Wildcat wrestlers dominate BHC meet

Nathan Steele

The Custer High School boys and girls wrestling teams had a busy weekend as they traveled to the McCook Central Dual with Kingsbury County and Tri- Valley Jan. 12, then to the Philip dual for the boys and a dual with Hot Springs for the girls Jan. 13 and then back to the Hills for the Black Hills Conference meet in Lead Jan. 14.
The Wildcats dominated at every turn, winning each dual and the Black Hills Conference with 257.5 points. The Douglas/Rapid City Christian/New Underwood team came in second with 156.5 points and Spearfish in third with 114.5 points.
The girls team came in third place at the tournament with 59 points. They finished behind Belle Fourche with 89.5  points and Spearfish with 140 points. The boys and girls team had a combined total of 10 Black Hills Conference champions.
At the duals in McCook Central, the ’Cats beat McCook Central 51-20, Tri-Valley 60-15 and Kingsbury County 60-15. The next day, they won over Philip 48-24. The girls were also victorious in their dual against Hot Springs.
“It was a good weekend of getting to see some East River teams that are on top of the state, and I believe we came out very well,” said coach Jared Webster.
This was the third year the Wildcats came home as Black Hills Conference champs. They expanded their margin of victory from last year’s half point to over 100 points this year.
In the 106-pound weight class Tyler Trant pinned Hot Springs’ Micah Burchfield in 1:09 and then beat out Logan Tyndale of Belle Fourche in the championship match 9-3.
Moving up to the 113-pound weight class, Trey Weiss also finished in first place. Weiss pinned Luke Harris of Lead-Deadwood and then beat Carson Mitchell from Douglas by technical fall.
In the 120-pound weight class Connor Owens pinned Karter Brager from St. Thomas More in his first match, lost by decision in the next, but wrestled his way back into the third place match when he won by major decision over Hot Springs’ Holden Luper. He finished fourth for the Wildcats after a defeat by Drew Lanke of Lead-Deadwood in his final match.
Landon Woodward is the Black Hills Conference champ in the 126-pound weight class. Woodward won his first match of the day, pinning Blazen Stiefvater from Hot Springs in 1:39. He won his next two matches against Ian Fleming from Douglas and Parker Gravemen from Spearfish by decision.
At 132 pounds, Riley Scott also finished first for the Wildcats. Scott pinned Dago Rodriguez from Spearfish in 2:08 and Westin Edwards from St. Thomas More in 1:23.
Leighton Sander placed third at the tournament in the 138-pound weight class. He pinned his first opponent, Willian Thompson from Douglas, in less than 30 seconds. In the semifinal, Sander lost by decision to St. Thomas More’s Tyson Durham 3-1. Sander fought his way back to third by pinning his next two matches against Jonathan Pellicotte from Hot Springs and Mekhi Hayes from Lead-Deadwood.
At the 145-pound weight class, Kai Rusch placed second, winning his first match against Dominick Mills from Spearfish by pin but losing to Miles Renner of Lead-Deadwood in the championship match.
Connor Adams in the 152-pound weight class also placed second. He won his first two matches against  Belle Fourche’s Spencer Bush-Graslie and Spearfish’s Quinten Carlson by pin, but lost to Douglas’ Kale Crowser in the championship.
Jonathan Lewis in the 160-pound weight class is another in the long line of Wildcat champions from the tournament. Lewis won both his matches against Hunter Kunz of Hot Springs and Jacob Ellingson of Spearfish by pin.
In the 170-pound weight class, Ryder Bailey gave Custer the next first place finish. Bailey won each of his three matches by pin. He beat Casen Tibbetts of Douglas in 2:37, Owen White of Hot Springs in just 25 seconds and Mason Schlup of Spearfish in 3:06.
Parker Noem also placed first in the 182-pound weight class. Noem won each of his matches by pin. He defeated Belle Fourche’s Lucas Green in 1:45, St. Thomas More’s Jackson Rusch in 32 seconds and Hot Springs’ Dylan Webb in 2:30.
Weston Woodward finished in second place in the 195-pound weight class, losing by pin to Caleb Rickenbach from Hot Springs in the championship match.
At the 220-pound weight class, Grady Lehrkamp is another Black Hills Conference champ. He won his first match by pin against Gunnar Geib from Belle Fourche in 1:35. In the championship match, he beat Asher Peil from Spearfish by pin in 1:48.
Rounding out the first place finishes for the boys was Zayne Severyn in the 285-pound weight class. He pined Lucas Tonsager of Belle Fourche in his first match in 1:35. He won his championship match against Lucas Giersberg from Douglas by pin.
Custer had a wrestler in almost every championship match. Altogether the boys wrestling team had nine Black Hills Conference champions this year.
“Putting 12 kids in the final at Black Hills Conference was a suprise to me. I’m very proud of them,” said Webster.
The girls team also had a strong showing at the tournament.
Essah Syverson wrestled at the 106-pound weightclass and finished third. Syverson lost the first match by tech fall, but wrestled her way back to thrid after pinning both Savannah Rondell of Douglas and Meredith Ramacher of Hot Springs.
Addie Sander also placed third for the Wildcats in the 113-pound weight class. Sander was defeated in the first match by Hailey Rodriguez from Belle Fourche, but pinned her next opponent, Alyssa Ullman from Douglas in 2:34. In the 120-pound weight class Mattea Marshall also placed third after losing her match against Madelynn Schlup of Spearfish.
River Bailey placed third in the 126-pound weight class. After a defeat in the first match against Candice Matsuda of Spearfish, Bailey came back for a win against Isabella Scherich from Red Cloud. Bailey pinned Scherich in 27 seconds.
The Black Hills Conference girls champion in the 190-pound weight class is Jessica Mckenney. Mckenney pinned Belle Fourche’s Adelae Grusing in the championship match in just 33 seconds.
This Saturday the wrestlers head to Winner to compete in the Winner Invitational against 12 other teams, which Webster said will be an important meet to face off against tough East River schools one last time before the state tournament. Then they’re back home in Custer for a triangular against Chadron, Neb., and Douglas Jan. 26.
As for this Saturday, Webster said, “There’s going to be some good match-ups. We won’t be able to see these kids again until state time.”

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