Tanager grapplers end fantastic season with 10th-place finish By Parker Knox
Sportswriter A remarkable season in which eight Vermillion wrestlers reached the 25-victory mark ended with a 10th-place finish at the state "A" tournament Saturday in Watertown. The Tanagers, who had qualified nine men for the state classic, brought home five medals — third-place honors for T.J. North, fifths for Andrew Eidem and Gerrit Heine, a seventh for Lance Burkhart and an eighth for Chris Mart — as they scored 57.5 team points. Coach Joe Delvaux's crew proved to be scrappers at every level, and they had to fight for everything they earned. Tanager wrestlers, for example, were involved in an incredible eight overtime matches at the state meet. Sturgis won its fourth "A" team title in five years with 169.5 points followed by Rapid City Stevens at 150, Huron at 118.5, Rapid City Central at 115, Canton at 108, Winner at 99, Aberdeen Central at 98, Hot Springs at 97 and Mitchell at 85. In the 112-pound class T.J. North took a 39-0 record to Watertown. Two pins, one in the first period and one in the second, advanced him to the semifinals for what proved to be one of the tournament's showcase matches—North against defending champion Morgan Russell of Rapid City Stevens, rated No. 2 in the state and seeded No. 1 in this tournament. Somehow at the tournament seeding meeting they had been slotted into the same bracket. The match went into overtime where Russell dealt North his first loss after 41 wins, a 10-8 heartbreaking decision. But North showed what he's made of by winning twice impressively after that – 10-3 in the fourth-round wrestlebacks and 13-4 in the third-place match. In the latter case, against Roosevelt's Josh Satlak, North took a 5-3 lead after one period, added a pair of second-period takedowns to lead 9-3, and remained in control in the third period to end his junior season with his arm raised by the referee in victory and with a 43-1 record. Russell, whose only close match of the tournament was that against North, breezed to the 112-pound championship. Andrew Eidem also reached the semifinals impressively, scoring a pin and a major decision, the latter over Kyle Kopplin of Sturgis to whom he had lost earlier in the year. In the semis Eidem, like North, took his opponent into overtime, but Brady Harkless of Hot Springs prevailed, 2-1, sending Eidem to the fourth-round wrestlebacks. There Eidem sustained another gut-wrenching loss, 1-0 to West Central's Zach Mettler. Eidem ended his VHS career with his head and his arm held high after he scored a takedown in the final seconds of the first one-minute overtime to beat Tyler Palmer of Brookings in a 3-1 third-place match. Eidem, whose final record is 37-5, had trailed 1-0 after two periods, but he tied it up with 1:33 left in the third period to take the match into overtime. Vermillion's third semifinalist was heavyweight Gerrit Heine. The Tanagers' big guy, who is not nearly as big as many of his opponents, lost in the semis to the eventual champion, Aberdeen Central's Nathan Little, 6-2. A tough 5-4 loss in the fourth-round wrestlebacks forced Heine to wrestle for fifth, and there he won 7-5 over Chad Karber of Brookings. Heine finished his great year with a 35-6 record. Lance Burkhart at 125 pounds, losing by pin in the quarterfinals, had to win late Friday in the second-round wrestlebacks to advance to Saturday. He did so by scoring four takedowns in a terrific third-period rally to force overtime and then beat Harrisburg's Alex Oaks, 10-8. Burkhart lost in his next match but won 5-2 over Aberdeen's Mitchell Johnson to bring home seventh place and finish the year at 37-11. Vermillion's other placer was Chris Mart. After a big technical fall win in the first round, he lost in the quarters to the eventual champ, Chris Klapprodt of Stevens. Mart rallied with an overtime win of his own, 5-3 over Harrisburg's Joey Brown, to stay alive into Saturday but lost twice to finish eighth. His season record was 31-12. Senior Brad Orr was another Tanager who reached the 30-victory mark. He, too, won in overtime at the state meet, 7-5 in the first round, but lost his next two matches, only the fourth and fifth losses all season. Earl Kiertzner finished his junior year at 130 with a major decision, an overtime loss and another loss at state to finish out of the medals but with a 28-11 season record. The other VHS wrestlers at state were J.R. Moore at 135, who finished the year at 25-16, and Will Mart at 215, who had a winning record of 23-21 in his freshman season. VHS match results at the state meet: 112: T.J. North – Pin 1:58 over Seth McFarland, Spearfish. Pin 3:33 over Aaron O'Day, Pierre. Lost 10-8 (OT) to Morgan Russell, Stevens. Won 10-3 over Braden Binger, Huron. Won 13-4 over Josh Satlak, Roosevelt. Third place. 125: Lance Burkhart – Won by forfeit over C.J. Clark, R.C. Central. Lost pin 3:40 to Matt Goth, Madison. Won 10-8 (OT) over Alex Oaks, Harrisburg. Lost 4-1 to Cody Novotny, Huron. Won 5-2 over Mitchell Johnson, Aberdeen Central. Seventh place. 130: Earl Kiertzner – Won maj. dec. 15-4 over Josh Stoltenburg, Pierre, 15-4. Lost 9-8 (OT) to Sawyer Hoffman, Watertown. Lost 10-6 to Kellen Lowe, R.C. Central. 135: J.R. Moore – Lost 8-6 to Alex Defea, Milbank. Lost 4-1 to Justin Greenway, Mitchell. 145: Andrew Eidem – Won pin 5:24 over Casey Goodhart, Sisseton. Won maj. dec. 11-2 over Kyle Kopplin, Sturgis. Lost 2-1 (OT) to Brady Harkless, Hot Springs. Lost 1-0 to Zach Mettler, West Central. Won 3-1 (OT) over Tyler Palmer, Brookings, Fifth place. 152: Brad Orr – Won 7-5 (OT) over Brycen Nelson, Brookings. Lost 11-4 to Ray Anderson, Aberdeen Central. Lost pin 0:59 to Blake Burnham, Winner. 160: Chris Mart – Won tech. fall 4:00 over Zach Chammel, Sisseton. Lost 8-3 to Chris Klapprodt, Stevens. Won 5-3 (OT) over Joey Brown, Harrisburg. Lost 7-4 to Matt Harkless, Hot Springs. Lost 6-0 to Ted Wonnenberg, Winner. Eighth place. 215: Will Mart – Lost pin 5:20 to Baker Haar, Aberdeen Central. Lost 11-6 to Mason Riedesel, Madison. Hwt.: Gerrit Heine – Won 3-2 over Kyle Benne, Stevens. Won 5-3 over Bill St. Martin, Milbank. Lost 6-2 to Nathan Little, Aberdeen Central. Lost 5-4 to Eric Witte, Huron. Won 7-5 over Chad Karber, Brookings, 7-5. Fifth place.