BV roster loaded with potential state wrestling champs
December 12. 2013 9:50AM
Brandon Valley let the opposition know they were a visible force at the Class A State Wrestling Tournament this past February.
The Lynx, which posted a 27th place finish in 2012, jumped up to an eighth place ending in 2013, which is the direction Brandon Valley head coach Kraig Presler and staff have been working toward.
“We’re excited about (the 12th place finish),” Presler said. “But we actually wanted a top eight last year. And even though it was a big improvement, it did leave a little bit of a ‘sour taste’ – like we’re still wanting more.”
Despite missing out on a top eight ranking, Brandon Valley wrestling fans did get a lot last year, starting with 2013 senior Mason Bender, who rolled to a 40-0 season and 182-pound state title. The team also qualified nine others for the state show, putting five on the awards stand, Bender included.
“That we felt good about,” Presler said. “That’s the most placewinners we’ve had in a long time, and we need to do that if we’re going to move up, and we have the people to do it.”
Of the 10 who qualified for state last season, seven are back, along with junior Clayton Ebright, who sat out his sophomore season healing a knee injury.
“I guess I feel that all of our guys that got on the awards stand last year can certainly make that kind of a jump, and it is a big jump. Mason went from fifth in his junior year to first,” Bender said. “But I know for a fact that we have people that can win the state tournament. I’m not saying they will, but we have that kind of ability in the room – it’s just not one person, it’s multiple persons.”
Ebright returns to fill the 220-pound slot for the Lynx. Presler said the year-off from the program certainly didn’t hurt the Lynx junior, in fact, it may have even improved his status.
“He’s a junior now, and unfortunately he missed his sophomore season, but athletically he’s made great gains from that freshman year to now,” Presler said. “He didn’t waste his time while he was hurt. His upper body, you can see he’s maturing, really becoming strong and more athletic.”
Senior Adam Presler returns to the Lynx mat for his final prep season. He’s coming off a fifth place finish at state last year at 126 pounds, but has bulked up to 138 this year.
“He’s definitely one we’re hoping to move up to that No. 1 spot,” says the father-coach. “He’s capable. He’s a senior and it’s his last chance so we’re hoping that will happen, and he’s working hard (to make that happen).”
Junior Wyatt Winter will wrestle at 152 or 160 this season, depending where the team will need him most. As a sophomore, he captured sixth place at state, and is working to improve on that mark. Coach Presler says they’ll likely start him in the 160-pound slot and will then “re-evaluate to see if he wants to make a weight cut down.”
The last of the state placewinners from the 2012-13 season – sophomore Andrew Sorensen – will wrestle at a “full-sized 195” this year, Presler said.
“A lot of people might not know that he only weighed 180 pounds last year, and we even used him at 220 sometimes,” Presler informed. “The thing with Andrew is that he’s strong enough to put him where we need him. He has some talents and gifts that not everyone’s blessed with, and thankfully Andrew’s wise enough to work hard with those gifts.”
Sorensen pulled off a seventh place finish last year at 195, and like Winter, he’s aiming to improve on that ranking this season.
Conner Rowbotham, a sophomore, qualified for the state show last year, too, but came home without the hardware. He filled the 113-pound slot last season, but will likely wrestle at 126 this year.
“We’re really emphasizing trying to get him to place at the state tournament this year,” Presler said. “He had a good summer. He’s worked hard and been doing some off-season training that I know will help him.”
Freshman Jackson Pletten moves up from 120 to 132 this year. As an eighth grader, Pletten qualified for state but did not place. And that’s just the motivation the young, yet seasoned wrestler needs to make it all happen this year.
“He’s only a freshman, but he wrestles a lot older than that,” Presler said. “He’s physically a very, very strong young man and we certainly think he can be a state placewinner for us as well.”
Coming off his first wrestling season, senior heavyweight Erik Ode also qualified for state last year but did not get onto the awards stand. He’ll be challenged in practice sessions by sophomore Andy Holmes, a first-year wrestler.
“We had a nice add-on this year in Andy, who will come in and be a good back up, if not help Erik a lot in the room at the 285 position. He’s a good athlete,” Presler said.
“Football is probably his primary sport like Erik, but I think wrestling could help their football capabilities as well.”
In addition to Adam Presler and Ode, the Lynx roster lists four other seniors: Eric Eigenberg, Spencer Heidbrink, Kevin Gingles and Jack Sternburg.
Coach Presler is excited about leadership the six seniors bring to the wrestling room this season.
“They are all just outstanding students,” he said. “Spencer, Erik and Jack all have limited varsity experience but are leaders in the wrestling room and I think that’s going to pay off in a big way.”
The last of returning wrestlers is sophomore Dawson Kremlacek. He’ll wrestle at 106. Presler looks for good things from Kremlacek, who was one match away from qualifying for state last year.
Pierre and Huron have Presler’s attention as ESD Conference contenders. But don’t count out the Lynx, he says.
“I think we’ll be up there for sure,” he said.
The Governors, two-time defending ESD champs, return with a wealth of experience, while Huron maintains its strong wrestling tradition.
“I think it’s going to be a closer mix in the ESD, and I certainly hope we’re battling with the best teams there this year,” Presler said.
As for the Metro, the Lynx could have their hands full with Roosevelt, a team Presler says is “very, very solid.” They return with an experienced roster, setting them up as state contenders in Presler’s eyes.
Washington also gets the Brandon Valley coach’s nod.
As for the Lynx, “I would like to think we could be competitive with all of them,” he said. “On paper, Roosevelt is the team to beat but we don’t wrestle on paper.”
Presler and the Lynx will get their first look at their Metro competition at the Dec. 7 Roosevelt Invite.
“I’d like to win that tournament,” Presler says enthusiastically. “I’m not saying we will, but I want our guys thinking we have a chance to.”
A new event added to the schedule this season is the Pentagon Invite, which will be wrestled in the new Sanford Pentagon. The Sioux Falls schools-hosted tourney will feature 20 to 30 teams, Presler said. “They’re hoping to really build it big,” he said.
With just a few days of practice behind them, Presler and the Lynx have set their sights on a top-eight finish once again.
“That’s where I’d like to put it now,” the coach says. “But ask me again at Christmas; I’d like to raise the bar a little by then, but we’ll see what happens with that.”
2013-14 LUYNX WRESTLING SCHEDULE
Dec. 7 at S.F. Roosevelt Invite, 9 a.m.
Dec. 12: at Vermillion quadrangular, 5:30 p.m.
Dec. 19: at S.F. Lincoln triangular, 5:30 p.m.
Dec. 21: at Warrior Invite, TBD
Dec. 27/28 at S.F. Lincoln Invite, 11 a.m./10 a.m.
Jan. 3 at Huron 7 p.m.
Jan. 11 Lynx Invite, 9 a.m.
Jan. 17 Home triangular, 5 p.m.
Jan. 23 Home triangular, 5:30 p.m.
Jan. 25 at Brookings triangular, 5 p.m.
Feb. 7/8: at S.F. Pentagon Invite, TBD
Feb. 11: at Mitchell triangular, 5 p.m.
Feb. 14: at Pierre, 7 p.m.
Feb. 20: Regions at Lennox, 5 p.m.
Feb. 21: Regions at Lennox, 6 p.m.
Feb. 28-31 State A Tournament at Rapid City, 10 a.m.