DES MOINES - Luke Shannon just didn't get it.
The Webster City senior noticed all of the upsets taking place at the State Duals yesterday - No. 8 seeds sending top seeds to the backside of the bracket, perennial powers sitting their stars in favor of back-ups - and wondered what all the fuss was about.
Is wrestling on back-to-back days for those involved in both the State Duals and the Iowa High School State Championships - better known as the traditional state tournament - really that big of a deal? Most coaches would say yes.
DFJ photo by Troy Banning
WCHS sophomore Dylan Fielder (top) piles up near-fall points before eventually pinning Charles City’s Luke Johnson in a 195-pound bout at yesterday’s State Duals in Des Moines. Fielder will move down to 182 for the traditional state tourney that begins today for all three classes.
Shannon, who is one of three Webster City wrestlers pulling double duty this week at Wells Fargo Arena, disagrees with most coaches.
"(Lynx head coach) Ted (Larson) told us we were going to wrestle in both and I think it's a good thing," Shannon, a first-time state qualifier at 170 pounds, said. "I was really nervous for my first match (at State Duals) because the atmosphere down here is totally different, but after that I was comfortable. So I think this gives us a huge advantage over guys that haven't wrestled down here."
Shannon, ranked No. 5, will be joined by seventh-ranked teammates Royce Nessa (145) and Dylan Fielder (182) in the Class 2A field when the more recognized traditional state tournament gets underway today in front of what is always a packed house. The 3A first round will open the day's festivities at 9 a.m., the 2A session will get started at 2 p.m., and the 1A contingent will take the mats at 7 p.m.
Fielder is making his second trip to the big stage - he was a qualifier at 171 last season - but even he says butterflies fluttering in the stomach is a worry. That's why he agrees with Shannon when it comes to the pluses and minuses of taking part in the State Duals.
"It's actually going to help me out just so I can get used to this stage again," Fielder said. "Plus you can get all of the kinks out and get prepared to wrestle in front of the big crowd."
Nessa, Shannon and Fielder threw up a combined record of 9-0 with six pins and a technical fall in helping WCHS to a pair of victories and a fifth-place finish at the State Duals. Fielder decked all three of his foes.
Nessa (37-3), who won his first state tournament match last winter before dropping back-to-back matches to fall one spot short of the medal stand, will face eighth-ranked Dylan Bryce (31-8) of Spirit Lake Park in today's first round. The two could have met yesterday at the State Duals, but neither wrestler wanted to show his cards too early.
Nessa has never seen Bryce wrestle and would have trouble picking his adversary out of a two-person lineup.
"I've never heard of him. I know nothing about him," Nessa said. "But that doesn't matter because it's not going to change how I wrestle. I'm not going to change things just because it's state."
Shannon (34-6) knows the feeling of going in blind. All he knows about first-round foe Richard England (35-13) of Centerville is that he has compiled a double-digit loss total.
"I'm just really excited for that match," Shannon said. "I just want to go out there and try to control him."
Fielder (29-7) will take on fourth-ranked Jacyn Goebel (40-2) of West Delaware in an opening-round bout. The two have wrestled twice in the offseason - once at a tournament and once at a camp - with Goebel coming out ahead both times, 2-1 and 5-0. But that won't shake the confidence of the WCHS sophomore.
"He's pretty tall and he's pretty strong, but I know I can go with this kid," Fielder said. "I'm just going to try to get going on him quick."
First round winners will advance to Friday's quarterfinals. Those coming up short will have to compete again today in the consolation first round.