WCHS ninth in Class 2A, but not everyone walks away smiling
Doolittle and Lawson denied chances to win state gold, Hartnett takes sixth at 132
DES MOINES — Drake Doolittle slumped in a metal folding chair and stared straight ahead at nothing in particular in the bowels of Wells Fargo Arena Saturday afternoon.
The blank expression on his face spoke volumes though. Spent both mentally and physically, the disappointing reality was simply too much to endure.
Cooper Lawson wasn’t at the arena, but if anyone could have empathized with Doolittle it would have been the biggest of Webster City’s wrestlers.
Their dreams were to have state gold draped around their necks Saturday night. Instead, both were forced to deal with the agony of putting it all out there, only to come up short at the 93rd state wrestling tournament.
Tagged as state title contenders when the tournament got underway on Thursday, Doolittle and Lawson instead had to settle for fifth- and eighth-place finishes in their respective Class 2A weight classes.
James Cherry was the Lynx highest place-winner; he snagged bronze at 220 pounds. Carson Hartnett capped his career with a sixth-place medal at 132.
The four placers vaulted WCHS into ninth-place in the final team standings, but that wasn’t celebrated as the coaches and group of seven qualifiers headed for the exit following the consolation matches Saturday afternoon.
“It’s a roller coaster,” WCHS head coach Chad Hisler said. “It’s so hard because you’re heartbroken for one kid on this side of you and then ecstatic for a kid on the other side of you.”
Lawson (48-3), who entered the tournament as the top-ranked heavyweight, was dealt his first loss in 56 matches Friday afternoon by second-ranked and eventual state champion John McConkey of Atlantic-CAM in the quarterfinals, and it came with the unfortunate bonus of a knee injury that derailed the remainder of his weekend.
Lawson tweaked his left knee midway through the third period when he fended off a single-leg attack by McConkey. But the UNI commit attacked that leg again and notched the winning takedown with 18 seconds remaining for a 3-1 victory.
Lawson was able to make it through his first consolation match a little over an hour later and pinned Carson Petlon of West Delaware in 59 seconds, but he was noticeably hobbled in his next bout against Brendon Lunsford of Fairfield. Late in the first period Lawson attempted to toss Lunsford, but his knee buckled and he pulled Lunsford on top of him as he tumbled to the mat. Lunsford got the fall in 1:21 and Lawson stayed on the mat until trainers eventually helped him off.
Lawson, a 2016 state runner-up and the Lynx single-season wins record holder, injury defaulted out of the seventh-place match Saturday morning. Hisler said the extent of the knee injury was unknown at the time.
“It was tough for Cooper,” Hisler said. “He ended up with the other best kid in the bracket right away and tweaked his knee. But people saw the real Cooper at the state duals and that’s what I’ll remember. He can be as good as he wants to be in whatever he decides to do and he’s done a great job for our program.”
Doolittle (47-5) had visions of a return trip to the state finals, but that was derailed by Sergeant Bluff-Luton’s Jack Gaukel, 3-1, in the 120-pound semifinals on Friday. Gaukel, who lost to Doolittle 3-1 in a January bout at the Perry Invite, took a 1-0 lead with a third-period escape and then scored the only takedown of the match when Doolittle went for a headlock and fell to the mat.
“(Gaukel) had a good game plan of tying Drake up, and he tried a headlock and it just didn’t work,” Hisler said.
The malaise of the setback carried over to Saturday morning when Doolittle was sluggish in a 5-1 consolation semifinal loss to Jack Thomsen of Union.
The feisty Doolittle returned for the fifth-place match though, as his dismantled Caleb Fuessley of Center Point-Urbana and led 11-3 when he secured the fall, his single-season school record 33rd, in 4:14.
“That’s how we’ve got to get him to wrestle in every match in the future,” Hisler said of the fifth-place show. “That’s what he’s capable of. We know it and he knows it inside.”
One of only four WCHS grapplers to own three state medals, Doolittle got out of the quarters Friday morning with a nail-biting 4-3 win over Kaden Anderlik of Crestwood thanks to a cradle and two-point near-fall in the third period.
Hartnett (43-8) won three of six matches over the three-day tournament. He followed up a 5-3 loss to Winterset’s Jack West in the quarterfinals with back-to-back wins over Max Babcock of NHTV (10-2) and Trey Lawrence of Southeast Valley (fall in 5:34) to assure himself of a top-six medal.
Hartnett was unable to generate any offense during Saturday’s consolation matches, however, and dropped 6-0 and 5-1 decisions to Chase Luensman of Monticello and West again. Still, Hisler says his senior left it all out on the mats.
“I can’t fault any of my kids. They all gave it everything they had,” he said. “We didn’t accomplish everything we wanted and the kids are upset about it. I’m sure they’ll be thinking about it for a while, but it is what it is. There’s tough kids in every round and there were a lot of good kids that got beat.”
Luke Rohmiller, the Lynx 152-pounder, fell one win short of the podium Friday morning with an 8-3 loss to Dylan Koresh of Charles City. Rohmiller hit a double-leg takedown in the first period, but surrendered three takedowns in the second and third periods.
The five senior state qualifiers — Hartnett, Rohmiller, Cherry, Lawson and Zane Williams (170) — will be impossible to replace, and Doolittle wasn’t ready to say goodbye.
“I just want to say thank you to all of the seniors,” Doolittle said. “They mean everything to me and I’m going to miss them next year.”
State Wrestling Tournament
(Top 10 Only)
1. Fort Dodge 144; 2. Waukee 139; 3. Southeast Polk 1341⁄2; 4. West Des Moines Valley 1061⁄2; 5. Glenwood 761⁄2; 6. Johnston 741⁄2; 7. Iowa City West 731⁄2; 8. Iowa City High 71; 9. Dubuque Hempstead 67; 10. Perry 59.
1. Dubuque Wahlert 94; 2. New Hampton/Turkey Valley 80; 3. South Tama County 75; 4. Ballard 69; 5. Prairie City-Monroe 621⁄2; 6. (tie) Centerville and West Liberty 59; 8. Davenport Assumption 58; 9. Webster City 46; 10. Atlantic-CAM 451⁄2.
1. Lisbon 1271⁄2; 2. Don Bosco 121; 3. Denver 86; 4. Wapsie Valley 661⁄2; 5. Underwood 58; 6. (tie) Martensdale-St. Marys, Missouri Valley 57; 8. Woodbury Central 51; 9. (tie) Logan-Magnolia and West Sioux 50.
Individual State Champions
106 Pounds — 3A: Cullan Schriever, Mason City; 2A: Matthew Lewis, Centerville; 1A: Daniel Kimball, Don Bosco.
113 Pounds — 3A: Nick Oldham, WDM Valley; 2A: Andrew Flora, ADM; 1A: Adam Allard, W. Sioux.
120 Pounds — 3A: Kyle Biscoglia, Waukee; 2A: Aden Reeves, Albia; 1A: Cael Happel, Lisbon.
126 Pounds — 3A: Brody Teske, Ft. Dodge; 2A: Shea Ruffridge, Pocahontas Area; 1A: Alex Thomsen, Underwood.
132 Pounds — 3A: Drew Bennett, Ft. Dodge; 2A: Matt Robertson, Davenport Assumption; 1A: Donny Schmit, Wapsie Valley.
138 Pounds — 3A: Zach Stewart, Perry; 2A: Michael Blockhus, NHTV; 1A: Gable Fox, Don Bosco.
145 Pounds — 3A: Cade DeVos, SE Polk; 2A: Ryan Steffen, Crestwood; 1A: Cooper Siebrecht, Lisbon.
152 Pounds — 3A: Harlan Steffensmeier, Ft. Madison; 2A: Isaac Judge, S. Tama County; 1A: Trey Brisker, Wilton.
160 Pounds — 3A: Nelson Brands, Iowa City West; 2A: Josh Ramirez, Dubuque Wahlert; 1A: John Henrich, Akron-Westfield.
170 Pounds — 3A: Ben Sarasin, CR Kennedy; 2A: Lucas Roland, PCM; 1A: Gabe Pauley, AHSTW.
182 Pounds — 3A: Joel Shapiro, WDM Valley; 2A: Julien Broderson, Davenport Assumption; 1A: Logan Schumacher, Martensdale-St. Marys.
195 Pounds — 3A: Jacob Dykes, Iowa City High; 2A: Bryce Esmoil, W. Liberty; 1A: Tanner Sloan, Alburnett.
220 Pounds — 3A: Francis Duggan, Iowa City West; 2A: Boone McDermott, Dubuque Wahlert; 1A: Dam Fulcher, Hudson.
285 Pounds — 3A: Caleb Sanders, Glenwood; 2A: John McConkey, Atlantic-CAM; 1A: Brian Sadler, Jesup.