Gomez gets to top of podium

PLEASANT HILL – Top-ranked heavyweight Jake Scanlan of Southeast Polk has a Superman tattoo on his left arm. But the real Superman Friday night in the 285-pound weight class was Marshalltown senior Pedro Gomez.

Gomez took down Scanlan 5-2 in the semifinals and then bested Urbandale’s Shaquille Wells in sudden victory in the championship and claimed Marshalltown’s first Central Iowa Metropolitan League championship since Robert Junck (171) and Jacob Groth (130) accomplished the feat back in 2005.

“He may be intimidated by me, I don’t know,” Gomez said of Scanlan. “I have beaten him before, so I knew I could do it again. I have confidence in myself and I got it done today.”

Gomez breezed through his first two opponents, winning by fall and major decision, and is now 25-3 on the season.

After not being able to compete in the conference and district meets last year due to academic troubles, Gomez took full advantage during his final season as a Bobcat.

“I kind of came in as the underdog after what happened last year,” said Gomez, who was fifth at state his sophomore year. “I had nothing to lose. This feels great though. This is a pretty big deal to me. The two top ranked kids in the state were here so I know I can compete for a state title.”

Aside from Gomez, no other Bobcat finished in the top four as the tournament did not wrestle for a true third place. Derek Mann was fifth, Matt Vandegrift and Colten Phillips both took sixth and freshman Peyton Williams ended up seventh.

Overall, the Bobcats placed 11th and were just one point behind Waukee for 10th. Marshalltown scored 70 points on the day.

Top-ranked Southeast Polk cruised to the team title with 295.5 points, while West Des Moines Valley edged No. 10 Ankeny for second. The Tigers scored 159.5 points to Ankeny’s 155. Dowling Catholic was fourth with 153.5 points and Fort Dodge edged Johnston for fifth with 112.

“It was a good day, and I hope our young guys learned from the experience,” MHS coach Mike Mann said.

Gomez improved to 6-0 all-time against Scanlan. He also beat Wells for the second time this season, but neither Gomez nor the coaching staff was happy with his performance in the championship bout.

He got an escape point to start the second period before Wells answered with his point for an escape in the third. Neither wrestler scored in the opening minute of overtime and both got escape points in the second overtime sessions.

Gomez got his choice in the sudden victory because he scored the first point in the match. He chose down, escaped and won the match.

“He’s got to move guys more,” Coach Mann said. “He’s not aggressive enough. Sometimes it’s like watching paint dry. What happens if Wells scored the first point and he chose down at the end? We would rather win outright, but it’s better than losing.”

Mann won his first match at 170 and then ran into No. 8 Sam Pickard in Round 2 and lost by fall. He then rallied to win his next three matches and is now 25-11 this season.

“Pickard’s tough, but (Derek) did the best he could since they don’t wrestle for a true third place,” Coach Mann said. “His highlight was beating Johnston’s Dakota Jackson in the fifth-place match. He was 1-3 against him lifetime and lost three straight.”

Coach Mann though Vandegrift may have been getting closer to turning the corner at 220 pounds. But after winning his first match, he lost to Ames’ Justin Klinkel in Round 2, 8-4. He fought his way into the fifth-place match but lost by a 2-1 decision to West Des Moines Valley’s Brady Smith.

The two other strong performances on the night came from Phillips at 120 and Williams at 160.

Like Mann and Vandegrift, Phillips won his first match but lost the second-round bout to a ranked foe. Phillips lost 4-0 to Ankeny’s Austin Anderson, a future Cyclone, but battled back to get into the fifth place match.

In the fifth-place match, he started off strong but took a 7-all tie into the final period. With one mistake in the final period, Dowling Catholic’s Michael Zachary took advantage and earned the pin.

Williams was a pleasant surprise as he came into the CIML Invitational for the first time and walked away with a seventh-place tally. He won his first match, lost his second match and then got pinned in the match that would have sent him to the fifth-place bout. In the seventh-place dual, he pinned Des Moines Roosevelt’s Reggie Jones. Williams entered the tournament with a 12-13 record but went 3-2 on the day.

“That was awesome,” Coach Mann said. “That was excellent for him and a good confidence builder. I don’t remember the last time we took a freshman down here and they placed.”

Five Bobcats ended the day with 0-2 marks and two others went 1-2. Marshalltown had open weights at 138 and 182 due to injuries to Zach Slocum and Cody Mast.

“We had tough draws,” Coach Mann said. “We got a lot of top seeds. Everyone competed well. You can tell we wrestled tougher and got good experience. We now know what it takes.”

The Bobcats will wrestle at the district tournament in Waverly next Saturday. Coach Mann knows what needs to be done to improve their placing.

“We’ve got to be better on the bottom, we are getting tied up down there too much,” he said. “We have to finish our takedowns. But we are getting better.”