West Marshall marches on
GILBERTVILLE – You could not write a better script for West Marshall senior Devin Chesler.
Last season, he was forced to watch his team perform at regional duals after he and teammate Kyle Blocker were suspended for an off-the-mat incident.
Tuesday, Chesler was on the mat with a chance to clinch the Trojans’ first-ever berth into the State Dual Team Tournament in front of an electric crowd at Don Bosco Catholic High School.
Clinging to a 33-31 lead over No. 5 Don Bosco, seventh-ranked Chesler pinned Zach Hickson in the second period to seal the 39-31 win and the school’s first trip to the team dual event. No. 9 West Marshall also beat the Dons for the first time ever, as well.
“I had to make things up to my team after letting them down last year,” said Chesler, who went 2-0 on the day as the Trojans also took down Lynnville-Sully in the regional semifinals. “I had to come through for my team.”
Blocker also felt he let his team down last year with what he called a “dumb decision.” The top-ranked 138-pounder in Class 1A won both of his matches Tuesday, spending 1 minute, 45 seconds on the mat all told.
“We certainly messed things up last season,” said Blocker, who is now 46-0 on the year. “We made the right decisions this year and stayed focused. Devin is my best friend. I was happy he got to seal the win. He has come a long ways since his freshman season.”
Before beating the Dons in the final, West Marshall (22-7) took down Lynnville-Sully, 51-30. But that dual really wasn’t that close as Ferguson pulled state-ranked Tanner Arnold (152) and Dale Hilleman (160) in the final two matches to save them for the finale.
The task for the Trojans at the State Duals Tournament will be tough. The first team they will face a week from today is No. 1 Alburnett (29-1).
“It depends on the matchup,” West Marshall coach Lonnie Ferguson said before knowing who his team would face. “There are some teams we will be able to match up with. I am not sure we can match up with Alburnett weight-for-weight.”
The Trojans had no trouble matching up with their opponents on Tuesday.
They recorded six pins and took two forfeits against the Hawks, who dropped to 17-8 after the loss. The Trojans led 51-18 after 12 matches before getting pinned in the final two.
“We work hard for those pins, so at a certain point, you want to expect to get them,” Ferguson said. “We like to tie up and throw people. And I don’t think a lot of teams like to tie up with us.”
Against Don Bosco, West Marshall scored five pins. The Trojans trailed 31-15 in the dual but knew they were in good shape with four of its five state-ranked wrestlers still yet to take the mat.
Blocker scored a pin at 138 to make it 31-21, Jared Johnson (35-10) won 5-0 to cut the lead to 31-24 and then Arnold (36-4) trimmed it to one with a pin in the first period.
The Trojans grabbed a 33-31 lead after No. 5 ranked Hilleman (36-4) beat third-ranked Jake Hogan, 2-1, at 160.
That left it up to Chesler, who came through with the match-sealing pin and then let out a big scream to the Trojan fans in attendance.
“It was a little bit of redemption for both Kyle and Devin, but we won that dual because of a lot of small things,” Ferguson said. “Hilleman’s win over Hogan was huge. And Chad Berrey losing by only major decision to the No. 2 kid (Dylan Rhoads) in the state was big, too.”
Ferguson said the fact that three of their five ranked wrestlers hit the mat last in that final dual was a big advantage for the Trojans.
“The Lynnville-Sully coach actually did the draw, but I wasn’t complaining,” Ferguson said. “It is the luck of the draw sometimes and we got a bit lucky with that today.”
Chesler said he was never worried when his team was down 31-15 midway through the dual.
“We knew we had some good wrestlers coming up,” said Chesler, who is now 35-5 on the year. “We knew we could still pull it off.”
Lynnville-Sully drew 170 as the starting weight in the first dual. West Marshall then jumped out to a 30-0 lead on the Hawks following pins by Chesler, Brandon Overman (29-14) and Tyler Casady (220). Chris Sjoblom (20-14) also got a forfeit win as did Blade Sauer at 113. James Long made it 30-0 with a fall at 285.
Berrey got a win by fall at 132 to make it 42-18 and then Blocker spent all of 10 seconds on the mat before pushing the lead to 48-18 with his first pin of the night.
“I want more this year there’s no doubt,” Blocker said. “Not being able to compete last year has driven me to be even better this season. You feel the pain of losing more than you feel good about winning sometimes. That’s what has won me matches this year.”
The Trojans have a goal of top three at the State Dual Tournament. It will be a tougher challenge now, knowing they will have to face a talented Alburnett team in the first round. That match will take place at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. Alburnett beat Iowa City Regina 70-6 and upended Wilton 50-33.
“Getting to the state team duals was one of our goals,” Blocker said. “But we think we can get a top-three finish. Our expectations are high and anything can happen when you get out on the mat.”
The Trojans have five ranked wrestlers to Don Bosco’s four. The Hilleman-Hogan matchup was the only battle featuring two of them. Don Bosco is one of the best wrestling atmospheres in the state of Iowa. The school used one mat for the final and used only three lights directly above the mat for lighting.