RAPID CITY -- Riley Weber said he could hear the crowd chanting “Go Badger go” as he neared his title-winning 7-3 decision over Redfield Area’s Riley Whitley on Saturday at the Rushmore Civic Center.
He showed his appreciation by pointing to the Parkston cheering section and holding up a single finger, signaling himself as the top wrestler at 106 pounds in Class B.
“It feels awesome. It feels like, I don’t know, it’s awesome,” Weber said. “... The crowd’s awesome. Parents are awesome, school’s awesome, coaches, everybody.”
The top-seeded junior started his state tournament with a pair of pins on Friday and ended it with a pair of wins via decision in the semifinals and finals on Saturday.
In the championship match, Weber (32-2) wrestled No. 3 Whitley (35-4) to a scoreless first period. However, once Weber gained top position, there was little Whitley could do. Weber got Whitley on his back and nearly had him for a pin, but settled for three points and a 6-0 lead heading into the third period.
“When I got him to his back, I thought I had him pinned but I didn’t,” said Weber, who added it was a little frustrating not to get the pin. “But I knew I had the lead and had to keep the lead to win.”
With a six-point advantage, Weber felt confident heading into the final 2 minutes. Although, he didn’t want to let up, eyeing a state championship after last year’s fourth-place finish.
“I knew I was going to finish,” Weber said. “When you start something big, you have to finish strong.”
He did just that, picking up another point with an escape in the third period. And once the clock ran out, only one thing ran through his mind.
“I’m a state champ,” Weber said.
Parkston finished 10th in the team standings with 65.5 points.