Quinten Christensen journeyed into this year’s state wrestling competition with eyes wide open and a fiercely determined heart, knowing all too well that “it’s a big jump from third to first.”

Last year the Wessington Springs High School student brought home third place at state in the 220-pound weight class and has spent the last 365 days fine-tuning both physically and mentally. After pinning Winner Area’s Achilles Willuweit in overtime and claiming the state title, Christensen’s thoughts went to the lessons he’s learned from his coaches, two of “the most advanced wrestlers he’s ever seen.”   

“Yeah I won state but my two coaches are so good you can’t even explain it. I still have a lot of room to improve,” Christensen said of coaches Kevin Haider and Adam Haake, who he spars with regularly in practice. “My goal is to take down Kevin Haider at least once. I still have room to get a lot better.” 

Christensen said that over the course of the last year, he trained harder and applied himself like never before while, also moving up in weight class. He also utilized the powerful practice of visualization to catapult his wrestling to the next level. 

“You have to believe that you’re winning it. Our assistant coach Adam is always talking about visualizing,” Christensen stated. “He tells us, ‘when you go to bed tonight, dream of winning the championship. I worked hard for it and I’m glad it happened.” 

Christensen credits coach Haider for teaching the team that “you have to assume the other guy is working just as hard as you — no one strives to get third or fourth or second.”

“Quinten has come a long ways. The last — and only — state title for Wessington Springs was Jared Richter in 1996. I tell them everyday there’s always going to be someone out there wanting to be better than you, putting in the hard work and time into this sport,” said Haider, who has been the head wrestling coach at Wolsey for eight years and now is in the third year of the wrestling co-op with Wessington Springs and Woonsocket. “If you’re slacking off and not doing what you need to be doing, you’re not going to be what you’re going to be.”

In addition to Quinten winning the championship, Joey Hoverson earned second place at 132 pounds and Keegan Haider won third place at 152 pounds. The WS-W-W-W team won sixth place. 

“It’s pretty impressive actually, we had five guys going in and two guys getting beat out right away. With three place winners, we came out with a sixth place finish,” said Haider. “This year we qualified as a dual team as well so we got to take our whole team to participate in the dual. It was good for the kids to still be able to go to the state tournament. Hopefully it gives them incentive for upcoming years to get better.”

Christensen said that this summer he and teammate Keegan Haider are going to set their goals “really high, to get top three as a team next year.”

Christensen said that his coaches are “super hard and tough on us” but realizes it is because they care for the team helping each wrestler meet their goals.

“It’s not a fun or easy thing to do. Practices are brutal,” said Haider. “We hope to get a few of the other boys in there and get some medals next year. Being successful is part of the fun. I hope the kids see that and want to try to be better.”