ANKENY — Every member of the Newton wrestling team knew it was in for a challenge in the team's Class 3A district meet on Saturday.
Between the brackets loaded with ranked wrestlers and the possibility of the season coming to an end, there were plenty of opportunities to fall short.
Two Cardinals were able to extend their seasons, however.
Junior Ray Schroder (195 pounds) and senior Derrick Hurt (285) each qualified for the state meet with second-place finishes, while Newton took fifth as a team in the challenging tournament at Ankeny High School.
"A wrestler's goal in high school is to make it to state, and I just couldn't get it done in my first three years," Hurt said. "It's great to get it done my last year and just to know I'm a state qualifier."
Schroder, ranked 10th in 3A, and Hurt actually followed very similar paths in their state berths. Both received byes in the first round, then scored upsets over ranked opponents in the semifinals to reach the championship match. Schroder's upset came against Class 3A No. 8 Wil Simpkins of Ankeny thanks to a late reversal and pin at the 5:05 mark of the match.
"Last week I went and watched him, and that's what happened — he got reversed and pinned," Schroder said. "He got his arm in deep so I knew I had to try it then because I was down, and it worked."
Hurt defeated No. 2 Shaquille Wells of Urbandale, who he has become familiar with from battling at state throwing events over the years. Hurt scored a late takedown in the first, then capitalized on his first major attempt at a pin just 25 seconds into the second period.
"I just came out and wrestled a really good match against a really good opponent," Hurt said. "The fact that I pinned him in the second period makes it that much better."
Both wrestlers suffered lows after their initials highs when they were defeated in their respective championship matches against opponents from Class 3A No. 1 Southeast Polk, which went on to soundly win the team title. Schroder fell to No. 5 Ethan Andersen, 6-1, and Hurt was defeated 9-0 by No. 3 Jake Scanlan.
"I'm just happy to get to state for one," Hurt said. "It would've been nicer to wrestle a little better in my championship match, but at the end of the day I can say I made it to state, which is what I came to do.”
“It kind of sucked losing that championship match, but it’s nice knowing that I’m going to state,” Schroder added. “All the hard work is starting to pay off.”
The remainder of the Cardinal roster didn’t have too bad of a day either, as junior Koby Hull (106), Class 3A No. 8 sophomore Dakota Dawson (132) and junior Jacob Williams (220) all finished third. Dawson and Williams each had byes in their opening rounds, while Hull wrestled is way into the semis. It was there that all three were sent to the consolation bracket, in which Dawson won a close 5-4 decision, but Hull and Williams cruised to wins before receiving third by rule.
Finishing fifth for Newton were senior Tanner Hull (120), sophomore Brett Wolf (138), freshman Nicoli Allspach (145) and junior Sean Cook (170). The fifth-place round, which was the final round of the night, featured a Newton vs. Pella match on all three mats at one point, dividing the gym. Hull, Wolf and Allspach each earned pins to wrap up fifth place.
Jac Fisher (113), Bryce Tish (126) and Jacob Herduin (152) all made it to the fifth-place round, but were defeated in their matches. As a team, Newton finished fifth with 122 points, which was 33 ahead of sixth-place Urbandale and just 7.5 behind Johnston in fourth.
The meet also marked just the first time Hurt advanced past the first round in districts, while Schroder has done that once before. Neither wrestler used the word “excitement” sparingly when talking about the week ahead, but considering how prepared they each felt going into districts, state could be another interesting opportunity for both of them.
“It’s going to be awesome. I’m so excited for it,” Schroder said. “At the beginning of the day I was really nervous, but now I’m just excited.”
“I’m still a little bit in shock mode,” Hurt added. “When you come in as a four seed, no one really expects you to make it. I’ve been there a few times to watch, but the nerves probably won’t hit me as bad until I walk in and get on the mat.”
The Class 3A portion of the traditional meet will begin at 2 p.m. on Thursday and is scheduled to run until 5:15 at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
Class 3A District 1 team results
1. Southeast Polk 298.5; 2. Ankeny 195; 3. Dallas Center-Grimes 158.5; 4. Jonston 130.5; 5. Newton 122; 6. Urbandale 98; 7. Pella 55.5; 8. Des Moines North/Hoover 41