by Billy Stitz
No, the Flandreau Fliers did not have a state wrestling champion as they did in 2011-12 and no, they did not improve on their overall team finish at the state tournament, but a consistent effort and determination to be the best, led the Fliers wrestling team to a very successful season in 2012-13.
Instead, the Fliers picked up a second and third place finisher, two fourth place finishers and a seventh and eighth place finisher at this year’s state meet in Aberdeen, not to mention finishing in eighth place as a team and bringing home a team trophy for the second consecutive year,
“As a team we had higher expectations than the end result, but one can not be terribly disappointed with bringing six guys to the State tourney, placing all six, and bringing home a team trophy,” Flandreau wrestling coach, Travis Ahrens said about his team’s performance during his sixth year at the helm.
The success started from the beginning. Flandreau took fourth at their annual Booster Club tournament thanks to seven wrestlers finishing in the top four. Jace Christiansen picked up right where he had left off, just a year removed from a state championship, by winning the 145 lb. bracket at their season opening tournament. Four wrestlers picked up second place honors in senior Dakota Petersen, junior Jake Scofield, junior Casey Johnson and eighth grader Dylan Rice.
Also, senior Carter Ziebarth finished fourth in his only action of the year and freshman Logan Barboza picked up a fourth place finish to open the year.
But the success did not slow down. Flandreau won four of their first five duels to open the season and then followed those up with nine place finishers at the McCook Central/Montrose Invite in late December. Christiansen picked up his second tournament victory of the year, while Petersen and senior Tate Lacey each picked up their first.
Lacey helped the Fliers continue their success onto their next tournament, winning at the Dan Pansch/Jesse James Invite in Brandon, with the Fliers finishing sixth as a team in a very good field.
Over the next three tournaments, the Fliers picked up 10 individual championships including three each from Lacey and senior Kyle Scofield. The individual success would pay off in the Fliers next test, the Big East/Lake Central Conference Tournament.
“I really think we started clicking as a team at the BE/LC Conference tournament. Top to bottom we put together a solid performance and we carried that through the end of the year,” said Ahrens.
The Fliers finished second at the tournament, including four individual champions in Rice, Lacey, Christiansen and Petersen. As well as three others receiving All-Conference selections in Jake Scofield (2nd place), Kyle Scofield (2nd place) and Johnson (3rd place).
The tournament was just the confidence boost the squad needed heading into the Region tournament in Salem. Six Fliers walked out of the contest holding invites to the State tournament in Aberdeen as well as a sixth place team finish. The Fliers also had two wrestlers miss the tournament by one position. Johnson and Belkham both finished one win short at the Region tournament and will look to take that next step in 2013-14.
Returning to the state meet for Flandreau was Lacey, Christensen, Jake Scofield, Kyle Scofield and Dakota Petersen. Making his first appearance in the event was Rice. All six placed with Lacey earning top billing with his second place performance in the 138 lb bracket. Christensen finished third, both Scofield kids took home fourth place medals, Petersen finished seventh and Rice finished eighth in his first trip to the tournament.
Although he was new on the scene, Rice really impressed his coach and was a vital part of the team’s eighth place finish.
“As a team at state, realistically he was a guy that we needed to get through to the second day and he stepped up and did that. He will be a force in the lightweights in the years to come,” Ahrens said about Rice.
But it was a culmination of the whole season that impressed Ahrens the most about his team. Starting with top finisher, Tate Lacey.
“Any time someone wrestles 40-50 matches a season and ends up with less than five losses, it’s a great season,” Ahrens said about his senior. Lacey finished the season with a 40-3 record, pinning 23 opponents and winning seven tournament titles. Lacey wrapped up his career as a Flier with a 176-80 record. “Tate has been a great wrestler for us over the years and he really has been a good example of how hard work and determination can take you places,” Ahrens added.
Petersen also had a fabulous season in 2012-13, continuing to improve as he got older. Petersen entered his junior year campaign in 2011-12 with a losing record (45-58) but between his 32-18 year as a junior and his 41-8 record this year as a senior, Petersen finished his career 118-84.
“Dak was disappointed in his finish, but he still had a great season and obviously was one of our top guys this season. He had come along way as a wrestler during his last two seasons and was definitely key to our team’s success,” Ahrens said. Petersen won three tournaments this year in the 182 lb weight class.
Kyle Scofield finished as the second winningest wrestler in Flandreau history – finishing his career with 207 wins, 24 wins behind Cody Reed for the top spot. A lot of those wins came this year.
“Kyle had a great season for us and that really has been his norm in all six years of wrestling varsity going back to when he was a seventh grader.” Although he is responsible for over 200 wins, Ahrens believes he deserves credit for a lot more than just that. “He’s been one of the guys that has helped build our program up, with his competitiveness, desire and toughness.”
The three Flandreau seniors accounted for 124 wins in 2012-13 as well as 501 career victories.
Despite Flandreau graduating over a third of their total victories, Ahrens knows there is still plenty of talent in the program.
“We lose a talented class of seniors that are going to be difficult to replace, but the cupboard is not completely bare in the coming season.”
That has a lot to do with Christiansen and Jake Scofield. Christiansen has a state title under his belt and Scofield has two straight top five finishes in state. But the Fliers are going to need a lot of the younger wrestlers to continue to improve in order to remain a force in Class B.
“With all the individual success of our older guys, our younger, inexperienced wrestlers really started to develop and improve over the course of the season. I believe we have a good mix of lighter and heavier guys coming up that will be solid contributors and very successful wrestlers in their own right over the next few years,” said Ahrens. “The biggest thing will be continued effort, more mat time, and experience.
The Fliers had a combined individual record of 341-259 with 163 of those wins coming from pins. Below are the overall season records of all the wrestlers that competed at the varsity level in 2012-13.
Tegan Lacey (0-2), Dylan Rice (31-14), Martin Ruelas (2-4), Michael Witte (4-9), Dawson Blum (0-2), Dylan Erickson (7-25), Michael Pulscher (1-11), Si Flatten (12-29), Casey Johnson (32-17), Saud Ahlschlager (2-8), Tate Lacey (40-3), Jace Christiansen (48-4), Elliot Amdahl (6-15), Jake Scofield (37-14), Brock Belkham (19-25), Kyle Scofield (43-9), Dakota Petersen (41-8), Carter Ziebarth (1-2), Logan Barboza (10-26), Trevor Heinemann (5-32)