There's no denying the Vermillion wrestling squad hasn't yet replaced the horses it had last year in roaring to a second-place finish at the Floyd Farrand Invitational Wrestling Tournament in Sioux Falls, but even though that mighty group of seniors are graduated and gone, the Tanagers still have some men on the mat who are forces with whom to be reckoned.
The Tanagers sent three men into the final day of the Farrand tournament Tuesday and came home with one individual champion, one runner-up and one fourth-place finisher.
The champion was Lance Burkhart, who went a perfect 4-0 in the 140-pound class and stood tallest on the winners' podium when day was done.
Burkhart started the tourney Monday with a flourish, pinning his first two opponents. Francis Boehmer of Sioux Falls Roosevelt went down in only 39 seconds, then Garretson's Cody Bonte became Burkhart's victim in 3:49. In the semis Tuesday morning Burkhart squeaked by Canton's Nick Sehr, 3-2.
In the championship match, Burkhart and Brandon Valley's Mason Bender came out firing in a spirited first period that ended scoreless. Burkhart went ahead to stay with an escape, then a takedown in the second period. A 3-1 lead expanded to 5-1 with another takedown in the third period, and Burkhart stayed in firm control as he won his title and improved his record to 6-1 for the season.
Brett Bye remained unbeaten through the semifinals at 112 pounds, one of the tournament's toughest weight classes. He pinned Jake Weber of Sisseton in 1:05, pinned Garretson's Colby Pierret in 3:52, then won in the semifinal round by technical fall, 18-2, over Harrisburg's Trenton Schmitt.
In his championship match against Josh Puppe of Brookings, Bye fell behind 2-0 on a takedown, earned an escape to get to within 2-1, then went down again 4-1. An escape in the second period brought Bye to within 4-2, but he would get no closer in a 5-2 loss and settled for second place.
Will Mart at 215 pounds likewise had an outstanding start to his tournament. He pinned Roosevelt's Elijah Heth in 5:14 and did the same to Harrisburg's Dylan VanSteenberg in 4:23. In the semifinal match against Luke Myrabo of Canton, Mart was trailing by only 4-3 after two periods. He gave up an intentional escape to fall behind 5-3 but set himself up in position to tie with a potential takedown. Mart almost got it, too, in the final minute, but it was not to be, and Myrabo not only survived that moment but scored points in the final seconds to expand his final margin to 12-3.
Mart then won big-time, 10-2, over Alan Kramer of Howard in the fourth-round wrestlebacks to earn a chance at third place, but he was pinned by Washington's Devin O'Farrell in 1:24 and settled for fourth place.
Brenden Raizola at 125 pounds, Regan Bye at 130 and Jake Knutson at heavyweight each won a match in the tournament, but all three then lost in the wrestlebacks to see their tourney come to an end. The same was true of Joey Mueller, Alex Osborne, Dexter Mehlhaf and Seth Heine, all of whom lost their first two matches.
Other VHS results:
119, Mueller: Pinned by Alex Burghardt, Watertown, 3:28; lost by decision to Joe Weaver, Lincoln, 7-6.
125, Raizola: Pinned by Teigan Ward, Howard, 1:03; pinned Michael Peterson, Tea Area, 0:40; pinned by Conor Tomac, O'Gorman, 4:36.
130, Regan Bye: Lost decision to Tate McVay, Sturgis, 10-8; pinned Ryan Leiferman, Washington, 2:22; pinned by Ryan Angerhofer, Brandon Valley, 1:21.
145, Osborne: Lost decision to Silas Magilke, Milbank, 19-5; pinned by Seth Haper, Roosevelt, 3:44.
160, Mehlhaf: Pinned by Trevor Lansing, Wagner, 2:17; pinned by Jeremy Schuelke, Milbank, 2:41.
171, Heine: PInned by Scott Howe, Garretson, 1:28; pinned by Alex Oaks, Harrisburg, 0:34.
Hwt., Knutson: Pinned John Kovaleski, Roosevelt, 1:35; pinned by Chris Vinson, Sturgis, 3:02; defaulted second-round wrestleback match to Tylor Waldner, Tea Area.
The Tanagers have a 10-day break until competing at the Brandon Valley tournament on Jan. 8.