FOREST CITY - Luke Shannon had the jitters, he's not too ashamed to admit it, and they turned the usually aggressive 170-pounder into a defensive wrestler.
But you know what? Who cares.
The fifth-ranked Shannon may not have been at his best, but he was still solid enough to punch his ticket to the state tournament for the first time in his career Saturday at a brutally tough Class 2A district tournament that featured four ranked teams. He and teammates Royce Nessa (No. 7-ranked at 145) and Dylan Fielder (No. 7 at 182) all placed second in their weight classes to qualify for the traditional tournament that will take place Thursday through Saturday at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
DFJ photo by Troy Banning
Webster City seventh-ranked 145-pounder Royce Nessa (top) cinches up a headlock and looks for the fall against Osage’s Joe Cockrum in a semifinal bout at Saturday’s Class 2A district meet in Forest City. Nessa won the match and went on to place second to earn his second straight berth in the state tournament.
The entire Webster City team will be involved in the State Duals on Wednesday, also at Wells Fargo Arena.
"It didn't go exactly how I planned, but I'm still going (to state) and that's the important thing," Shannon, a four-time district qualifier, said afterwards. "When you come here you know that if you mess up you're done, so nerves had a little something to do with it and it's terrible to say, but I was thinking a lot about losing instead of winning. But I still wrestled well enough to make it through."
Five other WCHS wrestlers had their state dreams dashed. Sophomores Tanner Hild (132) and 10th-ranked Connor Larson (160), as well as junior Landon Johnson (285) all placed third; seniors Aaron Hoffman (138) and Joey Powers (152) were fourth.
(Number of State Qualifiers)
1. Charles City (6) 116; 2. Osage (6) 101 ; 3. New Hampton (5) 96; 4. Webster City (3) 68; 5. Clear Lake (2) 38; 6. (tie) Estherville-Lincoln Central (2) and Humboldt (0) 38; 8. Algona/North Sentral Kossuth (2) 24; 9. Riceville/St. Ansgar (1) 14; 10. Forest City (0) 8.
106 - Johnny Etherington (CC) major dec. Chris Hanke (O), 12-0; 113 - Brady Jennings (O) dec. Leighton Gaul (NH), 10-9; 120 - Oscar Ramirez (E-LC) dec. Matt Beiber (CL), 7-0; 126 - Douglas Perrin (O) pinned Jake Adams (A), 4:44; 132 - Jordan Roth (NH) dec. Adam Staudt (CC), 3-2; 138 - Brandon Schissel (NH) dec. Alex Mitchell (CC), 7-2; 145 - Jesse Etherington (CC) dec. Royce Nessa (WC), 9-6; 152 - Sawyer Anderson (NH) dec. Weston Shaw (A), 6-1; 160 - Ryan Randall (O) dec. Oscar Guzman (CC), 5-0; 170 - Luke Hanke (O) dec. Luke Shannon (WC), 9-3; 182 - Logan Kellogg (CL) dec. Dylan Fielder (WC), 7-1; 195 - Joe Roll (O) dec. Kaleb Goodman (H-D), 4-2; 220 - Brian Halligan (CC) dec. Skyler Hulshizer (R/SA), 7-2; 285 - Logan Hopp (NH) pinned Gable Bonner (E-LC), 0:16.
113 - Leighton Gaul (NH) pinned Kylie Zenner (H), 0:23; 126 - Jake Adams (A) dec. Jake Miller (H), 7-6; 145 - Royce Nessa (WC) dec. Colton Schnetzer (H), 7-2; 220 - Skyler Hulshizer (R/SA) pinned Tyler Putney (FC), 3:30; 285 - Gable Bonner (E-LC) dec. Landon Johnson (WC), 4-0.
"This is always a tough day when you come with eight and five of them are done," WCHS head coach Ted Larson said. "But you've got to keep things in perspective because they're really not done. We've got all 14 of them going on Wednesday and we'll get back to work. But for the three that made it, that's awesome. I'm so happy for them."
District champion Osage (116 points) and runner-up Osage (101 1/2) both qualified six wrestlers. New Hampton was third (96 points) with five qualifiers, followed by the Lynx (68).
Shannon (31-6) slid by formerly ranked David Kramer of New Hampton in the semifinals, 8-6. Shannon built a big lead early with three takedowns and then held off Kramer in the final minute.
But Shannon didn't have an answer for the power of eighth-ranked Luke Hanke of Osage in the finals. Hanke scored a reversal early in the second period and then turned Shannon twice for five near-fall points on his way to a 9-3 decision.
Nessa and Fielder - both returning state qualifiers - ran into highly ranked competitors in the championship round as well.
Nessa (34-3) fell into an early hole before coming on strong late in a 9-6 loss to top-ranked Jesse Etherington of Charles City. He was forced into a wrestleback against Humboldt's Colton Schnetzer, and for the third time this season Nessa came out on top, 7-2. He took the lanky Schnetzer down three times.
"I've worked way too hard to get beat out. I just wasn't going to let that happen," Nessa said. "(Against Etherington) I let up on one move and that's when he finished. It would have been a one-point match, but I gave up for a couple of seconds there and that was the difference."
Fielder (26-7) went to his bread-and-butter double-leg takedown and switched to a power-half on his way down to the mat en route to a semifinal-round fall in 2:58 over Luke Johnson of Charles City. The match was scoreless when Fielder fired in on the legs of Johnson.
"The first match is always important and I knew I had to go out there and get the win," Fielder, a sophomore, said. "(Johnson) was pretty strong, so I knew I had to try to work something and get some angles in."
Fielder dropped a 7-1 decision to second-ranked Logan Kellogg of Clear Lake in the gold-medal round. But he says that loss won't deter him in his desire to reach the state-tournament award's podium.
"Getting there feels pretty good, but I feel like my goal isn't finished yet because I want to place," he said.
Landon Johnson (28-14) got into a wrestleback after sticking Dalton Hamm of Charles City in 4:50 in a consolation contest, but he was unable to find his offense in a 4-0 loss to sixth-ranked Gable Bonner of Estherville-Lincoln Central.
Hild (32-10) and Larson (31-8) both came within a few seconds of reaching the finals.
Hild led seventh-ranked Adam Staudt of Charles City 4-2 late in the third period, but Staudt was able to score a reversal in the final 10 seconds to force sudden victory. Staudt finished off the 6-4 win 23 seconds into the extra minute.
Larson went back and forth with former state qualifier Oscar Guzman of Charles City in a 9-8 loss. Larson had Guzman in a headlock on the mat when time expired.
"Those two aren't happy, but the good thing is they can come back next year," Ted Larson said. "They wrestled well and it wasn't for a lack of effort, just (Saturday) wasn't their day."
Hild rebounded to pin Algona's Austin Long for the third time in the last seven days, and Larson vented his frustrations on Humboldt's Nikko Wheeler with a 9-3 decision. It was Larson's fourth win of the season over Wheeler, but the first by more than two points.
The opening 2A session at the traditional state tournament will be at 2 p.m. on Thursday.
WCHS, No. 13 in the dual rankings, will take on top-ranked Davenport Assumption in the quarterfinals at the State Duals at 9 a.m. Wednesday morning.