Breaking away from a 12-12 tie, Vermillion's wrestling juggernaut won six consecutive matches to end the dual and come home from Crofton with a 46-12 victory last Friday.
The triumph was the Tanagers' 16th dual win in 19 tries, heading into last night's season-ending duals in Sioux Falls against Washington and Harrisburg.
Coach Joe Delvaux said Saturday his final-week strategy was to give his kids the weekend off, then to "come back hard" at the beginning of this week in anticipation of putting a full lineup on the mat in Sioux Falls last night.
"Our goal is to win the regional title and send as many as possible to state," Delvaux said.
That postseason opportunity begins next Thursday and concludes the following night at Brandon Valley High School. The Region 2A tournament brings together the Tanagers, the host Lynx, Harrisburg, Lennox, Sioux Falls Lincoln, Sioux Falls Washington, Tea Area, West Central and Yankton.
The top four placers in each weight class advance to the state "A" tournament in Rapid City on Feb. 26-27.
The Tanagers' first six points at Crofton came on 103-pounder Brett Bye's 3:37 pin over Pete Hernandez and a forfeit win for Joey Mueller at 112. A 7-5 loss by Regan Bye at 119, a 1:11 pin loss for Tony Henderson at 125 and a 3-1 loss by Earl Kiertzner at 130 lifted Crofton into a tie, but the Nebraska club wouldn't score again.
Lance Burkhart picked up a forfeit win at 135, and the next two classes were left open by both teams. Then came a Tanager avalanche, starting with Andrew McCann's 7-6 triumph over Logan Schieffer at 152. Dexter Mehlhaf kept it going with a 1:45 pin of Brady Steffen at 160.
Crofton forfeited to Chris Mart at 171. Then Nick Mart, still unbeaten and ranked No. 1 in his class in South Dakota Class "A" circles, scored a 21-8 major decision over Calan List. Gerrit Heine won a 4-3 match over Deryk Wortmann at 215, and Will Mart's 2:53 pin of Rupert Aguilla at heavyweight was Vermillion's exclamation point.
Earlier last week the Tanagers won three duals in Beresford, edging the host Watchdogs 43-42, trimming a short Dakota Valley lineup 60-12 and beating Akron-Westfield for the second time in four days, 51-19.
The match against Beresford was unique in that the Tanagers gave up some open weights in the early going, allowing the Watchdogs to accumulate team points. The dual came down to the last four weights with Vermillion needing the ultimate – four straight pins –just to tie the team score, and that's what they did. To determine the team winner, tie-breakers had to be used, and it came down to the sixth criterion before the tie was broken in Vermillion's favor.
In addition to Nick Mart's No. 1 rating at 189 in last week's Class "A" statewide rankings, the Tanagers' T.J. North, also unbeaten, remained No. 1 at 112 pounds. Ranked fourth in their respective classes were Burkhart at 135, Chris Mart at 171 and Heine at 215. Will Mart was ranked No. 7 at heavyweight and Kiertzner eighth at 130.