Last year, the Brandon Valley wrestling team finished a point shy of claiming their first-ever Class A team championship. Since that night, they have been on a quest to rewrite history and, in turn, become the first Sioux Falls metro area team to win a state wrestling title in 49 years.
The Lynx completed that question Saturday night in Rapid City, finishing with a total score of 188, well clear of defending champion Rapid City Stevens (166.5) and third-place Pierre (144).
“All of our guys who went through that last year — getting so close just to lose it like that — it’s really driven them this last year,” coach Derek Outland told SDPB. “To get here right now and to win this championship is really sweet for those guys, for all that work to pay off… It’s a really special thing to know that they made history.”
BV’s two individual champions — Trason Oehme (126) and Navarro Schunke (285) — both finished the season undefeated, while Jordon Oehme (120), Alex Mentzer (132), Isaac Klinkhammer (160) and Owen Warren (220) all finished runner-up in their respective weight classes. In total all but four of the state champ’s state qualifiers reached the podium.
Klinkhammer suffered his first loss of the season in heartbreaking fashion, falling in overtime to Sturgis’ Wren Jacobs in the 160-pound final. It was a gutsy performance (and season overall) by the South Dakota State-bound senior, who tore his lateral collateral ligament and posterior cruciate ligament just two weeks before the season. He found success despite the injury, finishing with a record of 28-1.
“Isaac, my senior captain, he’s been with us for five years and I can’t say enough about him and all my seniors,” Outland said. “Isaac’s a tremendous leader. Obviously it was a heartbreaker for him to go out that way. We talked about the fact that things don’t always go your way, but it doesn’t change how we feel about him. We’re very proud of him.”
Inaugural girls champions crowned
South Dakota’s first girls state wrestling champions were crowned Saturday night.
Notable champions from Class A included Rapid City Stevens’ Page Denke, a nationally-ranked grappler at 124; Yankton’s Nevaeh Leonard (131) and Spearfish sophomore Taylor Graveman (143), who is ranked No. 13 nationally. Harrisburg’s Regina Stoeser (124), Roosevelt’s Ali Bissell (167), Lincoln’s Betsy Martinez (185) and Lennox’s Brooke Otte (275) all placed runner-up.
In Class B, Canton’s Carlee Laubach (185) claimed the 185-pound title, while teammates Rachel Mastalir (140), Carly Ballinger (160) and Kiara King (275) all finished runner-up. Viborg-Hurley’s Gia Miller also finished runner-up at 185.
Laubach claimed the Class B most pins award with four. “That’s pretty cool, isn’t it?” coach Jeremy Ask beamed. “She pinned every opponent she had.”
The C-Hawks qualified 16 girls for this year’s state tournament.
“Every one of them who was on the team, as long as they had wrestled a match and weighed in prior to Feb. 1 qualified if they wanted to participate,” Ask said. “All 16 of our girls wanted to give it a go. They all came and competed. It was fun.”