Drama-free dual finish
DES MOINES – Trying to predict the West Marshall lineup Wednesday wasn’t easy. The Trojans had to work around a few injuries, some strategic planning and whether or not to push the individual state qualifiers to the max.
In the end, the makeshift lineups earned a seventh-place finish as the Trojans lost their first two duals before closing out their first-ever Iowa State Dual Team Wrestling Championships with a win Wednesday at Wells Fargo Arena.
“This was a great experience for the young kids, and it gave the seniors a chance to wrestle on this stage and wrestle for one last time,” West Marshall coach Lonnie Ferguson said.
Eighth-seeded and ninth-ranked West Marshall (23-9) lost to top-ranked Alburnett 52-27, dropped another match to No. 4 Sumner-Fredericksburg 45-28 and then grabbed seventh place in Class 1A with a come-from-behind, 47-36 victory over seventh-seeded Audubon.
“The guys have never been here before so it was a new experience, but a fun experience,” Ferguson said.
Ferguson didn’t have a method to his lineup madness. He wanted to make sure his five state qualifiers would have plenty left for today’s opening round of the individual tournament but also wanted to give his team a chance to win.
Top-ranked Kyle Blocker did not remove his sweatpants as he sat out the entire day at 138 with a knee injury. Fifth-ranked Tanner Arnold wrestled just once at 152 because of a shoulder injury.
“Those two did not practice much this week at all,” Ferguson said. “I suppose I could have wrestled Tanner in that last dual but we won it anyway without him so it worked out.”
Of the 42 matches spanned over three duals, 34 ended in pins. West Marshall went 13-21 in those matches.
The Trojans led eventual champion Alburnett 21-12 in the opening dual but then suffered seven consecutive bonus-point losses, including six by fall. A similar situation occurred against Sumner-Fredericksburg (28-4) when West Marshall led 12-6 before dropping six straight by fall.
West Marshall and Audubon went back-and-forth with pins in five straight matches. Back-to-back losses by fall made it 30-18 in favor of the Wheelers, but West Marshall rallied by winning four of the final five matches by fall.
“Ending that dual at 170 is always going to help,” Ferguson said. “We were down, but we still felt good about where we were.”
Alburnett, which was making its third straight appearance at the state duals, dominated at the lower weights against the Trojans.
West Marshall led 21-12 following four straight wins from 182 to 285 but did not match up with the Pirates (33-1) in the lower weights. Starting with 106, the Pirates rolled off 40 straight points to put the dual away. West Marshall was handed a forfeit in the final match to make the outcome a bit closer.
“We would have been much closer than we were, but I am not going to wrestle guys against someone we are going to face tomorrow,” Ferguson said. “I thought we would still be OK, but things just didn’t go our way.”
Alburnett wound up winning its first-ever state championship when the Pirates beat Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont, 60-21.
Seventh-ranked Devin Chesler, who went 2-0 on the day, will face Alburnett’s Zach Hoyle in the first round today. Blocker also could face Alburnett’s Colten Martin in the second round, while fifth-rated wrestlers Dale Hilleman and Cole Needham also could face Pirate foes in the semifinals.
“We came to win, so we would have wrestled those guys against their guys if we had to,” Alburnett coach Kane Thompson said. “It’s not a bad thing if you can win and still rest but if you have to wrestle them, then you wrestle them.”
The lighter weights again gave the Trojans trouble against Sumner-Fredericksburg in the consolation semifinals.
After trading pins for four consecutive weight classes, the Cougars responded with six consecutive pins that gave them a 40-12 lead.
Chad Berrey, Lane Kline and Jared Johnson all earned wins by decision after that, and then Arnold made it 42-28 with a win by fall in his only match of the day. Sumner-Fredericksburg ended the dual with a win by decision for the final margin.
“We didn’t wrestle well in that dual,” Ferguson said. “I really didn’t know how to handle that matchup. I messed up though. I should have put (Christopher) Sjoblom at 195 and wrestled Brandon Overman at 220. I thought we would have performed better though.”
Audubon came into the day with just two dual losses all year. The Wheelers (25-5) though dropped all three matches Wednesday and West Marshall handed them their final loss in the seventh-place match.
Thirteen of the 14 matches were decided by pinfall and the other match was a 16-1 technical fall in Berrey’s favor.
The Trojans trailed 36-35 with two matches to go but sealed the win after state-ranked and state qualifiers Hilleman and Chesler both won by fall.
Overman went 3-0 on the day with two pins, while Chesler was 2-0. James Long, Jared Johnson, Berrey and Hilleman all went 2-1.
The Trojans were wrestling in the state duals for the first time in school history, but they dealt with a roller coaster of emotions along the way.
A few days after beating Don Bosco for the regional duals championship, a photo with an obscene message surfaced on the internet and nearly derailed the Trojans’ chances to compete. Instead, the West Marshall school board voted 6-1 to allow the team to continue down its state duals path and awarded them a different form of punishment.
“It has been a horrible week,” Ferguson said. “I don’t wish that upon anyone. You just have to watch everything that you do from now on.”
West Marshall, Sumner-Fredericksburg and Audubon were all making their first trips to state duals. Alburnett was making its third straight trip to state and the Pirates finished third in 2011. Southeast Polk completed its undefeated run by winning its first boys state championship in Class 3A. The Rams defeated defending champion Bettendorf 46-20 in the finals and had a margin of victory of better than 20 points in each round of the tourney. Four-time champion Waverly-Shell Rock took third in Class 3A. Davenport Assumption won its seventh title in Class 2A, beating West Delaware, 30-29, in the championship for the second straight season.