THE MAGNIFICENT 7
Webster City’s Drake Doolittle, Carson?Hartnett, Luke Rohmiller, Zane Williams, Caleb Olson, James Cherry and Cooper Lawson all state bound later this week in Des Moines
WEBSTER CITY — Flash back to 12 months ago to when Luke Rohmiller sprinted off the mat and out the east door of the WCHS gymnasium without acknowledging a soul.
He didn’t want to hear a pep talk from his coaches or consoling words from teammates. The pain of missing out on the state wrestling tournament ripped at his guts and it was something he preferred to endure alone.
Now come back to Saturday afternoon. Rohmiller was able to show a different side of his personality. The smile was wide and the hug he shared with Webster City assistant coach and uncle Joel Kennedy was heartfelt.
Those old wounds had healed. Why? Because state was no longer a dream. It was reality.
Rohmiller, Webster City’s 10th-ranked senior 152-pounder, punched his first state ticket and was joined by six teammates at a Class 2A district tournament. The seven state qualifiers matches a program record also attained in 1985, 1992 and 1995.
Seventh-ranked James Cherry (220) joins Rohmiller as a first-time qualifier. Seventh-ranked Carson Hartnett (132), eighth-ranked Zane Williams (170), Caleb Olson (195) and top-ranked Cooper Lawson (285) head back to Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines for the second time. Second-ranked Drake Doolittle (120) is 3 for 3.
WCHS led the district field in individual state qualifiers, but finished second in the team standings with 122 points. Clarion-Goldfield-Dows won the team crown with 131 points and sent six grapplers through. Ballard pushed four on to state and was a distant third with 84 points.
Doolittle, Hartnett, Cherry and Lawson all claimed district titles. Rohmiller, Williams and Olson advanced as runners-up.
Rohmiller (26-7) dropped a 7-1 decision to second-ranked and 2017 state silver medalist Skyler Noftsger of Ballard in the finals, but the loss was already forgotten by the time he walked the few steps into Kennedy’s arms.
“This is what I’ve always set out to do since I was a little 4-year-old wrestling in the room,” Rohmiller said. “It’s always been my goal to get on the wall (in the WCHS practice room, which is reserved for state place winners).
“(Kennedy) has really been just a second father to me. It just really means a lot for him to be in my corner all throughout life and in wrestling.”
Rohmiller essentially cemented his status in the state field with a dominant 10-4 semifinal win over South Central Calhoun’s Chase McAlister, who entered the day with a 45-3 record. Rohmiller was aggressive early and attacked the legs of McAlister throughout the six-minute battle.
“I just needed to get on my offense,” Rohmiller said. “When I coast in matches, they don’t go my way, so I know I needed to get on my attacks.”
Cherry (33-4) showed his excitement by flexing for the Lynx crowd after he decked Humboldt’s Brandon Johnson in 1:29 in the championship round. He opened his day by disposing of Southeast Valley’s Xavier Nichols by major decision, 12-4, in the semifinals.
“I’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” Cherry said. “When it happened, I was just excited.”
Lawson (43-0), the 2016 state silver medalist at heavyweight who has now won 52 consecutive matches, ran the gauntlet and came out unscathed. He took down fourth-ranked Dominick Etherington of Algona and fifth-ranked Spencer Trenary of CGD by major decision. He outscored his two foes 21-6, allowing only escapes.
Lawson put his finals match with Trenary out of reach when he hit a roll for a reversal and three-point near-fall to take a 7-2 lead early in the third period. He later took Trenary down to his back for five more points.
In the semifinals, Lawson connected on a pair of takedowns in the initial two periods to build an insurmountable lead on Etherington, who will be a spectator at state.
But if Lawson was impressed with his own accomplishments, he hid it well. He has bigger goals than just getting to state.
“I’m happy, but I’m not going to think about that right now,” he said. “I’ve got bigger goals to accomplish.”
Lawson needs just three more victories to tie the program’s single-season wins record of 46, set by Gavin Dinsdale in 2016. He could get there at Wednesday’s state duals.
Doolittle (41-3), the state runner-up at 113 last winter, didn’t have to expend as much energy. In fact, he barely broke a sweat.
After decking Algona’s Luke McKinney in 1:05 in the semifinals, Doolittle notched a pair of quick takedowns on CGD’s Keaton Wilson and then ended it in 1:26 in the finals.
“I wanted to go out there and take care of business and get off the mat,” Doolittle said after pushing his career win total to 128. “I wanted to get it done and get out of there.”
Hartnett (37-5) stayed unbeaten at 132 this season with a pair of hard-fought decision wins. He fended off former state qualifier Connor Johnson of CGD in the semifinals, 6-2, and then took out Southeast Valley’s Trey Lawrence, 10-6, in the finals.
Lawrence scored on a first-period takedown to jump in front, but by the third period Hartnett had taken over. He notched a pair of takedowns over the final two minutes to forge ahead.
“I dominate the third period because I train in deep waters,” he said. “Most of (the opponents) aren’t used to it. I push the pace and that’s what I did (against Lawrence).”
Williams (38-7) had one of the tougher semifinal draws against ninth-ranked Mason Carpenter of CGD, but the WCHS senior avenged a loss in the NCC finals in dominant fashion. He built a 6-2 lead and then slapped on a cradle and got the fall late in the second period.
But Algona’s Carson Devine put a damper on Williams’ day with a 9-3 upset win in the finals. Williams led 3-1 in the second period when Devine put him on his back to take a 6-3 lead into the third. Devine added a takedown in the closing seconds.
For the second straight week, Olson (18-11) prevailed in a wrestleback to advance. The 2017 eighth-place state medalist at 195 dumped Algona’s Noah Murphy for the fall in 3:19 in the semifinals, but was again unable to solve the riddle that was Gilbert’s Reldon Miller, who took the final, 5-1.
With a state berth on the line, Olson locked up a butcher on Pocahontas Area’s Philip Minkler for a three-point near-fall in the second period to break a scoreless tie. He added a reversal and third-period escape for an 8-4 victory.
“It’s really exciting making it to state again,” Olson said. “I hope to go down there and give it everything I’ve got.”
WCHS had four other individuals that came up short. Chase Rattenborg (113) finished third, while Reece Sadler (106), Nick Gasca (126) and Hunter Collicott (182) were all fourth.
Gasca was a late addition to the field. He finished third at the sectional, but got the districts nod when Ballard’s Gage Long was forced to withdraw due to illness.
Rattenborg dropped a heartbreaking 4-2 decision in sudden-victory to Southeast Valley’s Coledon Bethel in the semifinals. The Lynx freshman rebounded to pin West Marshall’s Jacob Vawter in 3:26 in the consolation final, but was denied a wrestleback.
Getting to state is one thing, but WCHS head coach Chad Hisler is confident all seven of his qualifiers can make some noise when they step into the spotlight.
“We’re very happy and we think all of those guys have a shot to place at state and that’s the big thing,” he said. “They all have the ability to score points at state, so that’s going to be fun.”
WCHS will first focus on the state duals, which will take center stage inside Wells Fargo Arena on Wednesday. The 10th-ranked Lynx will be an underdog in the quarterfinals against top-ranked New Hampton/Turkey Valley at 11 a.m.
Class 2A District Tournament
Saturday at Webster City
(No. of individual state qualifiers)
1. Clarion-Goldfield-Dows (6) 131; 2. Webster City (7) 122; 3. Ballard (4) 84; 4. Pocahontas Area/Laurens-Marathon (2) 45; 5. Southeast Valley (3) 39; 6. (tie) Algona (1) and Gilbert (1) 38; 8. Humboldt (2) 271⁄2; 9. South Central Calhoun (1) 23: 10. Collins-Maxwell 20; 11. West Marshall (1) 14.
106 — Jacob Mielke (PA) dec. Tyler Stein (CGD), 8-6. 113 — Remington Hanson (CGD) pinned Coledon Bethel (SEV), 2:26. 120 — Drake Doolittle (WC) pinned Keaton Wilson (CGD), 1:26. 126 — Shea Ruffridge (PA) major dec. Hunter Pfantz (WM), 10-0. 132 — Carson Hartnett (WC) dec. Trey Lawrence (SEV), 10-6. 138 — Jarrett Miller (BAL) major dec. Reed Abbas (CGD), 14-4. 145 — Tanner Abbas (CGD) major dec. Joey Busse (HUM), 16-5. 152 — Skyler Noftsger (BAL) dec. Luke Rohmiller (WC), 7-1. 160 — Tate Battani (BAL) major dec. Reymundo Vasquez (CGD), 16-6. 170 — Carson Devine (ALG) dec. Zane Williams (WC), 9-3. 182 — Ben Lee (BAL) dec. Kyler Fisher (SEV), 3-2. 195 — Reldon Miller (GIL) dec. Caleb Olson (WC), 5-2. 220 — James Cherry (WC) pinned Brandon Johnson (HUM), 1:29. 285 — Cooper Lawson (WC) major dec. Spencer Trenary (CGD), 12-3.
106 — Tyler Stein (CGD) pinned Jacob Pierick (C-M), 2:16. 132 — Trey Lawrence (SEV) dec. Connor Johnson (CGD), 8-4. 145 — Joey Busse (HUM) dec. Carson Johnson (GIL), 9-2. 160 — Brody Goodman (SCC) dec. Reymundo Vasquez (CGD), 5-1. 182 — Kyler Fisher (SEV) major dec. Calvin Kruse (ALG), 20-7. 195 — Caleb Olson (WC) dec. Philip Minkler (PA), 8-4. 285 — Spencer Trenary (CGD) major dec. Dominick Etherington (ALG), 11-2.
State Tournament Pairings
First Round (Thursday)
(Ranked individuals noted)
120 — No. 2 Drake Doolittle (41-3) vs. Tyler Landgrebe (41-11), Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont.
132 — No. 7 Carson Hartnett (37-5) vs. Grant Hoeger (31-10), Dyersville Beckman.
152 — No. 10 Luke Rohmiller (26-7) vs. No. 4 Mitchel Mangold (34-5), West Delaware.
170 — No. 8 Zane Williams (38-7) vs. No. 1 Lucas Roland (45-1), PCM.
195 — Caleb Olson (18-11) vs. No. 4 Nick Smith (23-1), Central DeWitt.
220 — No. 7 James Cherry (33-4) vs. No. 3 Dakoda Powell (37-4), Spirit Lake Park.
285 — No. 1 Cooper Lawson (43-0) vs. Mitchell Huisenga (29-6), Washington.