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CHASING NO. 3

No. 1-ranked Phetxoumphone out to join elite company, in more ways than one, at Saturday’s NCC tournament

Defending state champion Cam Phetxoumphone (facing), a WCHS junior, puts Algona’s Ian Fehr on his back during a dual earlier this month. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

WEBSTER CITY — Nothing is a lock. Nothing is guaranteed. But Cam Phetxoumphone may be as close as it comes on the North Central Conference wrestling landscape.

Webster City’s junior state champion will step inside his home gymnasium and onto familiar mats on Saturday in pursuit of a third conference title, a feat accomplished by just four previous Lynx grapplers — Bart Chelesvig, Jason Dillingham, Connor Larson and Drake Doolittle. Only Doolittle won four crowns, a feat that Phetxoumphone likely has scribbled down somewhere.

The NCC tournament will get underway at 10 a.m.

Ranked No. 1 (Class 2A) at 113 pounds and currently riding a 59-match winning streak, Phetxoumphone (16-0) could reach another milestone on Saturday — 100 career victories. He enters the tournament with 98 wins as he looks to become the program’s 21st member.

But, again, it won’t be handed to him. In Phetxoumphone’s path with be another former league gold medalist — seventh-ranked Jack Showalter of Hampton-Dumont/CAL, who ruled the weight class a season ago. They met earlier this month, a match Phetxoumphone dominated en route to a 9-1 major decision win.

WCHS senior Chase Rattenborg (above) is a former NCC runner-up and will face arguably the toughest bracket at 132 pounds at Saturday’s NCC tournament. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

Phetxoumphone is just one of a handful of Lynx grapplers with title aspirations, as WCHS attempts to improve upon its sixth-place finish at the 2020 league tournament. It was only the second time since 2010 that the team didn’t place first or second.

Nine of the wrestlers in the Lynx lineup placed a season ago. It will take that many and more to get the team into the hunt for the team championship.

“I think we’re in the mix if we wrestle well and our goal is try to compete for a title,” WCHS head coach Chad Hisler said. “But that being said, we’ve got to have a lot of guys step up and we’ve got to have all 14 guys wrestle well. We haven’t had that yet this season.”

Phetxoumphone is a shoo-in for a No. 1 seed. Sixth-ranked Carson Doolittle (106), seventh-ranked Chase Rattenborg (132) and ninth-ranked CJ Hisler (182) could all sit at the top of their brackets as well. Trey Shannon (220) could be in line for the No. 2 seed behind ninth-ranked Colton Goodell of Humboldt.

Like Phetxoumphone, Doolittle (16-2) has owned every league opponent that he’s faced, and that includes ninth-ranked Jake Zabka of Algona. Doolittle pinned Zabka earlier this month and three days later won the rematch, 8-0.

WCHS freshman Carson Doolittle (right), ranked sixth at 106 pounds, controls Algona’s Jake Zabka earlier this month. They’ll likely be the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds at the NCC tournament on Saturday. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

Hisler (13-3) was the league silver medalist at 170 a season ago, dropping a wild and heartbreaking 13-12 decision in the finals.

Rattenborg (13-4), a former conference runner-up, faces perhaps the toughest bracket in the field, which will likely also include eighth-ranked and two-time NCC champion Sam Nelson of Clear Lake, as well as 10th-ranked Brody Hoversten of Iowa Falls-Alden. And could fourth-ranked 126-pounder Jase Goodell of Humboldt also be at 132 on Saturday? It’s possible.

Rattenborg knocked off Nelson, 8-5, in a dual meet back in December.

Shannon (15-3) placed third at 285 last winter. Evan Estlund (8-4) was also third at 152, where he’ll be again on Saturday.

How WCHS performs following losses could determine its final standing in the team race. Points always accumulate on the back sides of brackets, something Hisler has stressed repeatedly to his wrestlers.

WCHS 152-pounder Evan Estlund (back) was third at the 2020 NCC tournament. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

“We’ve talked about it all week,” he said. “If you lose, you have to come back and score because this is a team thing and it’s a big deal. If we all wrestle well on the same day, we’ll have a shot. If we don’t, we won’t.”

CGD, the league dual champion and the winner of four of the past six tournament crowns, is considered the favorite. The Cowboys return a pair of individual champions. Humboldt has plenty of talent to challenge as well, as does Hampton-Dumont/CAL.

What: NCC Wrestling Tournament.

When: Saturday, 10 a.m.

Where: Webster City High School.

Returning Individual Champions (Weights in 2020): Cam Phetxoumphone, Webster City (106); Jack Showalter, Hampton-Dumont/CAL (113); Reed Abbas, CGD (145); Garrett Seaba, CGD (152).

Ranked Individuals

Class 2A

106 — 6. Carson Doolittle, Webster City; 9. Jake Zabka, Algona.

113 — 1. Cam Phetxoumphone, Webster City; 7. Jack Showalter, Hampton-Dumont/CAL.

126 — 4. Jase Goodell, Humboldt.

132 — 7. Chase Rattenborg, Webster City; 8. Sam Nelson, Clear Lake; 10. Brody Hoversten, Iowa Falls-Alden.

138 — 6. Reed Abbas, CGD.

152 — 9. Carl Barkema, Hampton-Dumont/CAL.

160 — 4. Garrett Seaba, CGD.

182 — 9. CJ Hisler, Webster City.

220 — 9. Colton Goodell, Humboldt.

Webster City Lineup (Expected)

106 — Carson Doolittle (16-2). 113 — Cam Phetxoumphone (16-0). 120 — Brayden Henely (13-6). 126 — Reece Sadler (5-11). 132 — Chase Rattenborg (13-4). 138 — Austin Mason (9-9). 145 — Jordan Vankham (12-6). 152 — Evan Estlund (8-4). 160 — Brady Jessen (6-5). 170 — Skyler Scott (1-10). 182 — CJ Hisler (13-3). 195 — Dylan Burnette-Bingham (3-7). 220 — Trey Shannon (15-3). 285 — Landon Griffin (4-12).

Did You Know?

•10 individuals have won 4 NCC wrestling titles with 6 achieving the feat since 2011. From 1960-2010, only 4 reached the milestone.

•Clear Lake’s run of NCC tournaments with at least 1 individual champion ended at 26 seasons in 2020.

•The NCC tournament host school has won the league title just 3 times, two of those coming in the last two years (CGD in 2019 and IF-A in 2020).

•Webster City has won 6 NCC tournament championships, the last coming in 2017. The lynx have been the NCC runner-up 10 times.

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