By Bob Bakken
Wrestling: Rapid City Stevens Wins Class A State Title
Rapid City Stevens won the Class A state wrestling championship last Saturday in Aberdeen. The Raiders won their first state title in wrestling since 2001 with 172.5 points. Canton was the runner-up with 140 points, while three-time defending champion Sturgis finished third with 124.5 points.
Three of the five Stevens wrestlers who qualified for the finals won state championships. They were Morgan Russell (112 pounds), Kramer Johnson (140), and Jarrett Jensen (145).
Wrestling: Kocer Inspires in Defeat
In Sioux Falls on Saturday, Wagner won the Class “B” state championship with 150.5 points, defeating second-place Elk Point-Jefferson, which finished with 96.5 points. Garretson, Webster and Redfield completed the top five.
A larger story was the effort of Wagner’s Ryan Kocer, a three-time state champion attempting to win his fourth title. The 152-pound Kocer lost his left leg above the knee in an accident last August, but still made it through the first round of the state meet, before losing to a personal friend, Carl Serck of Alcester-Hudson, 15-9 in the second round.
Serck says Kocer’s efforts are an inspiration, telling the Sioux Falls Argus-Leader newspaper, "If you asked Ryan if he thought he was an inspiration, I think he'd say no. He's a humble guy. But everyone else knows he's an inspiration."
Serck was one of five brothers competing for Alcester-Hudson at the state “B” tournament. He’s a senior, but his brother Phil is the team’s head coach.
In addition, three Merrick brothers were wrestling at state for the Cubs. They were senior Alex and eighth-grade twins Levi and Lance. The Merricks’ father, Todd, placed seventh as a high-schooler himself in the South Dakota state tournament.
Wrestling: Swanson Recovering From Injury
A Hill City wrestler is continuing his recovery from a neck injury suffered at the Region 4B tournament held earlier this month in Fort Pierre.
Dusty Swanson was taken to Rapid City Regional Hospital and remains in the facility’s Intensive Care Unit. Swanson will be transferred to a facility in Denver once he is able to travel. He’s had his spine re-aligned, but now lacks feeling below his chest. Doctors are optimistic about his recovery.
Hill City coach Chad Ronish told the Pierre Capital-Journal, "He is a strong young man with a great attitude. He is in good spirits, visiting with friends and family."
A fund to assist Swanson has been set up through the First Western Bank in Hill City. A website was also established for friends to send support messages. Updates on his condition will also be posted on the Internet site, which is dustyhchs.wikispaces.com.
Girls Basketball: Teams Qualifying For State Tournaments
South Dakota girls basketball teams are punching tickets for their upcoming state tournaments.
Harding County is in the state B tournament after a 42-26 victory in Region 8B over Campbell County. Samantha Jensen led the winners with 18 points.
Sully Buttes is back at the state B event after a 42-29 win over James Valley Christian in Region 3B. Three players were in double figures for Sully Buttes.
The remainder of the Class “B” field should be settled by the end of the weekend.
Douglas School District Petitions For Re-Classification
The Douglas school district in the Black Hills feels it’s competing against some bigger players being in Class AA, so the district is petitioning the South Dakota High School Activities Association to be placed in a lower class.
The district, based in Box Elder near Rapid City, is asking the association that it be moved to Class A. Activities director Naomi Hatfield made a petition request to the school board, which passed it unanimously.
Hatfield says the school is a Class AA district because of enrollment numbers, but is not on an even playing field with other schools. She says they compete at a disadvantage, because many students are family members of Ellsworth Air Force Base employees, who are frequently transferring in and out of the base.
SDHSAA Executive Director Wayne Carney appreciates the plight, but says any change would be still a year away. He tells the Rapid City Journal newspaper, “Alignments are for two years. They will be right where they are for the 2008-09 school year.”
Douglas is close to qualifying for Class A status, but still has nine more students than the minimum number for Class AA.