After placing fourth at state with four juniors earning trips to the medal stand at last season’s state tournament, the Mobridge-Pollock wrestling team is heading into the new season is a season with high expectations.
“Yes it is,” said coach Nathan Ford, “but that’s okay. If our expectations aren’t high enough, then we’re cutting ourselves short.”
The team starts with four seniors who placed at last February’s state tournament. Nathan Bauer took second at 170 pounds, Jaden Shepherd third at 138, Stone Jensen fifth at 182 and Jason Gerry sixth at 192.
The foursome was not alone at state, also competing there were senior Kegan Pearman, junior Isaac Olson, sophomore Jacob Steiger and freshman Kamron Pearman.
“Our leadership has been outstanding,” said Ford.
The Tigers open the season on Saturday at the Stanley County Invitational in Ft. Pierre. Last year the team took seventh with four placers. That team was missing wrestlers in four weight classes. That won’t be the case this year as the 21-man squad will fill every weight class.
Ford said the preseason has gone well. Most of the wrestlers are settled into the weight class that suits them and the team.
“The first two weeks are usually a trial and error period,” said Ford. “Guys are figuring if they are comfortable where they are or if they need to go up or down a weight. For most of our guys, they are where they need to be.”
Ford said the team is eager to get on the mat and face competition that is not their own teammates.
“We started really slow last year, working on fundamentals,” said Ford. “This year we’re getting after it. We started live wrestling before the first week was over.”
The Tigers will wrestle with this lineup on Saturday.
106: Freshman Isaac Aman steps into a varsity role after getting a taste and going 0-2 last year.
113: Sophomore Jacob Steiger went 30-15 last year, taking third in Region 4B and placing in seven tournaments with second-place finishes in the Mid Dakota Monster and the Linton Holiday Tournament.
120: Freshman Kamron Pearman went 32-15 last year, taking second in Region 4B and placing in four tournaments, including a second-place finish in Webster.
126: Sophomore Ayden Stickney was 6-16 last year. He placed in two tournaments, taking third in Stanley County.
132: Senior Jaden Shepherd went 38-5 last year and took third in state at 138 pounds. He was the Region 4B runner-up and placed in six tournaments, including winning titles in Gettysburg, Webster and Faulkton.
138: Senior Kegan Pearman went 32-15 last year won the Region 4B title at 120 pounds. He placed in every tournament and won the title at the Mid Dakota Monster.
145: Junior Tucson Freeman is a transfer from McLaughlin where he was the first-ever Mustang to wrestle at the state wrestling tournament. He went 33-14 for the Mustangs last year.
152: Senior Dakota Weleba went 8-23 last year and took eighth at the Stanley County Invitational.
160: Junior Isaac Olson went 26-10 last year and won the Region 4B title at 145 pounds. Olson placed in five tournaments, winning first in Faulkton.
170: Senior Nathan Bauer went 34-13 last year and took second in state at 170. He was the Region 4B runner-up and placed in all nine tournaments, including winning the title at the Battler Tournament.
182: Senior Stone Jensen went 33-16 last year and took fifth in state at 182. He was the Region 4B runner-up and placed in eight tournaments, winning in Faulkton.
195: Senior Jason Gerry went 27-13 last year and took sixth in state at 195 pounds. He finished third in Region 4B, placed in all nine tournaments and won titles in Winner and Webster.
220: Sophomore Jon Keller takes the mat for his first varsity matches on Saturday.
With a deep team, four more Tigers will be wrestling unattached on Saturday. Seniors Zach Faehnrich and Dakota Nickels will wrestle at 170 and 160, respectively, freshman Eli Bohlander will wrestle at 120 and sophomore Jacob Cadotte at 152.
New to the team this season, but not making a season debut on Saturday are Carson Keller Britton Vogel, Mark Walther and Jacob Cadotte.
The Tigers host wrestling three times this year, including the first true dual match since the 1995-96 season. That was a Redfield vs. Mobridge match. This time it will be Redfield Area vs. Mobridge-Pollock and it will happen soon on Thursday, Dec. 7. The Tigers will host the Mobridge Quadrangular on Jan. 11 and the M-P Quadrangular on Jan. 16. The Tigers host Miller/Highmore-Harrold, Faulkton Area and Ipswich/Leola/Bowdle on Jan. 11 and Linton-HMB, Stanley County and Ipswich/Leola/Bowdle on Jan. 16.