A LEGEND: Phetxoumphone finishes as 2-time champ, 3-time finalist

Petersen edges WCHS senior in champion vs. champion final at 120 pounds in Class 2A

WCHS senior 120-pounder Cam Phetxoumphone prepares for his Class 2A championship match against Greene County’s Kale Petersen on Saturday in Des Moines. Phetxoumphone dropped the bout between defending state champions, 8-5. He finished his career with a 158-8 record. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

DES MOINES — The heartbreak was genuine as Cam Phetxoumphone leaned his shoulder against the wall and bowed his head in an attempt to control his emotions in a back hallway at Wells Fargo Arena Saturday night.

Another wrestler approached and offered a quick hug, which Phetxoumphone accepted without lifting his head. The pain wasn’t physical, but the mental anguish was almost too much to endure.

“I’m just disappointed,” Phetxoumphone said barely above a whisper. “I could have done this, I could have done that … I don’t know. All of the coaches were telling me I had a hell of a career, but it’s just sad that it’s over.”

Phetxoumphone’s bid to become only the second three-time state wrestling champion in Webster City’s long history — Bart Chelesvig won three straight from 1985-87 — unraveled in front of a packed house, as Greene County’s Kale Petersen, a past state champion himself, used his size advantage and quickness to knock off the Lynx senior, 8-5, in the Class 2A 120-pound championship match.

Peterson (13-0), ranked No. 2, scored on a throw-by with 54 seconds remaining in the opening period, the first takedown allowed by Phetxoumphone since Dec. of 2020, but Phetxoumphone (41-1), ranked No. 1, was able to even the bout at 2 with a reversal.

WCHS senior Cam Phetxoumphone (back) attempts to roll Greene County’s Kale Petersen onto his back during the 120-pound final on Saturday. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

Phetxoumphone briefly led 3-2 on an escape early in the second, but Petersen moved ahead to stay on another takedown with 32 ticks left in the period. Phetxoumphone was forced to try to make something happen in the third and a couple of reckless shots ended with two more Petersen takedowns.

“It was still a one-point match (6-5) with 30 seconds left and we had to try to make something happen,” WCHS head coach Chad Hisler said. “We took a couple of shots because that kid wasn’t shooting, he was trying to block off.”

“He’s a lot bigger than me and I guess he beat me in some positions,” Phetxoumphone said.

The 2A 120-pound bout was one of only four finals out of 42 that pitted state champion versus state champion. Phetxoumphone won 2A titles at 106 and 113 in 2020 and 2021, while Petersen was the 2021 1A 106-pound champion at West Fork before he open enrolled to Greene County for this season.

“Only four matches with two state champions wrestling and Cam happened to have one of them,” Hisler said. “It is what it is. He went out and battled and just came up a little short.”

Cam Phetxoumphone (left) escapes in the second period during his Class 2A 120-pound final against Greene County’s Kale Petersen on Saturday in Des Moines. Petersen won the bout, 8-5. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

Hisler knows the sting will stay with Phetxoumphone for the time being, but the Lynx head coach hopes his star pupil will be able to grasp the bigger picture and be proud sooner rather than later.

“What a pleasure it’s been,” Hisler said. “I know it’s going to suck for now, but he’s going to be very proud of everything he’s done here and he’s set that bar high for the guys coming here in the future.”

Phetxoumphone, who was also fifth at 106 as a freshman, certainly leaves the WCHS program as one of its all-time greats. He put together a 158-8 career record, including 118-2 over his final three seasons, and his .952 win percentage is the best in program history.

He joined Chelesvig as the Lynx only three-time state finalists, and he’s one of only three WCHS grapplers to win four state medals alongside two-time runner-up Tyler Patten and 2019 state champion Drake Doolittle.

Only Chelesvig, Phetxoumphone and Jamie Taxted have won multiple state titles for the Lynx.

Cam Phetxoumphone (facing) scores the only takedown of the match and he went on to beat Carter Kolthoff of SH-BCLUW, 3-2, in a Class 2A 120-pound semifinal on Friday. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

Phetxoumphone advanced to his third consecutive state final with a pair of wins on Friday.

Carroll’s Cael Nelson offered little resistance in the quarterfinals, as Phetxoumphone rattled off four takedowns before generating the fall — his third of the season against Nelson — in 1:27.

Sixth-ranked Carter Kolthoff of SH-BCLUW was a different story in the semifinals though. Phetxoumphone, who went in front 2-0 just 20 seconds into the battle, survived a last-second single-leg takedown attempt by Kolthoff for a 3-2 win.

Kolthoff went on to place third in the bracket.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $3.46/week.

Subscribe Today