WEBSTER CITY - The first part of the season-long plan - a second consecutive trip to the state dual tournament - is already in the bag. But there's still more to achieve.
Webster City head wrestling coach Ted Larson is happy, but not yet content, as he prepares to send eight of his grapplers into battle at noon on Saturday at a Class 2A district tournament in Forest City.
DFJ photo by Troy Banning
Webster City sophomore 132-pounder Tanner Hild (facing) lifts Algona’s Austin Long off the mat during last Saturday’s Class 2A sectional tournament in Algona. Hild will be one of eight Lynx grapplers in contention for a berth in the state tournament tomorrow at a 2A district tournament in Forest City.
The top two finishers at each of the 14 weight classes will advance to next week's traditional state tournament at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, and Larson says the goal is simple: Qualify as many purple and gold singlets as possible.
"This is the goal, but it's not the only goal," Larson said, referring to qualifying for state. "We want to put ourselves on that (state tournament) podium and we want to put ourselves high on that podium. That's what we're after."
Just reaching the state tournament won't be easy though, as Webster City finds itself housed in arguably the toughest district in the state alongside standout groups of wrestlers from Charles City, Osage, New Hampton and Algona, just to name a few.
Webster City Brackets Only
(Rankings by The Predicament)
132 Pounds - Tanner Hild (31-9), Webster City vs. No. 7 Adam Staudt (21-8), Charles City; Austin Long (12-22), Algona vs. No. 4 Jordan Roths (35-3), New Hampton.
138 Pounds - Blake Gjerde (31-8), Estherville-Lincoln Central vs. Alex Mitchell (24-16), Charles City; Aaron Hoffman (29-12), Webster City vs. Brandon Schissel (31-6), New Hampton.
145 Pounds - No. 7 Royce Nessa (32-2), Webster City vs. Joe Cockrum (22-13), Osage; Colton Schnetzer (32-12), Humboldt vs. No. 1 Jesse Etherington (34-2), Charles City.
152 Pounds - Weston Shaw (28-14), Algona vs. Cole Hoeft (22-17), Charles City; Joey Powers (16-6), Webster City vs. No. 7 Sawyer Anderson (35-6), New Hampton.
160 Pounds - No. 10 Connor Larson (30-7), Webster City vs. Oscar Guzman (6-4), Charles City; Nikko Wheeler (30-13), Humboldt vs. No. 2 Ryan Randall (42-1), Osage.
170 Pounds - No. 5 Luke Shannon (30-5), Webster City vs. David Kramer (33-7), New Hampton; Joe Teague (29-10), Algona vs. No. 8 Luke Hanke (33-3), Osage.
182 Pounds - No. 2 Logan Kellogg (30-2), Clear Lake vs. Casey Palsic (27-20), Osage; No. 7 Dylan Fielder (25-6), Webster City vs. Luke Johnson (23-11), Charles City.
285 Pounds - No. 6 Gable Bonner (32-2), Estherville-Lincoln Central vs. Dalton Hamm (24-15), Charles City; Landon Johnson (27-12), Webster City vs. No. 2 Logan Hopp (36-1), New Hampton.
The Lynx sent five wrestlers on to state a year ago, but Larson will even admit that his team was in a much easier district then. Fighting through the fray and into the top two on Saturday will be another type of animal.
"We know what we're in for and we know that every match is going to be a battle," Larson said. "We just want our kids to fight and to compete for 6 minutes."
Seventh-ranked 145-pounder Royce Nessa, 152-pounder Joey Powers and No. 7-ranked 182-pounder Dylan Fielder will all be in search of their second state tickets. Tanner Hild (132), Aaron Hoffman (138), No. 10-ranked Connor Larson (160), No. 5-ranked Luke Shannon (170) and Landon Johnson (285) are looking to be first-time qualifiers.
Nessa (32-2) will face Joe Cockrum (22-13) of Osage in the semifinal round with, presumably, a date with top-ranked Jesse Etherington (34-2) of Charles City in the finals should both win.
But don't expect Nessa to be thinking about Etherington too early, Larson says.
"Royce stays pretty focused and calm all the time, and he isn't one to get caught up in a lot of drama," Larson said. "But he and all of our guys know that records and rankings mean absolutely nothing at this time of the year."
Powers (16-6) will be the underdog in his semifinal against seventh-ranked Sawyer Anderson (35-6) of New Hampton, and Fielder (25-6) will face a dangerous opponent in Luke Johnson (23-11) of Charles City.
This will be the fourth trip to districts for Shannon (30-5), and he'll help make up one of the tougher four-man brackets. He'll open against formerly ranked David Kramer (33-7) of New Hampton, and No. 8 Luke Hanke (33-3) of Osage sits on the other side of the weight class.
All five of Shannon's losses have come against ranked foes. Three of them were against the top-ranked wrestler in 2A, Aaron McMurphy of Dallas Center-Grimes, and the No. 1 guy in 3A, Alex Meyer of Southeast Polk.
"Luke's used to this type of intensity and pressure, and that will help him because it won't be something strange to him," Larson said. "Right now his offense is coming to where it's the best I've ever seen."
Connor Larson (30-7) is 22-2 since dropping down to 160 just before the Christmas break. He'll face a formidable opponent right off the bat on Saturday in Oscar Guzman (6-4) of Charles City, a state qualifier a year ago. Second-ranked Ryan Randall (42-1) of Osage will also be in the race.
"We don't know much about Guzman other than the fact that three of his four losses are to Randall," Ted Larson said. "Connor's as focused as I've ever seen him, but he still is only a sophomore."
Hild (31-9), another sophomore, will shake hands with No. 7 Adam Staudt (21-8) of Charles City in his opening bout on Saturday. Hoffman (29-12) will tangle with Brandon Schissel (31-6) of New Hampton, and Johnson (27-12) will tie up with another Chickasaw wrestler, second-ranked Logan Hopp (36-1).