WEBSTER CITY - Drenched in sweat, Ted Larson and his 14 pupils walked out of their practice room Monday afternoon with a cloud of the unknown hanging over their heads.
The funny thing is, there was no fear. No nervousness. Just a sense of focus, and a determination to revisit their past from a year ago.
"I don't mind this not knowing who we're going to wrestle, I really don't," Larson, Webster City's head wrestling coach, said yesterday evening. "Heck, sometimes I think that's better. You step on the line, shake hands and wrestle for 6 minutes. We've done it with everybody from Eagle Grove to Southeast Polk this year. You stay intense and you keep pressure on them. Period."
DFJ photo by Troy Banning
Webster City freshman 106-pounder Freddie Seeley (left) works to turn Algona’s Matt Hutchison during Saturday’s Class 2A sectional tournament in Algona. Seeley won the match 7-4, and both are expected to be on the mat tonight in Jeff Gym for the regional duals that will get underway at 6 p.m.
The Lynx (17-4) will host a section of the Class 2A regional duals tonight in Jefferson Gymnasium with the semifinal round slated for 6 p.m. The two winners will meet in the final at approximately 8 p.m. for the right to advance to next week's state duals in Des Moines.
Algona (12-3) - one of the few teams to pick off the Lynx this season, 36-21 on Dec. 15 - will join Webster City, but the two will be on opposite mats in the semifinals. And here's where things get tricky.
The Dallas Center-Grimes sectional was pushed back to yesterday evening because of poor weather on Saturday, and the two teams advancing out of the pod to tonight's regional weren't known as of press time.
Webster City Lineup
106 - Freddie Seeley (fr., 15-21); 113 - BJ Bremer (jr., 13-18); 120 - Avery Jackson (jr., 10-8); 126 - Dalton Ryder (fr., 4-18); 132 - Tanner Hild (so, 29-9); 138 - Aaron Hoffman (sr., 28-11); 145 - Royce Nessa (sr., 30-2); 152 - Joey Powers (sr., 14-6); 160 - Connor Larson (so., 28-7); 170 - Luke Shannon (sr., 28-5); 182 - Dylan Fielder (so., 23-6); 195 - Gus Gasca (so., 21-18); 220 - Chris Goodrich (jr., 10-11); 285 - Landon Johnson (jr., 26-11).
Semifinals (6 p.m.)
Webster City (17-4) vs. Dallas Center-Grimes (14-3)
Perry (17-5) vs. Algona (12-3)
Larson didn't even find out until late last night, and that meant his team had no time to prepare for their opponent. But could that be an advantage?
"We don't know some things, but we've got an opportunity to take advantage of a situation where everything is normal for us," he said. "It's nice to have things here at home, and we wrestle well at home."
The Lynx will face the Dallas Center-Grimes sectional runner-up, while Algona will go head-to-head with the sectional champion.
No. 15-ranked Dallas Center-Grimes (14-3) and No. 16 Perry (17-5) are candidates to be on the mats in Jeff Gym tonight, and ADM Adel (12-11) could make an appearance as well.
WCHS advanced to the state duals for the first time in 20 years last winter, and 10 of the 14 grapplers from that team will be in singlets tonight. They combined to go 15-5 in last year's regional duals that included lopsided wins over Grinnell (66-9) and Union LaPorte City (47-15).
Those veterans - BJ Bremer (113 pounds), Avery Jackson (120), Tanner Hild (132), Aaron Hoffman (138), No. 7-ranked Royce Nessa (145), Joey Powers (152), No. 10 Connor Larson (160), No. 5 Luke Shannon (170), No. 7 Dylan Fielder (182) and Landon Johnson (285) - will be the key tonight, Larson says, and if Monday's practice is any indication, the Lynx aren't intimidated by the situation.
"There was a calmness in practice (last night) with those guys that have done this," he said. "That leadership of those kids that have been there and experienced this is huge.
"We've got the chance to do something that has never been done at Webster City, and that's go back-to-back to the state duals."
EDITOR'S NOTE: Perry won the Dallas Center-Grimes sectional late Monday night, while the host Mustangs finished second.
Webster City and Dallas Center-Grimes will tangle, while Perry will take on Algona in the regional semifinals tonight.