the day manageable from a timing standpoint, the tournament did not accept unattached entries in the boys tournament.

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Mitchell's Jagger Tyler, right, battles Chamberlain's Jozey Nesladek during a high school wrestling dual on Friday, Dec. 2, 2022 at the MHS Gym.
Marcus Traxler / Mitchell Republic

Here’s what else to watch for in the tournament this year:

  • There are slated to be seven No. 1-ranked wrestlers in the boys side of the competition, according to Dakota Grappler. They include Watertown’s Gage Lohr at 106 pounds, Sloan Johannsen at 120 pounds and Weston Everson at 126 pounds; Mitchell’s Jagger Tyler at 152 pounds; Milbank’s Barrett Schneck at 170 pounds; Sturgis’ Reese Jacobs at 182 pounds and Aiden Werlinger at 195 pounds. 
  • Four defending state champions are in the field: Johannsen, Tyler, Jacobs and Rapid City Stevens’ Corter Doney, who is ranked No. 3 at 160 pounds and won the title at 152 last season. 
  • Jacobs has the best record in Class A at 24-0, while Johannsen is 23-0. Schneck, of Milbank, is 13-0 this season. Tyler, who won his title at 145 last season, is 19-2 in this campaign. 
  • According to the Dakota Grappler, four of the top six ranked dual teams in Class A are on hand, with No. 2 Pierre, No. 3 Rapid City Stevens, No. 5 Watertown and No. 6 Sturgis. Based on individual points in team scoring, the Scoopers are ranked No. 2, Watertown at No. 3, Pierre at No. 4 and Rapid City Stevens at No. 8. 
  • Johannsen is among the state’s leaders in pins with 17, which is tied for No. 2 in Class A. The Class A pin leader is Zak Juelfs, of Sturgis, who has 18 pins and is ranked No. 2 in the 220-pound rankings in Class A. 
  • The lone potential matchup of top-ranked wrestlers in the tournament on the boys side is Johannsen and Sturgis’ Tegan Zebroski at 120 pounds, where they are ranked No. 1 and No. 2. Johannsen has won both meetings already this season by decision and major decision. 
  • Howard’s Connor Giedd is tied for the state’s lead in wins by technical fall with 13 while wrestling at 126 pounds, alongside McCook Central/Montrose’s Jackson Remmers. Giedd is the No. 7-ranked wrestler in Class B’s 126-pound division. 
  • Two of the state’s top reversal artists are set to be competing Saturday, with Sturgis’ Tegan Zebroski — wrestling at 120 pounds — scoring a state-best 22 reversals, while Pierre’s Chance Carda (182 pounds) is No. 2 in that category. 
  • Parkston’s Porter Neugebauer is the top-ranked Class B wrestler in the tournament, slotted at No. 2 in Class B. Neugebauer is 11-3 and has wrestled between 152 and 170 pounds this season. 
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Parkston's Porter Neugebauer wrestles in the 152-pound championship at the 2022 Jerry Opbroek Invitational in Mitchell.
Luke Hagen / Mitchell Republic

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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