Five Tanager wrestlers advance to State A Tournament

Vermillions Will Mart, pictured in action against a Harrisburg opponent Feb. 11, is among the five Tanager wrestlers competing in the State A Tournament this weekend in Sioux Falls. (Photo by David Lias)

Five Vermillion wrestlers survived the Region 2A tournament at Sioux Falls Washington last weekend and now have the right to compete in the state "A" tournament on the other side of the city this weekend.

Four Tanagers knew after the first night of the regional that they were state tournament-bound, no matter what happened Friday. Brett Bye, Regan Bye, Lance Burkhart and Will Mart all reached the semifinal round, certifying they could place no worse than second in this meet where the top four placers in each weight class would advance to state.

One of them injury-defaulted for his championship match, and the other three lost theirs. Except for the disappointment, that didn't mean a whole lot except that they now at the state tourney have to face third-place finishers from other regions instead of fourth-place wrestlers.

The fifth qualifier, Brenden Raizola, didn't have the luxury of only three matches at the regional. Once he lost by pin to Lincoln's Tyler Nordlund in 3:03 in the first round, Raizola faced a do-or-die situation every time he stepped onto the mat.

Having never wrestled until last year and competing as a varsity man this winter for the first time, Raizola, a junior, refocused himself after his loss, won his next match by a pin, and then had to face his weight the third seed in the 125-pound weight class to stay alive. He did that to assure himself of a state tourney trip, and then, just for good measure, won his third-place match, 14-12, over Nordlund, the guy who had pinned him 24 hours earlier.

The Tanagers, defending regional champions, placed sixth as a team with 75 points. Yankton, whom Vermillion had nipped in the point standings a year ago, got its Region 2A title this time with 155.5 points and three individual champions. Runner-up Harrisburg with 141.5 points and host Washington also had three individual champs each.

Brett Bye, 112-pounder, had a bye through the first round at the regional, then decisioned Lincoln's Ryan O'Connor, 12-5, in the semifinals. Bye had jammed a shoulder two weeks ago in a match against Harrisburg. Coach Joe Delvaux said it was the decision of him and his staff as well as Bye's parents that he should injury-default the championship match against Harrisburg's Trenton Schmit to avoid further shoulder damage that might prevent his state tournament participation.

At 130 pounds Regan Bye scored a first-round pin over West Central's Nathan Gache in 3:29 to start rolling toward the state tourney. He won an 8-4 semifinal decision over Lincoln's Miles Seten, then lost in the finals to Brandon Valley's Ryan Angerhofer in a 4:51 pin.

Burkhart's return from a midseason injury continued to be an impressive one when he pinned Josh Goeman of Lincoln in 1:41 in the first round and decisioned Lincoln's Landon Stroud, 3-1, in the semifinals. Yankton's Logan Smith decisioned Burkhart, 4-0, in their championship match at 140.

Mart likewise began with a pin in the first round. He got his in 2:34 over Brendon Bauman of Tea Area. Mart decisioned Harrisburg's Dylan Van Steenberg, 4-2, in the semifinal round, then lost a 5-3 decision to Washington's Devon O'Farrell in the title match at 215.

Other Tanagers who competed at the regional but missed qualifying for state were Marquise Tayborn at 103 pounds, Joey Mueller at 119, Brandon Hertz at 135, Alex Osborne at 145, Paul May at 152, and Dexter Mehlhaf at 160.

When the first whistle blows at the state tourney Friday morning, eighth-grader Brett Bye takes his 29-7 record against Huron freshman Wyatt Shillingstad (11-24). Raizola (18-14) first faces Rapid City Central junior Evan Weiler (22-11).

Regan Bye, also an eighth grader, has a 20-18 record going up against Pierre senior Chance Scott at 24-17. Burkhart, a senior with a sparkling 17-2 record, opens against Belle Fourche junior Chris Dschaack (24-16). Mart, a junior with a 19-9 record, starts with Madison freshman Blake Gusso (19-19).

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