Milbank High School grapplers Eli Fischer and Alec Bien earned medals at the State Class A wrestling tournament in Sioux Falls Friday and Saturday, February 23 and 24. Fischer, a sophomore, captured fourth place at 106 pounds. Bien, a junior, finished the tournament in sixth place in the 160-pound weight class.
“All five of our guys battled hard this weekend,” stated Bulldog Head Coach Jeremy Tostenson. “I am proud of Eli and Alec for getting on the awards stand.”
Fischer started the tournament with a win by forfeit in his match with Oakley Blakeman of Beresford. Blakeman did not make weight. Fischer then faced Brenden Salfrank from Aberdeen Central, the same wrestler who beat him in the Region 3A championship match. Fischer avenged the loss by winning 8-3 to advance to semi-final action on Saturday.
In the semi-finals, Fischer battled it out with Jacob Wood of Sturgis and was defeated 7-3. Wood went on to win the state title in the 106-pound weight class. In the wrestlebacks, Fischer conquered Ty Althoff of Watertown, 5-1, to advance to the third place match. In that match, he faced off with Salfrank again, and came up just short at 4-3. Fischer took home a fourth place finish.
Bien started out his state tournament quest for a medal with a 13-5 loss to Wyatt Jungclaus of Rapid City Central. He bounced back during the first round wrestlebacks with a win by fall in 2:36 when he faced JT Panning of Tea Area. Bien then won an exciting overtime match with Sam Stroup of Watertown by a score of 6-4. He went on to defeat Logan Bowes of Brookings 4-1 and then found himself in another overtime match. In that one, he fell short at 3-1 to Collin Becker of Dakota Valley. Bien moved to the fifth place match to face a tough opponent, Austin Senger of Pierre. He lost by fall in 2:14 to finish in sixth place.
Seventh-grader Barrett Schneck and eighth-grader Kaden Krause both competed in the state tournament for the first time. Schneck lost by fall (:24) to Max Donovan of Chamberlain in his opening match and then lost by fall (1:33) to Jace Bench-Bresher of Pierre.
Krause lost by fall (:57) to Collin Powell of Chamberlain to begin the tournament, and then lost by fall (:33) to Sherman Taber of Douglas. “It was exciting having seventh and eighth-graders experience the state tournament for the first time,” Tostenson said.
Tanner Kettwig, the lone senior competing in the state tournament for Milbank lost by fall (3:23) to Zack Siemonsma of Huron in the opening round. Siemonsma was the same opponent Kettwig lost to in the region tournament championship. Kettwig then fell by a 15-2 major decision to Zach Luke of Brandon Valley to complete his high school wrestling career.
Milbank finished 22nd in the team standings with 22 points. Pierre repeated as State Class A Champions with 159 points. They held off Rapid City Stevens by just 1.5 points.
State place winners and coaches: (l. to r.) Jesse Krause, Jeremy Tostenson, Alec Bien, Eli Fischer, Josh Schmeichel, and trainer Wade Van Dover.