WEBSTER CITY - Connor Larson has been a man amongst boys since he dropped down to 160 pounds in mid-December.
The Webster City junior has piled up a 23-1 record since the move, and along the way he's rocketed up the rankings to No. 3 (Class 3A) on the strength of a handful of victories over ranked opponents and 14 falls - 12 coming in the first period.
But that one loss, it eats at him. So what is he to do?
DFJ photo by Troy Banning
Connor Larson (left) hits a takedown against Chandler Thompson of Des Moines Roosevelt during last Saturday’s Lynx Duals. Larson, a WCHS junior, won the 160-pound bout by first-period fall. It was one of his 18 falls on the season, and he enters tonight’s dual against Sioux City East with a 31-4 record.
Rectify the situation.
Larson - 31-4 overall on the season - will get the chance to avenge that one blip tonight when Webster City wraps up its dual season with a home meet against Sioux City East at 7 p.m. He's expected to face Mitchell Otto (24-3), who captured a 6-1 victory when the two met in the gold-medal round at the Don Miller Invite in Fort Dodge on Dec. 15.
There's no question that Larson is a different wrestler than he was a month ago, and now he wants to prove it to Otto.
Webster City Lineup
106 - Cole Nokes (fr., 8-16); 113 - Freddie Seeley (so., 18-18); 120 - Gage Sadler (fr., 6-15); 126 - Collin Oswald (fr., 7-21); 132 - Tanner Hoveland (so., 8-17); 138 - Ryan Ferrari (fr., 4-11); 145 - Jake Powers (jr., 27-10); 152 - Brandon Jessen (jr., 5-1); 160 - Connor Larson (jr., 31-4); 170 - Brandon Patten (jr., 24-12); 182 - Dylan Fielder (jr., 32-2); 195 - Gus Gasca (jr., 21-15); 220 - Gavin Dinsdale (fr., 12-8); 285 - Landon Johnson (sr., 28-8).
"He wants to rectify this and the biggest thing is he wants to keep in the same stride he's been in," WCHS head coach and proud dad Ted Larson said. "Otto is a tough kid, but I think he's beatable and Connor believes that too, so we'll go out and give it what we've got."
WCHS (11-7) will be out to close the regular season with momentum as it begins preparations for the 3A district meet in Fort Dodge on Saturday, Feb. 9.
"It's very important that we have a good last dual here at home and that we're peaking at the right time," Ted Larson said. "We have to prepare to be at our best next Saturday, so live competition the week before is just what we need. And if we do what we're capable off, it's a winnable dual."
Sioux City East (9-11) features one ranked wrestler in No. 10 (3A) Drake Swedlund at 152 pounds. He'll be tested by Lynx junior Brandon Jessen, who has filled in admirably for injured starter Alex Oswald, also a junior. Jessen has won five of his six varsity matches this season.
Ted Larson expects Oswald - one of the team's four North Central Conference champions - to be back in the lineup at districts. He's been out since the NCC tournament with a separated shoulder.
"We're planning on Alex being back," he said. "He'll start practicing again this week and should be ready to go."
The picture is a little murkier for junior 138-pounder Tanner Hild, who has been off the mat since early January with an undisclosed back ailment. Ted Larson says he's taking a wait-and-see approach with Hild where districts are concerned.
"Tanner's been rolling around in the (practice) room and it's going pretty well. I feel good about it, but he's still in pain," Ted Larson said. "Tanner wants to be at districts; he's pretty strong-minded, and the doctors have basically said it's how much pain he can tolerate, so that's what we're working with right now."
Notebook: There will be no junior varsity competition tonight ... At 6:30 p.m., the Lynx seniors and their parents will be recognized, and there will also be a fundraiser where five hogs will be auctioned off to support the Webster City Wrestling Boosters ... The 14 wrestlers in the Lynx lineup tonight have combined to collect 110 wins by fall this season. Connor Larson and Landon Johnson lead the team with 18 pins each. Jake Powers (14), Brandon Patten (10) and Dylan Fielder (10) also have double-digit totals.