Every day, members of the Lynnville-Sully wrestling team get to look at the program's past state qualifiers and medalists on the wall in the school's wrestling room.
One thing they can notice is the Hawks haven't had two medalists in the same year since 1979, but juniors Caden Doll and Meliek Meyer are hoping to change that this year.
Both wrestlers will be making their second trips to Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines on Thursday, hoping for both improvement on past years and success for this year.
“Obviously the goal is to make it to state, but now that I’ve been there, the goal is to place at state,” Doll said. “You just need to keep striving for higher. Shoot high, hit high.”
Doll, a 160-pounder with a record of 34-8, has now qualified in back-to-back years while Meyer, a 152-pounder with a 28-17 record, is returning to state after qualifying as a freshman at 135 pounds. Doll had some success in last year’s meet, finished one win shy of the podium, while Meyer went two-and-out in his lone campaign.
“It feels good. It was about time that I made it back there,” Meyer said. “Hopefully I can do a little bit more this year than what I did as a freshman.”
Although both wrestlers agree that past experience and making the trip with a teammate will make things easier, they are very much aware of the perils state can offer. Meyer will have to go through either the first or second-ranked wrestler in his weight class to reach his goal of placing, and Doll will have to contend with three of the top-10 ranked wrestlers in his class in the opening rounds of the tournament.
“I think I’m a much better wrestler than I was my freshman year, and I think I’m more prepared,” Meyer added. “That stage is such a huge thing your first time and if you’re not ready, you get kind of starstruck. That won’t happen this time.”
Meyer will square off with Wapello senior Nathan Boyer (32-11) in his first match, while Doll will face Sumner-Fredericksburg sophomore Trevor Pagel (40-6). Neither are ranked and Lynnville-Sully coach Steve Northcutt will be able to do some scouting of Pagel when he attends the state dual tournament, which began this morning. However, rankings and records tend to go out the window at state.
“It doesn’t really matter since state is such a toss up where unranked guys sometimes go farther than the guys that are supposed to win state,” Doll said. “Everybody up there is really good, so you just have to take every match at a time and not overlook anyone.”
After advancing to the regional dual meet, the Hawks sent five individuals to districts in Pleasantville last weekend. Doll and Meyer were the only two able to push through, however, when Meyer earned a pin in a wrestleback and Doll earned a district championship with a sudden victory 3-1 decision. The Hawks have now sent at least one qualifier to state every year since 2008.
“I knew it would be tough to get more than that since our brackets were really tough,” Northcutt said. “We had a dry spell of about nine years until ‘08, but it’s what we kind of expect now. Looking forward to every year, getting guys to state is always our goal, and we’ve been able to set that bar higher every year.”
Northcutt is certainly hoping Doll and Meyer can break the school’s standing spell of two individual medalists. Although his two qualifiers have had their moments this season, they are also catching on at the right time and are entering a stage in which momentum is key.
“It’s been a little up and down for the both of them,” Northcutt said. “One day, Meliek can go out and wrestle lights out, then not be prepared in the next. Caden’s had a few mishaps here and there, but he’s been pretty consistent. Both of them are solid wrestlers who learn from their mistakes, and making it back to state was their goals.”
Another important factor to consider is neither Doll nor Meyer are strangers to the state experience. Besides their past wrestling qualifications, both of them competed at last year’s state track meet as well. Meyer finished second in the 100-meter dash, while Doll competed in multiple relay events.
Meyer and Doll are just the latest in the recent stretch of Lynnville-Sully athletes to reach state in their respective sports, and the duo will try to parlay its past successes into this weekend and beyond.
“You always want to be competing with the best and I think our school has done a good job of doing that as of late,” Doll said. “That’s definitely helped me in my wrestling season with the spill over from football and track. Those successful seasons give you the confidence you need in the sport you’re competing in at the moment.”
Doll and Meyer will both be in action at 9 a.m. on Thursday in the tournament’s first session.