CLARION - At some point this season JD Rader may lose a match, but one thing is crystal clear - it's going to take somebody awfully good to end his run of dominance.
South Hamilton's third-ranked 132-pound junior continued his season-long surge and upped his win streak to 38 consecutive matches en route to a gold medal at Saturday's Class 1A district tournament inside the Clarion-Goldfield High School gymnasium.
Rader (37-0) will be the Hawks' lone representative at the state tournament this week; it will be his third appearance on the big stage inside Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
DFJ photo by Tracy Runneberg
South Hamilton junior JD Rader (right) tosses Manson-Northwest Webster’s Kaleb Simacek to the mat during Saturday’s 132-pound title bout at a Class 1A district meet in Clarion. Rader, ranked third, decked Simacek in 5:03 to win the district crown and qualify for his third state tournament.
He hasn't lost since the consolation semifinal round at last season's state tournament.
"It was business as usual for JD," South Hamilton head coach Dan Brodie said of Saturday's clinic-like performance. "His confidence level was good and he didn't put any extra pressure on himself. He just stuck to his game plan."
Rader housed Ethan Blanchard of Central Springs by major decision, 14-3, in the semifinals and then stuck ninth-ranked Kaleb Simacek of Manson-Northwest Webster in 5:03 to earn his ticket.
Rader will begin his state journey Thursday evening against unranked Kyle Green (31-18) of Sibley-Ocheyedan. Also on Rader's side of the bracket are top-ranked Carter Happel (49-0) of Lisbon and No. 2 Hunter Washburn (34-5) of Alburnett.
Happel won a state title at 120 pounds last season while Washburn is a two-time state gold medalist. They are on a collision course to meet in the quarterfinals with Rader waiting in the semifinals if he keeps his win streak intact.
"JD is on a quality side of the bracket, but if you want to be the best you've got to beat the best and it doesn't matter where in the tournament you wrestle the best," Brodie said. "But JD has only made it to the quarterfinals before, so we've got to get to the semifinals first."
Freshman Luke Peters (138), senior Austin Roys (145) and senior Jordan Toillion (152) all finished fourth at Saturday's district meet. Roys lost a 3-1 decision in sudden-victory to eventual state qualifier Brady Schmidt of Lake Mills in the semifinals.
"It was a little frustrating for the three that didn't make it," Brodie said. "It's a tough tournament and when you don't bring your best wrestling you're not going to move on. That's just the nature of the beast."
Clarion-Goldfield qualified a field-best seven individuals and won the team title with 138 points. Fort Dodge St. Edmond was a distant second with 73; the Gaels pushed three through to state.
South Hamilton tallied 19 points to place 10th.