WEBSTER CITY - At some point the sting will fade. It may not ever go away completely, but, eventually, they will be able to smile when wrestling memories come to the surface.
That day just wasn't Saturday.
Webster City's coaches and state qualifiers battled with mixed emotions in the aftermath of the Class 2A district tournament. Freddie Seeley (120 pounds), Jacob Powers (145), Tanner Hild (152), eighth-ranked Alex Oswald (160) and fourth-ranked Dylan Fielder (195) were all excited to be moving on to this week's state tournament, but there will be a void after teammates Connor Larson (170), Brandon Patten (182) and Gavin Dinsdale (285) failed to advance.
DFJ photo by Troy Banning
WCHS senior 182-pounder Brandon Patten elevates Humboldt’s Adam Mickelson before dumping him to the mat for a takedown during Saturday’s Class 2A district tournament in Webster City.
Seniors Larson, ranked No. 7, and Patten both placed third. No. 4-ranked Dinsdale, a sophomore, was fourth in a bracket that featured four of the top-five individuals in the state.
"It's literally a tear-jerker," Hild, the district champion at 152, said. "You spend all the days from kindergarten until now bettering each other and going through it together ... it's heartbreaking to see the guys that have pushed you to get better not make it. It's like your brother out there."
Larson (40-8) was unable to hang onto a 4-1 lead in a 6-4 semifinal loss in sudden-victory to Hampton-Dumont's Grant Lehmann. He rebounded to pin fifth-ranked Nikko Wheeler of Humboldt in the consolation round, but then had to watch helplessly as his hopes of a wrestleback ended when Lehmann fell to Algona's Tyler Frideres, 1-0, in the finals.
Larson's victory over Wheeler gave him 139 in his career and put him all alone atop the school's all-time wins chart, but that was of no consolation afterwards.
"Yeah, there's some heartbreak here, but the sun is going to come out tomorrow," WCHS head coach Ted Larson said. "It's tough to see someone fall short of their goals."
Patten (38-12) was unable to make a late comeback in a 4-2 semifinal loss to sixth-ranked Connor Nosbisch of Clear Lake. He also dominated in the consolation round with a 9-3 thumping of Humboldt's Adam Mickelson.
Dinsdale (38-11) got caught in a cradle and lost by fall to second-ranked Tyler Putney of Forest City in his opening bout. His consolation match against No. 5 Dylan Hendricks of Humboldt ended by injury default in the first period after Dinsdale tumbled off the mat and cracked the back of his head on the hardwood. He was unable to continue after using all of his allotted injury time.
A win over Hendricks wouldn't have helped Dinsdale though; just like with Connor Larson and Patten, he wouldn't have had the opportunity to wrestleback.
"After Connor's loss and (Patten's) loss, I was on the verge of tears," Oswald, the Lynx other district champion, said. "Yeah, I'm happy to make it (to state), but not having them ... there's an empty hole. They're basically family and to see them the way they are, it's really tough."
All three will get the chance to wrestle again on Wednesday at the state duals and Ted Larson says it's imperative they put Saturday's disappointments on the back burner - at least temporarily - and get focused on the next task.
"The good news is we've got everybody going on Wednesday and we have to be ready," he said.
Ted Larson doesn't expect Dinsdale's injury to sideline him.
"Gavin is fine," he said. "I'm not so concerned about his injury."