WEBSTER CITY - Ted Larson has heard the fuss, and he gets it. But will it cause a seismic shift in his game plan? Nope.
The Webster City wrestling coach says he has no intention of altering his lineup for the State Duals that will take place on Wednesday, even though three of his grapplers will have little time to rest before they get started with the traditional state tournament on Thursday.
Both events will be held at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
DFJ photo by Troy Banning
Webster City 195-pound sophomore Gus Gasca (left) tries to stay on his feet while being stretched out by Algona’s Garrett Johnson last week during the Class 2A regional duals in Jeff Gym. Gasca and the Lynx will be in Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines on Wednesday to compete in the State Duals, beginning at 9 a.m.
For years, the State Duals have taken place the weekend after the traditional tournament, but with the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids - the longtime host of the dual tourney - going through renovations, the Iowa High School Athletic Association moved the duals to Wells Fargo Arena and pushed it in front of the more famous traditional state tournament.
The move has brought outrage from coaches and fans alike. They argue that the shift gives state qualifiers not in the State Duals an unfair advantage because they won't have to make weight or wrestle three times on Wednesday.
"I've got mixed emotions about it," Larson said. "What we've done as a team is pretty awesome, so we want to put our best team out there to try to get as far as we can. But it's a double-edged sword because we've got three guys who have had the life-long goal of being a state champion or placing as high as they can, and there's always that risk of injury when they're wrestling on Wednesday."
Webster City Lynx (19-4)
106 - Freddie Seeley (fr., 17-21); 113 - BJ Bremer (jr., 14-19); 120 - Avery Jackson (jr., 12-8); 126 - Dalton Ryder (fr., 4-20); 132 - Tanner Hild (so., 32-10); 138 - Aaron Hoffman (sr., 29-14); 145 - Royce Nessa (sr., 34-3); 152 - Joey Powers (sr., 16-8); 160 - Connor Larson (so., 31-8); 170 - Luke Shannon (sr., 31-6); 182 - Dylan Fielder (so., 26-7); 195 - Gus Gasca (so., 21-20); 220 - Chris Goodrich (jr., 10-12); 285 - Landon Johnson (jr., 28-14).
Davenport Assumption Knights (29-1)
106 - Brendan Gould (so., 33-14); 113 - Michael Becker (sr., 8-18); 120 - Tony Devriese (jr., 42-5); 126 - Kyle Springer (jr., 47-1); 132 - Topher Carton (sr., 46-1); 138 - Eric Clarke (so., 40-8); 145 - Grant Rosenboom (jr., 25-4); 152 - Nick Georgean (jr., 46-1); 160 - Tony Parks (jr., 30-4); 170 - Alex Mathys (sr., 22-11); 182 - Luke Powers (sr., 31-19); 195 - Bradley Grothus (sr., 37-5); 220 - Zach Adrian (sr., 14-12); 285 - San Easler (jr., 33-14).
Seventh-ranked 145-pounder Royce Nessa, No. 5 170-pounder Luke Shannon, and No. 7 182-pounder Dylan Fielder will all take part in both tournaments.
Eighth-seeded and 13th-ranked Webster City (19-4) will face top-seed and No. 1-ranked Davenport Assumption (29-1) in the Class 2A quarterfinals at 9 a.m. on Wednesday. The Lynx will wrestle again at 11 a.m. if they lose or at 1 p.m. with an upset victory.
The State Duals will place all the way out to eighth this year, and Larson says anything above the Lynx seed would be considered a productive day.
"If we can get anywhere above that last seed, if we can get out there and win a dual, maybe two duals, that would be a great day," he said. "I'm not conceding anything, but what do we have to lose? Nothing. So we're going to step out there and compete and fight."
Assumption - the defending traditional state tournament at State Duals champion - features a stacked lineup that includes 10 state qualifiers, eight grapplers ranked at their weight and five individuals that own state medals.
Senior second-ranked 132-pounder Topher Carton anchors the Knights' lineup. Carton, who will wrestle collegiately at the University of Iowa, is a defending state champion in Iowa, and he owns three individual crowns in all, the first two in Illinois.
Fourth-ranked Tony Devriese (120), third-ranked Kyle Springer (126), fifth-ranked Eric Clarke (138) and top-ranked Nick Georgean (152) joined Carton as top-8 place winners last winter.
Assumption's lone dual loss this season came against No. 2-ranked (3A) Bettendorf.
Larson understands that very few spectators, if any, will pick his team to knock off the Knights, but he says his 14 wrestlers aren't about to roll over.
"We're pretty familiar with (being the underdog), that's nothing new to us," he said. "We'll completely and totally respect them, but fear them? Absolutely not. We'll go out there for 6 minutes and try to fight."
There could be several marquee matches if both teams send their full lineups onto the mat. Nessa could face No. 9 Grant Rosenboom, and Lynx sophomore and No. 10-ranked Connor Larson may face No. 8 and state qualifier Tony Parks.
Connor Larson wrestled at the district tournament on Saturday with a broken ear drum and an infection in his left year. But his dad and coach says the injury won't keep him out of uniform on Wednesday.
"He'll get a full recovery, it's just dealing with the pain right now," Ted Larson said. "But he's actually through the worst of it now."
Fielder and Assumption's regular 182-pounder Luke Powers are both state qualifiers as well.
"I think they'll put their starting lineup out there against us," Ted Larson said.
WCHS will face either fourth-seeded Creston/Orient-Macksburg (16-0) or fifth-seeded Charles City (17-7) in its second dual.
The traditional state tournament will kickoff Thursday morning with the 3A session at 9 a.m. Class 2A will start at 2 p.m., and the 1A session will take place in the evening, beginning at 7 p.m.
Nessa will face eighth-ranked Dylan Bryce of Spirit Lake Park in his opening-round match on Thursday. Fielder will also tackle a ranked foe, No. 4 Jacyn Goebel of West Delaware.
Shannon, who will make his first appearance in the traditional state tournament, will take on Richard England of Centerville.