Spartan wrestlers 5th at Hettinger

Spearfish’s Clayton Donovan competes at a wrestling tournament earlier this season. He finished third in the 126-pound weight class at the Hettinger Tournament. Pioneer file photo

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HETTINGER, N.D. — Spearfish’s wrestling team collected 204 points and earned fifth place at the Hettinger Classic that ended Saturday.

Three Spartans earned runner-up honors in their respective weight classes. They were Oakley Blakeman (132 pounds), Derek Webster (182), and Elijah Zuniga (195).

Blakeman forged a 5-2 record at 132 pounds. He fell to New Salem-Almont’s Clay Gerhardt by medical forfeit in the title match.

Webster finished 5-2 at 182 pounds. He was pinned by Moorcroft’s Rowdy Pfeil in 5 minutes, 13 seconds of the title match.

Zuniga’s efforts at 195 pounds featured a 4-1 record. He was pinned by Harding County’s Sam Adams in 5 minutes 34 seconds of the championship match.

Clayton Donovan (126 pounds) and Evan Hehr (220) claimed third place in their respective weight classes for the Spartans.

Spartan Josh Hoffman earned fourth place at 106 pounds. Teammate Austin Crotteau did likewise at 285 pounds.

Spearfish received a fifth-place finish from Isaiah Lahoe, who competed in the 195-pound weight class.

John Jeffery represented Spearfish at 113 pounds and claimed sixth-place honors. Spartan AJ Veldman finished eighth at 182 pounds.

Miles City won the team title at 271 points. New Salem-Almont was second at 269.5 points, with Moorcroft third at 237.5.

“I thought we wrestled really well, especially coming off Christmas break,” Spearfish head coach John Bokker said. “We definitely showed a lot of confidence on our feet and going after people.”

Bokker said Spearfish recorded a lot of pins and almost doubled its season total going into Hettinger.

Blakeman, Webster and Zuniga earned Bokker’s praise for their efforts. Bokker said Blakeman’s only loss was to the three-time North Dakota state champion, with both of Webster’s losses coming to a returning state placewinner. Zuniga’s only defeat came to a state B runner-up from about two years ago.

Hoffman and Donovan also did well, according to Bokker. Donovan’s victories occurred via pins or major decisions.

Won-lost records for Spearfish wrestlers follow.

106 pounds: Josh Hoffman 5-2.

113 pounds: John Jeffery 4-3.

120 pounds: Aiden O’Connor 0-4.

126 pounds: Clayton Donovan 6-1.

132 pounds: Oakley Blakeman 5-2.

182 pounds: AJ Veldman 2-5.

182 pounds: Derek Webster 5-2.

195 pounds: Isaiah Lahoe 2-3.

195 pounds: Elijah Zuniga 4-1.

220 pounds: Evan Hehr 4-1.

285 pounds: Austin Crotteau 3-3.

“We’re staying in good positions right now,” Bokker said in recapping the season up to now. 

“I believe we’re definitely being more aggressive on our feet. People aren’t attacking us; we’re attacking them,” Bokker said, adding that is the desired style. “We’re tough on top, and we’re looking for those pins and getting those bonus points.”

Future goals include the athletes sticking together as a team, plus working to be a better wrestler and person every day, according to Bokker. 

“We don’t have all of our weight classes full right now,” Bokker said. He hopes for the Spartans to have a full lineup by season’s end.

The tournament also included a junior varsity division. Bokker said Taylor Fierbach forged a 7-1 record, mostly against male opponents. Quinten Carlson finished 5-2, and Mason Schmitz went 5-0 with five pins.

Spearfish is scheduled to compete at the Belle Fourche Quadrangular set for Thursday. The first matches will start at 4 p.m.

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