Mason Mahnke

Mason Mahnke, in red, poses for a photo with his three opponents at the Lyman Wrestling Club AAU Tournament in Presho on Sunday. Pictured with Mahnke are, from left, Hudson Stoeser, Riley Kainz, Jett Brewer and Tyler Stoeser.

In a world full of negativity, Chamberlain’s Mason Mahnke is an inspiring light.

Mahnke was born with Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome. A Google search of the syndrome says that it is a rare chromosomal disorder caused by a missing piece of a chromosome. Mahnke was told by doctors that he would never walk, talk or eat properly. According to Will Mahnke, Mason’s father, Mason with the help of his faith in God, has proved those doubters wrong.

That fact was evident at the Lyman Wrestling Club AAU Tournament at the Lyman Gardens in Presho on Sunday, Feb. 23.

Mahnke is in his first year of wrestling. It’s the first time he’s been medically cleared to wrestle. Due to his syndrome, Mahnke has had to use a feeding tube for a portion of his life. He’s had a kidney removed, as well. Mahnke doesn’t have great muscle control because of his syndrome, but that hasn’t stopped him from pursuing a love of wrestling.

The story of Sunday’s happenings begins with Hudson Stoeser, another young wrestler who saw Mahnke at the Stanley County Youth Wrestling Tournament on Feb. 9. According to Govs wrestling coach Chad Uhrig, Stoeser made a decision on that day that, if they ever faced off, he’d do something to make Mahnke’s day.

“Hudson thought to himself that if he faced Mason, he’d let him win,” Uhrig told the Capital Journal. “He didn’t get that chance on that day. So when he weighed in with Mason in Presho, he figured he would be in the same group. He wanted to let him win because a first place medal would mean more to Mason than it would to him.”

When Will Mahnke saw the bracket that his son would be competing in, he noticed that Mason would be facing not just Stoeser, but two other wrestlers from Pierre: Riley Kainz and Jett Brewer. Mahnke’s first match with Stoeser started what would be an emotional blur for Will Mahnke.

“Mason kept taking him down, and Stoeser kept getting an escape,” Mahnke said. “I saw the score and thought that Stoeser needed to pin Mason to get his win. Mason took Stoeser down again and again. The match went three periods. When that first match ended, everything went blurry for me.”

Mahnke won his match by points. Stoeser got up with a smile. Mahnke, who was initially confused on what exactly was going on, didn’t realize immediately that he’d won. When he learned that he won, Mahnke smiled. According to Will Mahnke, the crowd went wild.

“It was one of those things where everyone gradually started watching Mason’s match,” Will Mahnke said. “When it became clear that Mason had won his first match, everyone started cheering. It was a humbling moment for me that brought tears to my eyes. I was so proud of my son.”

Mahnke’s next match with Kainz went similarly to his match with Stoeser. Mahnke would take Kainz down, and Kainz would get the escape point. Mahnke once again won by points. By virtue of his victory, Mahnke faced Brewer in the finals.

“In his championship match, Mason kept trying to shoot the half (a forced roll-over) on Brewer to get him on his back,” Will Mahnke said. “He’d take him down but couldn’t quite get him on his back for a pin. He finally got him on his back. The referee hit the mat, and the crowd went wild.”

Mason’s father told the Capital Journal that his family was touched by the sportsmanship and the heart shown by the Pierre wrestlers.

“There’s a lot of negativity in this world,” Will Mahnke said. “To see these kids make this happen, it really made Mason’s day. My wife and I are humbled by the sportsmanship that these kids showed Mason. It means a lot to us and our family.”

Tyler Stoeser, Hudson Stoeser’s father, told the Capital Journal that the plan for Mason Mahnke winning the championship was Hudson’s idea.

“Nobody pushed it on him,” Stoeser said. “This was all his idea. He told his teammates and his coach about it, and they all agreed to do it. Hudson has a huge heart. We’re pretty proud parents right now.”

Scott Millard has been the sports reporter for the Capital Journal since 2017. He was previously an intern with the Capital Journal during the summer of 2016.

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