DES MOINES - Dylan Fielder is accustomed to being the guy everyone whispers about when he walks across a wrestling mat. He'd be crazy not to enjoy the attention just a little.
But Webster City's fourth-ranked senior 195-pounder enters today's traditional state tournament knowing that it's the guy he has to face that will receive the bulk of the pre-match chatter.
Fielder (40-3) will be a part of one of the marquee first-round matches when the Class 2A session opens the tournament inside Wells Fargo Arena at 9 a.m. Fielder - only the second four-time state qualifier in school history - opens against top-ranked Steven Holloway (32-1) of Mediapolis.
DFJ photo by Troy Banning
Jacob Powers (back) attempts to take Albia’s Caleb White off his feet during yesterday’s state duals. Powers will wrestle again today.
Does the luck - or unluck - of the draw bother Fielder? He doesn't worry about things like that.
"I'm not too worried about it," Fielder, who owns 138 career victories and a pair of sixth-place state medals, said. "He wants a state championship and I want a state championship and it's going to come down to who wants it more. It's still a six-minute match and he puts his pants on the same way I do."
Holloway - the 182-pound state runner-up last season - hasn't lost to an Iowa opponent this season. His one setback was a 5-2 decision to Andre Lee - ranked 20th in the country by Intermat - of Oak Park-River Forest (Ill). Holloway also owns a win over No. 2 Carter Isley of Albia.
"The way we're looking at it is you're probably going to have to wrestle him to win it anyway, so you might as well get it out of the way when you're feeling the best," WCHS head coach Ted Larson said.
Fielder continued to rest his injured ribs during yesterday's state duals. He accepts the fact that he will have to compete in pain, but there's nothing he can do about it at this late stage.
"It's obviously going to hurt, but I'm hoping it's not as bad as (last Saturday at the district tournament)," Fielder said. "I've just got to put it in my back pocket and move on."
Four other WCHS grapplers - junior Freddie Seeley (120), and seniors Jacob Powers (145), Tanner Hild (152) and No. 8-ranked Alex Oswald (160) - will step onto the big stage as well. Powers is competing in his second state tournament, while the remaining Lynx are rookies.
Oswald (35-6) has arguably the most favorable draw of any of the WCHS entrants. He'll face David Trucksess (28-9) of Spirit Lake Park with the opportunity to advance to the quarterfinals.
Oswald went 1-1 at the state duals and he hopes the one victory will help when his name is called this morning.
"Getting out there and getting in this atmosphere takes away the nerves," Oswald said. "It was huge for me to get out there and get some takedowns and it should help me get past some mental barriers."
Oswald doesn't buy into the theory though that, as the lone ranked individual in his section of the bracket, he's the favorite to reach the semifinals.
"We're all here at the state tournament and the rankings don't mean anything," he said. "I've just got to prepare for every opponent the same way."
Hild (31-8) drew No. 10 Jeremy Scheuermann (41-5) - eighth at 145 last winter - of Greene County in the first round. The winner will face either No. 5 Bret Tomoson of Sergeant Bluff-Luton or No. 1 Drew Buster of Mediapolis in the quarters.
Hild aggravated his lingering back injury during the state duals and sat out the seventh-place bout against Clear Lake.
"I'm concerned about it," Larson said of Hild's back. "But the good thing is this is nothing new to him. He's dealt with it for a long time."
Powers (42-7) will try to improve upon last year's state performance - he lost a pair of matches - when he meets Grinnell's Garret Jay (38-7) today. Either No. 5 Steven Garcia of Sergeant Bluff-Luton or No. 6 Chase Shiltz of Creston/Orient-Macksburg will await the winner.
Seeley (33-22) will be out to pull off an upset when he tackles No. 7 Elliot Henderson (39-4) of West Liberty. Henderson is a three-time state qualifier and placed eighth at 120 a season ago.
Wrestlers who lose in the first round will have to wrestle again later this morning for the right to stay in medal contention.