2 STILL STANDING
Top-ranked Phetxoumphone, Gasca will represent WCHS at state
ALGONA — Nick Gasca says he’s wasn’t begging, pleading or even complaining. He was just pointing out a fact, one that took the official 10 seconds to agree with.
But with a slap of the mat, Gasca’s comeback story was complete. From a district semifinal victim to a state qualifier, not bad for a couple hours worth of work.
“I was just saying ‘he’s pinned, he’s pinned,'” Gasca, a Webster City junior, said of his conversation with the referee during his 145-pound wrestleback match against Emmetsburg’s Brad Wirtz at Saturday’s Class 2A district tournament. “(Wirtz) wasn’t moving and I was just holding his head there. But I didn’t say please.”
Gasca finally got the fall at the edge of the mat in 1:40 to avenge a loss at sectionals and advance to this week’s state tournament inside Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
Gasca will be joined at state by sophomore teammate and top-ranked 106-pounder Cam Phetxoumphone, who steamrolled through another bracket to claim a district crown and stay unbeaten on the season.
The Lynx three other district qualifiers — Chase Rattenborg (132), Evan Estlund (152) and CJ Hisler (170) — came up short in their bids for state berths.
Gasca (25-10), a first-time state qualifier, opened his day with a hard-fought 4-3 loss to eighth-ranked David Cornejo of Hampton-Dumont/CAL. Following an 8-2 rout of Garner-Hayfield/Ventura’s Luke Brown in the consolation round, Gasca then became Cornejo’s most vocal cheerleader matside during the final against Wirtz. Cornejo survived in overtime to give Gasca a shot in the wrestlebacks.
“I was so happy, I couldn’t stop jumping,” Gasca said of Cornejo’s win over Wirtz. “I had to go and thank him after the match.”
Wirtz hit a takedown early to take a 2-0 lead in the wrestleback, but Gasca quickly tied it on a reversal and then showed Wirtz the lights. Wirtz pinned Gasca at the sectional.
“At sectionals I was timid because he’s a bit taller than me, but I knew I could beat that kid,” Gasca said. “I went out there and wrestled like I usually do.”
Phetxoumphone (38-0) needed no such heroics. He might as well have been called Dr. Phetxoumphone because of his precise dissection of Garner-Hayfield/Ventura’s Zach Feld in the semifinals and third-ranked Cole Nelson of Humboldt in the finals.
Phetxoumphone cranked out four takedowns, turned Feld three times and racked up 17 points before he went for the fall in just 1:33.
In his fifth meeting of the season against Nelson, Phetxoumphone broke a scoreless bout with an escape and takedown in the second period. He tacked on another takedown on a leg attack in the third for a 5-0 win.
“I was working simple shots, simple outside shots, and no throws,” Phetxoumphone said of his finals win.
Phetxoumphone, a fifth-place state medalist as a freshman a season ago, has a chance to become only the second WCHS wrestler to ever be an undefeated state champion. Bart Chelesvig did it three times.
And what does Phetxoumphone know about Chelesvig, who remains the best wrestler to ever wear a Lynx singlet?
“He wrestled for Dan Gable,” Phetxoumphone said of Chelesvig.
Yep, that’s good enough.
While Gasca and Phetxoumphone were able to celebrate, Rattenborg (30-11) learned first-hand just how cruel sports can be.
A 3-2 winner on a late takedown against Clear Lake’s Conner Morey in the semifinals, Rattenborg stormed out to a 13-7 lead after two periods against eighth-ranked Averee Abben of Osage in the finals. But Abben went on the attack in the third and ripped off takedown after takedown, and then put Rattenborg on his back for the fall in 5:19.
Forced into the wrestleback against Okoboji’s Blake Abrahamson, Rattenborg again led big, 10-3, after one period and twice had Abrahamson flat on the mat. But Abrahamson rallied with three turns in the second and then tossed Rattenborg to his back in the third for a fall in 4:34.
So close to state. Twice.
“I thought he had both (Abben and Abrahamson) pinned, but he was still ahead by six or seven points,” Hisler said. “You have to keep wrestling though.
“It’s tough, but Chase will bounce back from this and have a great senior year.”
Estlund (22-19), a sophomore, and CJ Hisler (27-14), a freshman, both dropped a pair of matches to place fourth. Hisler scored an early takedown in the semifinals against second-ranked Spencer Mooberry of Osage, but nothing went his way after that.
“CJ got a takedown against one of the better kids in the state,” Chad Hisler said. “Evan improved as much as anyone on the team, so going forward we’re expecting big things.”
WCHS finished tied for sixth in the team standings with 40 points. Osage won the district team title with 115.
Class 2A District Tournament
Saturday at Algona
1. Osage 115; 2. Forest City 801⁄2; 3. (tie) Algona and Humboldt 67; 5. Emmetsburg 65; 6. Webster City 40; 7. Hampton-Dumont 36; 8. Clear Lake 32; 9. Okoboji 31; 10. Garner-Hayfield/Ventura 21; 11. Estherville-Lincoln Central 13; 12. Southeast Valley 0.
Webster City Results
Cam Phetxoumphone (first, 106 pounds) — Semifinal: won by fall over Zach Feld (GHV), 1:33; Final: won by dec. over Cole Nelson (HUM), 5-0.
Chase Rattenborg (third, 132 pounds) — Semifinal: won by dec. over Conner Morey (CL), 3-2; Final: lost by fall to Averee Abben (OS), 5:19; Wrestleback: lost by fall to Blake Abrahamson (OK), 4:34.
Nick Gasca (second, 145 pounds) — Semifinal: lost by dec. to David Cornejo (HD), 4-3; Consolation Final: won by dec. over Luke Brown (GHV), 8-2; Wrestleback: won by fall over Brad Wirtz (EM), 1:40.
Evan Estlund (fourth, 152 pounds) — Semifinal: lost by fall to Kristian Gunderson (FC), 3:17; Consolation Final: lost by fall to Luke McKenna (ALG), 0:32.
CJ Hisler (fourth, 170 pounds) — Semifinal: lost by fall to Spencer Mooberry (OS), 3:16; Consolation Final: lost by dec. to Adam Heflin (GHV), 6-0.