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Pierre girls wrestling wins second straight state championship

Brian Gevik
South Dakota Public Broadcasting

Pierre girls wrestling claimed back-to-back state titles in Rapid City on Saturday night.

The Governors beat out Canton for the top spot, totaling 167 team points to Canton’s 134.5 points.

Pierre placed top four, in seven of the 10 weight classes. Their lone win of the night came from sophomore Ciara McFarling in the 285-pound division.

Marlee Shorter, Gianna Stangeland and Sydney Uhrig all finished second in their respective divisions for the Governors.

McFarling’s win was her third straight, state championship in as many seasons of sanctioned girls wrestling in South Dakota.

“Even after my first [championship], I couldn’t believe it, and now I’m standing here, it’s just so surreal,” McFarling said.

The three-time state champion says that the implementation of girls wrestling in the state has changed her for the better.

“[Wrestling’s] definitely changed me as a person,” McFarling said. “I went from not really talking to anybody to being with a whole team that stands by me, and I stand by them.”

Heading into the week, South Dakota was hit with a statewide snowstorm, and head coach Matt Thorson says his team’s overall preparedness both mentally and physically, is one reason for their success.

Looking forward to next season, the Governors will graduate three seniors who competed in this years’ tournament: Shorter, Stangeland, and Hattie Baldwin. Thorson says their contributions as trailblazers in Pierre’s program were well rewarded with a state title.

“It means a lot for the whole program, the community, the senior girls who were here at the beginning three years ago when we just started,” Thorson said.

Although Pierre will lose wrestlers to graduation, Thorson says he’s still optimistic of the future of his program heading into the offseason.

“These girls do a great job with the offseason, recruiting other girls to come join the wrestling team, and they just love the sport, so they want to come back on the mat as soon as possible,” Thorson said.