Webster City sophomore 220-pounder Jaxon Cherry (top), ranked No. 7 (Class 2A), smiles before he even hears the slap of the mat during his championship-round bout against Algona’s Cohen Reffer at Saturday’s NCC tournament in Fort Dodge. Cherry was one of five individual champions for the Lynx. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

WEBSTER CITY — Chad Hisler could play the coulda, woulda, shoulda game until he’s blue in the face, but it’s not going to change the results.

Webster City scored 212 points. And it needed 213.

Could the Lynx have mustered one more point here or one more point there to avoid being a North Central Conference tournament runner-up for an 11th time in the 55-year existence of the league? Sure, but conference champion Hampton-Dumont/CAL and every other team could nitpick results as well.

That’s what always happens when things are this close.

“There are like 50 things that could have happened,” Hisler, the Lynx head coach, said after his program’s latest second-place finish at the conference tournament on Saturday inside the St. Edmond High School gymnasium. “It’s not one person’s fault or anything like that. There are four rated teams in our conference and I told the guys that if we get beat and we wrestle well, we get beat. That’s fine, I’m happy with that.”

Members of the Webster City wrestling team — grapplers, cheerleaders and coaches — celebrate a pin by heavyweight Landon Griffin in a third-place match at Saturday’s NCC tournament in Fort Dodge. It briefly gave the Lynx the team lead, but HDC won the final match to win the team crown by one point. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

The team race went right down to the final match. With the last two bouts on the mats, HDC held a 210-208 lead over WCHS. Lynx heavyweight Landon Griffin caused an eruption courtesy of his teammates matside when he pinned Humboldt’s Brady Marsh in a third-place match to briefly give WCHS a lead. But just moments later, HDC 220-pounder Cole Freerks fended off Clarion-Goldfield-Dows’ Erick Perez, 1-0, in another bronze medal match to hand the Bulldogs three team points and the hardware.

It tied for the second-closest team race in conference history, bested only by Iowa Falls’ half-point win over Eagle Grove (172-1711⁄2) in 1990.

Despite the frustrating team finish, there was still plenty for WCHS to celebrate as it packed up its belongings. The Lynx sent six wrestlers to the finals and crowned a tournament-high five individual champions, which tied for the most in program history alongside the 1992, 2012 and 2018 teams. Eleven individuals placed fourth or better and 13 of the 14 in the lineup cracked the top six.

The 212 points scored were more than WCHS accrued in five of its six team championship seasons and would have won 40 of the previous 54 crowns.

“I’m happy with it,” junior 145-pounder Austin Mason, one of the team’s five gold medalists, said. “I wish we would have won it, but I can’t complain.”

WCHS 145-pounder Austin Mason (back) locks up a cradle for near-fall points against St. Edmond’s Logan McElroy on Saturday. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

Third-ranked (Class 2A) 113-pounder Carson Doolittle, top-ranked 120-pounder Cam Phetxoumphone, eighth-ranked 195-pounder CJ Hisler and seventh-ranked 220-pounder Jaxon Cherry joined Mason on the top of the podium. Evan Estlund (170) finished in the runner-up slot, while Brady Jessen (160) matched Griffin’s third-place effort. Addison Scott (106), Luke Estlund (138) and Jordan Vankham (152) were all fourth.

Phetxoumphone became the 11th NCC wrestler to win four titles and just the second WCHS grappler to join the fraternity. Drake Doolittle accomplished the feat in 2019.

Carson Doolittle, a sophomore, reached the halfway point of joining his brother and Phetxoumphone in the exclusive club by blanking 10th-ranked Jack Showalter of HDC, 4-0, in the finals. Doolittle scored a first-period takedown and then tacked on a third-period reversal to snag title No. 2.

“It’s a pretty big goal (to win four titles) and I know I have it in me,” Doolittle said. “It would mean a lot (to join Drake) because I look up to him. He’s one of my idols.”

CJ Hisler also picked up his second consecutive title in his third trip to the finals. Second as a freshman, he’s pinned his way through each of the last two league tournaments. He only needed 1:32 to deck HDC’s Isaac Heilskov in the latest final.

WCHS 195-pound NCC champion CJ Hisler pins Humboldt’s Christian Lee on Saturday. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

“I came in here mentally prepared and I had an agenda,” CJ Hisler said. “I knew what I needed to do and I did it.”

Cherry had a similarly easy path to the top spot. Ninth-ranked Gabe Hadwiger of Iowa Falls-Alden didn’t compete due to injury and that left Cherry as an overwhelming favorite. He flattened two foes in the first period, including Algona’s Cohen Reffer in just 53 seconds in the finals.

“For the heavier weights, he’s definitely the No. 1 worker in the room,” CJ Hisler said of Cherry. “I’m trying to help him as much as I can because he’s definitely got a bright future.”

Mason was somewhat surprised that he garnered a No. 1 seed, but he lived up to expectations. He pinned his way into the finals and then utilized a second-period four-point throw near the edge of the mat to gain the upper-hand in a 5-0 win over Humboldt’s Ty Gargano in the gold-medal round.

“He shot in and I naturally did it, I didn’t even think about it,” Mason said. “This is something I’ve wanted since I started wrestling. I’ve wanted my name on the (practice room) wall and now I’ve got it, so I’m pretty happy.”

WCHS 160-pound bronze medalist Brady Jessen finishes off Clear Lake’s Hayden Rieck by fall on Saturday. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

HDC’s Tate Schmitt scored on a second-period escape for the only point in a 1-0 finals win over Evan Estlund. The Bulldogs hoarded four of the individual titles to finish right behind WCHS.

Humboldt occupied the third-place spot on the final leaderboard with 188 points. Algona (1571⁄2) and CGD (156) rounded out the top five.

NCC Tournament

Saturday at Fort Dodge

Team Standings

1. Hampton-Dumont/CAL 213; 2. Webster City 212; 3. Humboldt 188; 4. Algona 157 1/2; 5. Clarion-Goldfield-Dows 156; 6. Clear Lake 84; 7. Iowa Falls-Alden 50; 8. St. Edmond 11.

Championship Matches

Class 2A ranked wrestlers noted

106 Pounds — No. 11 Jayson Stevens (HDC) dec. No. 10 Isaac Wilson (ALG), 5-0.

113 Pounds — No. 3 Carson Doolittle (WC) dec. No. 10 Jack Showalter (HDC), 4-0.

120 Pounds — No. 1 Cam Phetxoumphone (WC) pinned DJ Muir (HUM), 1:43.

126 Pounds — No. 11 Max Currier (CL) pinned No. 9 Tate Slagle (ALG), 1:09.

132 Pounds — Hayden Thompson (ALG) pinned Dusty Pate (HUM), 1:50.

138 Pounds — Jase Goodell (HUM) pinned Taylor Mahler (HDC), 2:44.

145 Pounds — Austin Mason (WC) dec. Ty Gargano (HUM), 5-0.

152 Pounds — No. 11 Brandon Harris (ALG) maj dec Jakyb Kapp (HDC), 11-2.

160 Pounds — No. 5 Carl Barkema (HDC) dec. No. 4 Garrett Seaba (CGD), 3-0.

170 Pounds — Tate Schmitt (HDC) dec Evan Estlund (WC), 1-0.

182 Pounds — Braden Hansen (HDC) dec Kaleb Hambly (CL), 5-3.

195 Pounds — No. 8 CJ Hisler (WC) pinned Isaac Heilskov (HDC), 1:32.

220 Pounds — No. 7 Jaxon Cherry (WC) pinned Cohen Reffer (ALG), 0:53.

285 Pounds — Daniel Chavez (CGD) dec Carter Heilskov (HDC), 5-0.

Individual Champions

By School

•Webster City: 5

•Hampton-Dumont/CAL: 4

•Algona: 2

•Clear Lake: 1

•Humboldt: 1

•Clarion-Goldfield-Dows: 1

Lynx Results

106 — Addison Scott 1-2, 4th. 113 — Carson Doolittle 2-0, 1st. 120 — Cam Phetxoumphone 2-0, 1st. 126 — Tristan Mason 0-3, 6th. 132 — Cole Reiling 0-2, DNP. 138 — Luke Estlund 2-2, 4th. 145 — Austin Mason 3-0, 1st. 152 — Jordan Vankham 2-2, 4th. 160 — Brady Jessen 3-1, 3rd. 170 — Evan Estlund 1-1, 2nd. 182 — Dylan Burnette-Bingham 1-3, 6th. 195 — CJ Hisler 2-0, 1st. 220 — Jaxon Cherry 2-0, 1st. 285 — Landon Griffin 3-1, 3rd.


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