Hawks’ Swenson, Thompson walk similar paths in first trip to state
Class 1A first round gets started at 6 p.m. this evening
JEWELL — Lane Swenson is the kid with the shorter brown hair, while Trevor Thompson is a bit taller with the lighter mop on the top of his head.
It’s obviously not hard for South Hamilton wrestling fans to differentiate between the program’s two state wrestling qualifiers, but for others it might be more difficult to separate the two.
Their stories and paths to the state tournament are eerily similar.
Both are juniors and first-time state qualifiers. Both are multiple-sport athletes who took some lumps on the mat early in their careers, but they’ve learned and grown. Both put together dominant seasons and yet, for some reason, flew under the statewide radar.
And both are ready to jump out of their skin due to the excitement of what awaits them this evening.
“I just want to get after it, I’m ready to go,” Thompson, South Hamilton’s 195-pounder, said. “I want to get out there and start wrestling.”
South Hamilton will make its first appearance on the state tournament mats since 2017 when the Class 1A first round gets underway at 6 p.m. from Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. Swenson (38-3), who jumped into The Predicament’s 170-pound rankings at No. 8 late in the season, will begin his journey against sixth-ranked Cael McLaren (30-8) of Council Bluffs St. Albert. Thompson (35-8) opens up against Derek Anderson (33-5) of Hinton.
Neither South Hamilton grappler has faced his first-round opponent. Thompson has one common opponent — both he and Anderson fell to Woodbury Central’s Ty Dennison by similarly close scores — but that’s not really enough to draw any conclusions.
In other words, they’ll step onto the mat a bit in the dark, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t done their due diligence.
“We search them up on YouTube and try to find common opponents, stuff like that,” Thompson said. “I know my guy is 6-(foot)-5 and he’s the quarterback of their football team.”
Swenson says he’ll enter his bout with McLaren with confidence in himself and his abilities.
“It’s winnable,” Swenson, who is seeded seventh, said. “Every match, you have to go out with the right mindset to win the match. It’s three matches actually; every period is a match in my mind. I just try to go out and win them all.”
Swenson, a Heart of Iowa Conference champion, found video of McLaren and has tried to form a game plan.
“I watched a match and it looked like he’s more of a defensive guy waiting for someone to make a mistake,” he said. “I’m just going to push my offense and make him react to me. If I make a mistake, I’ll just have to work through it.”
Thompson and Anderson are both unranked, but Anderson earned the No. 4 seed in their 16-man bracket. Anderson will have the height advantage, but Thompson’s brute strength could be his edge.
“On bottom I can’t let my knee get too close to my head and I have to watch out for cradles, that’s the big thing,” he said. “On my feet I’ve got to get inside of him.”
Wins in the first round would push Swenson and Thompson into Friday’s quarterfinals. Setbacks in the opening round would mean a second match tonight with their state tournament lives on the line.
And the goal for the week is simple, something they were identical on again.
“The podium,” they said in unison when asked what would be a good week.
“The top eight, especially going down there for the first time, would be great,” Swenson said.
State Wrestling Tournament
9 a.m. — Class 3A first round and consolation first round.
1:30 — Class 2A first round and consolation first round.
6:00 — Class 1A first round and consolation first round.
First Round Pairings (of note)
170 Pounds — Lane Swenson (38-3), South Hamilton vs. Cael McLaren (30-8), Council Bluffs St. Albert.
195 Pounds — Trevor Thompson (35-8), South Hamilton vs. Derek Anderson (33-5), Hinton.