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MCM's Alexis Bryant knocks off No. 1 seed to claim 114-pound girls title

Feb. 24—SIOUX FALLS — Three was indeed the magic number for McCook Central/Montrose's Alexis Bryant.

That's how many matches it took for the McCook Central/Montrose sophomore to best Pierre's Dani Ringstmeyer.

And she chose the perfect time to do it, as Bryant, the 2-seed, defeated top-seeded Ringstmeyer by a 3-0 decision in the 114-pound title match on Saturday at the Premier Center to claim her first state title.

After a scoreless first two periods, Bryant used a memorable third-period effort to get the win.

She broke out of the bottom position with one minute remaining to record an escape and take a 1-0 lead. With three seconds left, Bryant sealed the match with a takedown, sending her coaches and the Fighting Cougars' boys team into a frenzy.

"I was surprised, I didn't really see it coming," Bryant said " ... I'm excited. Just feelings everywhere."

Bryant, who finished her championship campaign with a 29-5 record, lost to Ringstmeyer by a 6-3 decision on Jan. 19, then again by a 6-5 decision on Feb. 3. But her coaches felt it was only a matter of time until she turned the corner.

"I just kept telling her, 'You're getting closer. She doesn't want to wrestle you again, I promise you,'" MCM coach Josh Blindert said. "'We're going to meet her up one more time, and we're going to get the best of her.'"

"To shut her out is just amazing," he added. "Alexis is such a good wrestler and she deserves it after all the hard work she's put into this season."

The victory also comes less than a month since Bryant switched from 120 pounds to 114 pounds on Jan. 27. Since the move, she only lost once, and has steadily improved.

That progress was on display throughout the tournament. She won her first match by fall, her second match by technical fall and her semifinal match by fall.

Bryant, who is the only girls wrestler in MCM's program, has to wrestle boys on a day-to-day basis and has used it to her advantage.

"To me it's normal, I've been wrestling with them since seventh grade," Bryant said. "Trystan Traupel (who placed third a boys Class B 120 pounds) has always been my partner, and he's pushed me to be better."

"I know it's hard for her to wrestle boys, but she desires that push to make herself better," Blindert said. "And I believe that's part of the reason she made this her best tournament of the year, because pushing through practice every day is harder, especially when you're going against boys."