Jerry Opbroek Invite recap: Injury-riddled Kernels place fifth
The injury bug didn't just bite the Mitchell High School wrestling team, it has taken a big chunk out of its lineup and it had an impact on the standings in the Jerry Opbroek Invitational on Saturday.
The Kernels were missing two stalwarts in the lineup—Carson Max and Sutton Carpenter—heading into their annual tournament in the MHS gymnasium, and they lost Kyler Bauder in the middle of the invite.
Mitchell still managed to place seven wrestlers, but advanced two to the finals and did not come away with a champion. The result was a fifth-place finish with 86.5 points, well behind champion Rapid City Stevens' 133 points.
"I always want to be better, unless you're on the top," MHS head coach Travis Carpenter said. "We had some kids do some good things. ... If we ever get healthy, we're going to be fine. If we have Sutton, Kyler and Carson in the lineup, it makes a heck of a lot more of a difference. We at least score a lot more points."
Bauder placed fifth at the state meet last season, but has missed most of the season with a knee injury sustained during the summer. He recently returned from that injury, only to suffer an elbow injury in his first match of the day on Saturday.
"I feel terrible for him because he goes from one injury to the next," Carpenter said. "I feel terrible for him, but he's a resilient kid and I think he's going to bounce back stronger than what he was."
Down a wrestler from nearly the start of the tournament, Mitchell still put forth a strong effort, with Carter Max and Ryan McGinnis making it to the finals.
McGinnis wrestled East Ridge's (Woodbury, Minnesota) Ryder Rogotzke in the 132-pound finals and pushed him to the limit until the latter was able to secure a pin with 5 seconds left in the match.
Max, meanwhile, won his first two matches by technical fall and with a 37-second pin before squaring off with Wagner's K.J. St. Pierre in the 220-pound finals. Max earned the early advantage but found himself in a precarious position to fall behind. Eventually, St. Pierre was forced hold off a late rally from Max to win the match with a 10-9 decision.
"I think we were capable of winning the match," Carpenter said. "But we have to wrestle six minutes. ... It was two good kids going at it. If we wrestle again, do I like our chances? Sure. So do they. That's the way it goes."
Max Schoenfelder (182) and Beau Foote (285) both placed third, while Bryce Palmer (120), Cole Gehrke (152) and Joe VanOverschelde (160) all took fourth for Mitchell, which hosts Harrisburg and Yankton in a triangular on Thursday.
Howard placed sixth, as E.J. Leetch won the 195-pound division with a convincing 8-4 win over Pierre's Gage Gehring. Isaac Feldhaus also placed second at 182 pounds.
Wagner took seventh behind St. Pierre's win and second-place finishes from Bradyn Lhotak (126) and Dawson Lensing (285).
Parkston finished last in the standings, but Lucas Bietz was crowned champion at 160, while Riley Weber (106) took second and Slayton Neugebauer (195) placed third.