Brookings senior Alexis Gannon wins Class AA state triple jump title with a leap of 40-3.25 on her final attempt. Trailed by three inches.

Yankton was this close to sending the District 2AA game vs. Lincoln to OT.

Vermillion Cousins Chasing State Championships

I wrote this earlier this season about Vermillion juniors Brett and Regan Bye, both of whom are in tonight’s Class A state wrestling finals.
                    
Brett and Regan Bye have always had each other in terms of wrestling – if for no other reason than they have a combined six sisters and no brothers between them.
In that sense, the Vermillion High School cousins are practically brothers and see themselves as such.
So when it’s time for, say, some brotherly love, they don’t hesitate at the opportunity to mix it up.
"There are some matches that get scrappy, and I’ll hit him in the back of the head and he’ll come back and put me on my knees," said Regan, the defending 145-pound Class A state champion. "That happens once a month.
"I think it’s really helpful because we always want to get better, so we’re always trying to get together," he added. "But we don’t live in the same house, so we don’t get in fights at home and that kind of stuff. We’re still able to like each other and never get (angry) at each other."
On the calendar, they’re one month apart. Hazen Bye, Regan’s father and the Vermillion wrestling coach, pointed out that since the beginning the two cousins have been remarkably close on the scales, too.
"That’s good when you want to practice, but when you get to a tournament with different weight classes, it gets a little hard," said Hazen. "They actually wrestled in some tournaments together, and where most teams would just say, ‘We’ll forfeit when we wrestle each other,’ they’d wrestle each other. Brett was always the man that won."
The Tanager juniors have relied on one another to get to where they are now, with Regan ranked No. 1 at 145 pounds and third overall in the state and Brett atop the 152-pound weight class and fourth overall. Both are undefeated, with Regan sporting a 30-0 record and Brett at 29-0.
More importantly, both are on a mission to bring a winning formula back to Vermillion, where both of their fathers were crowned state champions. Hazen was a three-time state champion from 1982-84 and an All-American at South Dakota State.
"It would be sweet," said Brett, whose father, Brook, was the 167-pound state champion for Vermillion in 1981. "It would bring back some of that tradition from when Hazen and my dad were wrestling."
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Fueled by defeat
Brett will be the first to admit he’s had opportunities, but he hasn’t been able to clinch at the right time. As a seventh- and eighth-grader, he finished sixth at the state meet for a solid start to a promising high school career.
But the last two seasons have fallen under the category of what could have been. His freshman year, he entered state with a 38-0 record only to get pinned in the second period of the semifinals by eventual champion Caleb Stoltenberg of Pierre.
Last season, Brett’s only loss before state came at the hands of Tri-Valley’s Zach Schuman, who went on to win the 152-pound Class B title, but it was a 3-2 decision against Huron’s Hartman Katz that ended the title bid for Brett, who finished 41-2.
"I kind of held back a little bit and wrestled to not lose," Brett said. "It was a low-scoring match, and I got taken down with five seconds left and lost by one."
An aggressive game plan had always been part of his approach. Take ‘em down and let ‘em go, leading to as many points as possible. After all, he owns the Tanager record for most takedowns in a season with 126 and already has 88 this year, with plenty of time to best his own mark.
But the heartbreaking loss served as motivation for him during the offseason, which included 5 a.m. lifting sessions in the gym, multiple camps and tournaments over the summer and spending all but three weeks of his summer at Legends of Gold in Beresford, a training center furnished with dorms and nearly 15,000 square feet of practice area.
"I’ve just been trying to focus on getting more offense going and being more aggressive," said Brett, who has added a cross-leg to his attack. "After that match, I’ve been focusing on that a lot."
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Seizing the moment
Regan didn’t qualify for state as a seventh-grader and didn’t place his eighth-grade or freshman seasons. He spent the bulk of his sophomore year flying under the radar and wasn’t expected to capture a state championship at 145 pounds, especially when it meant going through Rapid City Central’s Blake Stone (50-5) and Aberdeen Central’s Mitchell Johnson (27-4).
But there was a wrinkle to Regan’s campaign that couldn’t have been brought forth by anyone else, as Hazen’s first year at the coaching helm was a huge boost in the right direction.
"Things started clicking," said Regan, who is more technical in his approach than Brett. "(Hazen) knows what I need to be the best. He set me up to win and everything went perfectly."
On the day that Regan was set to square off with Johnson for the state title, Hazen sensed his son’s nerves leading up to the match and temporarily shed his role as coach and stepped in as father.
The two took a short drive to a nearby gas station for a Mountain Dew and chatted briefly in an attempt to get Regan’s mind on anything but performing in front of a raucous crowd in the Watertown gym. What followed was a 6-3 decision for Regan.
"Placing for me would have been an amazing feeling," said Regan. "Winning state, knowing that I’m No.1, was pretty cool. But I liked being the (underdog). I’m a little nervous to be No. 1, because I don’t want to be the one that gets upset."
And while it was the first step to possibly matching his father’s state championship tally, holding a share of the family total isn’t the focal point as much as simply winning out.
"Well, I don’t want to lose anymore," Regan said when asked about chasing his father. "Having six in the (immediate) family would be awesome. I don’t think that’s a big deal for him or me. But it would be nice to be able to have three titles, just because I know that I can."
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Chasing history
Before this season started, the plan was for Regan to move to 145 pounds and Brett 152. Shortly after, it became apparent to Regan that he’d rather be at 152 – and the two wrestled off for the spot. After a 0-0 tie through two periods, Brett came away with a 5-2 decision and the bragging rights, which he’s held pretty much the whole decade-and-a-half the two have been grappling together.
"He got jacked up for the match," said Regan, wide-eyed and laughing. "He looked scary warming up across from me."
They tend to jump around, Regan between 145 and 152 pounds and Brett between 152 and 160, but the result has been the same all season. Both picked up wins on Tuesday at the Lennox quadrangular, in which Vermillion set a school record for most points in a dual with a 78-6 win over Tea.
While the Byes contend for individual honors, putting the Tanagers back on the map is a goal as well. Vermillion is ranked 10th in Class A, and it’s been a while since anyone had had reason to pay close attention to the red and white.
Brett and Regan are a clear-cut reason for that, along with team captain Alex Osborne.
"I pulled them aside and said, ‘If we’re going to go to the next level, you guys are going to have to lead us,’ " said Hazen. "They know more technique than I ever knew. They can teach you anything, break anything down. I lived in an era where we just wrestled, but they’ve learned a lot of things from a lot of good people."
So long as the cousin tandem continues to lead by example, more things should fall into place for the Tanager program. The duo already sit 1-2 in career wins for Vermillion, Brett with 179 and Regan with 147, and are also gunning for Hazen’s single-season record for pins (26). Collegiate wrestling is part of the plan as well, with SDSU and Augustana among the in-state programs showing potential interest.
In the meantime, they’re pursuing their own goals – Brett chasing his first title and Regan technically chasing his father.
"It’s what I’ve been working for since I was 4," said Brett. "Especially with the last two years, going in undefeated and ranked No. 1, it’s been hard to get, but it made me push that much harder. It’s going to be that much better when I get there."
If and when those goals come to fruition, the Byes know that they have each other to point to for the success. With the two wrestling in weight class right next to one another, they won’t be hard to find.
"I’d love it," said Regan. "Just being able to walk off the mat and knowing Brett’s right there behind me to get another one. For someone who’s trained with me and made me who I am, I’d like to know that who I am has made him a state champion, too."

Lincoln GBB coach Lyle Pearson resigns

For some reason, the final story didn’t get posted on the Argus website, so here it is.

Lyle Pearson is going out on top. After leading the Lincoln girls to their first-ever Class AA state basketball title last winter, Pearson confirmed on Friday that he has resigned from the position.

The decision was something already in the making for the coach as he gave himself a five-year window after taking over the program in 2008.

“I said in the interview that I’d go five years and then we’d take a look at it,” said Pearson, who put together a 66-48 record over that span. “What I was hoping to do was build it up a little and see if we could get ‘em on the right track. I’d like to think we did that.”

The Patriots went 17-8 under Pearson last season, ending the campaign with a 51-36 win over defending champion Mitchell in the state title game. Though the Pats, a senior laden team last winter, lose several key players to graduation, Pearson said that wasn’t a factor in his decision.

“Whether it’s hours or minutes or seconds, we all get our fifteen. Nobody gets forever,” said Pearson. “It just came down to, ‘If it’s not now, then when?’”

Prior to coaching the Lincoln girls, Pearson spent 18 seasons as the Patriot boys coach. That stint was peppered with 14 of state tournament appearances, including a championship in 1995. He also spent time at Roslyn, Clark and Brandon Valley, compiling a 362-215 record over 25 years as a boys coach.

Pearson will continue coaching the boys golf team, which won a state title last fall, but hinted that he may be counting down his time on the links as well.

“I’m kind of weeding myself out of this and slowly working my way toward full retirement,” he joked. “That’s kind of scary.”

Looking ahead to tonight’s Class A state boys championship

Here’s a look at the teams for tonight’s Class A state boys basketball championship game between No. 5 Tea and No. 3 Madison in Rapid City, 9 p.m. CT.

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TEA AREA (22-3)

Title game appearances: First

State titles: None

Road to the championship: Spearfish, W 60-53; Platte-Geddes, W 65-33

Key players (tournament stats)

Chase Deckert: 7 pts, 5 reb, 8 ast, 5 stl

Riley Knutson: 17 pts, 4 reb, 9 ast, 12 stl, 4 blk

Mitchell Nissen: 13 pts, 11 reb, 4 stl

Connor Shaull: 43 pts, 48% FG, 12 reb, 5 stl

Adam Waterman: 9 pts

Gunnar Ensz: 13 pts, 7 stl

Tourney offense: 62.5 ppg, 43% FG

Tourney defense: 43 ppg, 36% FG

Titans win if…

1) Connor Shaull (21.5 ppg) continues to score at will. The senior keyed a pair of crucial runs during the Titans’ win over Spearfish as well as a 16-0 stretch that blew the game open against Platte-Geddes.

2) They can weather Madison’s depth. The Bulldogs can play eight or nine deep with little drop-off. That’s especially important if Tea finds itself in foul trouble. The Titans can’t afford to have Shaull, Knutson or Nissen on the bench for long stretches.

3) They can put together a good start. With this being Tea’s first championship game, nerves can be expected early. But the Titans, who have forced 49 turnovers over two games, have been at their best so far when they can pull ahead and play loose on defense.

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MADISON (22-2)

Title game appearances: 1920, 1921, 1924, 1929, 1944 (B), 1945 (B), 2008, 2009, 2010

State titles: 1921, 1945 (B), 2009, 2010

Road to the championship: Pine Ridge, W 70-34; Mobridge-Pollock, W 66-30 

Key players

Jesse Brown: 15 pts, 44%FG, 22 reb, 4 stl

Jacob Giles: 17 pts, 47% FG, 6 reb

Mason Sullivan: 4 pts, 4 reb, 3 stl

Trae VandeBerg: 23 pts, 47% FG, 6 reb

Tyler Wiebe: 26 pts, 12-13 FT, 16 reb, 6 ast

Rush Milne: 15 pts, 47% FG, 14 reb

Braxton Olson: 13 pts, 63% FG, 9 reb

Tourney offense: 68 ppg, 47% FG

Tourney defense: 32 ppg, 28% FG

Bulldogs win if…

1) They can bend, not break. Madison likely isn’t going to keep up its tourney averages (68 ppg, 32 ppg allowed) because Tea is much a better opponent than Pine Ridge and Mobridge-Pollock. The Bulldogs haven’t had to play a full four quarters this weekend, therefore avoiding a second-half lull will be important.

2) Any combination of their top contributors gets going. VandeBerg and Wiebe have paced Madison so far, but if Brown or Milne can create a third go-to option tonight then Tea could be in trouble.

3) They either match or stop the Titans’ runs before they get out of hand. Tea has been the most tested team in the tournament so far, thus forced to put together solid stretches of basketball that have turned the game over. A 4-5 minute stretch of unanswered dominant play could be all the Titans need.

——

Prediction: Madison has looked unstoppable this weekend, but part of that has to do with inferior competition. Tea’s defense has been impressive, but the Titans can’t afford to come out sluggish on offense. I don’t see a lot of lead changes tonight, so whoever can create a cushion will be in control. Bulldogs 58, Titans 51

——

Spirit of Su watch (through two tourney games):

Skyler Flatten, Clark/Willow Lake: 23.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 3.5 apg, 2.5 spg, 1.5 bpg

Connor Shaull, Tea: 21.5 ppg, 6 rpg, 2.5 spg

Dominic King, Aberdeen Roncalli: 16 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 2.5 spg, 2 bpg

Coby Johnson, Platte-Geddes: 16 ppg, 12 rpg, 3 apg

Tyler Wiebe, Madison: 13 ppg, 8 rpg, 3 apg

Class A Boys: No. 8 Platte-Geddes knocks off No. 1 Clark/Willow Lake

State boys basketball tournament predictions

Predictions (sure to go wrong) for all the boys state tournament action this weekend. I’ll be in Rapid City this weekend for Class A. Follow me on Twitter (@Justin_Wulf) for updates.


CLASS AA (in Sioux Falls)

Roosevelt (21-1) over Rapid City Stevens (10-13)

Brandon Valley (16-6) over Huron (16-7)

Pierre (17-5) over Rapid City Central (10-11)

Brookings (17-6) over Lincoln (12-11)

Semifinals

Roosevelt over Brandon Valley

Pierre over Brookings

Championship

Roosevelt over Pierre

*Chalk is boring, but these are the two best teams in the state.

Spirit of Su: Chase Marso, Brandon Valley

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CLASS A (in Rapid City)

Clark/Willow Lake (21-0) over Platte-Geddes (16-7)

Tea Area (20-3) over Spearfish (18-5)

Aberdeen Roncalli (16-4) over Mobridge-Pollock (18-5)

Madison (21-2) over Pine Ridge (14-8)

Semifinals

Clark/Willow Lake over Tea Area

Madison over Aberdeen Roncalli

Championship

Madison over Clark/Willow Lake

*Bulldogs capture third title in five years.

Spirit of Su: Riley Knutson, Tea Area

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CLASS B (in Aberdeen)

White River (22-1) over Langford Area (19-4)

Potter County (22-0) over South Central (21-2)

James Valley Christian (21-2) over Viborg/Hurley (21-2)

Arlington (17-4) over Dupree (22-1)

Semifinals

White River over Potter County

James Valley Christian over Arlington

Championship

White River over James Valley Christian

*Fourth title (and sixth title game) in six years for the Tigers.

Spirit of Su: Tage Hargens, Arlington

SDSU men dancin’ again

SDSU women dancin’ again

Lincoln girls win the Class AA state basketball championship

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