Grace pins Finn, places first at Winner Invite

Ron Burtz
Although still banged up and with only 11 wrestlers taking the mat, the Custer Wildcats still managed to pull out a seventh-place finish among 13 teams at the tough Winner Invitational Tourney over the weekend. 
Burke-Gregory came out on top in the meet scoring 206 team points. It was followed by Parker (193), Wagner (174.5) and Bon Homme-Scotland (172), Winner (157) and Philip Area with 129 points. The Custer squad amassed 79 points for its placing. 
Micaiah Grace was the top point getter for the Wildcats. He placed first in the 170-pound weight class to score 28 points. Grace, who is 33-3 on the season, pinned Finn Hanson of Burke-Gregory in the championship match in just over five minutes. 
“He had a great performance against a tough kid in the finals but just took it to him so that was great to see,” said head coach Jared Webster. “He had to get the nerves out and just relax and do what he does.”
Placing third in the 120- pound weight class was Pierce Sword who scored 18 team points. 
In the match for third, Sword pinned Tyrus Bietz of Bon Homme-Scotland in 4:31. 
Two Custer wrestlers placed fifth in their weight classes. Irail Griffin, whose season record stands at 29-8, won by fall over Caleb Rickenbach of Hot Springs in 1:23 in the fifth-place match in the 152-pound weight class. Griffin scored 15 points for his team. 
Also taking fifth at 145 was Brennan Hanes who won by 6-4 decision over Owen Eitemiller of Wagner in the fifth-place match.
Coming in sixth for the Wildcats and earning nine team points was Elijah Steele wrestling at 160. Steele was injured during the fifth-place duel with Wagner’s Devon Medricky which cost him the match. 
Webster says the injury will keep Steele sidelined with other injured teammates for a week or so.  
“If it’s not one thing it’s another,” said the exasperated coach. 
“A lot of them were young,” said Webster of the wrestlers he took to Winner. “We’ve got stuff to work on. Thank God it’s not the end of the year yet. We did win some matches that were close which kind of made up for some of them but we’ve got to win them all.”
In a dual against host Rapid City Stevens on Thursday last week, the number of Wildcats on the injured list again was a factor. Needing to forfeit six weight classes, the Custer team came up short on both wrestlers and points, losing to Stevens 63-10.
“It always sucks giving up all those forfeits,” said Webster. “The kids we did send out there wrestled well and beat some kids that we need to beat. And there were two matches that could have gone either way but we came out and wrestled so that was nice.” 
The trio of winners for Custer were Griffin, Hanes and Sword. 
Griffin defeated Tanner Van Scoy by a 6-1 decision, Hanes won over Tyler Voorhees in a 4-1 decision and Sword won a 13-3 major decision over Alisha Van Scoy. 
As of practice on Monday, Webster said he was still planning to send wrestlers to a triangular at Douglas on Thursday where they will face opponents from both Douglas and Chadron, Neb. 
Webster said he was hoping to get some of his injured team members back into the lineup, but added “we’ll have to see where we’re at.”
He says he knows he will still have some wrestlers out on Friday and Saturday for the Belle Fourche Invitational and plans to take the same crew who wrestled in Winner. One wrestler he hopes to have back on the mat by Saturday is 106-pound standout Logan Graf who is recovering from surgery on his hand. 
“Hopefully by next week we should be back to full strength,” said Webster...hopefully.

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