WELL WISHES: Dickinson County sends nine to the "Well" for state wrestling tournament
Wells Fargo Arena will be home to nine Dickinson County wrestlers this week, as area athletes look to turn their wishes into reality.
The 16,000-seat stadium will be rocking Thursday, Friday and Saturday as Iowa's best chase state championship glory. To get there, though, area wrestlers first needed to get past a brutal slate of match-ups this past weekend at district tournaments in Spencer and Milford.
Indians send six to Des Moines
Spirit Lake Park entered Saturday's Class 2A district tournament in Spencer with seven wrestlers. The Indians will send six on to Des Moines, as Joe Waters, Kyler Dunn, Isaac Dixon, Kyler Rieck, John Tuttle and Dakoda Powell each punched their ticket to the Well.
"Going into it, I thought it was as good as we could have hoped for," Spirit Lake Park coach Andrew Lundgren said. "The guys went out there and wrestled to the best of their ability. It was, I thought, the best wrestling I've seen from our guys individually Looking up and down what we had out there, I was really happy and really pleased with how we performed."
The highlight of the day came when Powell, ranked fourth at 220 pounds, avenged his sectional loss to MOC-Floyd Valley's Travis Te Grotenhuis. The sophomore tossed Te Grotenhuis and picked up a pin in 4 minutes, 36 seconds of their first-place bout to win the district championship, sending the crowd into a frenzy.
"It's something that makes Dakoda dangerous, wrestling at 220 with his ability," Lundgren said. "He's done a lot of offseason stuff with freestyle and Greco. For him to have that ability to throw somebody like that from feet to back, it's fun for the crowd because it's a big move and it doesn't matter if your'e from one team or the other, it's good wrestling. It really sparked the crowd and it was fun to be a part of. You can look at a little bit of a rivalry with my dad (MOC-Floyd Valley coach Lyle Lundgren) sitting in the other corner not that we compete with each other or anything but it just makes it that much more of a special occasion with that atmosphere and what was at stake."
Powell lost an 8-2 decision to Te Grotenhuis in last week's sectional tournament. It was a necessary loss, according to Lundgren, as the sophomore prepares for his first trip to the state tournament.
"I think he personally would agree that he needed that loss at sectionals to kind of get him right in-between the ears for districts and also for what he's going to do at state this next week," Lundgren said. "For Powell to avenge that loss, that was huge."
Rieck and Tuttle both earned championships at 145 and 152 pounds, respectively.
Rieck, ranked second, earned a 5-2 decision over Cherokee's Matt Stines before earning a 6-1 decision over Central Lyon/George-Little Rock's Caleb Kramer in the finals.
Tuttle, ranked fourth, earned both of his wins by fall, pinning Spencer's Eric Beehler in 5:29 and MOC-Floyd Valley's Logan Koedam in 1:01. Rieck, a sophomore, will make his second trip to Des Moines after placing fourth last season. Tuttle, a senior, will make his third trip to the state tournament. He placed seventh in Class 1A as a sophomore at Alta-Aurelia.
"Rieck and Tuttle both had great days," Lundgren said. "They both had big goals for themselves. Tuttle got two big pins. Kyler had some close matches, but he's the type of kid that, he's wrestled these kids four or five times throughout the year, so they're just trying to slow him down. This time of year, as much as we want to win by pins, and we want to get the best wins possible, it's all about just getting that W. It doesn't matter if it's a 3-2 decision or a fall. This is the time of year where you find a way to win and you keep moving on. That's exactly what we talked about. There might be some big match-ups or ranked match-ups that we have to face, but it doesn't matter who the person is. We've got to go out there and wrestle to our ability and worry about scoring the next points, not worry about what happened earlier."
Dunn and Dixon also earned championships at 120 and 126 pounds, respectively.
Dunn, ranked ninth, spent little time on the mat at districts, pinning Spencer's TJ Arnold in 1 minute and CL/GLR's Seth Deatsch in just 22 seconds. Dixon was also impressive, surrendering just three points on the day, as he won a 6-3 decision over East Sac County's Dawson Mack before blanking Bishop Heelan's Joe Vondrak 2-0 in the championship.
Both wrestlers will be making their first trip to Wells Fargo.
"Kyler Dunn had a great day getting two pins for himself and the team," Lundgren said. ""Isaac Dixon too. To come out and wrestle with the nerves and knowing what the outcome of those matches were for being able to go to state, and to be able to get it done as a freshman was huge. It was bittersweet. The sweet part of it was Isaac having the ability to wrestle there, but it was also hard knowing that, at the beginning of the year, that was Gavin Kramer's (who suffered a season-ending shoulder injury) spot too. It was hard, but it was good to see the young bloods stepping up into those roles and filling those roles. I couldn't be more proud for Isaac."
Waters will also be making his first trip to the state tournament, as the sophomore took second place at 106 pounds in Spencer.
Waters got his day started with a 7-4 decision over Sergeant Bluff-Luton's Nate Curry before losing a 7-4 decision to MOC-Floyd Valley's Johnny Hua in the championship.
"Joe Waters picked up a really big one to start it off against Nate Curry, a kid who actually had beaten him earlier in the year at OA-BCIG," Lundgren said. "We knew that in that bracket there was every bracket has tough kids in it at 106, we knew there were three kids who had all beaten each other. For Joe to be able to avenge that loss, that was huge for him and it was huge for him to solidify his spot to go to state and punch his ticket."
While it's a huge accomplishment to just make it to the state tournament, Lundgren said there's plenty of work left to be done.
"It's a fun time of the year. There's a lot of work left to do and the guys have some big goals for themselves, and I have big goals for them too," he said. "So, we're going to get them mentally and physically ready to go over these next couple of days and then let them run free and let them loose and go after it. It's going to be a lot of fun. It's going to be a lot of work, but it's going to be good."
The Indians will get their tournament started when the Class 2A session kicks off at 6 p.m. on Thursday. With four first-timers, Lundgren said he is excited to see how everything shapes out.
"You try to talk with them and it doesn't matter if you're a first-year wrestler down there if this is your third or fourth time, The Well is something that all kids dream about," he said. "To get them down there is huge. Our goal as a coaching staff is to get them to be focused but relaxed. It's going to be a learning curve for a couple of these guys, but I think for all of them, one of their big goals was to get down there, so now that we're there, it's about letting everything loose, relaxing and pulling the trigger with our offense and our style of wrestling. It's something that you try to talk them through, and we'll get down there early enough to try to get a warmup in and get a feel for that atmosphere. But as much as our coaches talk with them, it's something that they're going to have to learn for themselves. We just hope that they wrestle to their ability with that atmosphere."
Titans take two
Graettinger-Terril/Ruthven-Ayrshire will send two wrestlers to state, as Kolton Roth and Lucas Hoffman both earned district championships in Milford on Saturday.
Coach Alex Helmich said it was a decent result, but he had hoped for a few more of his seven wrestlers to punch their tickets.
"It was an okay day," Helmich said. "We were hoping to get at least a couple more guys on to state, but things happen. Kids wrestled well for the most part. We battled some illness there. Kolton and Lucas wrestled well probably some of their better matches of the season."
Hoffman completely dominated his matches en route to the 126-pound championship, earning a technical fall (17-1) over West Lyon's Justin Severson in 5:36 and a 16-6 major decision over Okoboji's Hunter Abrahamson in the finals.
Helmich said he anticipated Hoffman's dominance.
"I did expect that," he said. "He beat Abrahamson similarly in their previous two matches. He pinned him the first time around and then beat him real bad at sectionals. He's wrestling really well right now. I think he's one of the best at 126 this year."
Roth, ranked second at 132 pounds, was equally impressive, earning a 13-7 decision over Akron-Westfield's Skylar Briggs and a 15-9 decision over Emmetsburg's ninth-ranked Spencer Griffin in the finals.
"That was a pretty good bracket as well," Helmich said. "That first round, he beat Briggs who was out most of the season, but a state qualifier and kind of an under the radar type of guy. It wasn't like he wrestled an awesome match, but he dominated the whole match. I thought he wrestled quite well in that one and then came back and wrestled much better in that finals match. (Griffin) is a quality opponent. We lost to him last week, but that wasn't the Kolton that we were used to seeing. He just dominated that match this time around, so that was great to see."
The two Titans will get their tournament started when the Class 1A section kicks off Thursday at 1:30 p.m. Roth will be making his third trip to the Well after placing fifth last year, and Hoffman will be making his first trip.
Helmich has high expectations for both wrestlers.
"For Kolton, like I said at the beginning of the year, he's got to be looking to be the top guy in the bracket," he said. "I said at the start of the year, I think he's the best guy at 132 and 138 pounds. For him, he's just got to make sure he takes care of every match and that he's not looking ahead. He can't be overlooking guys, but just taking care of one match at a time. He's got a favorable draw, but they're all tough down there. They are. You've got to go out and take care of business and keep wrestling to win.
"Whether (Lucas) knows it or not, he's one of the best ones in that bracket. I really think Lucas should be on the podium. I know his main goal was just to get to the tournament, but I don't want him to settle. I want him to keep reaching and I really look for both of those guys to be on the podium and be high on the podium."
Abrahamson qualifies for Okoboji
Freshman Hunter Abrahamson will represent Okoboji at this year's state tournament after earning a runner-up finish at the district tournament in Milford last Saturday.
Abrahamson earned a 4-0 decision in the first round over Sibley-Ocheyedan's Zak Stanton before losing a 16-6 major decision to Graettinger-Terril/Ruthven-Ayrshire sophomore Lucas Hoffman in the first-place match.
The Pioneers' freshman rebounded, however, pinning West Lyon's Justin Severson in the second place match to punch his ticket.
Abrahamson will get his state tournament run started Thursday at 1:30 p.m. when the Class 1A section gets underway.