Nine Wildcats are headed to state tournament

They call them “The Notorious Nine”—the nine Custer wrestlers who will board a bus for Sioux Falls Wednesday to compete in this week’s State Class B Wrestling Tournament. On the team are several repeats from last year’s “Elite 11” team which was the largest state tourney team ever sent by head coach Jared Webster. The seven familiar faces include freshman standout Tray Weiss (106 pounds), 126-pound junior Landon Woodward, brothers Pierce (132) and Sterling (182) Sword, Jonathan Lewis (160), Parker Noem (170) and Zayne Severyn (195).
New to the state tourney team this year are 113- pound eighth-grader Riley Scott and 138-pound senior Braden Weiss, brother of Tray.
In qualifying for the state tournament the Custer team was runner up to Philip Area at the Region 4B Tournament in Ft. Pierre on Saturday. The two teams were only ones out of the 15 in the field to break 200 points. Philip Area racked up 269 points and Custer had 207.5. The next highest point getter in the region was Lyman (139) for its third place finish.
“We knew that was gonna be tough,” said head coach Jared Webster of the confrontation with Philip Area at the regional tournament. “They got a kid finally back in the lineup (145 pound Thane Simons) that is a very solid kid so they kind of took it to us but overall we wrestled well. I wish we could have gotten a couple more through but it could have been worse.”
Custer had two regional champions in Lewis and Tray Weiss. Lewis, who is 33-3 on the season, placed first in the 160-pound weight class and scored 24 points for his team. After pinning his first two opponents (one in only 25 seconds), Lewis defeated Philip’s Blair Blasius in sudden victory for the championship.
Meanwhile, Weiss, who stands atop the latest Dakota Grappler statewide rankings in his weight class, increased his season record to 41-3 and scored 28 team points. He also pinned his first three rivals (:19, 2:49, :49) and beat Tukker Boe of Philip Area in an 11-4 decision in the championship match. Weiss is also the top seed going into the state finals with only Brady Risetter of Redfield matching his season record.
Four of the nine state- bound wrestlers finished second in their weight classes at regions. That group included the 29-8 Woodward, who garnered 18 team points, Braden Weiss (30-14) with 17 points, Noem (36-8) for 16 points and Severyn (27-13) who scored 18 team points.
A trio of Wildcat wrestlers finished in third place.
Scott (45-9) scored 17.5 points, with two wins by fall and one by technical fall. In the match for third he pinned Cade Costello of Harding County in 1:57.
Pierce Sword (24-19) scored 20 team points and pinned Mekhi Hayes of Lead-Deadwood in 3:34 in the third place match.
His brother Sterling scored 18 points on his way to a third place finish and pinned Emmitt Maher of Lemmon-McIntosh in a mere 49 seconds in the third place match.
Two Custer wrestlers finished fifth at regions, and while not qualifying for state they did score points which helped their team to its runner-up finish.
Leighton Sander scored 11 team points and finished his season with a 25-19 win/loss record. He won the match for fifth in the 120- pound weight class in a 6-2 decision over Neil Hicks of Bennett County.
Meanwhile, Weston Woodward took home fifth place honors in the 220- pound weight category and scored seven points. He pinned Jorey Clements of Newell in a lightning-quick 17 second bout in the match for fifth and finished his season with a 28-19 record.
Custer’s heaviest wrestler, heavyweight Clayton Maude, placed sixth and scored three points for his team. The eighth grader finishes his first year on the varsity team with an 8-20 record.
Also taking sixth place at the tourney was 152- pound freshman Tyrin Scott, who scored seven team points. Scott ends the season with a 15-25 record.
Webster said Scott was only one match away from making the state team and “probably should have won the match.”
“That’s a bummer,” said the coach.
Webster said Weston Woodward had been jumped up a couple of weight classes and “had a shot” at making it to state. He said one little change in direction might have propelled him to state.
“He’s a very tough, solid kid who was in the heart of a tough lineup,” said Webster.
Looking ahead to the state finals, Webster said he is taking the attitude that the team is at 0-0 and starting over, but that doesn’t mean he’s not optimistic about its chances of bringing home some hardware.
“Hopefully we can place them all,” said Webster. “That would be an awesome goal, but you never know what’s gonna happen. Dreams are made and dreams are shot down at state but hopefully a lot of dreams are made. Every one of them has a chance to be on that podium and up high on the podium.”
The State B wrestling finals start Thursday at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center in Sioux Falls and will wrap up on Saturday. Live coverage of the action on the mats will be carried on South Dakota Public Television.


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