DISTRICT WRESTLING: Gomez climbs to top of mountain as district champ
WAVERLY – Marshalltown senior Pedro Gomez had little trouble advancing to the Iowa High School State Wrestling Championships on Saturday. But he can do so much more, according to MHS coach Mike Mann.
After receiving a first-round bye, Gomez earned a pin in 16 seconds to advance to the championship match and then locked up his second state berth with a 7-3 win over Cedar Falls freshman Spencer Williams at Waverly-Shell Rock High School during Class 3A District 8 action.
“I think I wrestled to my capability in that first match, but the championship match was not even close to my capability,” said Gomez, who placed fifth at the state tournament as a sophomore.
Gomez will be the only Bobcat representing the team at state this year. The next best finish was junior Derek Mann, who placed third, while sophomore Ben Rebik and senior Matt Vandegrift were both fourth in their respectitve weights.
The top two place winners in each weight class move on to the Iowa High School State Wrestling Championships, which begins Thursday at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
Gomez is the first Marshalltown heavyweight to win a district title since Chase Rogers in 2003. B.J. Lansing also won the district crown in 1991.
“We need to get things done quickly if they can be done quickly,” Coach Mann said of his first-ever state qualifier. “I am proud of him that he qualified, but I know he has got more in him. Anyone can be beaten on any given day. That is my fear. He has to know he can do better than what he is showing.”
Host and No. 3 Waverly-Shell Rock won the team championship with seven district champions and two other state qualifiers. The Go-Hawks scored 249 points, while Western Dubuque scored 189 in second. Ames was third with 145, Waterloo West was fourth at 139.5 and Cedar Falls came in fifth with 137.5. The final three spots went to Cedar Rapids Xavier (112), Marshalltown (81) and Waterloo East (60).
The only team to not crown an individual champion was runner-up Western Dubuque. Cedar Falls scored two first-place finishes.
“All of these young guys now have district experience,” Mann said. “They just need to stay the course so we can start building this program.”
While there were a few more positives on the day, Mann was not happy with how the Bobcats finished the day.
Vandegrift would have had a wrestleback and a chance at state if he would have won his third-place match, but a fall ended his day at 220. Also, the Bobcats lost two of their three contested fifth-place matches in the final round of competition.
“We didn’t finish the day on a high note, and that is what we have been preaching all season,” Coach Mann said. “I felit like we ended on a big dud.”
Coach Mann was pleased with his nephew Derek Mann’s final placing. He also thought Rebik taking fourth and Josh Edel and Justus Bjelland finishing fifth were positives.
“For Derek, that is the worst placing you can have and not feel happy about it,” Coach Mann said. “But he gets to return next year to be one of our leaders. Those other three are all back next year, too.”
Mann lost to Cedar Rapids Xavier’s Sean Ickes 3-1 in the semifinals and then blasted through Western Dubuque’s Ryan Kluesner 11-3 in the third-place match.
He did not get a chance at a wrestleback though after Ickes lost in the 170-pound championship to top-seeded Thomas Foy of Waverly-Shell Rock. It was the best Marshalltown district finish at 170 pounds since Robert Junck won the 171-pound title in 2005.
Josh Sowers and Fernando Martinez both took sixth place at 132 and 113, respectively. Six Bobcats went 0-2 on the day.
“We definitely figured some things out today that will help us for next year,” Coach Mann said. “We need to be harder on them in practice. Things need to be more intense and we need to be more physical on the mat.”
For top-ranked Gomez, he will have one last chance to claim that elusive state championship. His run in the tournament begins Thursday when he faces Cedar Rapids Washington’s Zac Gillis (35-4), who is ranked No. 8 at 285. Class 3A competition begins at 2 p.m.
The Gomez-Gillis winner will face either Landen Johnson (32-8) of Webster City or Ryan Glenn (11-3) of Waukee in Round 2 on Friday. The loser will face the Glenn-Johnson loser in an elimination match Thursday.
Gomez’s path got much easier Saturday though. Urbandale’s Shaquille Wells and Ankeny’s Xavier Quigley were both eliminated at their district meet in Ankeny.
Quigley beat Gomez earlier this year and is ranked No. 4, while Wells is ranked No. 2. Southeast Polk’s Jake Scanlan did advance as that same district’s champion. He is ranked No. 3 but is 0-6 all-time against Gomez.
Gomez was unranked when the season began after missing out on the last half of the season due to academic ineligibility. He finished the season ranked No. 1 and has already claimed a CIML title and a district title. … Gomez also told Coach Mann recently that he has committed to play football and wrestle at Ellsworth Community College in Iowa Falls. … The Bobcats were without three starters. Freshman 160-pounder Peyton Williams had been sick all week, while seniors Colten Phillips and Zach Slocum were not with the team due to unspeciified reasons. “Two of those guys chose not to finish the season with the team,” Coach Mann said.