The sport of wrestling is finding its way back to Hill City. That is according to Hill City High School head coach Justin Kruse. This year brings the largest number of wrestlers that have been in Hill City for 10 years.
Kruse said a lot of the students are pretty young as recruiting has been happening at the middle school level.
“It will pay dividends in the upcoming years with those young kids, getting them out wrestling,” Kruse said.
The first meet of the season was on Dec. 1 and 2. Kruse said the boys did well and they finished seventh out of 20 teams. Ten of the wrestlers placed in the top eight.
“It was a pretty solid meet for the first time out,” Kruse said.
There are 15 high schoolers and seven middle schoolers that are wrestling with Hill City this year. There are three seniors and three juniors.
“It’s a pretty young team,” Kruse said.
He is looking forward to seeing good results from senior Kalel Worischek and junior Tyler Arnold.
Worisckek has been to state competition twice and missed last year from injuries. Arnold also has been to the state meet but tore his pectoral muscles last year. Arnold took third place out of a sixteen man bracket at the Custer tournament.
“He looks to be strong again this year,” Kruse said.
There are three wrestling meets before the students go on Christmas break. After they get back from break it is fast and furious. There is something every weekend and a quad or a dual during the week.
Kruse said a lot of injuries take place in January and that is when the students need to be more careful.
“Their bodies start to break down when they get to those last weeks of January,” Kruse said.
Kruse will pass on having certain wrestlers compete in some matches during January just so their bodies have time to heal.
Kruse said the toughest tournament the wrestlers will go to is held this weekend.It’s hosted by Central High School but it will be held at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. Thirty-nine teams from four different states will attend the event.
“Some days we get a few guys into day two but most years we are lucky if we can get one or two guys,” Kruse said.
He said they go to that tournament more to get practice and match time.
“That way they are not sitting around doing nothing until the next meet,” Kruse said.
He said they have focused on getting the numbers of those participating up in the past four years. Now that the numbers are there Kruse said they can start looking at getting a certain amount of quality in the wrestlers.
“We look to be competitive this year. We should be in that range of sending anywhere between three to five guys to state,” Kruse said.
Last year there should have been two or three guys that went to the state wrestling competition but injuries occurred.
Kruse hopes to be more competitive with teams like Custer and Philip this year.
“Those are a couple of the powerhouses we always have to face,” Kruse said.
The team matches up well with Hot Springs and other teams in the area. Kruse has been the head coach for four years and coaching wrestling for eight. The middle school team also found a new coach in Nick Ferguson. He will also work with high schoolers once the high school season is done.
Ferguson is more knowledgeable with wrestlers in lower weight classes. Kruse thinks Ferguson will be able to get the wrestlers in better shape and able to use their bodies more efficiently.
Howard Schrier will also be on board and Kruse said he is a great motivator and will keep the guys in shape.
When the numbers are how they are Kruse knows they are doing something right. They’ll have team outings and develop more of a team atmosphere. Recently, they have been fundraising for warm-ups and singlets.