Seven Vermillion wrestlers are in Aberdeen today for the start of the state Class "A" wrestling tournament as the result of placing in the Region 2A event held at the VHS gym last Thursday and Friday.
The region's three largest schools claimed first, second and third places in the Region 2A team standings as expected, but Vermillion finished a strong fourth with one champion, two runners-up, two third places and two fourth-place wrestlers for a total of seven state meet qualifiers.
Behind champion Sioux Falls Washington, runner-up Lincoln and third-place Brandon Valley, the Tanagers tied with Yankton for fourth with 141 team points, followed in order by Harrisburg, Dakota Valley, Lennox and Tea Area.
The luck of the draw has left a few Tanager qualifiers with rugged first-round challenges this morning at the state meet. One of them is seventh-grader Carter Kratz, who placed third in the 120-pound class at the regional. He takes his 23-17 record up against Rapid City Stevens junior Keaton Ohlson (25-9). Junior Avery Garcia (2-17), who was fourth at 182 pounds, will face off against Tate Thybo, Belle Fourche senior (13-3).
Vermillion's regional champ was Brett Bye, who breezed through the 132-pound weight class with two pins and a major decision. Bye, a freshman who now claims a 38-0 record, will first face O'Gorman junior Conor Tomac (9-11) at state.
Freshman Regan Bye, who was runner-up at 138 but who came as close as a guy can to winning a championship without doing so, takes a 19-11 record to Aberdeen to open against Sisseton senior Dillon George (33-16). Alex Osborne, 170-pound sophomore, was runner-up at 170 pounds. He starts against Huron senior Austin Meyers (21-16).
Will Mart, 285-pound senior, finished third at the regional. He has a sparkling 32-5 record to take to the mat against Watertown senior Tyler Robel (28-10). Senior Brandon Steenholdt (18-14), who took fourth at 113 pounds at Region 2A, starts at state against Mitchell senior Dylan Bollock (26-16).
Brett Bye's championship-match 11-1 win over Washington's Dylan Larson was the 100th of his still-young varsity career. Earlier he had pinned Payton Sim, Harrisburg, in 2:40 and Lincoln's Tyler Nordlund in 3:58.
Regan Bye, after a bye into the semifinals, won there by pin in 2:34 over Jake Barkema of Washington. In the finals against Lincoln's once-beaten Landon Stroud, Bye gained an escape to begin the third period, tying the match at 1-1. It stayed that way into one, two, three and then four overtimes before Stroud gained an escape to win the match.
Osborne won impressively twice to reach his championship bout. He pinned Will Simon, Lennox, in 1:42 in the quarterfinals. In the semis against Lincoln's Chris Taylor, the Tanager was trailing 7-2 when he suddenly scored a pin in 3:02. In the title match he lost to Yankton's C.J. Warren in 3:48.
Kratz opened the regional with a 3-2 win over Evan Meyer, Washington, then lost in the semis to top seed and eventual champion Skyler Castilleja, Lincoln, on a 1:40 pin. In a do-or-die wrestleback Kratz, tied 0-0 with Dakota Valley's Tyler Schrunk going into the second period, reeled off six points, then added five more for an 11-1 lead before pinning his man in 5:15. In the third-place match against Tea's Trayce Ruotsalianen, Kratz scored an escape early in the third period to lead 3-0, then added four points in the match's final 25 seconds to win 7-0.
Mart, top seed at 285, won by pin in 3:06 over Josiah McGee, Brandon Valley, in the quarters. Mart led his semifinal match 6-0 against Washington's Chris Vroman, whom he had beaten a week earlier in a dual, but Vroman startlingly pinned Mart in 4:29. In the wrestlebacks Mart won a match he had to have to remain alive in a 1:50 pin over Yankton's Royce Reisner. Then for third place Mart survived three blood delays to prevail 5-2 over Harrisburg's Dylan VanSteenberg, who was ranked third in the state in the latest ratings.
Steenholdt won by pin in 4:34 over Tanner Fridrich, Tea Area, to start his regional. He lost to top seed Adam Presler, Brandon Valley, 8-4, in the semis, but got through the wrestleback with a forfeit win. In the third-place match Steenholdt led 4-0 but lost by pin in 2:49 to Harrisburg's Zach Gross.
Garcia lost by pin in 38 seconds to Thomas Hudson, Harrisburg, then got through the wrestlebacks on the wings of a bye and a win by default. In the third-place match he lost on a 31-second pin to Washington's Dan Marlette.
Tanagers who didn't make it out of the region included Kyle Seibel at 106 pounds. He lost on a pair of pins, but in between he scored a 9-5 win over Taylor Deien, Harrisburg, after trailing by 5-3 with only 1:30 left in that match. Josh Callahan lost on a pair of pins at 126 pounds. So did James May at 145, but between them he scored a pin of his own in 4:38 over Tea's Enrique San Miguel. Brandon Hertz lost by pin, won by forfeit and lost 4-1 in his three 152-pound matches. Damarius Cheeseman at 160 lost twice by pin. Seth regional team title.