Nine area high school wrestlers — five from Newton, one each from Prairie City-Monroe, Colfax-Mingo, Collins-Maxwell/Baxter and Lynnville-Sully — prepare this week for the 2014 IHSAA State Wrestling Tournament.
All three classes — 3A, 2A, 1A — wrestle at Des Moines’ Wells Fargo Arena. The tournament opens Thursday with Class 2A competition at 9 a.m. followed by Class 3A at 2 p.m. and Class 1A at 7 p.m.
Friday’s competition begins at 9 a.m. Saturday is the consolation semifinals and finals starting at 10 a.m. and the championship finals at 6 p.m.
“We’re telling our wrestlers to wrestle hard every match and have some fun. This is a great experience for them to enjoy and take in,” Newton head coach Andy Swedenhjelm said. “This week is about refining what they do well.”
Newton seniors Ray Schroder and Joey Wright, juniors Dakota Dawson and J.T. Thongvanh and sophomore Hunter Versteegh qualified for the Class 3A state tournament.
Schroder notched a return trip to state when he won the 3A District 7 championship Saturday at home in the 195-pound division. The other four Cardinals are making their first trip to state.
Wright and Thongvanh were district champions at 220 and 170 respectively. Dawson was second at 138 pounds and Versteegh earned second place at 113 pounds at the district tournament.
In Class 1A, Lynnville-Sully senior Caden Doll is making his third straight appearance at state. A year ago, Doll had to withdrawal after suffering an elbow injury in a quarterfinal match. Doll is back to compete in the 160-pound division after taking second at the Class 1A District 5 tournament.
Colfax-Mingo senior Brett Stevens and Collins-Maxwell/Baxter senior Dawson Dahlke claimed second place at 120 and 285, respectively, at last Saturday’s Class 1A District 5 tournament. This is the first time to state for both wrestlers.
Also claiming his first state trip is PCM junior Tristan Clark in Class 2A. Clark was second at 126 pounds at the Class 2A District 4 tournament.
CLASS 3A — NEWTON
Versteegh (25-11) drew Waukee freshman Zach Barnes (38-1) in the first round of the 113-pound division on Thursday. Dawson (20-5) takes on senior Andy Doughety (23-9) of Eporth, Western Dubuque, in the 138-pound bracket in the opening round. Dawson finished the regular season ranked No. 9 at 138.
“I have a pretty good draw to start with,” Dawson said. “I’ve been wrestling since I was 3 and it’s been a long journey. I’m ready to win matches at state and place.”
Thongvanh (16-10) wrestles Burlington senior Dalton Witte (31-5) in the 170-pound division to start the tournament. Schroder (38-5) drew senior Jake Taylor (32-17) of Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson in the 195-pound weight class. Wright (24-6) faces junior Cordell Eaton (43-4) of North Scott Eldridge.
“I’ve wrestled this kid before and won 10-0, so I know I can win. I just have to go out and be really aggressive on the mat,” said Schroder, who is ranked No. 10 at 195 pounds. “I have to take my shots and not let him wrestle his match. I have to push the pace.”
Schroder went 1-2 at the 2013 state tournament at 195. He said he’s been working since he lost out last year to get back to the state meet.
“Yeah, I have a little chip on my shoulder about it. You go and take one match at a time. You can’t look ahead because that’s when you get beat,” Schroder said. “I’m smaller (shorter) than everyone else, giving me a lower center of gravity and it’s hard to take shots on me. Plus, I think I’m stronger than most of my opponents.”
For Thongvanh, he plans to go to the state tournament and do his best to place.
“It feels amazing to be a district champion and going to state,” Thongvanh said. “I love the sport of wrestling, in general, because of the competition. I scramble a lot on the mat and find ways to maneuver my opponents to score points and win matches.”
Wright said he enjoys the one-on-one aspect of wrestling.
“It’s just you and one other guy out there. You have to do your best to win,” Wright said. “I’m going into state to wrestle my beat and give it all I have. My confidence is key and I don’t stress out about much.”
Swedenhjelm said wanted his wrestlers to focus on being confident about what they are doing on the match. “They just need to go out and take care of business,” he added.
Class 2A -PCM
Clark (34-9) captured second place at 126 pounds at the Class 2A district tournament He lost to top-ranked Shadow Leshen of Albia, 14-5, in the championship match.
Clark had defeated ninth-ranked Cody McNeil of Mediapolis, 5-1, in the semifinals. That gave Clark the advantage after losing in the championship bout, earning second place and his first trip to state.
Clark drew junior Caleb Coleman of Bondurant-Farrar (35-7) in the opening round for Class 2A.
Doll (42-2) opens up the tournament against senior Schuyler Rilling (49-8) of Woodbury Central of Moville in the 160-pound division Thursday.
At the Class 1A district tournament, Doll won by a 15-0 technical fall over Blayde Baker of Wayne in the semifinals. It was fourth-ranked Doll against fifth-ranked Tyler Foubert of Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont in the championship match. Foubert edged Doll 4-3. Doll earned second place by rule over Baker.
In the 120-pound division, Colfax-Mingo’s Stevens (28-7) drew senior Kaden McClintock (24-1) of St. Edmond of Fort Dodge in the first round Thursday.
In district tournament action last week, Stevens defeated Griffin McBride of Pleasantville, 6-3, in the semifinals, but faced Jacob Krakow, who was ranked ninth, in the championship match. It was a rematch of the sectional title match. Krakow won that one, 8-0. At district, Krakow pinned Stevens in 1:10. Stevens took second by rule over McBride.
At 285, CMB’s Dahlke (19-13) is matched up against junior Joe Ricker (50-2) of Mount Ayr.
Dahlke was the lone CMB Raider to reach the district tournament. He placed second in the 285-pound division. Dahlke was a 1A sectional champion.
Dahlke pinned Luke Welch of Eddyville-Blakseburg-Fremont in 3:03 in their semifinal match. Dahlke was pinned by Bryce Brown of Sigourney-Keota in 1 minute, 14 seconds in the 285-pound championship match. Dahlke won second by rule over Welch.