Four area grapplers grab individual NICL titles

CONRAD – South Hardin-BCLUW senior Tyler Lutes has been able to cross a few things off his goal sheet in recent weeks.

The Storm’s best wrestler recently picked up bragging rights at the dinner table when he surpassed his brother Ryan for most career wins in program history and then checked off another milestone Saturday during the North Iowa Cedar League Invitational when he knocked off Class 1A No. 3 Dale Hilleman of West Marshall.

The victory pushed Lutes into the 170-pound finals, and he eventually was one of four area wrestlers to win an individual title. He was joined by East Marshall/GMG’s Nick Meling at 106, West Marshall’s Cole Needham at 113 and AGWSR’s Clay Meinders at 220.

Lutes scored a five-point move in the first minute of the match and that’s all he needed in besting Hilleman 5-3.

“That was so big for him. He had a tough match against (Kolton) Smith, too. He was battle-tested,” said SH-BCLUW co-coach Mike Olson. “There weren’t any warm-up matches so you had to be ready. He got that big move early and that was huge.”

Hilleman, who was fourth at state last year, wrestled back to take second for the Trojans, who ended up second in the team standings. West Marshall scored 157.5 points, trailing only Union Community (231.5) at the top. Dike-New Hartford was third (131.5), East Marshall/GMG (120) was fourth and Aplington-Parkersburg (118.5) fifth.

“We had some kids that could have been higher, but we had others that stepped up, too,” West Marshall coach Lonnie Ferguson said. “Those guys on the backside worked hard, too. The points from them, in a close meet like this, are the ones that matter the most.”

Needham, who is now 38-4 and ranked No. 10 at 113, was the Trojans’ only champion – his second straight. But West Marshall got runner-up finishes from Hilleman, Jared Johnson (152) and Cooper White (126), while Chad Berrey was third at 132 and Ross Randall placed fourth at 106. Renald Bouchard (160) and Alex Schaper (285) also scored big points in fifth place.

White was perhaps the biggest winner on the day for the Trojans. The freshman scored a big win over 2A No. 10 Zach Underhill of East Marshall/GMG in the semifinals to lock up a spot in the finals. Underhill had a 2-0 lead, but White rallied with three back points in the closing seconds to steal the win.

“That was a huge second place. Underhill is tough,” Ferguson said. “That was big for us. (Cooper) wrestled smart and gave himself a chance to pull one off and did it. That was a big win and a big match.”

East Marshall/GMG did get an individual champion in Meling. And the Mustang freshman got wins over two ranked grapplers during his route to the title. He edged Class 2A No. 8 Derek Holschlag of Union, 5-4 in sudden victory, in the semifinals and then dominated 1A No. 5 Logan Johnson of Aplington-Parkersburg, 6-1, in the championship match.

“I had wrestled them both before and knew I had to come in ready to go,” said Meling, who is now 44-2 on the season. “I knew I had to keep my head in the game until the end in that overtime match.”

Underhill, who got his 150th career win Saturday, wound up third at 126 for the Mustangs, while Nick Long and Jarod Bowman were third at 160 and 220, respectively. Seth Webb (113) and Max Upah (138) both finished fifth.

“We performed pretty well for the most part,” said East Marshall/GMG coach Troy Underhill. “We had a few disappointing matches, but Nick Meling beating two ranked kids was big for him. We’ll see those guys again. We just have to keep improving.”

Meinders (35-1) was the big finisher for AGWSR, which had an up and down weekend, according to coach Chad Gerbracht. Meinders, who also won the conference title at 195 last year, had little trouble in his three matches, winning decisions of 8-1, 8-5 and 11-4.

“It was a pretty good weekend, and I think I am doing just fine,” said Meinders, who is ranked No. 5 at 220. “There were some good matches and bad matches for us as a team. I am happy with how we did though. We didn’t get as many in the finals as I would have liked, but it was a good weekend.”

Clay’s younger brother Caleb Meinders (31-6) performed well in his first NICL meet, taking third at 195 pounds. Austin Dolleslager (113), Dakota Schwebke (132) and Michael Young (285) all finished in fourth place in their respective weight classes, while Miguel Reyes (126) and Brandon Johnson (152) were fifth.

South Tama County’s highest finishers came at 145 and 182 as Bailey Chyma and Kyle Llewellyn both wrestled back through the consolation bracket to take second.

Chyma won his first match by fall on Friday, but was forced to the consolation side after a loss by decision to Hudson’s Ryan Finn. Chyma made the most of his opportunity though, scoring three straight wins – including a bounce back win over Finn in the third-place match – before scoring a pin over top-seeded Ethan Kleitsch of Wapsie Valley in the second-place wrestleback.

“Sometimes it takes a couple of wins to get going and he just got on a roll here at the end,” said South Tama County coach Nate Van Dyke. “This is a good time to be doing that.”

Llewellyn also had a chance at a second-place wrestleback at 182 after losing to eventual champion Luke Huber in the semifinals. He got an injury default in his third-place match and then scored a 6-5 win over Denver-Tripoli’s Brock Sorenson in the second-place bout.

Jaret Probasco also took third for the Trojans at 120, and Smith ended up fourth at 170. Dalton Vest lost his fifth-place match to SH-BCLUW’s Blake Cooper and finished sixth.

“It was hit and miss,” said Van Dyke of his team’s performance. “We had a few guys who did well, some guys who could have done better and some guys who finished about where I thought they would.”

Most of SH-BCLUW’s points came from Lutes’ championship, Cooper’s fifth-place finish at 195 and Nolan Emley’s sixth-place tally at 285.

The Storm were without two of their better wrestlers in Micah Dorow and Luke Asche, who were both out with illnesses.

“Not having those guys was pretty big,” Olson said. “Luke is a returning district qualifier from last year. We wrestled real hard. We just got to get everyone healthy before next weekend.”

Lutes’ biggest hope against Hilleman was to score first. When he got the five-point move early in the first period, he tried to stay in good position and not let a mistake cost him the match.

“It was the biggest part of the match. I was able to get a lead and make him play catch-up the rest of the way. That was real important,” said Lutes, who is now 39-2 on the year. “I just thought if I could get that first takedown in the match then things would go well. The back points were a bonus, I didn’t expect to get those.”

Lutes, who now has 149 career victories, had no trouble in his championship match. In fact, he needed just 31 seconds to pin Jesup’s Ryan Even. Hilleman was by far Lutes’ toughest competitor, but the Storm senior did not want to take his championship match lightly.

“I knew (Hilleman) was the toughest guy, but I didn’t want to underestimate (Even), said Lutes. “I just tried to do my thing and go out there and wrestle.”

GRNT-GC had two top-five finishes on the day. Omar Martinez took fourth at 138 and Tony Weber was fifth at 220.


The two-day format received mixed reviews from some of the area coaches. The biggest concern was wrestling only one match Friday night. Coach Underhill and Ferguson both agreed that the league needs to somehow avoid so many wrestlebacks. “Right now, waiting for a true second, I am not in favor of that,” said Underhill. “I don’t like waiting around for an hour to get those matches in. I think we are going to wrestle one more round on Friday next year. That will help a lot. It’s nice to wrestle all the way through for places. It wasn’t so bad.” Union’s team title included four individual championships.