Trojans make it two straight over rival Mustangs

LE GRAND – Lonnie Ferguson may call himself an old dog, and the trick he learned was nothing new. But the West Marshall wrestling coach couldn’t help but absorb something from a three-point loss to Newton a week earlier.

The Trojans attacked Newton straight-up, a tried and true plan of action, but the disheartening result taught Ferguson to accept the humility that comes with dodging another team’s strengths for the good of your own squad.

On Thursday night, the Class 1A No. 8 Trojans put that strategy into play and picked off East Marshall/GMG for the second year in a row, winning 41-31 in a North Iowa Cedar League dual. West Marshall also toppled a six-man Belle Plaine lineup, 69-9, for a sixth consecutive dual victory.

East Marshall/GMG’s fifth-ranked heavyweight Nate Judge (16-2) received the only forfeit of the conference dual, and West Marshall (17-7, 8-2) felt all the wiser after scoring 10 points with Brandon Overman’s major decision at 195 pounds and James Long’s pin at 220.

“We let (our wrestlers) know we let one slip away from us against Newton so that’s why we went ahead and flip-flopped because we didn’t want to risk it,” Ferguson said. “I know Nate Judge is good, I’m not going to deny that. If I knew for sure (we could win) then it would be a different story, we would have wrestled him, but I’m not going to risk it just to give them a match and end up losing at 220 and heavyweight with falls.

“That’s what happened to us at Newton. We left it alone and we should have flip-flopped it and we lost by three. It’s the difference in a dual meet, and we were not wanting to make that same mistake.”

Six matches into Thursday’s league dual, West Marshall led 27-3 over its cross-county rival. The Trojans got pins from top-ranked Kyle Blocker (31-0) at 138, sixth-ranked Tanner Arnold (24-2) at 152, sixth-ranked Dale Hilleman (26-2) at 160 and fifth-ranked Devin Chesler (28-2) at 170.

West Marshall celebrated Arnold’s 100th career win following the match.

East Marshall/GMG (8-12, 5-3) responded with a pinfall victory by Class 2A No. 6 Jay Reisetter (21-1) at 182, setting the stage for West Marshall’s triumphant tactics. Overman ousted Jaryd Young 10-0, and Long pinned Jared Bowman in the first period. Those 10 points made the six sacrificed in a forfeit to Judge seem insignificant.

The Mustangs won three of the next four matches to finish the dual, but West Marshall’s 22-point lead withstood the late surge.

“I think probably everything went about according to plan,” said EM/GMG first-year coach Troy Underhill. “195, 220, if we could have snuck one of those two out, maybe it’s a different story.”

Closing pins by Zach Underhill (19-4) and Max Upah (15-8) brought the final margin to 10 for the Mustangs, but the damage had been done.

“I thought tonight was a real good showing by our team, they gave a heck of an effort and that’s what I’ve been looking for,” Coach Underhill added. “They’ve been giving up some falls when they shouldn’t and I think tonight they did a very good job of wrestling all the way out and giving 110 percent. I was very proud of the kids.”

The Mustangs, too, dispatched Belle Plaine (66-13) to end the triangular.

West Marshall won last year’s run-in with EM/GMG, 53-20 in State Center. This one, though less lopsided, provided a first for Coach Ferguson.

“Last year I had no idea we could beat them, last year was the first time we beat East Marshall since I’ve been around and we’re talking 12 years,” he said, “so this is the first time I felt we had the upper hand as opposed to East Marshall. Last year, no, I wouldn’t say that, we just came out and wrestled really well at home.

“But the guys know East Marshall is still wrestling and they’re still going to come at you, they’re not going to back down and they didn’t, they stayed aggressive the entire time.”

Hilleman, Chesler and Cole Needham completed 2-0 nights on the mat with pins against Belle Plaine. Needham, one of a handful of freshmen in West Marshall’s starting lineup, improved to 26-4 at 113 pounds.

Blocker added a 7-5 decision over Lance Hinschberger to move to 31-0 for the season.

“It’s a cycle, it goes around and comes around and they’re a good, solid team, and we knew that coming in,” Coach Underhill said of West Marshall. “If a couple matches go our way it’s a different story, but they’re pretty solid right now.”

Reisetter recorded two more first-period pins, which account for 14 of his 16 six-pointers this winter.

His lone loss remains a season-opening defeat by fall at the hands of top-ranked defending 2A state champion Erix Lux of South Tama (16-0).

Both West Marshall and EM/GMG return to action on Saturday.

The Trojans take to the Perry Tournament, while the Mustangs go to the Hudson Tournament.