Spearfish High School wrestling team down in numbers

Spearfish’s Clayton Donovan tries to get out of a hold by Sturgis’ Traylin Martin in a 113-pound match, during the 2018-19 wrestling season, in Spearfish. Pioneer file photo

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SPEARFISH — The Spearfish High School wrestling team enjoyed success during the 2018-19 wrestling season.

They had nine state A tournament qualifiers and three state place winners, including one champion.

Max Sailor won the state 132-pound division title. Teammate Evan Hehr placed fourth at 220 pounds, and Clay Donovan was eighth at 113 pounds.

Josh Hoffman, Oakley Blakeman, Jake Hoffman, Cael Citrowske, Eli Zuniga, and Austin Crotteau also represented the Spartans at state.

“Last year we did have success in the second half of the season, and I was really happy with that. Injuries are always common, so we’ve just got to deal with it, put some tape on it, and keep rolling,” said John Bokker, beginning his fourth season as the Spartans’ head coach.

Numbers are low this year with three wrestlers academically ineligible, and several wrestlers deciding not to return to the team.

Bokker said he hopes to get the three academically ineligible wrestlers back soon, since the recent grading period has ended.

“We have about 20 wrestlers out,” said Bokker. “We don’t have a lot of depth, but hopefully we can get a full line-up this year. Missing five weight classes last year put a hurt on us.”

Bokker said he had hoped to be able to talk to those athletes not returning in hopes of getting them not to quit, but so far that hasn’t happened.

“In Arizona I talked a lot of state placers out of quitting, and I was hoping to do that with a lot of these guys. They could be so great if they’d just put the time in,” Bokker said.

Wrestling practice began Nov. 18.

“We’ve been working on our conditioning, obviously, and getting our style down,” said Bokker. “We do have some new bodies in here that we’ve been working with.

“A lot of the time I just stick with the basics, because that’s what we have to build off of.”

One of the returning grapplers for the Spartans is Sailor, a junior who is the returning state champion at 132 pounds.

Bokker said he is counting on Sailor to be one of the team’s leaders.

“He’s definitely going to be a leader. Once we get him in there, he is definitely a dominant wrestler,” Bokker said.

Another wrestler Bokker is high on is freshman Taylor Fierbach.

“She is probably one of our hardest workers, and she’s one of our strongest competitors too,” said Bokker. “She owns powerlifting records in the nation, so she is very impressive. She is a straight A student, hard worker, couldn’t ask for a better person on our team.”

The Spartans do not have any serious injuries as they prepare to start the season.

“I think we are pretty healthy. We have a little sickness going around the room, but that’s expected this time of the year. As far as injuries, we’ve got some dings here and there, but overall we are pretty healthy,” Bokker said.

Bokker said he wants to see his wrestler be aggressive from the very start.

“I want to see them being aggressive, taking chances, not being afraid to put it all on the line,” Bokker said.

Spearfish opens its 2019-20 wrestling season today at the Custer Invitational.

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