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Local Sports

Mustangs win district title, advance seven to state

Prairie City-Monroe junior Payton Drake celebrates after scoring a win by pin in a 126-pound wrestleback at the Class 2A district wrestling tournament in Knoxville. Drake's win clinched his first state berth.
Prairie City-Monroe junior Payton Drake celebrates after scoring a win by pin in a 126-pound wrestleback at the Class 2A district wrestling tournament in Knoxville. Drake's win clinched his first state berth.

KNOXVILLE — Cody Wallace shed happy tears. Payton Drake let out a loud roar. And Jarron Trausch had one of the most intense wins of his superb career.

There were plenty of ups and a few downs for the Mustangs during a Class 2A district tournament on Saturday.

In the end, PCM crowned three champions, won three wrestlebacks and clinched seven spots into this week's Iowa High School State Wrestling Championships.

Colby Tool, Wes Cummings and Lucas Roland all won district titles to lead the Mustangs to their second straight district tournament team title. Joining that Mustang trio at the state tournament will be Landon Fenton, Drake, Wallace and Trausch.

"I wish a few matches went the other way, but our guys were ready to wrestle," PCM coach Jeff Nicholson said. "Our conditioning was key today. We won a lot of close matches."

Ten PCM wrestlers qualified for the district tournament. Brian Nicholson pulled out of the tournament with a hand injury and Seth Greiner went 0-2 and finished fourth at 220 pounds.

Jace Smith was 1-1 at 285 and finished third. He ended his day with a pin but started it with a disqualification. He was called for an illegal slam with a 5-0 lead and the DQ pushed him to the consolation side of the bracket.

The Mustangs won the team title with 114.5 points. Carlisle was next with 94 points followed by Williamsburg (88.5), Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont (57) and Bondurant-Farrar (54).

Fourth-ranked Roland (23-3) was 2-0 on the day at 182 with a 20-4 technical fall win in the semifinals and a 35-second pin against No. 10 Ethan Reed of Carlisle in the championship match.

The win in in the first round was the 150th of his career. Roland won his fourth district title a little bit later in the day and he'll go for his fourth medal at state later this week.

"I feel good right now. I am not at my absolute best. But I continually get better with every practice and with every week," Roland said. "I am thankful to be able to get there four times despite the injuries I have had.

"I didn't know if I would be able to get to (150 wins) after the injury. it's just another thing to add to the bag and work for."

Second-ranked Cummings (38-2) had two pins on his day. He was put on his back in the championship match but recovered to take a 7-4 lead after one period. He got the fall in the second period.

Cummings clinched his third state berth and his second district title.

"The goal is not to get there. But it's a step," Cummings said, "We can just take it match by match. I can't get a state title if I am not at the state tournament."

Second-ranked Tool (41-1) gave up one point on the day at 145 as he won his semfinal match 6-0 and then dispatched of No. 8 Garrett Jensen of Williamsburg 8-1 in the finals. He's back to state for the second time after winning his first district title.

"I dominated all day long," Tool said. "That's two solid wins going into the state tournament."

Fenton wrestled in the toughest bracket as the 113-pound weight class featured three ranked grapplers.

No. 5 Fenton (20-4) defeated No. 7 Tyler Landgrebe of EBF 7-3 in the semifinals and then he lost 5-2 to second-ranked Colby Lillegard of Bondurant-Farrar. Fenton advanced to state without needing a wrestleback.

"It feels good to be going back to state. It will be good to have so many other teammates going, too," Fenton said. "We have a chance to make some history down there."

Drake, Wallace and Trausch were not as fortunate as all three lost in the finals and needed a wrestleback win to advance.

Sixth-ranked Drake (32-8) advanced to the finals with a 6-1 win in the semis. He lost to fifth-ranked Brock Beck of Grinnell, 5-4, in overtime but advanced to state for the first time after claiming a pin in the wrestleback.

"I was nervous, but I knew this year was different," Drake said. "I knew that if I did my stuff, I knew I would get through."

Drake lost both of his district matches last season by two points and both opponents were ranked. He's been close the past two seasons and finally broke through on Saturday.

"Payton has had plenty of heartbreak in this spot. I am proud of him," Coach Nicholson said. "This has been a long time coming for him."

Wallace battled through three tough matches to advance to his first state tournament. He won 3-2 in the semifinals and then lost 6-4 in the championship match.

Facing Carlisle's Bryce Murray for the fourth time this season, Wallace (36-9) evened the score with a 4-3 win in the 152-pound wrestleback.

"I don't really like to get emotional, but I had to. It's taken me four years to do this. it feels good," said Wallace, who got emotional during his embrace with Coach Nicholson.

Coach Nicholson got emotional, too.

"I am so proud of that kid. It's been a journey for him," Nicholson said. "He's put the time in. He deserves this. This is a big deal for him and for all of us."

Sixth-ranked Trausch (38-5) had the most intense day of anyone. He had a relatively easy 10-3 win in the semfinals at 170 but lost to second-ranked and undefeated Sage Walker of EBF, 3-2, in the finals.

Trausch was forced into a wrestleback against Clarke's Jonathan Bair. Trausch had 3-1 and 8-3 wins over Bair earlier this season but Bair's best performance came Saturday.

Bair had Trausch down by three with 28 seconds to go. Trausch got an escape point to close the gap to two and then recorded the tying takedown just as time was expiring. Trausch went on to win 7-5 in overtime.

Trausch is headed back to the state tournament for the fourth time in his career.

"I'd like to say that I knew there was time to score, but I was worried," Trausch said. "It feels good to be going a fourth time. Hopefully I can medal this time."

Coach Nicholson said he was nervous during some of the close matches, but admitted that's the type of match the wrestlers will most likely have to win to advance at the state tournament.

"These are the type of matches you get down at Wells Fargo at the state tournament," Coach Nicholson said. "You have to wrestle a lot of six-minute matches."

Smith (28-16) has an outside chance to compete in the state tournament. If South Tama's Kalem Schrock (13-16), who was unable to wrestle in the championship match at districts, cannot return to action because of an injury, Smith would take his place after finishing third.

"That was just an unfortunate situation," Coach Nicholson said. "We are not sure what will happen, but Jace did a good job of coming back, getting third and giving himself a shot."

PCM's team wrestles in the 2A state dual tournament at 9 a.m. on Wednesday at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. The Mustang individual state qualifiers hit the mat in the traditional tournament starting at 6 p.m. on Thursday in Des Moines.

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