‘Ready to dominate’: BHSA’s Peyton Hellmann is Mitchell Republic girls wrestler of the year

Hellmann has been one of the state’s top wrestlers since the adoption of girls wrestling as a sanctioned sport, and she’s seen it grow tremendously even just during her three seasons.

Peyton Hellmann, who wrestles for Bon Homme/Scotland/Avon, is the Mitchell Republic's girls wrestler of the year for 2023.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

TYNDALL, S.D. — She went from tackling goats on her family farm to tackling opponents on the wrestling mat.

And the transition has gone well, to say the least.

With her win at 126 pounds at the state tournament in Rapid City this March, Bon Homme/Scotland/Avon’s Peyton Hellmann took down her third state championship this season as just a sophomore, compiling a 41-1 record, ending the season with 26 consecutive pins and picking up three falls in the state tournament en route to yet another first-place finish.

There’s not much she can’t do on the wrestling mat, and as she gains experience, she continues to get better and continues to rack up the state titles.

“I never imagined myself being out there. You hear those people’s names from other sports and you’re like, ‘Oh, they’re good. They’re a state champion,’” Hellmann said. “It’s just crazy now that that’s kind of like my name.”


Hellmann is the Mitchell Republic’s inaugural girls wrestler of the year award winner for 2023. After more than 25 years of presenting a wrestler of the year award to boys, the Mitchell Republic is awarding both girls and boys winners starting this season, with sports staff members ranking ballots for the top-three girls wrestlers during the season.

Other wrestlers receiving consideration for the girls award were BHSA’s Britney Rueb, Kimball/White Lake/Platte-Geddes’ Elena Brennan and Mitchell’s Danny Borja.

Peyton Hellmann, who wrestles for Bon Homme/Scotland/Avon, is the Mitchell Republic's girls wrestler of the year for 2023.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

Ready to dominate

Hellmann’s first year of wrestling came in eighth grade, and sure enough, Hellmann’s first state title came the same year.

The first came at the 129-pound weight class, and in the two years since, she’s tacked on two more individual state titles at 126. Her success was immediate in her wrestling career, and her talent was apparent right away to head coach Darren Kriz.

“I knew she had a lot of talent just by the way she conducted herself and the way she went out there and wrestled,” he said. “I knew she had something special.”

Hellmann, who hails from Tabor, has been one of the state’s top wrestlers since the adoption of girls wrestling as a sanctioned sport, and she’s seen it grow tremendously even just during her three seasons. Hellmann recalled how bare bones the first state tournament now feels in retrospect, with weight classes that weren’t fully developed.

“You just got skin checked and you wrestled what you were at,” Hellmann said.


That was the start of Hellmann being 11-0 in state tournament competition over the last three years. And much like how her success in wrestling happened right away, her success at the state tournament remains immediate. Her first state match in 2021 was a 45-second pin over Sully Buttes’ Cateri Yellowhawk, and both wrestlers met in the championship match this season, which resulted in a 1:39 pin for Hellmann.

This season, she made the trek out to Rapid City and didn’t even wrestle for three minutes, picking up a trio of pins in 2 minutes and 49 seconds. It wasn’t anything fancy, though. It was just doing what she’s done all season long that helped the sophomore get title No. 3.

“I just stuck to my basic moves,” Hellmann said of the state tournament. “(I) went out there, I was pumped up and ready to dominate them.”

And while the basics may have gotten her a state championship, Kriz didn’t pinpoint a specific strong suit in her game. Instead, he said her biggest strength is “all over.”

“She’s a beast on her feet,” he said. “She’s a go-getter. She's on a girl right away looking to score points — always scoring points. It seems like she's always trying to score points. She's really tough on top.”

Peyton Hellmann, who wrestles for Bon Homme/Scotland/Avon, is the Mitchell Republic's girls wrestler of the year for 2023.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

Family ties

With two older brothers that wrestled, Hellmann spent a lot of time at wrestling tournaments growing up.

She admittedly did more sleeping than watching at her brothers’ tournaments when she was younger, but being around the sport from an early age has been a benefit as she’s now taken to the mat herself.


More of an outdoorsy girl who enjoys 4-H and being a part of Future Farmers of America, she’s spent a lot of time on her family farm. And being on the farm growing up has aided the sophomore in her wrestling career.

“Our goats, to catch them when they’re not broke in, you’ve got to tackle them pretty much,” Hellmann said. “That’s kind of like taking a shot in wrestling. You’ve got to tackle them and get after them.”

Having three brothers, she became adept at wrestling her siblings. And her brothers are the ones who got her into the sport, too, but it didn’t always appear that way.

When she was younger, Hellmann said she hated wrestling and being at tournaments, and whenever her brothers told her she was going to get into wrestling, she was always swift with her denial.

But once she hit eighth grade and girls wrestling was becoming sanctioned, she had a change of heart and decided she wanted to try it out.

“It kind of just flipped,” Hellmann said of her mindset on wanting to get into wrestling. “I have my brothers, so I have an edge on it because I’ve always been in it. So it got sanctioned and I was like, ‘That’s what I want to do.’”

Currently, she’s the only Hellmann with a state title, and she joked that they come with bragging rights over her older brothers, though she said her youngest brother, who’s 11-years old, has placed well at state AAU tournaments.

Now with the sport of girls wrestling growing, Hellmann harkened back to her days of attending her brothers’ tournaments as how she got into the sport. Amid discussion of South Dakota splitting up the boys and girls state tournaments to separate weekends because of the growing size of the girls event, Hellmann said she hopes the state tournaments remain together, so other girls can follow the same path she did.


“To be at state with boys, their sisters or whoever, they're watching girls wrestling. They might think, ‘Oh, that's pretty cool. I want to wrestle,’” Hellmann said. “That's how I got into it. I went to all my brothers’ tournaments.”

Bon Homme/Scotland/Avon's Peyton Hellmann (blue headgear) wrestles Sully Buttes' Cateri Yellow Hawk during the girls 126-pound championship match on Friday, Feb. 24, 2023 at the Summit Arena in Rapid City.
Landon Dierks / Mitchell Republic

Sky is the limit

It’s hard to imagine surpassing what she’s already accomplished. After all, Hellmann is among the first three-time girls wrestling state champions in South Dakota.

But Hellmann is just getting started.

In just three seasons, she’s already taken down a nationally ranked wrestler in Nebraska’s Regan Rosseter, a match she said she had been looking forward to for roughly three years. Rosseter, who wrestles at Winnebago, Nebraska, won the 130-pound state title in Nebraska this year.

“There were so many nerves. I knew she was going to be tough, I've seen her at so many national tournaments and I've wanted to wrestle her, we just have never met up,” Hellmann said. “I won, I think it was 6-4. I gave up a couple of points I shouldn’t have, but overall it was a good, close match.”

Hellmann, who was not ranked nationally prior to the season, finished the year at 28th at 127 pounds, according to the rankings from USA Wrestling, FloWrestling and the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. She's one of only three South Dakota wrestlers with that distinction, joined by seniors Zoe Adam (Canton) and Taylor Graveman (Spearfish).

Wrestling in college is a goal for Hellmann, though given she’s only a sophomore she hasn’t heard from any schools yet due to the NCAA’s rule which doesn’t permit schools to recruit until after June 15 of a student-athlete’s sophomore season.


But Kriz, who watches Hellmann compete with both the boys and girls at practices, sees the potential the sophomore possesses and said he’s in her corner to help her reach her goals.

“She’s just going up from here,” Kriz said. “There ain’t nothing that’s going to stop her.”

Other wrestlers to receive consideration are listed below, with their vote totals in parentheses:

  • Britney Rueb, Bon Homme/Scotland/Avon (6): The 2023 season ended in second place for Rueb, who dropped a 2-0 decision to Harrisburg’s Regina Stoeser in the 120-pound championship match. But the freshman from Scotland finished 39-3 and was still one of the state’s top female wrestlers. She was the only wrestler during the season to defeat her teammate Hellmann. 
  • Elena Brennan, Kimball/White Lake/Platte-Geddes (2): Brennan, a sophomore, was the underdog of the state girls wrestling tournament, advancing as a No. 6 seed in the 154-pound bracket and reaching the championship match before falling to Aberdeen Central’s Katrina Gibson. Brennan finished with a 12-8 record. 
  • Danny Borja, Mitchell (1): In Mitchell’s inaugural season of girls wrestling, Borja finished 38-9 on the season and finished fifth at 120 pounds at the state meet. Borja outperformed her seed in the state tournament, where she was No. 6 going in.
Zech Lambert is a sports reporter for the Mitchell Republic. He graduated from Penn State University in May 2022 and began at the Mitchell Republic in July 2022. He can be reached at or on Twitter @Zech_Lambert.
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