Coin flips and criteria

DES MOINES – Wrestling is not supposed to be complicated. Walk on to the mat, shake hands and may be the best wrestler win.

Unfortunately for West Marshall, things weren’t that simple Wednesday during the Iowa High School State Wrestling Dual Championships at Wells Fargo Arena.

After dropping the first dual of the day to second-ranked Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont, the Trojans’ final two trips to the mat came down to criteria and a coin flip.

And unfortunately for the Trojans, neither went in favor of West Marshall, which went 0-3 on the day and finished eighth in the Class 1A portion of the tournament.

West Marshall opened the day with a 52-21 loss to the Rockets, but lost to Woodbury Central 37-36 on the eighth criteria and suffered a 36-34 loss to Logan-Magnolia because of what Trojan coach Lonnie Ferguson said came down to his team not winning the pre-dual coin flip.

“You try to guess really,” said Ferguson in regards to setting his lineup. “You look at records and you look at grades and try to get the best matchups. We had the matchups against Woodbury Central. That was a really even match. We had our good kid and they had their good kids.

“I feel bad. We really wanted that one.”

The eighth and final deciding criteria against the Wildcats was most first points scored. And the 12-11 advantage gave sixth-seeded Woodbury Central the victory.

The Wildcats decided to forfeit both 220 and 285 but that meant West Marshall was unable to score first in those bouts. That ended up being a pretty key decision in the match.

“They forfeited a weight where the kid was 3-16 so figure the odds and we likely score first on that match,” said Ferguson. “Does (Wildcat coach Adam McElrath) really know where he is at as far as first points? It’d be hard to know that that was in his favor.”

The dual couldn’t have been any closer. Both teams split the 14 head-to-head bouts and each had five six-point victories.

The first three levels of criteria involve misconduct penalties, and since nothing was handed out, the officials continued down the list. Each team had five falls or forfeits each and neither squad had a technical fall or major decision.

That sent the officials to the seventh criteria each team won seven matches. That led to the eighth criteria, which was total first-points won and the one-point advantage sent the Wildcats to the fifth-place match.

Tenth-ranked Cole Needham (120), Ross Randall (106) and third-ranked Dale Hilleman (170) all scored wins by fall, while Chad Berrey (132) and Lane Kline (138) recorded decisions before William Ohrt (195) and Tyler Casady (220) were both handed forfeits.

The dual was knotted at 6-all and 12-all before the Wildcats (22-12) rolled off 15 straight. Hilleman’s pin at 170 trimmed the lead to 27-18, but Ohrt and Casady’s forfeits evened things up at 30-all.

Woodbury Central got a pin from Levi Paulsen at 285 to take the lead, which meant Randall needed a win by fall – and got it – to force criteria.

“It sucked because who knows what it comes down to when you’re out there wrestling,” said Hilleman. “We wanted to do better than last year. That it didn’t happen unfortunately. It affected that last match, too. A lot of us were dead for the last dual.”

The Trojans (17-6) jumped out to an early 15-3 lead against the Rockets thanks to a pair of pins from Randall and Needham at 106 and 120, respectively, and a win by decision from 10th ranked Cooper White at 126.

E-B-F (30-2) though won six straight matches, including four by fall, to grab a 34-15 lead. Hilleman continued his dominance with another pin at 182, but that was the final win of the dual for the Trojans.

The Rockets recorded wins in 10 of the 14 matches in all and scored bonus points in all but two of them.

The Rockets’ top-ranked wrestlers – No. 1 Jeren Glosser (138), No. 3 Blake Marolf (145), No. 2 Tucker Black (152), No. 5 Tyler Foubert (160), No. 5 Dillon Pigsley (170) and No. 10 Hunter Johnston (195) – all won by fall.

“They just had a little too much power for us,” said Ferguson on the matchup against E-B-F. “We’ll be back. Basically we have our entire team is back next year. We only graduate three seniors.”

The Trojans scored first against Logan-Magnolia after Needham recorded his third pin of the day. West Marshall lost four straight – three by pin – to fall behind 21-6. Jared Johnson, Renald Bouchard and Hilleman helped close the gap to 21-18 and a pin from Chris Sjoblom and major decision from Tyler Casady put West Marshall in front.

“You need to score points to win and I am doing all I can to score a lot of points,” said Hilleman, who improved to 47-3 on the season. “Anybody can get beat but I am feeling pretty good right now.”

Heavyweight Alex Schaper, who only weighs about 207 pounds, lost but did not surrender bonus points to keep the Trojans in it. Randall was given a forfeit at 106 but Logan-Magnolia secured the dual when Remington Meeker pinned Colton Bittner in the second period.

“It was pretty tough. I think that took a lot out of the kids,” said Ferguson. “We wrestled well enough to win, but they bumped their 106 off ours so they could score points. We had to win the flip to avoid things like that, and we didn’t. If we won the flip, they would show first at that weight and then we likely win that match and take the dual. We had to show first and they knew it and they didn’t want to wrestle Ross.”

Ohrt wrestled through a knee injury, while White missed the final two duals because of an injury as well. Needham has dealt with an illness the past few weeks, too, and that may have affected his chances of advancing to the traditional state tournament.

“He is another one that was battling the flu at districts,” said Ferguson about Needham. “He wasn’t 100 percent and if he was he would be down here the next few days. He just came up short.”

Hilleman, Randall and Needham were all 3-0 on the day, while Casady was 2-1 and White won his only match of the day.


Senior Devin Chesler suffered an injured ACL earlier this season but was in uniform and Ferguson contemplated using him in a match Wednesday, but ended up deciding against it. “We were going to try to wrestle him. It wouldn’t have been a tough match, but we tried to give him a match,” said Ferguson. Randall is now 34-11 on the season, while Needham ends his year at 41-4. Johnson is 44-11 and White improved to 38-11. Randall, White, Johnson and Hilleman will be participating in the traditional Iowa High School State Wrestling Championships, which starts today at 9 a.m. Fourth-seeded Clarion-Goldfield beat third-seeded Don Bosco, 32-29, in the 1A dual championship match. Defending champion and top-ranked Alburnett lost to Clarion-Goldfield in the semifinals but bounced back to take third with a 70-9 win over second-ranked E-B-F. Wilton beat Woodbury Central, 46-33, in the fifth-place match. No. 1 Bettendorf won the 3A title, while top-ranked Davenport Assumption won its second straight championship in 2A.