Tanager grapplers improve record to 9-1

Vermillion's third-ranked wrestling team dominated two more opponents last week to improve their record in head-to-head duals to 9-1 for the season.

That sets the stage for the highlight of the dual season, a rematch against neighborhood rival Canton at the VHS gym next Thursday. The C-Hawks handed the Tanagers their only dual loss, 37-33, at the Yankton tournament in December.

Before coming home to face Canton, the Tanagers will be at the Harrisburg tournament this Saturday.

VHS won eight matches in trimming Madison, 50-28, and won nine in a 65-9 defeat of Tea Area in a home triangular Jan. 5.  Late in the week, due to illness on his team and two days of practices lost due to school closures, Coach Joe Delvaux decided to pull his team out of Saturday's Brandon Valley tournament.

In the Madison dual Brett Bye, Earl Kiertzner, Bennet Johnson, Chris Mart, Will Mart and Gerrit Heine won by pins.  Nick Mart scored a technical fall, and Lance Burkhart won by decision.

Winning via pins against Tea Area were Brett Bye, Brenden Raizola, Burkhart, Chris Mart, Will Mart and Heine. Johnson won by technical fall and Kiertzner and Andrew McCann via decisions.  T.J. North, the state's top-rated 112-pounder, did not wrestle in the triangular.

The Tanagers proved they have to be mentioned in any conversation about the state's best teams when they earned a strong second-place finish at Sioux Falls Lincoln's Floyd Farrand Invitational on Dec. 28-29.

After winning the title at Roosevelt's invitational in December, the Tanagers placed second in this state tourney-caliber field of Class "A" and "B" powerhouses, scoring 159.5 points.  Sturgis' perennial "A" kingpins won the team crown with 213.5 points.  Vermillion was followed by Canton at 152, Wagner at 133.5 and Howard at 123 points.  All of the Sioux Falls schools finished farther down the ladder.

T.J. North was named the meet's most outstanding wrestler after his 112-pound title was secured. The undefeated Tanager, after a first-round bye, scored a 17-1 technical fall win over Schaefer of Brookings in the quarterfinals. He posted a major decision over Burghardt of Watertown in a 19-7 semifinal victory.  In the finals in one of two head-to-head title clashes between Vermillion and Sturgis, North proved his superiority with a 16-2 win over the Scoopers' Tanner Bothwell.

Nick Mart also took an undefeated record into the tournament and emerged unscathed.  The Tanagers' 189-pounder pinned Mohamed of Brookings in 57 seconds in the first round and pinned Hayden of Canton in 4;51 in the quarters.  Mart then won twice by 3-2 scores, topping Wagner's Steven Holzbauer in the semis and edging Clint Wilson of Sturgis in the title match.  The latter was a battle of unbeatens which resulted in Mart's inflicting the season's first loss on Wilson.

Lance Burkhart and Chris Mart also competed in championship matches.  Burkhart's run at the 135-pound title started with three dominating wins — 17-8 over Streckfuss of Watertown, 8-0 over Monger of Brandon Valley and 15-3 over Horstman of Parkston. In the finals he lost by major decision to Garretson's Tanner Donelan, 10-2.

Chris Mart made quick work of his first two opponents — in 57 seconds over Mohamed of Brookings and in 1:46 over Langner of Brandon Valley.  Then he shut out Canton's Luke Myrabo in the semis.  Chris lost in the finals to Robert Kokesh of Wagner, arguably the best wrestler in the state in any class, in a 3:12 pin.

Gerrit Heine won the third-place medal at 285 pounds.  Brett Bye at 103 and Earl Kiertzner at 130 both placed fourth.  Will Mart was fifth at 215, and Bennet Johnson placed seventh at 145.  Regan Bye at 119, Tony Henderson at 125 and Andrew McCann at 152 also competed for Vermillion at the Farrand meet.

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