STATE WRESTLING: STC’s Lux logs 3rd place, 150th win

DES MOINES – There was no way for Erik Lux to change what happened. All he could do was redeem himself.

No better way to do that than get back the one that got away.

South Tama County’s defending 160-pound Class 2A state champion avenged his only loss of the season, a surprising first-round upset, by beating Grinnell’s Jack Leshen convincingly in the 170-pound consolation semifinals Saturday at the Iowa High School State Wrestling Championships at Wells Fargo Arena.

With dreams of becoming STC’s first-ever two-time state champion long since dashed, Lux followed with another win over Cash Wilcke of OA-BCIG to claim third place in his fourth and final trip to state.

Two days after the eighth-ranked Leshen (43-8) popped Lux from his top-ranked perch with his first (and only) loss of the winter, South Tama’s level-headed senior dominated the rematch for an 8-0 major decision.

“It was pretty nice getting to wrestle a match that I should have won the first time, but it just proved to everybody that I should have won,” Lux said. “It was unreal (losing to Leshen) but you’ve got to accept it, you can’t change it and just live with it.”

Leshen notched a 6-3 win by decision in Thursday’s opening round.

“(Lux) was ready for him, that’s who he wanted,” said STC head coach Nathan Van Dyke. “Even (immediately) after the match, that’s the matchup we wanted and it makes you feel a little bit better about it, but it’s still going to hurt.”

Accepting the limits of the back side of the 170-pound bracket, Lux rattled off his fifth win of the tournament, 50th of the season and 150th of his career with a 8-2 decision over Wilcke in the third-place match.

“Sweet and sour,” Lux said. “I feel good that I placed but a little sour taste that I could have done better.”

A 150-21 career mark, four state meet appearances and two top-three finishes.

Not too shabby.

“He bounced back very well, he was very mature about it,” said Van Dyke, one of the school’s 10 other former state champions. “Half hour after it happened he’s been very good, he showed a lot of character. He did the best that I could expect, I guess.”

Lux had three takedowns in both of his matches Saturday, taking a 5-0 lead into the third period against Leshen and a 4-1 advantage into the final 2 minutes of his high school career against Wilcke.

“You’ve got nothing to lose when you’re in that position, your goal is to win that state title, so all you can do is open up and wrestle to the best of your ability,” said Van Dyke. “I think maybe the last two matches were his best two of the tournament.”

Leshen ended up placing sixth with a loss by fall in his consolation final, while second-ranked Adam Drain of Mediapolis (48-1) topped No. 5 Brice Wilcke of Clarksville (39-4) by a 7-3 score in Saturday night’s championship match.

Lux defeated Drain during last year’s run to the 160 state title, which ended with a pin of Denver-Tripoli’s Chase Shedenhelm in the championship match. On Saturday night, Shedenhelm won a 7-5 decision over Steven Holloway of Mediapolis in the 182 title bout.

Lux was one of three STC state qualifiers but the only one to make it onto the podium. Senior Levi Kaufman went 1-2 at 152 pounds while junior Kolton Smith did the same at 160.

“Our goal was to get three placewinners – well, a state champ and three placewinners,” said Van Dyke. “I have a lot of respect for the kids I coach and I know they’re going to give 100 percent every time they step on the mat. If they do that you can’t be disappointed in them.”