After punctuating a remarkable debut season with an individual state championship at 106 pounds, eighth-grader Reid Ballantyne was named the Most Valuable Athlete for the Suburban East Conference and Section 4AAA champion Stillwater wrestling team at its postseason awards banquet on Sunday, April 2 at The Grand Ballroom in downtown Stillwater.
In his first varsity season, Ballantyne finished with a 47-0 record after defeating Apple Valley’s Regan Schrempp 7-1 in the state finals to become Stillwater’s first state champion since Dustin Dahlblom captured the second of his two gold medals in 2003.
Ballantyne and senior James Huntley, who placed fourth at the state tourney at 182 pounds, were co-recipients of the Wrestler of the Year Award. It was a busy awards night for Huntley (40-3) as he also took home the Impact Award, the Keller Memorial Scholarship and the Stillwater Wrestling Booster Club Scholarship.
Ballantyne, Huntley and senior Connor Weiss, who placed fourth at 195 pounds at the state meet, earned all-state honors for the Ponies. Weiss (38-8) took home the Joey Gould Award.
Prior to this season, Stillwater had not produced a state medal since 2013 and the three placewinners matched the previous high for the Ponies set in 1999.
The Ponies finished with a 20-8 record, including 8-0 to win their second consecutive conference championship. Stillwater went on to defeat top-seeded Centennial 47-23 to claim its first section crown since 2009. The Ponies were upended by eventual state runner-up Anoka and Willmar in the state tournament.
Ballantyne, Huntley and Weiss were joined by teammates Javon Taschuk (32-13) and Trey Kruse (40-8) in earning All-SEC honors while Jared Christian (20-25), Josh Piechowski (22-13), Kevin Thole (29-15) and Tyler Olson (15-10) received honorable mention all-conference recognition.
Stillwater qualified a total of eight wrestlers for state as individuals, which matched the most in school history. Taschuk, Kruse, Will Harter, Thole and Olson joined the three placewinners in competing at state.
Ballantyne and Huntley each received a Guts Award, which is presented to any wrestler who never misses a practice and never gets pinned during the season.
Ponies coach Rich Keller was also voted the Section 4AAA Coach of the Year by his peers and Tim Hartung was named the Section 4AAA Assistant Coach of the Year.
The Most Improved Wrestler awards were presented to Andy Constant, Jackson Dunleap and Christian while Luke Bethke and Eli Wilson each received a Coaches Award.
Kruse, Huntley, Piechowski, Thole and Will Gleason received Academic All-Section honors for the Ponies, who also received an Academic All-State Silver Award with a 3.29 grade point average.
Also announced at the banquet is that Thole, Christian and Kruse will serve as captains for next year’s squad.
All-Conference: Reid Ballantyne, Javon Taschuk, Trey Kruse, James Huntley and Connor Weiss; All-Conference Honorable Mention: Jared Christian, Josh Piechowski, Kevin Thole and Tyler Olson; State qualifiers: Reid Ballantyne, Javon Taschuk, Trey Kruse, Will Harter, Kevin Thole, James Huntley, Connor Weiss and Tyler Olson; Academic All-Section: Will Gleason, Trey Kruse, James Huntley, Josh Piechowski and Kevin Thole; Section 4AAA Coach of the Year: Rich Keller; Section 4AAA Assistant Coach of the Year: Tim Hartung; All-State: Reid Ballantyne, James Huntley and Connor Weiss; Most Improved Award: Andy Constant, Jackson Dunleap and Jared Christian; Impact Award: James Huntley; Guts Award: Reid Ballantyne and James Huntley; Coaches Award: Luke Bethke and Eli Wilson; Wrestler of the Year: Reid Ballantyne and James Huntley; Joey Gould Award: Connor Weiss; Keller Scholarship: James Huntley; Stillwater Booster Club Scholarship: James Huntley; Most Valuable Athlete: Reid Ballantyne; Captains elect: Kevin Thole, Jared Christian and Trey Kruse.
Contact Stuart Groskreutz at [email protected]