Tanager grapplers place 15th in Watertown
By Parker Knox
The Bye family wrestling legacy in Vermillion has gained a new chapter.
With his dad and coach, three-time state champion Hazen Bye, watching from matside, Vermillion High sophomore Regan Bye won the state Class “A” 145-pound championship Saturday night at Watertown. Cousin Brett Bye, who with Regan has provided Tanager opponents with successive nightmares in back-to-back weight classes all season long, captured third place at 152 pounds.
Hazen Bye won state titles as a Tanager himself in 1982, 1983 and 1984.
The younger Byes provided the majority of Vermillion’s 44 team points as the Tanagers tied for 15th place, finishing ahead of 18 schools, including the likes of Sioux Falls Lincoln, Sioux Falls O’Gorman, Yankton and Mitchell. Pierre won its second straight “A” crown, outdistancing challengers Rapid City Central and Huron for the top spot.
Regan Bye was a points producer in his first two matches at the state tournament. He decisioned Till Olson, Sturgis, 11-2, in the first round and later Friday won over Huron’s Arthur Hines, 11-6. In Saturday morning’s semifinal round, he had to face Rapid City Central’s Blake Stone, who had been ranked No. 1 in the 145-pound division in the final statewide coaches’ rankings. Bye prevailed by 3-2 in overtime.
To earn his championship Bye would then have to face Mitch Johnson, Aberdeen Central, who was the No. 2 man in the final rankings. Despite falling behind on an early escape, Bye prevailed. It was another cliffhanger, a 4-3 decision, but he had his championship. He finished his yeear with a 41-4 record.
Brett Bye pinned Kyler Schmidt of Spearfish/Lead-Deadwood in the first round in 1:32 of the first period, then decisioned Madison’s Matt Goth in the quarterfinals, 8-2. Brett sustained only his second loss of the season by 3-2 in the semifinals against eventual champion Hartman Katz of Huron.
Bye responded with a 7-1 victory over Brandon Valley’s Wyatt Winter in the fourth wrestleback round to earn a crack at third place. The opponent there was Goth again, and Bye won by injury default in the first period when Goth was injured and could not continue.
Brett Bye capped off a 41-2 campaign. Besides Katz, the only other wrestler to whom Bye lost all year, Zach Schuman of Tri-Valley, won the state championship in Class “B” in the same weight class.
With two more seasons remaining for each of the Byes, the sky seems to be the limit to what they might achieve on the mats.
Four other Tanager state meet qualifiers were eliminated by the end of the first day although one of them did win a match.
Eighth-grader Carter Kratz, who won twice as many matches as he lost this season in the 138-pound class, lost his opening-round match 8-2 to Pierre senior Caleb Stoltenburg, a state champion in 2012 and a runner-up this year. But Kratz came back strong in the first round of the wrestlebacks to outpoint Justin Krebs of Rapid City Stevens, 8-1, staying alive into the second round. There, however, Kratz lost to Watertown’s Taylor McLaughlin on a pin at 4:38 and saw his chance of placing at state fall one win short.
Kratz ended his first varsity season with a 35-17 record.
At 106 pounds another eighth-grade wrestler, Kyle Seibel, lost by pin in 50 seconds to Zane Jones, Sturgis, then lost a 6-0 decision in the wrestlebacks to Huron’s Trent Francom. Seibel’s season ended with a 10-11 record.
Sophomore Brandon Hertz sustained a pair of losses by pin. Spencer Folk, Milbank, took him down in 1:29 in the first round, then Pierre’s Seth Scott pinned Hertz in 40 seconds to end the Vermillion wrestler’s season at a record of 20-20.
Seth Heine’s junior season finished with a record of 20-22 after he lost twice at state. Unbeaten Aero Amo, Rapid City Central, pinned Heine in 38 seconds, then Triston Wirtjes, Watertown, got the better of Heine in 2:48 in the wrestleback round.