Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Team Duals to get own state wrestling weekend in SD

Tim Tushla
South Dakota Public Broadcasting

The state tournament format for high school wrestling in South Dakota will be undergoing another revamp. Team duals returned to the prep wrestling scene for the 2019-20 season, and since it’s resurgence, the state Team duals portion of the sport has taken place during the same weekend, at the same location, as the traditional individual state wrestling tournament. Moving forward, however, this will not be the case.

During the South Dakota High School Activities Association board of directors meeting on June 15th, it was decided that the state team duals event in wrestling will take place two weeks before the normal state tournament, meaning it’ll be Saturday February 10th for this upcoming 2023-24 school year.

“We've talked about it since girls' wrestling began three years ago,” explained Dan Swartos, SDHSAA Exectuive Director. “As girls' wrestling has increased and those brackets have filled up in the state tournament, it's led to some pretty long days for those first two days trying to get both of those events in where you're weighing in at 5:45 in the morning. And then I know this last year we were doing awards at 10:30 at night and it's not fair to the kids. It's not what we want to put on.”

Additionally, girls wrestling in South Dakota will see its number of weight classes go up again this next school year as well.

“We have been going with ten weight classes and now we're adopting the [National Federation of State High School Associations] weight classes, so there'll be twelve weight classes next year,” Swartos said. “So we were looking at two more weight classes for girls' wrestling, which would add another hour and a half each day to the day on that same two day format. And it just wasn't sustainable.”

The Wrestling Advisory committee initially recommended having girls high school wrestling get their own separate state tournament weekend, similar to basketball.

“We had some concerns with that because we weren't sure if the girls' tournament was ready to stand alone or not on its own. And the only time to do that would be two weeks prior to the Boys' State Tournament, which means that your Girls' season is now two weeks shorter than your boys' season and there's Title IX implications with that,” stated Swartos.

The next logical choice was to separate team duals from the individual tournament, and it was an idea that garnered the support of the SDHSAA board of directors. From there it was decided that the state team duals tournaments for Class A and B boys will take place the same weekend as state gymnastics – two weeks before the traditional state wrestling weekend.

It’s also very likely that team duals will get split up by class too.

“We're probably going to have to split it because we're going to need somewhere you can put six or eight mats and have enough seating for 16 teams if we were to do them together,” exclaimed Swartos. “It's very likely that they'll be split. We'll have one site for the As, one site for the Bs, and you'll probably be looking at some smaller venues, something like maybe Frost Arena or Watertown or Northern State or some of those smaller venues.”

As for the individual state wrestling tournament, which is scheduled to take place February 22-24 at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center in Sioux Falls this coming winter, it’ll remain a three-day event.

“It'll stay at three days and we're kind of spacing it out a little bit. That first day on Thursday will be, I think, the first round matches and then first round wrestle backs. Then Friday morning, we'd have the quarter finals and a couple rounds of wrestle backs. Then the semi-finals would be Friday night, which is when they used to be when we had the two-day schedule on Thursday and Friday,” Swartos told. “So first the semi-finals back on Friday night and then Saturday is all placing matches. The morning session would be your third, fifth, seventh place matches, and then the afternoon session would be your finals.”

Ultimately, the prep wrestling scene in South Dakota has become too big for the boys, girls, and team duals tournaments to all fit into the same weekend. It’s a good problem to have as it shows that the sport, especially on the girls side, is continuing to grow.

“I think wrestling in South Dakota is as healthy as it's been in a long time. I think that the quality of wrestling is great. It continues to get better. Girls' wrestling, I think, will continue to grow here for another couple years and then probably level off as we've seen in other states,” explained Swartos. “Wrestling is one of the sports that we've seen schools adding programs over the last couple of years. And you don't see that very often in a lot of other sports. I think the state of wrestling is very healthy in our state and the quality of wrestling is probably as high as it's ever been.”

Nate Wek is currently the sports content producer and sports and rec beat reporter for South Dakota Public Broadcasting. He is a graduate of South Dakota State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism Broadcasting and a minor in Leadership. From 2010-2013 Nate was the Director of Gameday Media for the Sioux Falls Storm (Indoor Football League) football team. He also spent 2012 and 2013 as the News and Sports Director of KSDJ Radio in Brookings, SD. Nate, his wife Sarah, and two kids Braxan and Jordy, live in Canton, SD.