Second-year wrestler Gilbert seizes the opportunity, advances to state in wrestleback
BY TROY BANNING
ADEL — Fifteen months ago Michael Gilbert was as knowledgeable about the duck under or ball and chain tilt as he was astrophysics.
In other words, he was in the dark. Just a kid off the street, in a way, looking to see what the sport of wrestling was all about.
This morning he wakes up as a Class 2A state qualifier at 182 pounds. Not too shabby at all.
In just his second year in a singlet, Gilbert, a Webster City senior, punched his ticket to state by placing second at Saturday’s Class 2A district tournament inside the ADM High School gymnasium.
The fist pump, the wave to the Lynx crowd, the hug with head coach Chad Hisler — it was all a surreal experience for the somewhat newbie to the sport.
“When I started (prior to the 2017-18 season) I definitely kind of expected to be a JV wrestler, but this year I knew there were spots to fill and I knew I could do it,” a still smiling Gilbert said only minutes after he won his wrestleback match at districts. “It’s insane to be able to come out and do this … nothing I could have ever pictured. I still don’t know if it’s completely set in.”
Gilbert (24-20) had to wait until the final match of the tournament to turn his dream into reality. Facing Ballard’s Mason Askelsen in the wrestleback round for the last of the 28 state berths handed out, Gilbert seized the lead for good with a second-period escape and then built a cushion with a pair of third-period takedowns for a 5-1 victory.
A single-leg attack near the edge of the mat midway through the third was the difference. After dragging Askelsen back into the circle, Gilbert was able to trip the back leg and score the takedown to build an insurmountable 3-0 advantage.
“It came down to the last match of the whole tournament and he wrestled smart,” WCHS head coach Chad Hisler said of Gilbert. “In the past he’d go for a headlock or something and give up points, but he didn’t do that.”
Gilbert avenged two previous losses en route to the runner-up finish. He fell to Askelsen, 4-2, when they met in December, and earlier in the consolation round he pinned Perry’s Cole Snyder in 2:34 to earn the wrestleback. Snyder beat Gilbert, 10-7, in the finals at sectionals.
Gilbert opened the district with a loss to third-ranked and eventual champion Nolan Harsh of ADM.
“I came in definitely knowing my first match was going to be a tough one, but I knew the other two (matches) were doable,” Gilbert said. “That match against the Perry kid definitely boosted my confidence. I knew that would determine my fate and coming out of that match I felt incredible and it just fueled me going into that next match.”
WCHS, which will send a total of four wrestlers to state, fell short in two other wrestleback opportunities.
Chase Rattenborg (126) built a 6-2 first-period lead on Cael Ihle of Gilbert, but was reversed to his back in the second period and lost by fall. Sean Godfredsen (160) faced the most daunting bracket of the day, as he lost to top-ranked Skyler Noftsger of Ballard in the semifinals and then dropped a 14-2 major decision to eighth-ranked Caleb Swalla of Van Meter-Earlham in the wrestleback.
“Sean was competitive in that last match, and Chase wrestled the first period as good as he’s wrestled all year, but (Ihle) is tough,” Hisler said.
Gage Rossing (220) was also in the district field for the Lynx. He placed fourth.
The state tournament will get underway from Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines on Thursday. The opening 2A session with first round and consolation first round matches is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.
Class 2A District Tournament
Saturday at Adel
1. Van Meter-Earlham 1261⁄2; 2. Webster City 90; 3. Gilbert 82; 4. Ballard 69; 5. Perry 67; 6. ADM 521⁄2; 7. Woodward-Granger 30; 8. Roland-Story 291⁄2; 9. North Polk 24; 10. Saydel 8; 11. West Marshall 0.
State Qualifier Standings
1. Van Meter-Earlham 7; 2. Webster City 4; 3. (tie) Perry, ADM, Gilbert, Ballard 3; 7. (tie) Roland-Story, Woodward-Granger 2; 9. North Polk 1; 10. (tie) Saydel, West Marshall 0.
Webster City Results
106: Camron Phetxoumphone
•Semifinal — Won by fall over Joel Harney (W-G), 0:47.
•Final — Won by dec. over Cole Nelson (PER), 8-4.
120: Drake Doolittle (2-0, 1st)
•Semifinal — Won by fall over Ryan Davidson (NP), 1:42.
•Final — Won by major dec. over Colby Wiederholt (VME), 13-5.
126: Chase Rattenborg (1-2, 3rd)
•Semifinal — Lost by tech fall to Andrew Flora (ADM), 16-1, 6:00.
•Consolation — Won by fall over Korbin Barck (VME), 2:22.
•Wrestleback — Lost by fall to Cael Ihle (GIL), 2:52.
160: Sean Godfredsen (1-2, 3rd)
•Semifinal — Lost by fall to Skyler Noftsger (BAL), 0:38.
•Consolation — Won by fall over Erick Funez (PER), 5:26.
•Wrestleback — Lost by major dec. to Caleb Swalla (VME), 14-2.
182: Michael Gilbert (2-1, 2nd)
•Semifinal — Lost by fall to Nolan Harsh (ADM), 1:32.
•Consolation — Won by fall over Cole Snyder (PER), 2:34.
•Wrestleback — Won be dec. over Mason Askelsen (BAL), 5-1.
195: Caleb Olson (2-0, 1st)
•Semifinal — Won by fall over Justice Paulson (ADM), 2:39.
•Final — Won by fall over Joseph Hofbauer (BAL), 2:55.
220: Gage Rossing (0-2, 4th)
•Semifinal — Lost by fall to Cody Fisher (W-G), 0:20.
•Consolation — Lost by fall to Cayden Meskan (GIL), 1:32.