DES MOINES — It was short, but an invaluable experience for Newton High freshman Gage Linahon.
Linahon’s action in the 2017 Iowa Class 3A State Wrestling Championships was two matches Thursday morning. He lost both matches and was out of the tournament. Then again, he wasn’t even supposed to be in the tournament.
Linahon finished third in the 3A district tournament’s 220-pound division last Saturday at Waukee. He had been pinned by Dowling Catholic’s Jacob Zachary in the wrestleback match for second place.
Linahon’s freshman season was done. Not so fast. Zachary withdrew from the state tournament, and Linahon found out Monday afternoon he would be in the 3A 220-pound state bracket.
“There’s a lot of good guys out there, and you have to be good to beat them,” Linahon said of his first taste of 3A state wrestling tournament action. “It’s been a fun experience, and I want to get back here next year as a sophomore.”
Linahon’s first-round opponent was Boone senior Jacob Melton (26-5) on Friday morning at Wells Fargo Arena. Melton took Linahon down, but Linahon got an escape.
Melton’s second takedown of the first period led to a pin of Linahon at the 1:25 mark.
The loss sent Linahon into the consolation bracket where he faced Cedar Rapids Xavier senior Alex Francois, who was pinned by third-ranked Zach Haggstrom of Glenwood in 55 seconds in the opening round.
Francois began the match with a takedown. Linahon escaped to make it 2-1. Francois scored on another takedown and put Linahon on his back. Linahon avoided being pinned in the first period, but gave up a three-point near fall.
Trailing 7-1 going into the second period, Linahon scored his second point with an escape. With a takedown, Linahon was down 7-4. Francois made the switch for a reversal and pinned Linahon at the 3:42 mark.
“I need to work on shooting for my takedowns and how to defend other people’s shots,” Linahon said was a big lesson he learned Thursday.
Linahon was in a 3A 220 16-man field of eight seniors and seven juniors. There were eight of the top 10 ranked wrestlers — all but one won in the opening round. Second-ranked Wyatt Wriedt of North Scott pinned No. 4-ranked Jacob Eggleston of Waverly-Shell Rock.
“Gage did some good things today. In the first match, he did a good job of fighting off the guy early,” Newton head coach Andy Swedenhjelm said of Linahon’s performance at state. “He got his first takedown in the second match. He did really well.”
Swedenhjelm said the experience will benefit not just Linahon but the rest of the team. He said Linahon will be able to show his teammates what it takes to get to the state tournament, compete in it and advance in the state meet.
Linahon wrestled both junior varsity and varsity for Newton’s Cardinals his freshman season. In varsity action, he finished with a 10-8 record.
Contact Jocelyn Sheets at 641-792-3121 ext. 6535 or firstname.lastname@example.org