NEWTON — By all accounts, a roar like no other filled Newton Senior High gymnasium when Cardinal senior Joey Wright pinned Micah Kelsey of Iowa City West Saturday. Wright captured the 2014 Iowa Class 3A District 7 championship at 220 pounds.
But more important, Wright became one of five 2014 Class 3A state wrestling tournament qualifiers from Newton. The Cardinals had six wrestlers reach district championship matches.
The top two finishers in each weight class advance to the Class 3A state tournament. Two Newton wrestlers lost in the finals and had to wrestle for a true second in their respective weight classes Saturday night.
“The day went well for me. I didn’t care about his ranking, I just wanted to beat him,” Wright said of his match with Kelsey. “Last year, I got injured in the first match at district so this is big. To win a district championship and qualify for state at home is awesome. I have great coaches and great teammates.”
Newton’s big and vocal home crowd had been whipped to a fever pitch by the time Wright won. With six wrestlers in the finals, the Cardinal faithful had plenty to cheer about.
Senior Ray Schroder punched his second straight ticket to state Saturday at home with a Class 3A District 7 championship. Schroder, ranked No. 10 in 195 pounds, didn’t give the fans much time to roar as he pinned Drea Lamb of Oskaloosa in 57 seconds.
After the first three Newton finalists, lost championship matches, junior J.T. Thongvanh made them sit on the edge of their seats and finally raise the roof with a roar in the 170-pound title match.
Thongvanh had knocked off ninth-ranked Cody Jones of Oskaloosa, 5-4, in the semifinals, which started the buzz for Newton fans. That put him up against 10th-ranked Derek Mann of Marshalltown in the final.
“We were tied and I just went out took the shot when I had a chance to,” Thongvanh said of his late third-period takedown of Mann. “This feels amazing to be a district champion and going to state. I didn’t think I’d make it in but now — wow.”
Thongvanh and Mann were deadlocked at 1-1 in the third period of the 170-pound final. The Newton junior scored on a takedown to win 3-1. Thongvanh’s day began with a quarterfinal win over Jackson Voigt of Iowa City West, 6-4.
Wright was seeded No. 1 Saturday at 220. After a first-round bye, Wright posted a 12-3 major decision over Callin Tomlin of Oskaloosa in the semifinals. His championship winning pin came at the 1:03 mark when he scrambled off his back and put Kelsey down.
As for Schroder, he was happy not just for himself but for his teammates.
“This is a great feeling. I won my last home match for a district championship and to get to go back to state,” Schroder said. “I’m proud of all of my teammates, not just the ones going on to state, but we’ve all worked hard this season.”
Schroder moved into the semifinals following a bye in the opening round. He said he took a lot of shots in the first period against Mitch Yoerger of Iowa City West to build a 3-0 lead, which was the final score.
“The second and third periods are what I have to work on. I wasn’t as aggressive. So in the finals match, I just went out there and was very aggressive, getting the pin quick,” Schroder said.
Junior Dakota Dawson had the disappointment of a third-place finish at 132 pounds in district a year ago washed away Saturday. Dawson, who is ranked No. 9 at 138 pounds this season, was pinned by second-ranked Josh Wenger of Cedar Rapids Prairie in 3 minutes, 10 seconds.
“He was a very tough kid and could win state this year. He’s nationally ranked,” Dawson said of Wenger. “I didn’t have to wrestle for second because I had beaten the kid who won the third-place match.”
Dawson earned a 16-0 technical fall over Jared Ford of Iowa City West in the semifinals and Ford won the third-place match. By rule, Dawson was awarded second place and his first trip to state. Dawson pinned his first opponent of the day, David Alessi of Oskaloosa in 38 seconds.
“I’ve been waiting for this moment since last year,” Dawson said. “There’s no better feeling than this right now. I was ready to go each match today.”
Two Newton wrestlers — senior Koby Hull and sophomore Hunter Versteegh — had to work an extra match after losing in the finals.
Versteegh lost a 5-0 decision to ninth-ranked Tanner Rohweder of Iowa City West in the 113-pound championship match. He had to face Dylan Kleinschmidt of Cedar Rapids Prairie in a wrestleback for second place. Versteegh won 11-8, taking second and earning a trip to state.
“I was so relieved when the final whistle blew and I won. I was so tired at that point,” Versteegh said. “The guy I wrestled in the championship was pretty tough, but I could have done better. I found out I need to gain some muscle. This is one of the best feelings — to qualify for state.”
Versteegh had a first-round bye. He pinned Seth Schwarting of Iowa City City High in 2:45 in the semifinals.
Hull, who was ranked No. 8 at 106, opened with a 16-0 technical fall over Jacob Powers of Iowa City City High in the quarterfinals. In the semifinals, he pinned Alec Clark of Ottumwa in 4:52.
Hull was defeated, 7-3, by Marcus England of Cedar Rapids Prairie in the 106-pound championship match. In the second-place wrestleback, Hull faced ninth-ranked Drew Sams of Oskaloosa, who he had beaten for the Little Hawkeye Conference championship two weeks ago. Sams outlasted Hull for a 5-3 decision, ending Hull’s senior season at 40-7.
“It’s heartbreaking to see a kid like Koby lose that way. He works hard all season and is a senior. He did everything we asked him to do and had a great season,” Newton head coach Andy Swedenhjelm said.
Swedenhjelm said he was pleased with how the Cardinals competed at the district tournament. He said a couple of the wrestlers exceed their expectations. The Cardinals were fourth as a team with 139 points.
“We wrestled above our seeds at quite a few of the weights. It was a great meet for us at home. Our kids gave great effort all day,” Swedenhjelm said.
Bryce Tish finished fourth at 132 pounds for Newton. Cole Peters was sixth at 120 and Caden Manning placed sixth at 285.
Cedar Rapids Prairie won the team championship with 251.5 points followed by Iowa City West with 226.5 and Oskaloosa with 141. Marshalltown placed fifth with 110.5 points, followed by Ottumwa with 88, Iowa City City High with 73 and Pella with 72.
Other Newton district results:
120 - Cole Peters (19-18) 6th
Quarterfinal - Carter Rohweder (Iowa City, West) dec. Peters, 9-2
Cons. Semi - Peters pinned Luis Chavez (Marshalltown), 3:13
5th Place Match - Collin McConnell (Ottumwa) pinned Peters (Newton), 5:27
126 - Alex Bentley (10-11) DNP
Quarterfinal - Chase Petty (Pella) maj. dec. Bentley, 10-2)
Cons. Semi - Reese Hageman (Marshalltown) dec. Bentley, 5-1
132 - Bryce Tish (15-18) 4th
Quarterfinal - Tish pinned Nick Beebe (Oskaloosa), 1:56
Semifinal - Levi Azinger (Pella) pinned Tish (Newton), 1:25
3rd Place Match - Seth Wennermark (Prairie, Cedar Rapids) dec. Tish, 9-3
145 - Justice Borger (1-11) DNP
Quarterfinal - Taylor Mehmen (Prairie, Cedar Rapids) pinned Borger, 3:05
Cons. Semi - Calvin Van Donselaar (Pella) dec. Borger,12-8)
152 - Nick Geerlings (1-6) DNP
Quarterfinal - Trey Blaha (Prairie, Cedar Rapids) pinned Geerlings, 0:39
Cons. Semi - Jason Beebe (Oskaloosa) pinned Geerlings, 0:58
160 - Duncan Lee (0-10) DNP
Quarterfinal - Skyler St. John (Prairie, Cedar Rapids) pinned Lee, 0:38
Cons. Semi - Dillon Africa (Iowa City, City) pinned Lee, 1:53
182 - Jordan Henning (7-15) DNP
Quarterfinal - Ben Rebik (Marshalltown) pinned Henning, 1:40
Cons. Semi - Levi Cobler (Ottumwa) pinned Henning, 5:51
285 - Caden Manning (2-9) 6th
Quarterfinal - Corey Meyer (Prairie, Cedar Rapids) pinned Manning, 1:39
Cons. Semi - Manning, bye
5th Place Match - Zane McKay (Oskaloosa) pinned Manning, 0:32