DISTRICT WRESTLING: West Marshall sending another sizable contingent to Wells Fargo

JEWELL – Setting aside its recent photo controversy for a return to the mat, the West Marshall wrestling team was back to business Saturday.

And business is good.

Cole Needham (113), Kyle Blocker (138), Tanner Arnold (152), Dale Hilleman (160) and Devin Chesler (170) all advanced to state with individual district titles, while the fifth-ranked Trojans took the team championship with 109.5 points at the Class 1A District 4 meet at South Hamilton High School.

Ninth-rated Clarion-Goldfield claimed second with 102 points, while fourth-ranked Fort Dodge St. Edmond (92), West Hancock (83) and Lake Mills (42) rounded out the top five.

“We came out and had to take care of business,” West Marshall coach Lonnie Ferguson said.

“We just went out there and did our job.”

Needham and Chesler went above and beyond their duties by knocking off previously undefeated foes. Needham, rated fifth, improved to 36-6 overall by holding off Fort Dodge St. Edmond’s No. 4 ranked Kaden McClintock (40-1) in a 4-2 decision. The freshman avenged a loss by fall to McClintock from last Saturday’s sectional and won his other match by a 6-3 decision.

The seventh-ranked Chesler upset No. 4 Ryder Clark of West Hancock (32-1) by pin in 3:20. The junior improved to 35-4, also winning by fall in the semifinals.

Though upsets on paper, the victories were just part of the business model for the Trojans.

“If we wrestle to our potential, we can beat anybody,” Ferguson said.

“(Needham and Chesler) showed that they can do it. It’s being mentally prepared and just going after it.”

Blocker, the top-rated wrestler at 138, earned his third trip to Wells Fargo with a 5-0 decision over Lake Mills’ seventh-ranked Andy Dahle. The senior Trojan, who posted an 18-3 technical fall in the semifinals, garnered third at state as sophomore and seventh as a freshman. Blocker, who competed for East Marshall in his first two trips to Des Moines, returns there after a one-year hiatus with a 45-0 record.

Hilleman (37-4) and Arnold (38-3) are two second-timers ready to make a splash in their return to the big stage.

“There’s two leaders that really want to be back there and be up on the podium,” Ferguson said. “They really want it and they’ve been working really hard.”

Hilleman, a fifth-ranked sophomore, earned a 7-2 decision over Clarion-Goldfield’s fourth-rated Jake Haberman following a 15-0 technical fall in the semifinals. Arnold, No. 6 as a senior, pinned Prairie Valley’s Taylor Clough in the final and won by 17-0 technical fall to get there.

Senior Brandon Overman (182) came up just shy of punching his ticket to Des Moines again, losing by pin to Fort Dodge St. Edmond’s Dillon Nelson in the wrestleback to place third. Overman wrapped up his final campaign with a record of 27-16.

Chris Sjoblom (195) and James Long (285) had stiff competition keep them from the win column. Sjoblom closed his sophomore season at 19-16 after losing by fall in 1:29 to Prairie Valley’s No. 9 ranked Matt Streit in the third place match. Long, a senior, closed his Trojan career at 19-18 after getting pinned by a pair of ranked foes in No. 8 Mitch Gambrill of Clarion-Goldfield and West Hancock’s No. 2-rated Chris Schleuger.

The Trojans will face off against top-ranked Alburnett in Wednesday’s state dual team tournament at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. The individual tournament starts Thursday and runs through Saturday.

While the Trojans demonstrated again Saturday what they can do when they’re at their best – the focus remains simple and singular.

“Win one match a time,” Ferguson said.