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TAHS Wrestling: Titans ready to grapple in the new season

With the mats rolled out and the unmistakable sounds of grappling echoing through the gym, Tea Area High School is gearing up for what promises to be a success season under the seasoned guidance of Head Coach John Niesen. 

Heading into his eighth season as the Head Coach at Tea Area, Niesen brings a wealth of experience, boasting a 75-62 dual record. His coaching journey includes stints in Madison, Dell Rapids, and Valley, NE before taking the helm at Tea Area in 2016.

Assisting Niesen in molding this year’s team are assistant coaches Todd Gannon, Jacob Nikolaisen, Josh Sundall, Jordan Biehn, AJ Fischer, and Blake Bietz — a coaching team that combines experience and fresh perspectives.

The departure of last season’s seniors, including standouts Hunter Wilson, Maddix Slykhuis, and Griffen Schneider creates room for a new generation of talent. 

Among the incoming faces are seventh-graders Dalton Cooper, Kooper Dumdei, Henry Fortin, Aaron Halbur, Mason Smit, Malachi Wilgers, and Mason Woodring on the boys’ side, along with Lexi Duffy and Emery Voelker on the girls’ team.

Other new additions for the boys’ team include ninth graders Sam Bullis, Arian Friedman, and eighth graders Kyle Granados, Thiik Lual, and Moris Wasesa. For the girls, eighth grader Lainey Haines will take to the mats. 

Last season the Titan boys’ team secured a commendable sixth place overall at the state level. The team showcased its depth with ten qualifiers and six medalists. On the girls’ side, they also had an athlete qualify and medal at State — Brianna Johnson, who returns to the team this year. 

Returning to this year’s boys team are State Qualifiers Tyler Woodring, Jackson Tschetter, Parker Wilson, Chase DeBoer, Austin Eimers, Dawson Eimers, Sam Werdel, and Keegan DeYoung.

“We’ve got a great group of kids this year – they’re hard-working, selfless, and push each other to be better every day. We’ve got some depth across the board and finally have kids spread out a bit, which bodes well for the roster,” said Niesen. “A lot of our kids were brand new or just returning to the mat this year, so hitting the ground rolling without the learning curve was a huge bonus this season.”

Navigating the complexities of a wrestling season, Niesen acknowledges the perennial challenge of roster dynamics. “Getting the roster to shake out is always an interesting battle,” he notes. “You think you’ve got a solid lineup, but some kids grow, injuries and sickness happen, so there are a lot of variables.”

But despite the challenges, Niesen is excited and optimistic about the season. 

“Each squad over the past few seasons has set the bar a bit higher than the previous one; the expectation is set that we have a growth mindset and pursue excellence on and off the mat, and this group looks to carry on that tradition. We expect to be a top five team in the state,” said Niesen. “Even with the lack of experience in some spots, we’ve got a lot of really great kids and fierce competitors that will put out a good product and do things the ‘Titan Way.’ We believe we have the leadership and the right pieces in place to accomplish our goals and make some noise in wrestling this season.”

A complete roster for the Titans this season is as follows: Boys — Trevin  Audiss, Michael Bastemeyer, Gabriel Bastemeyer, Samuel Bullis, Dalton Cooper, Trevor Cordell, Chase DeBoer, Keegan DeYoung, Colton Duffy, Kooper Dumdei, Braeden Dunkelberger, Austin Eimers, Dawson Eimers, Kade Eimers, Henry Fortin, Arian FriedmanBoehrns, Kyle Granados, Aaron Halbur, Ryder Henriksen, Carson Lohr, Thiik Lual, Ashton Smit, Mason Smit, Fennell Sworr, Jackson Tschetter, Gavin Van Emmerik, Jaeden Waltner, Moris Wasesa, Beau Werdel, Sam Werdel, Jeremiah Wilgers, Malachi Wilgers, Slater Wilson, Parker Wilson, Mason Woodring, Tyler  Woodring and Girls: Lexi Duffy, Lainey Haines, Brianna Johnson, and Emery Voelker.

The Titans begin their season this Saturday, Dec. 2 at Sioux Falls Roosevelt when they compete in the Rider Wrestling Invite. On Dec. 5 the Titans will compete at O’Gorman and on Dec. 8 and 9 the team will travel out West to compete in the Rapid City Invite at the Summit Arena at the Monument. 

On Dec. 12 the team will be at Dell Rapids and on Dec. 16 they will be at Madison. On Jan. 2 the team hosts their first match of the season, taking on Lennox and West Central. 

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