MONROE — PCM’s wrestling team started the season ranked No. 1 in Class 2A. But the Mustangs had yet to field a roster with its full compliment of varsity starters.
The lineup got close to full strength in the final competition before the holiday break.
But as the second part of the season started this past weekend, the top-ranked Mustangs are almost there.
All six ranked wrestlers were in action on Jan. 5 during the PCM Mustang Invitational, and the home team won six individual titles and claimed a second straight team championship.
“We are still missing a couple, but we are a lot stronger than we were in the first half of the year,” PCM coach Jeff Nicholson said. “We were optimistic coming out of break. When we came in this morning, I expected us to have a good day and we had a good day.”
For the first time this season, PCM defeated Carlisle. The Wildcats were better than the short-handed Mustangs in two duals earlier this year.
But PCM went 6-2 in title matches on Jan. 5, while Carlisle was 2-5 in its championship matches. The Mustangs also were 3-1 against Carlisle head-to-head in four title bouts.
“We asked the kids to buy in a little more during break. We did some two-a-day practices,” Nicholson said. “That was different than what they were used to, but they bought in, trained hard and have had a lot of really good energy in the room in the past week.”
Seniors Lucas Roland and Jarron Trausch both won their fourth titles in the home tournament, senior Wes Cummings claimed his third and the Mustangs scored 221.5 points to win the team title.
Carlisle scored 199.5 in second followed by Gilbert (163), Pekin (149.5) and Pella (114). The next five were Central Decatur (78), Knoxville (73), Des Moines North-Hoover (66), Colfax-Mingo (61.5) and Chariton (48).
PCM and Colfax-Mingo both had JV wrestlers who were part of two separate smaller teams. Those teams finished 11th and 12th.
Colfax-Mingo crowned one champion on the day. Senior Cauy Fitch went 3-0 on the day with two pins and a technical fall and is now 18-2 on the season. Fitch is a three-time champion at PCM.
Joining top-ranked Roland and second-ranked Trausch and Cummings on top of the podium were junior Jace Smith and sophomores Landon Fenton and Colby Tool. It was Fenton’s second PCM tournament title, while Tool and Smith won for the first time.
Junior Payton Drake, ranked No. 7 in Class 2A at 126, lost 10-5 to fifth-ranked Carter Logue of Carlisle in the championship match,
Senior Cody Wallace wrestled in the first championship match of his career and was pinned in the third period at 152.
Junior Seth Greiner placed third at 220 and senior Clay Van Wyk had his best day of the season, finishing fourth at 132. The Mustangs were 26-16 with 23 pins in individual matches on the day.
“It’s always good to show out in front of our home crowd. They were loud today,” Cummings said. “It’s nice to go down the lineup and see so many guys with winning records. This team is deep and now it’s getting healthy. This program has progressed a lot over the past few years.”
Cummings (23-2) was 3-for-3 at the PCM tournament in his career. He missed the tournament as a sophomore due to an illness. He won two of his matches at 160 by fall and another by 15-0 technical fall his last time around.
Roland and Trausch both went a perfect 4-for-4 in their careers.
Trausch (24-3) won both of his matches at 170 by pin. He now has 149 career wins and can hit the 150 mark at Senior Night on Jan. 10.
“It took some time to adjust to wrestling my own weight. I have to be more technical this year,” Trausch said. “But I think it will be better for me in the end. I have a good mix of both explosive and technical moves so I mix and match it well at this weight.”
Roland (7-1) is still working his way back from an offseason injury, but won all three matches at 182 by fall on Jan. 5. His final win came against 2A No. 9 Coby Meyer of Knoxville.
Roland used the loss right before the holiday break as motivation for the rest of the year. And he’s finally getting into proper physical shape.
“My first match, I didn’t feel good at all. The second match was good and then I felt great in that last match,” Roland said. “The loss lit a fire in my belly. I ran sprints in the cafeteria after that lost. It’s a humbling experience. I don’t mind losses. Every year I have lost the final match going into break.”
Fenton is another Mustang working his way back from an injury. He was as close to 100 percent as he has been all season on Jan. 5, and won both of his matches by first-period pin.
Fenton (6-1), who is ranked No. 7 at 113, defeated a Carlisle wrestler in his championship match.
“It’s good to be back. It doesn’t hurt at all anymore,” Fenton said. “The brace was bothering me before so we just tape it now. It felt more comfortable today. I still need to continuing getting in better shape and cleaning some stuff up. But if I do that, I will be where I need to be at the end of the year.”
Drake (20-4) also wrestled a Carlisle opponent in his championship match at 126. Logue improved to 2-0 against Drake this season with another win by decision. Drake won his other two matches by fall and is now at 98 career wins.
The next head-to-head matchup between PCM and Carlisle was much more intense both on the mat and off it.
Tool, who is ranked fourth at 145, faced Carlisle’s Darek Tingle in his title bout. The two wrestlers have a bit of history from a previous match this season, and the intensity moved to Saturday.
Tool claimed a 5-1 win in the match, but the intensity carried over to the crowd with 9.1 seconds to go.
A few fans were involved in an altercation just off the mat. PCM’s administration would not provide further comment but cops were called to the scene.
Nicholson said he expected the match to be intense and was happy with the way Tool went about his business.
“We knew there was going to be a rivalry going in. There was some extra curricular activity at the end of their last match,” Nicholson said. “Colby took an elbow in the face at Ankeny. We knew it was going to be intense today , but I liked how Colby handled it.
“We have worked on the mental side of this sport a lot this year. We want them to be able to stay focused through adversity and be able to hit a reset button. Those little things mentally makes a good team great.”
Tool talked himself about using the reset button to focus on winning the match and ignoring the drama.
“He took a shot at the beginning of the match, and I down blocked it but got my hand too close to his face. He was mad about I think,” Tool said. ‘I kept going back to what we have been working on in training. I hit the reset button and moved on to the next point.
“At first, it was really fine. Then it got annoying, and I just wanted to get the match over with.”
Tool (26-1) won the match 5-1 and the only point he allowed came on a flagrant penalty. It was the only point he gave up on the day.
Wallace came up after Tool and lost by fall at 152. He won his two matches by fall and is now 22-6 on the season.
Cummings, Trausch and Roland were up next and all three wins by pin locked up the team title for the Mustangs.
The final head-to-head match featuring PCM and Carlisle came in the 285-pound championship. And Smith ended his day with a third pin, putting the finishing touches on an impressive day for the Mustangs.
“It finally feels like I am putting things together. I am learning to be patient with the heavyweights,” Smith said. “I am used to going fast all the time. It feels good to do this in front of the home crowd.”
Smith (16-11) gave Greiner a ton of credit for helping him develop this season. Greiner, who is out for wrestling for the first time, probably needs to credit Smith, too. Greiner evened his season record at 12-12 with three pins on Saturday.
Greiner’s only loss was a 9-6 decision in the semifinals.
“Seth has helped me a ton. He’s a big guy that I get to work with every day in the room,” Smith said. “We are helping each other.”
The Mustangs had 14 wrestlers entered in the tournament. And then had a handful of wrestlers for a JV team.
Sophomore Arthur Van Wyk and freshman Grant Uitermarkt wrestled each other at 120, and Arthur Van Wyk won the wrestle-off with a third-period pin.
Cummings also defeated senior Kaeden Van Soelen in another head-to-head match between PCM wrestlers.
Gilbert crowned one champion. The Tigers also had one second-place finish and seven third-place tallies.
Pekin and Des Moines North-Hoover each had two champions. DMNH only had three wrestlers in the field.
PCM’s Senior Night against South Hamilton and Greene County starts at 6 p.m. on Jan. 10 in Monroe.