High school wrestling: Brookings Bobcats host Pierre in first home dual of season

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BROOKINGS — The Brookings wrestling team hosted its first dual of the season as it battled Pierre in the auxiliary gym at Brookings High School on Thursday night.

While the girls team lost to the Lady Governors 24-6 and the boys team lost to Pierre 44-32, both teams were encouraged by their performance after taking on one of the top teams in the state.

GIRLS

 Pierre 24, Brookings 9

The Bobcats were challenged by the top team in the state but held their own despite the result on the scoreboard. Brookings girls wrestling coach Eric Toft was encouraged by his team’s performance and felt like the meet will help guide them as to where they need to improve early in the season.

“I think they were a little bit tentative to begin but once they put their hands on the other girls, they kind of felt like they could wrestle and we went after them toe-to-toe,” Toft said. “I think for wrestling the No. 1 girls team, we did well and I think they kind of measured and tested themselves tonight.”

Gemma Stangeland opened the night by pinning Clair Milliron at 3:10 of a 107-pound match before Sydney Uhrig pinned Lily Toft at 2:25 of their 114-pound match. Lexie Hillmer scored a pin over Ramsie Hinricher at 1:26 of a 126-pound match and Kezrey Benning scored the Govs’ fourth pin of the night when Cierra Strand took the fall at 3:47 of their 132-pound match.

That set up Brookings win of the night when Johanna Steinlicht battled Ireland Templeton. With the match tied late, Steinlicht was able to pick up an escape to go ahead and used that momentum to earn the pin at 5:50 of the 145-pound match and build momentum after beating a state place winner from a season ago.

“[Templeton] is savvy,” Toft said. “She wrestles very defensively, so we knew it was going to be a close match but it was good for Johanna to be able to keep herself in good position and get that late escape so she could get to her feet and win that match.”

Toft was also impressed with Steinlicht’s ability to remain aggressive but also keep herself out of a critical mistake.

“I was confident [Steinlicht] would win that match but [Templeton] is so savvy, if you make a mistake against her, she’s going to make you pay,” Toft said. “Johanna did a good job of staying in position, wrestling through the match and not freaking out when the match was close.”

The other win for Brookings came when Maizy Mathis picked up a 10-2 decision at 165 pounds. After finishing second in the state tournament a year ago, Mathis was ranked as the top wrestler in her weight class by Dakota Grappler entering the season and has embraced her role as a team captain this season.

“She’s been a role model to the other girls and she went out and wrestled a very good, clean match,” Toft said. “She got some good takedowns and scored 10 points and that’s kind of what we expect out of her. She sets the standard for the other girls and I was very happy with her match.”

The dual also featured a pair of exhibition matches at 114 pounds as Bailey TeKrony won an 11-2 major decision over Londyn Allen-Hunsaker and Allen-Hunsaker pinned MaKenna Hudy at the 3:21 mark of their match.

Overall, Toft liked what he saw from the Bobcats and believes their performance should help them moving forward.

“We know we need to turn it up a couple notches,” Toft said. “We can meet that level but we just have to believe in ourselves that we can. We scored points in every match and we won a couple of matches tonight. They know they can do it, but now they know where they need to go.”

BOYS

 Pierre 44, Brookings 32

The Bobcats were also encouraged by their performance against Pierre, who entered the night as the No. 1 team in Dakota Grappler’s team dual rankings. While the Governors were going to be a difficult test, boys wrestling coach Matt Hanson was focused on his team’s effort and performance throughout the night.

“We looked at it as an opportunity,” Hanson said. “Pierre has four returning state finalists in the lineup and it was going to be a tough battle, but we always talk about how our effort was in the match. Tonight, I thought for the most part, we did a good job of that.”

The Governors opened the night with a forfeit at 106 pounds before Tate Helmbolt scored the first win of the evening going up against fifth-ranked Walker West. The top wrestler in Dakota Grappler’s Class A rankings at 113 pounds, Helmbolt dominated by scoring a 17-0 technical fall to put the Bobcats on the board.

“Tate’s a senior now and has been in the lineup for three years,” Hanson said. “He’s got high goals and he just gets to work. That’s who Tate is.”

Levi Quam followed up Helmbolt’s match with a 12-11 decision over Jeremiah Wurtz at 120 pounds to give the Bobcats an 8-6 lead but Pierre bounced back with Alex Oedekoven’s 18-1 technical fall over Jacob Milliron at 126 pounds and Loncoln Schoenhard’s pinfall victory over Sawyer Johnson at 132 pounds.

With the Governors up 17-8, the marquee match of the night took place at 144 pounds when top-ranked Tristan Spencer of PIerre took on second-ranked Nolan Miles. Miles fell behind early in the match and trailed 4-2 after the first period and Spencer used that advantage to score the pin at 3:35.

“They wrestled last year in the same duel and [Spencer] got second at 138 pounds last year, so we knew it was going to be a tough battle,” Hanson said. “He’s a good, physical kid and like I told Mason in the huddle, it’s one match. He’ll put it away and we’ll get squared away after Christmas.”

The rest of the night was controlled by Pierre as Jaxon Duchenaux pinned Logan Straub at 1:06 of their 157 pound match, Trey Lewis won an 8-5 decision over Gabriel Stern at 175 pounds and Chance Carda pinned Joey Fitzpatrick at 2:28 of their 190-pound match. But there were still plenty of positives as Mason Mathis pinned Hudson Shaffer at 144 pounds, Blake Kannegieter pinned Jackson Charron 29 seconds into their 165-pound match and Michael Nelson (d. Devin Binger at 3:22 at 215 pounds) and Dylan Reynolds (d. Emmitt Andersen at 0:53 at 285 pounds) scored back-to-back pins to close the dual.

The finish to the dual left Hanson encouraged as the Bobcats looked to improve from last weekend’s performance at the Dan Unruh Inviatitonal in Wahpeton, N.D.

“We had the ebbs and flows of a tournament and we had some things that we did really well and some things that didn’t go our way,” Hanson said. “It’s good to see to see the growth that they showed tonight and a lot of these kids are new to the lineup. You’re going to get what you get with them every week, so it’s just nice to see them take steps forward.”

Hanson also said that the goal after the Pierre dual is to continue to improve as the Bobcats prepare for their next dual at Watertown next Thursday night.

“We talk about how we have to get better every day,” Hanson said. “We’ve got to get better week-to-week. I just told them tonight, it was better and we get to compete again next Thursday. Every time we compete, we just have to get better every time so hopefully by February, we’re ready to go.”