WEBSTER CITY - Sophomore Dylan Fielder has represented Webster City in the 195-pound weight class in 25 of the 27 matches that he's wrestled this season.
But that was the regular season. For the postseason he's decided to make a switch, one he hopes will further his goal of reaching the state tournament for a second straight season.
That's what it's all about - moving on. First through sectionals, then through districts, all the way to the bright lights and eight mats inside Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
DFJ photo by Troy Banning
Webster City sophomore 132-pounder Tanner Hild (top) piles up near-fall points while looking for the fall against Marcus Peterson of Clarion-Goldfield last month in Jeff Gym. Hild and the Lynx will start the postseason trek with a Class 2A sectional tournament in Algona on Saturday at noon.
"This was Dylan's decision and I'm fine with it," Webster City head coach Ted Larson said of his sophomore's move down to 182 for this Saturday's Class 2A sectional tournament in Algona, which will get underway at noon. "At this point it's where he feels most comfortable and that's at 182."
Thirteen other Lynx grapplers will have the same aspirations when they snap on the headgear Saturday. The top two place winners at each weight will advance to the district tournament in Forest City next weekend. The top two teams at the sectional will qualify for the team regional duals on Tuesday in Webster City.
The Lynx, who won a sectional last year and eventually advanced through the regional to the state duals for the first time in 20 years, are considered the favorite in the sectional field that also includes North Central Conference rivals Algona, Clear Lake and Humboldt, as well as Estherville-Lincoln Central and Forest City. But Larson says he and his pupils aren't about to take anything for granted.
Webster City Lineup
106 - Freddie Seeley (fr., 14-20); 113 - BJ Bremer (jr., 13-16); 120 - Avery Jackson (jr., 9-6); 126 - Dalton Ryder (fr., 3-17); 132 - Tanner Hild (so., 27-9); 138 - Aaron Hoffman (sr., 26-10); 145 - Royce Nessa (sr., 28-2); 152 - Joey Powers (sr., 13-5); 160 - Connor Larson (so., 26-7); 170 - Luke Shannon (sr., 26-5); 182 - Dylan Fielder (so., 22-5); 195 - Gus Gasca (so., 19-16); 220 - Chris Goodrich (jr., 9-9); 285 - Landon Johnson (jr., 25-10).
"If we wrestle the way we've been wrestling, I think we'll all be pretty happy," he said. "But we've just got to keep things in focus. The team race will take care of itself as long as we manage each match individually."
WCHS has been at its best in recent weeks. Its late-season surge started with a second straight conference tournament title, and five days later the Lynx knocked off fourth-ranked (Class 1A) Clarion-Goldfield to earn a share of the league dual crown. Two days after that they entered the Mendenhall Invite in Ames and finished third behind nationally ranked Southeast Polk and Bettendorf.
But Larson also knows the northern path that the Lynx have to take to state isn't going to be a walk in the park. There are potential potholes seemingly everywhere, and one false move or split-second bad decision can mean the difference between advancing and hanging up the singlet for the winter.
"We're going north this time and this is going to be an all-out battle," he said. "When you start looking at teams and records, this is going to be tough. But this level of competition is no different than what we've been wrestling, so I think our guys are ready for this."
BJ Bremer (113), seventh-ranked Royce Nessa (145) and Joey Powers (152) joined No. 7-ranked Fielder as state qualifiers last season. The other 10 Lynx are seeking their first trip to Des Moines.
WCHS has two other ranked grapplers - No. 10 Connor Larson (160) and No. 5 Luke Shannon (170) - that are poised to break through. Both have piled up 26 wins this season - third-most on the team behind the 28 wins amassed by Nessa and the 27 put up by Tanner Hild (132).
However, Ted Larson says none of his individuals should be thinking about the state tournament right now. Getting there is a long process and he wants his wrestlers to take it one step at a time.
"What we've been doing so far is what we're going to stick with and that's one match at a time," he said. "We don't want to make too much drama out of anything, so all we're looking at is that first match on Saturday."
Completing the WCHS lineup will be Freddie Seeley (106), Avery Jackson (120), Dalton Ryder (126), Aaron Hoffman (138), Gus Gasca (195), Chris Goodrich (220) and Landon Johnson (285).
Jackson, Hoffman, Connor Larson, Shannon and Johnson were all district qualifiers a season ago.
Those advancing from the Algona sectional will join the qualifiers from the Charles City sectional for the district in Forest City. The Charles City sectional features three of the teams ranked in the top 10 No. 5 New Hampton, No. 7 Charles City and No. 9 Osage.
The top two teams from the Dallas Center-Grimes sectional will round out the four-team field at the team regional duals in Webster City. Teams at that sectional include ADM Adel, Carlisle, Dallas Center-Grimes, Perry, Van Meter and Woodward-Granger.