ALL ABOUT THE GOLD
LYNX TRIO TAKES BIG DREAMS, BIG GOALS TO STATE
WEBSTER CITY — Cam Phetxoumphone’s expression was icy as he stood just steps outside of the Webster City wrestling practice room Tuesday afternoon. The 2020 state champion has a big week in front of him, but as he sees it he has just one mission.
“I don’t know, what’s another word?” Phetxoumphone asked. “That’s the word I’m using. Dominate.
Phetxoumphone, ranked No. 1 in Class 2A at 113 pounds, and teammates Carson Doolittle and Chase Rattenborg will make the journey to Des Moines this evening for the first round of the state wrestling tournament inside Wells Fargo Arena. The 2A session is scheduled for a 6 p.m. start.
The WCHS contingent might not be large, but it thinks it’s mighty. Doolittle is ranked No. 3 at 106 and Rattenborg jumped in and out of the 132-pound rankings all season. Throw in Phetxoumphone’s prowess and the Lynx see the three-day affair as a chance to not only put all three on the podium, but pretty high up.
“If I compete my best, I should win it,” Doolittle, a freshman who watched his older brother Drake win a state championship in 2019, said with a slight grin on his face. “That’s how I see it.”
Phetxoumphone (31-1) enters his third state tournament wearing several hats. Most of his 16-man bracket sees him as the hunted, but he sees himself as the hunter. The WCHS junior saw his 73-match win streak vanish at districts last weekend with a 2-1 loss to third-ranked Anders Kittelson of Crestwood, a bout that was decided by a locked hands penalty on Phetxoumphone midway through the second period.
And days later, he was still not happy about it.
“I’ve got a chip on my shoulder this time,” Phetxoumphone, who was fifth in 2019 before winning 106-pound gold 12 months ago, said. “It’s motivating me in practice and I’m looking forward to winning it.”
Even with the setback, Phetxoumphone still earned the No. 1 seed at 113 and he’ll open up this evening against Lincoln Keeler (23-11), an unranked freshman from Creston/Orient-Macksburg.
Phetxoumphone is the heavy favorite. He knows it and so does everyone else. But he won’t overlook Keeler.
“My mentality is just to go out thinking I have to score and score,” he said. “I want to score as many points as I can.”
The bracket sets up nicely for Phetxoumphone. A win tonight could set up a showdown with eighth-ranked Caelan Oakes of Southeast Valley in Friday’s quarters, and two more ranked contenders — No. 5 Dalton Rowe of Bondurant-Farrar and No. 6 Carson Less of West Delaware — reside on his half. Phetxoumphone is 2-0 with two pins against Less.
The bottom half of the bracket features Kittelson, No. 2 Lane Scorpil and No. 4 Tucker Stangel of Osage. And if Phetxoumphone would get through to his second straight finals, he knows who he’d like to see lining up across from him.
Anyone up for a district rematch?
Doolittle (32-4) will tangle with a familiar rival this evening when he meets ninth-ranked Jacob Zabka (30-3) of Algona in the first round. All three of Zabka’s losses were doled out by Doolittle — a fall, a major decision and a 10-4 decision in the finals of the North Central Conference tournament.
But Doolittle knows that getting win No. 4 over his league counterpart won’t be a walk in the park.
“I can’t get too over-confident because then stuff might not go the way I plan,” he said. “I’ve just got to go in there and get to my attacks and get to my ties.”
A win would likely push Doolittle into a quarterfinal bout against second-ranked Carter Anderson (42-1) of Albia, the top seed in the bracket.
Rattenborg (29-7) will face his own rematch — a first-round date with ninth-ranked Reily Dolan (25-6) of West Delaware, who won the previous encounter, 8-6 in sudden victory, at the Perry Invite last month. The WCHS senior has watched the replay of the match countless times and he says he knows what he has to do in his state tournament debut.
“I tried to gator roll in the first period, ended up on my back and that was four points,” he said. “I tried to score points and I ended up losing points. But it gives me more motivation in the practice room knowing that I can beat this kid.”
Rattenborg won’t likely be on anyone’s short list to make a run at a state championship, but he fears no one in his bracket. With a unique style and the ability to put anyone on his back at any time, he likes his chances.
“The way I look at it, we both weigh the same,” he said. “We both have to make the same weight. It’s just me and another kid on the line, and nine times out of 10 I’ll take me over another kid.”
First-round winners this evening will be done for the night. Losers will have to wrestle again in the consolation round where they’ll have to win in order to stay in the tournament and in the running for a medal.
9 a.m. — Class 1A first round and consolation first round.
1:30 p.m. — Class 3A first round and consolation first round.
6 p.m. — Class 2A first round and consolation first round.
9 a.m. — Class 1A and 3A quarterfinals and consolation second round.
2:30 p.m. — Class 2A quarterfinals, 1A semifinals, 2A consolation second round and 1A consolation third round.
7:30 p.m. — Class 2A and 3A semifinals and consolation third round.
10 a.m. — All classes consolation semifinals and finals.
6 p.m. — All classes finals.
Webster City First Round Matches
(Ranked wrestlers noted)
106 — No. 3 Carson Doolittle (32-4), fr vs. No. 9 Jacob Zabka (30-3), soph, Algona.
113 — No. 1 Cam Phetxoumphone (31-1), jr vs. Lincoln Keeler (23-11), fr, Creston/Orient-Macksburg.
132 — Chase Rattenborg (29-7), sr vs. No. 9 Reily Dolan (25-6), sr, West Delaware.