STATE WRESTLING: Making history
DES MOINES – South Hardin-BCLUW senior Tyler Lutes isn’t flashy. He’s not outspoken. He is, however, the wrestling program’s first-ever state finalist.
Facing two more grapplers sitting ahead of him in the Class 2A, 170-pound rankings, Lutes used a four-point move to get to the semifinals and then got an early takedown in the first sudden victory period against second-ranked Trevor Frain of Creston/Orient-Macksburg to become the Storm’s first-ever finalist.
Lutes beat fourth-ranked Brent Lammers of West Delaware, 8-3, in the quarterfinals and then took down Frain, 4-2, in overtime Friday during the Iowa High School State Wrestling Championships.
“It’s real gratifying,” said SH-BCLUW co-coach Mike Olson. “He has done so much in his four years in the program and is taking advantage of his one chance to wrestle at state. He’ll always be the first one since the two schools joined to be a placewinner.”
Lutes has a chance to do even better. With one more win, he’ll climb to the top of the podium Saturday night in front of an expected sell-out crowd at Wells Fargo Arena.
The Storm senior has now won 21 straight matches to get to 45-2. Lutes will face sixth-ranked Trey Ryan of Mount Vernon in the championship match. Ryan (46-4) knocked off top-ranked and defending champion Adam Drain of Mediapolis in the other semifinal.
Lutes is the first place winner at either school since Tyler Lashbrook took eighth in 2010 for Tri-County. According to co-coach Stacy Simpson, the last finalist at BCLUW was Craig Schwinebart in 1984. The last one at South Hardin, Olson said, was Jared Keith in 1998, back when the school was Eldora-New Providence.
“It’s been a great tournament and I am proud of how far I have come, win or lose (Saturday),” said Lutes. “I would love to win though. It’s not what a lot of people expected.”
Lutes has now beaten the second-, third- and fourth-ranked wrestlers on his way to the championship match. He would have gotten a shot at No. 1 had Drain not been upset. At this point, it doesn’t matter who he faces.
“He doesn’t get caught up in the rankings,” said Olson after the win over Lammers. “We saw who that guy went against and lost to. We felt good about the matchup.”
Lutes got to the semifinals with a big four-point move against Lammers. He jumped out to an early 2-0 lead and then grabbed a 4-2 advantage with another takedown in the second period. He got three back points and another point for a blood stoppage during the near-fall attempt and that sequence was enough to push the BCLUW senior through to the next round.
“I had to have the mindset that anyone can get beat down here, including myself,” said Lutes. “I like to get that first takedown. It got me in a good mindset.
“Getting the fall would have been cool, but that four-point swing was the difference in the match. Winning was the plan the whole time. It feels pretty good. I am just taking this one match at a time and trying to move on.”
Frain was fourth last year at 160 and came into this tournament as one of the favorites to climb to the top of the podium – along with Drain.
But Lutes took the first shot in the sudden-victory period and sent his cheering section into a frenzy when it resulted in the winning takedown.
“Everyone’s good here and it’s anyone’s game once you get to state,” said Simpson. “It’s about wrestling, which guy shows up and what they have for heart. It doesn’t matter a lot to (Lutes) where someone is ranked.”
Both wrestlers had chances earlier in the match to lock up the win before overtime. Lutes admitted that he may have gotten lucky a few times. Frain got in on his legs multiple times but each time was just too close to the edge of the mat to capitalize.
“I just tried to keep moving. There were a few times that he could have scored and maybe should have scored,” Lutes said. “At the end of the match, I was on my back but then rolled and about got a takedown. The whole match we both were getting breaks, maybe more for me than him.”
Lutes took down West Marshall’s Dale Hilleman in the semifinals of the North Iowa Cedar League Invitational earlier this season. And that win may have given the Storm grappler the confidence he needed to take that next step.
Hilleman is ranked third at 170 in Class 1A and will be in the championship match right next to Lutes on Saturday.
“It makes me realize how tough both of us are. It’s good to see our conference come down here and whoop up on some other kids,” Lutes said. “It’d be cool if Hilleman went to the finals, too.”
Simpson thought he had potential in his wrestling room when the season started. It’s hard to truly know if a state finalist is present, but Simpson said Lutes has gotten better and better as the year has progressed.
“Tyler just kept growing and growing throughout the season and is certainly peaking at the right time,” said Simpson. “(Beating Dale Hilleman) was a great confidence boost for him. That 170-pound weight class in our conference is loaded. It’d be great to see Dale in the 1A final also.”
The finals for all classes will begin tonight at 6 p.m. with the Grand March.
Lutes’ only two losses this season came against Hilleman and Jacob Holschlag of Union Community. Holschlag is ranked No. 4 at 160 and will be in tonight’s 2A title bout as well. Davenport Assumption leads the Class 2A field heading into today’s final day with 93 points. Mediapolis is second at 78.5, Clear Lake is third at 62.5, Union Community has 60.5 points in fourth and Albia is fifth with 56. A point was awarded to Lutes for the blood stoppage against Lammers because action was stopped during a near-fall attempt because the “defensive wrestler” had blood above his eye.