Huron wrestlers aim for strong finish at state tourney

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HURON — Junior Moses Gross will be looking to earn his third career state championship for Huron during the Class A State Wrestling Tournament, which begins Thursday and continues through Saturday the the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls.

Gross will be leading a contigency of six wrestlers for the Tigers into the season ending event.

“The Tigers are going to be leaning on the leadership of Moses Gross and Bryan Ramirez,” Huron coach Matt Goth said of his returning state placers.

Gross will be making his fifth appearance in the state tournament for the Tigers. He enters the event as the No. 1 seed at 150 pounds with a 34-1 record.

“Moses is becoming a seasoned veteran at the state tournament,” Goth said. “At the state tournament, anything can happen so you have to take it one match at time.”

Gross will open the tournament against junior Sterne Pankratz of O’Gorman, who is 25-19.

“The keys to Moses success this week will be getting to his attacks early and dictating the pace of the match,” Goth said.

Ramirez is one of three seniors making the trip to the state tournament for Huron. He finished eighth last season and will be looking for another solid finish during his third and final appearance at the state event.

“Last season he place eighth at 285 and this year he is down at 215 and is the eighth seed entering the state tournament,” Goth said of Ramirez. “Bryan always wrestles his best in big situations. He is looking to improve on his finish from last year this weekend.”

Ramirez has put together a 26-10 record this season and will open the tournament against Belle Fourche freshman Lucas Tonsager, who is 16-7.

The other seniors qualifying to compete at state for the Tigers are Aiden Zavesky at 132 and Lah Doh Soe at 138. They’re both making their first trip to the state tournament.

“They both wrestle with a lot of grit and are not afraid to work hard, which has helped them get to the state tournament,” Goth said. “Both of them have been gaining confidence and wrestling well the last month of the season.”

Zavesky is currently 13-14. He will open the tournament against Alex Oedekoven of Pierre, who is 32-10.

Soe is 16-13 and will face sophomore Ridley Waldo of Aberdeen Central, who is 35-10, in his opening match.

Junior TJ Lien saw limited action this season due to an injury, but has put together a 9-6 record at 157. He will face freshman Zhoel Irion of Sturgis, who is 32-9, to open the tournament.

“Although this is TJ’s first trip to the wrestling state championships, he is no stranger to competing at a high level,” Goth said. “TJ will be able to use his experience from cross-country and track to help him prepare for this week.”

The youngest member of the Huron team to qualify for the state tournament is freshman Lucas Chaparro at 165.

“Lucas has wrestled well all season and was able to capitalize on a reversal in overtime to punch his ticket to the state tournament,” Goth said.

Chaparro brings a 9-9 record into the state tournament and will open with a match against senior Preston Ray of Sturgis, who is 23-10.

Girls

A pair of seniors and a freshman will represent Huron in the Girls’ Class A State Wrestling Tournament, which also begins today and runs through Saturday at the Denny Sanford Premier Center.

“Our girls started the season with some very high goals of not only making it to state, which is a great accomplishment, but they want to find a way to get on the podium and place,” said Dru Strand, who is the head girls’ wrestling coach for the Tigers. “Our goal going into the state wrestling is to win two before we lose two so we can get a chance to place.”

Representing Huron at the state meet will be senior Naw Htoo Ywe at 100 pounds, freshman Chalie Sah at 107 and senior Kayeleigh Bowden at 138.

“Unfortunately, none of our girls got enough seed points to get seeded into the tournament,” Strand said. “We are going to have to come out and battle every match no matter what seed the girls is that we wrestle.”

Ywe is 17-18 and will open the tournament against seventh-grader Finley Evjen of Canton, who is 37-4.

Sah brings a 22-16 record into the tournament and will face freshman Irini Poka of Rapid City Central, who is 40-7, in her first match.

Bowden is 14-13 and will open against freshman Jaclyn Kyte of Yankton, who is 27-7.

“The biggest challenge for our girls is going to be able to adapt in tough situations and never give up. I have seen some crazy finishes in my own experiences as a coach and a wrestler and it only takes one move to win a match and it might not come right away,” Strand said. “Trying to stay alive for six minutes of wrestling and never giving up will work in our favor if we can manage to overcome that hurdle.”

Tournament schedule

For both the girls’ and boys’ tournaments, first-round matches will begin at 10 a.m. Thursday, with the quarterfinals to follow at 4 p.m.

First and second round wrestlebacks are slated for 9:30 p.m. Friday, with the semifinals and third-round wrestlebacks to begin at 3 p.m.

Placing matches are slated for 10 a.m. Saturday, with the championship matches to follow at 1 p.m.

The girls will wrestle first in each round, followed by the boys.