AMES - On most days, in most tournaments, third place wouldn't be good enough to put smiles on the faces of the Webster City wrestlers and coaches.
But Saturday was the exception to the rule. Realistically speaking, third was as good as the Lynx could do.
Facing its stiffest competition of the season, Webster City won three of four duals at the Jack Mendenhall Invitational and secured the bronze in the field of 12 teams. The Lynx trailed only national powers and the Nos. 1 and 2 teams in the Class 3A rankings - eventual champion Southeast Polk and runner-up Bettendorf.
DFJ photo by Troy Banning
Chris Goodrich (top), a Webster City senior, lifts the head of Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson’s Caleb Skou and scores the fall in their 220-pound bout at Saturday’s Jack Mendenhall Invite in Ames. The Lynx went 3-1 and placed third.
DFJ photo by Troy Banning
No. 9-ranked 145-pounder Royce Nessa rolls up and pins Waukee’s Reid Allen at the Jack Mendenhall Invite in Ames on Saturday. The senior was the only Webster City wrestler to go 4-0 as he led the Lynx to a third-place finish behind nationally ranked Southeast Polk and Bettendorf.
DFJ photo by Troy Banning
WCHS sophomore Dylan Fielder (back) tightenes his grip around the neck of Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson’s Kenneth Rhodd at the Jack Mendenhall Invite in Ames on Saturday. Fielder won the 195-pound match by decision, 14-8.
DFJ photo by Troy Banning
Lynx junior 120-pounder Avery Jackson squeezes the fight out of Southeast Polk’s Jonah Williams moments before he was awarded the fall on Saturday.
Bettendorf entered the tournament ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 10 nationally in the Intermat Fab 50. Southeast Polk sits No. 2 and No. 14, respectively, but the Rams could move up in both polls after knocking off the Bulldogs, 34-29, in the championship round.
"To be behind those two teams right there, we have nothing to hang our heads about," WCHS head coach Ted Larson said as he pointed to the mat where Southeast Polk and Bettendorf were doing battle. "We came in here and wrestled the best competition in the state, and the kids need to hold their heads high and feel good about that."
WCHS, which finished the regular season with an impressive 17-4 dual record, won its preliminary pool by beating Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson, 62-6, and Waukee, 46-27. The Lynx then faced the daunting task of going toe-to-toe with Southeast Polk - the Rams feature 10 ranked individuals, including three top-ranked grapplers and seven positioned in the top five - in the semifinals and they won just two matches in a 61-10 loss. They closed out the day with a 37-29 victory over Indianola in the consolation final.
Pool 1 - Bettendorf 79, Ames 0; Ames 83, Ames JV 0; Bettendorf 84, Ames JV 0.
Pool 2 - Southeast Polk 53, Clinton 14; Southeast Polk 79, Des Moines East 0; Clinton 70, Des Moines East 6.
Pool 3 - Webster City 62, Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson 6; Webster City 46, Waukee 27; Waukee 47, Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson 28.
Pool 4 - Indianola 42, Fort Dodge 36; Indianola 51, OA-BCIG 24; Fort Dodge 51, OA-BCIG 28.
Consolation first round - Clinton 43, Ames 32; Fort Dodge 45, Waukee 30.
Semifinals - Bettendorf 74, Indianola 6; Southeast Polk 61, Webster City 10.
Seventh place - Waukee 39, Ames 31.
Fifth place - Clinton 39, Fort Dodge 32.
Third place - Webster City 37, Indianola 29.
Championship - Southeast Polk 34, Bettendorf 29.
Webster City Dual Results
Webster City 62, Council Bluffs TJ 6
106 - Freddie Seeley (WC) dec. Colton Downing, 5-0; 113 - BJ Bremer (WC) pinned Jason Rodarte, 0:17; 120 - Avery Jackson (WC) pinned Randal Schultz, 3:16; 126 - Steven Ruby (TJ) pinned Dalton Ryder, 3:11; 132 - Tanner Hild (WC) dec. Jason Wallace, 5-4; 138 - Aaron Hoffman (WC) dec. Charles Weaver, 5-3; 145 - Royce Nessa (WC) major dec. Michael Wallace, 13-4; 152 - Joey Powers (WC) major dec. Sean Wahle, 14-4; 160 - Connor Larson (WC) pinned Storm Spencer, 0:56; 170 - Luke Shannon (WC) pinned Jake Taylor, 1:04; 182 - Gus Gasca (WC) forfeit; 195 - Dylan Fielder (WC) dec. Kenneth Rhodd, 14-8; 220 - Chris Goodrich (WC) pinned Caleb Skou, 5:30; 285 - Landon Johnson (WC) pinned Mitchell Rounds, 1:39.
Webster City 46, Waukee 27
106 - Storm Eastvold (W) pinned Seeley, 1:21; 113 - Bryan Walsh (W) pinned Bremer, 4:33; 120 - Max Scheve (W) dec. Jackson, 8-7; 126 - Chris Grow (W) pinned Ryder, 3:25; 132 - Hild (WC) forfeit; 138 - Hoffman (WC) major dec. Troy Gatzionis, 13-2; 145 - Nessa (WC) pinned Reid Allen, 1:42; 152 - Powers (WC) dec. Jason Clark, 6-4; 160 - Larson (WC) pinned Steven Jacobson, 1:47; 170 - Shannon (WC) pinned Joey Baldwin, 1:28; 182 - Fielder (WC) pinned Morgan Wright, 0:40; 195 - Gasca (WC) pinned Ben Sporrer, 1:07; 220 - Ryan Glenn (W) pinned Goodrich, 1:38; 285 - Johnson (WC) dec. Badih Delati, 5-2.
Southeast Polk 61, Webster City 10
106 - Brett Stevens (SEP) major dec. Seeley, 13-2; 113 - Keegan Shaw (SEP) pinned Bremer, 2:52; 120 - Jackson (WC) pinned Jonah Williams, 5:20; 126 - Cory Clark (SEP) pinned Ryder, 2:35; 132 - Dylan Buchheit (SEP) dec. Hild, 11-6; 138 - Briar Dittmer (SEP) pinned Hoffman, 5:04; 145 - Nessa (WC) major dec. Sam Jones, 15-2; 152 - Dylan Blackford (SEP) pinned Powers, 1:14; 160 - Tim Miklus (SEP) pinned Larson, 5:10; 170 - Alex Meyer (SEP) major dec. Shannon, 15-4; 182 - Casey Marnin (SEP) pinned Fielder, 0:52; 195 - Bud Smith (SEP) pinned Gasca, 0:55; 220 - Willie Miklus (SEP) pinned Goodrich, 3:37; 285 - Bryce Fisher (SEP) dec. Johnson, 5-0.
Webster City 37, Indianola 29
106 - Seeley (WC) forfeit; 113 - Joe McGinnis (I) major dec. Bremer, 16-3; 120 - John Gioffredi (I) major dec. Jackson, 11-2; 126 - Jake Howard (I) pinned Ryder, 1:11; 132 - Matt Victor (I) dec. Hild, 3-0; 138 - Connor Humphrey (I) pinned Hoffman, 2:23; 145 - Nessa (WC) pinned Jake Mrzena, 3:04; 152 - Spencer Lowry (I) dec. Powers, 3-1; 160 - Larson (WC) pinned Jeffrey Jarshaw, 0:44; 170 - Shannon (WC) dec. Hayden DeBlieck, 13-7; 182 - Fielder (WC) forfeit; 195 - Gasca (WC) forfeit; 220 - Goodrich (WC) major dec. Trevor Amos, 13-0; 285 - Don Dawson (I) dec. Johnson, 5-1.
The brutal competition didn't faze senior and No. 9-ranked (2A) 145-pounder Royce Nessa, who was the only Lynx wrestler to go unscathed in four bouts. He rolled up a pair of pins and two major decisions, highlighted by an opening-round 13-4 thumping of seventh-ranked (3A) Mike Wallace of Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson. Nessa tilted Wallace twice in the second period to build an insurmountable 12-0 lead.
Nessa, who was a state qualifier a season ago, says now is the time to ramp it up a notch, and that's precisely what he did.
"I'm definitely trying to pick it up right now," he said. "Every time I come out here, even if it's a hard guy, I just try to go as hard as I can and get as tired as I can.
"I didn't even know (Wallace) was rated. I just went out there looking for that first win."
No. 10-ranked Connor Larson (160), No. 5 Luke Shannon (170), Dylan Fielder (182/195) and Gus Gasca (182/195) were all 3-1, and they rolled up a combined seven falls.
Larson secured pins in all three of his victories, but it's the match he lost that he'd like to have back. Trailing Southeast Polk's No. 7 Tim Miklus 3-2 midway through the third period, Larson got out of position for a split second and Miklus was able to catch him in a spladle to score the fall.
"That's what those (SE Polk) guys do. If you do even the smallest thing wrong they'll make you pay," Ted Larson said. "But you take that score with them and it was closer than that because we were in some of those matches."
Shannon's only setback came at the hands of the Rams' No. 1-ranked Alex Meyer, 13-4. Meyer will wrestle collegiately for Tom Brands at the University of Iowa.
Freddie Seeley (106), Avery Jackson (120), Tanner Hild (132), Aaron Hoffman (138), Joey Powers (152) and Landon Johnson (285) all went 2-2 for the Lynx.
Jackson finished off the dual with Southeast Polk by sticking Jonah Williams in 5:20. Williams held a sizable lead when Jackson caught him in a headlock throw for the fall.
Johnson faced three rated kids in the state's largest class. He handed Waukee's 10th-ranked Badih Delati a 5-2 loss before dropping decisions to No. 2 Bryce Fisher of SE Polk (5-0) and No. 7 Don Dawson of Indianola (5-1).
Now it's onto the postseason, as WCHS will begin preparations for the 2A sectional tournament in Algona on Saturday. The top two individuals will push on to districts, while the top two teams will qualify for the team regional duals that will take place inside Jefferson Gymnasium next week.
Ted Larson thinks the Mendenhall Invite was exactly what the Lynx needed to get prepared for what lies ahead.
"I really think this is something we can build on," he said. "I think we've proven this year what the competition we face can do for us, and the biggest (matches) are yet to come."