NEWTON — Revenge is a strong word.
Newton senior Joey Wright stepped on the mat for the 285-pound championship match at Saturday’s 2014 Little Hawkeye Conference tournament. Four days earlier, Wright lost by a pin to Norwalk’s Trystan Minnis in the very same gymnasium at Norwalk.
“Wresting Minnis in the finals and winning felt really good since he beat me on Tuesday,” Wright said. Minnis had pinned Wright in regular season action.
Wright recorded two wins by pins in the quarterfinals and semifinals Saturday. That set up a match for the championship with Minnis. Wright built up an 8-4 lead through two periods. A reversal to start the third put Wright in front 10-4 on his way to a 10-7 win and the title.
Wright, who had been sidelined with a medical situation, returned to the mat the past couple of weeks for the Cardinals. He moved into the 285-pound weight class and in came out as a Little Hawkeye Conference champion.
“It feels really good to be back on the mat wrestling. It felt really good to go back to Norwalk and win a championship,” Wright said.
Sophomore Hunter Versteegh won his first Little Hawkeye Conference championship, claiming the gold in the 113-pound division. He also went up against a Norwalk wrestler he had faced and defeated last Tuesday.
Versteegh made quick work of Tyler Hirl of Norwalk in the 113-pound title match. Versteegh had pinned his other two opponents on the day as he advanced to the championship. He turned Hirl and recorded the winning fall at the 1:07 mark.
“It was pretty intense,” Versteegh said of winning a conference championship. “It was fun. Our whole team did really well at the conference tournament.”
Newton had two other LHC champions — seniors Koby Hull at 106, who was a two-time champion, and Ray Schroder at 195. Junior Dakota Dawson finished second at 138 pounds.
Newton finished fourth as a team and had seven wrestlers place in the top three in weight classes, earning All-Little Hawkeye Conference honors.
“This is a wonderful group of hardworking individuals. Every wrestler that we have goes out there expecting to give six minutes of there maximum effort, and tries the best that they can,” said Newton head coach Andy Swedenhjelm.
“For me that’s the most important thing. I love seeing the improvement that these kids are making, and could not be more excited to work with each of these kids through districts and beyond.”
Sophomore Bryce Tish avenged a quarterfinal loss to Reed Hillenga of Dallas Center-Grimes as the two squared off in the 132-pound third-place match. Hillenga pinned Tish in 2 minutes, 8 seconds to open the tournament.
Tish worked back in the third-place match. He turned the tables on Hillenga. Tish pinned Hillenga in 1:47 to claim the bronze medal.
Junior J.T. Thongvanh lost in the semifinals at 170 pounds. He bounced back with a major decision, 11-3, over Norwalk’s Blake Hoover for third place.
Alex Bentley, a sophomore, two losses on the day came against the same opponent. In the quarterfinal round, Nick Beebe of Oskaloosa beat Bentley 6-1 in the 126-pound division. Bentley won his next two matches to reach the third-place match, losing 5-1 to Beebe.
Just the opposite for sophomore Cole Peters at 120 pounds for the Cardinals. Peters rolled to a 10-2 major decision over Kyle Sadler of Grinnell to open the tournament then lost twice. That put Peters and Sadler in the fifth-place match. Peters pinned Sadler in 5:16.
Jordan Henning, another sophomore, finished fifth at 182 pounds. Henning pinned Carter Terpstra of Pella in 1:51 in the fifth-place match.
Newton won one and lost one fifth-place match by injury default. Freshman Caden Manning earned fifth at 220 with an injury default over Ryan Kennedy of Norwalk. Cardinal senior Earl Kimmel was unable to compete in the 160-pound fifth-place match after suffering an injury early in the tournament.
Freshman Justice Borger lost two in a row and was done for the day for Newton at 145 pounds.
Newton’s varsity wrestlers turn their focus toward Class 3A district tournament action. The top two finishers in each weight class at district qualify for the Class 3A state tournament.
The Cardinals are excited about the Feb. 15 district tournament because they will wrestle at home. Newton hosts the Class 3A District 7. Joining Newton in the tournament are Iowa City City High, Iowa City West, Marshalltown, Oskaloosa, Ottumwa, Pella, Cedar Rapids Prairie.
2014 Little Hawkeye Conference
106 - Koby Hull (39-5) 1st
Quarterfinal - Hull, bye
Semifinal - Hull pinned Bryce Murano (Dallas Center Grimes ) 1:30
1st Place Match - Hull dec. Drew Sams (Oskaloosa) 10-6
113 - Hunter Versteegh (23-10) 1st
Quarterfinal - Versteegh pinned Josh Diehl (Oskaloosa) 5:07
Semifinal - Versteegh pinned Ben Carr (Dallas Center Grimes) 1:30
1st Place Match - Versteegh pinned Tyler Hirl (Norwalk) 1:07
120 - Cole Peters (18-16) 5th
Quarterfinal - Peters maj. dec. Kyle Sadler (Grinnell) 10-2
Semifinal - Trevor Murano (Dallas Center Grimes ) pinned Peters, 0:58
Cons. Semi - Chase Fouts (Norwalk) pinned Peters,1:17
5th Place Match - Peters pinned Kyle Sadler (Grinnell) 5:16
126 - Alex Bentley (10-9) 4th
Quarterfinal - Nick Beebe (Oskaloosa) dec. Bentley, 6-1
Cons. Round 1 - Bentley pinned Ben Fisher (Dallas Center Grimes) 2:15
Cons. Semi - Bentley dec. Dylan DeFreece (Norwalk) 8-2
3rd Place Match - Nick Beebe (Oskaloosa) dec. Bentley, 5-1
132 - Bryce Tish (15-16) 3rd
Quarterfinal - Reed Hillenga (Dallas Center Grimes) pinned Tish, 2:08
Cons. Round 1 - Tish, bye
Cons. Semi - Tish pinned Colin McNeill (Knoxville) 4:59
3rd Place Match - Tish pinned Reed Hillenga (Dallas Center Grimes) 1:47
138 - Dakota Dawson (18-4) 2nd
Quarterfinal - Dawson Davide Alessi (Oskaloosa) 1:46
Semifinal - Dawson dec. Griffin Reding (Grinnell) 5-1
1st Place Match - Kieran Robuck (Knoxville) dec. Dawson, 3-2
145 - Justice Borger (1-8)
Quarterfinal - Garrett Jay (Grinnell) Borger, 2:55
Cons. Round 1 - Hunter Simmons (Oskaloosa) pinned Borger, 1:11
160 - Earl Kimmel (2-9) 6th
Quarterfinal - Logan Foetisch (Norwalk) pinned Kimmel, 1:55
Cons. Round 1 - Kimmel, bye
Cons. Semi - Kevin Merk (Oskaloosa) injury default over Kimmel
5th Place Match - Ethan Cline (Grinnell) injury default over Kimmel
170 - Jeffrey Thongvanh (14-10) 3rd
Quarterfinal - Thongvanh, bye
Semifinal - Blake Wolinski (Dallas Center Grimes) dec.Thongvanh, 8-3
Cons. Semi - Thongvanh, bye
3rd Place Match - Thongvanh maj. dec. Blake Hoover (Norwalk) 11-3
182 - Jordan Henning (7-13) 5th
Quarterfinal - Jac Agan (Knoxville) pinned Henning, 0:58
Cons. Round 1 - Henning, bye
Cons. Semi - Dusten Saltz (Norwalk) pinned Henning, 2:15
5th Place Match - Henning pinned Carter Terpstra (Pella) 1:51
195 - Ray Schroder (37-5) 1st
Quarterfinal - Schroder, bye
Semifinal - Schroder dec. Travis Poffenbarger (Knoxville) 11-4
1st Place Match - Schroder dec. Jared Keenan (Grinnell) 7-3
220 - Caden Manning (3-2) 5th
Quarterfinal - Anthony Clayton (Grinnell) pinned Manning, 0:57
Cons. Round 1 - Manning, bye
Cons. Semi - Callan Tomlin (Oskaloosa) pinned Manning, 2:50
5th Place Match - Manning injury default over Ryan Kennedy (Norwalk)
285 - Joey Wright (22-6) 1st
Quarterfinal - Wright pinned Conner Crozier (Knoxville) 1:40)
Semifinal - Wright pinned Jacob Clark (Oskaloosa) 1:24
1st Place Match - Wright dec. Trystan Minnis (Norwalk), 10-7