The curtain is about to go up on a state wrestling tournament unlike any other. The event will feature a girls’ only division for the first time in state history. The dual portion of the event is back. And the meet will take place in two different gyms at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center in Rapid City.
Aberdeen Central qualified six individuals in the boys’ division. Golden Eagles coach Donnie Bowden believes his team is competing as a unit the best it has all season.
“We finally found some consistency where they’re wrestling at their best together,” Bowden said.
Central had two champions at last week’s region tourney: Rayden Zens at 106 pounds, and Samuel Calvert at 170.
Bowden said Zens has proven he is capable.
“He’s beaten the number one kid in the bracket,” Bowden said.
Calvert also figures to be tough out this weekend.
“He’s just been knocking off top kids,” Bowden said.
Other state qualifiers for Central include Mason Schrempp, Jacob Bellefeuille, Brock Martin and Braydon Steuck.
Bowden believes his squad can be among the top 8-10 teams in the final standings.
“This biggest thing is just to go out there and do the best we can,” he said. “It’s kind of like the region meet. It’s just who can navigate the best that weekend is what it’s going to come down to.”
The team championship will likely be a two-team race, according to Bowden.
“I think Brandon Valley kind of stepped up into that conversttion,” Bowden said, pointing out the Lynx have three kids ranked nationally. “They just have a really strong program right now.”
Two-time defending State A champion Rapid City Stevens qualified wrestlers at 14 weight classes.
“Between those two, it’s going to be kind of dog fight,” Bowden said.
Central will also be represented by six girls at the state tournament.
Morgan Woosley has been a staple of the program, coming over after volleyball finished.
“She stepped up and she’s been wrestling really well for us,” Bowden said. “She’s just hard nosed and gets after it every day. You wish you had a room full of Morgans every day.”
Melina Frank was the first girl to come out for wrestling at Central and as a result trained with the boys before other girls joined the program.
“She’s been gaining momentum as well and just kind of figuring things out,” Bowden said.
Other Central wrestlers include Ally Brunmaier, Madyson Gillen, Madison Holmes and Clare Moe.
Bowden said the first year of girls’ wrestling has gone well.
“It’s not so much different than coaching the boys,” he said. “They’re really intense and they want do to just as well.”
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