DES MOINES — You can’t win a state team championship on the first day of the three-day event. But you can lose it with a poor performance.
Underwood made sure it’s still in the thick of the chase.
The Eagles advanced five of their nine wrestlers to the quarterfinals, and kept three of the other four alive with first-round consolation victories Thursday in Class 1-A competition at Wells Fargo Arena. Top-rated Don Bosco leads the team race with 31 points, followed by second-rated Denver (29.5), fourth-rated Underwood (23.5) and third-rated Lisbon (23).
“The guys did a really good job,” Underwood coach Joe Stephens said. “Everybody’s getting bonus points. It will start separating out tomorrow, and that’s where we’ve got to be good. Tomorrow’s moving day. It’s when things happen.”
Underwood’s quarterfinalists are top-rated freshman Stevie Barnes (103), No. 5 junior Logan James (132), No. 2 freshman Nick Hamilton (138), No. 4 junior Blake Thomsen (145) and No. 10 senior Michael Baker (160). Barnes and Thomsen won by fall, James won by technical fall and Hamilton and Baker earned major decisions.
Western Iowa went 16-18 in the first round, with Logan-Magnolia and Missouri Valley sending three each into Friday’s quarterfinals.
Lo-Ma advanced top-rated freshman Hagen Heistand (113), second-rated sophomore Briar Reisz (126) and unrated junior Barrett Pitt (285).
Missouri Valley moved on second-rated senior Arron Olson (285), fourth-rated junior Nick Haynes (170) and fifth-rated senior Duke Kyle (145). The other WI quarterfinalists are No. 2 junior Drew Venteicher (160) and unrated senior Chance Strough of Bedford/Lenox, No. 8 junior Bryson Freeberg of Tri-Center (160), No. 1 senior Gabe Pauley of AHSTW (182) and No. 5 senior Dylan Obermeier of Audubon (220).
Missouri Valley’s Olson survived a scare against unrated Kipp Corbin of East Sac County, using a third-period escape to win 3-2. Teammate Haynes led unrated Gabe Carter of New London 5-3 midway through the third before winning 10-3.
“We’ve got to grind through and wrestle for six minutes,” Missouri Valley coach Keefer Jensen said. “They were able to do that today, I thought, so I’m proud of them.”
Perhaps the most unlikely WI quarterfinalist is Logan-Magnolia’s Pitt, an unseeded junior who improved to 17-9 with a 6-5 win over fifth-seeded Dagisteno Shilling of Cardinal. Pitt dislocated his right kneecap late in the football season and required surgery.
“I went to plant and it just gave out,” he said. “I knew right away that there was going to be some problems.”
A rough first-round session for western Iowa in Class 3-A took a dramatic turn Thursday in a span of about 10 minutes.
It started at 195 pounds, when unrated Glenwood senior Noah Carter almost immediately was thrown to his back by No. 6 Sam Hayes of Fort Madison. But before Hayes could register any points, Carter took him to his back and registered a pin in 18 seconds.
Minutes later, top-rated senior Cameron Baker of Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson scored a pin at 220 of No. 4 Tanner Schultz of Linn-Mar in 5:15.
They will be joined in Friday’s quarterfinals by Nick Walters of Sioux City North (120), Parker Klocke of Carroll (160) and No. 3 Brett Mower of Glenwood (182).
Western Iowa wrestlers in 3-A finished 5-13 in the first round, and had lost 12 of 15 matches before Carter’s win.
“He came out swinging,” Carter said. “He hit me in the mouth when we first started tying up. When he got me in that takedown, I started scrambling a little bit. He got my leg and I just rolled through and caught him.”
Carter (20-4) missed the first half of the season as he recovered from a sprained AC joint in his shoulder during football season. The Morningside football recruit was making his state wrestling debut — a sprained back kept him from competing at districts last year. He had never even witnessed a state tournament match in person.
Baker (44-1) lost first-round matches as a freshman and sophomore before missing last season to injury. He said the first-round victory dramatically changes his outlook.
“This year, I get to go back to the hotel, rest a little bit and come back tomorrow fresh and ready to go again,” he said.
But Council Bluffs Lewis Central endured a tough opening day. Its four qualifiers — Tanner Wink (106), Brian Paul (132), Tanner Higgins (138) and Caleb Kingery (160) — all lost in the first round.
Wink and Paul scored first-round consolation wins and are one victory from earning medals while the other two were eliminated.
Harlan advanced two wrestlers to the quarterfinals, but it may have been a Cyclone who went 0-2 that was one of the biggest reasons for it.
Junior Ethan Lemon took top-ranked Andrew Flora of ADM down to the wire in his first match before falling 4-3 as he was unable to get out from bottom in the third period. Lemon’s scrappy style allowed him to avoid a takedown at the end of the second period and get one of his own as he just missed back points.
Senior teammates Oscar Olmos and Derec Weyer, who both wrestled after Lemon, said the performance inspired them.
“I am just glad I could help my team get stronger in the process,” said Lemon, who dropped his wrestleback 8-6. “It makes me happy to see my team get inspiration out of people. This is what Harlan is all about. It is about helping your team, helping your friends, your teammates, your neighbors.”
Weyer, the fifth-ranked heavyweight in Class 2-A, made his state debut by throwing PCM’s Jace Smith twice before recording the pin in 3:11.
Olmos, ranked ninth at 145 pounds, showed his toughness with a 4-2 win over Spencer’s Isiah Spencer while wrestling with a facemask to protect a twice broken nose. After a scoreless first period, Olmos finally got off bottom with 44 seconds to go in the second before adding a takedown to take a 3-0 lead into the third.
On the day, western Iowa went 12-18 in the opening round while southwest Iowa went 7-10. Joining the two Cyclones in Friday’s quarterfinals are Atlantic’s Chase McLaren at 138 and Connor Pellett at 152. Red Oak’s Justin McCunn, a state medalist a year ago, advanced as did teammate Thomas Bentley at 195. Creston/Orient-Macksburg’s Jackson Kinsella overcame an early deficit to move on.
Sergeant Bluff-Luton brothers Brayden (113) and Easton Graff (152) pushed forward as did last year’s state runner-up in Jack Gaukel (132). Sioux City Heelan saw Brennan Todd (138) and heavyweight Kobe Clayborne both win their first match.
— Jeff Budlong
Team scoring leaders
Class 3-A: 1, Waverly-Shell Rock 31.5; 2, Southeast Polk 25; 3, Fort Dodge 23; 4, Cedar Rapids Prairie 22; 5, Johnston 21.
Class 2-A: 1, West Delaware 19; 2, Solon 18; 3, PCM 15.5; 4, Independence 15; 5, Union 14.5. Also from WI: 7, Sergeant Bluff-Luton 12.5.
Class 1-A: 1, Don Bosco 31; 2, Denver 29.5; 3, Underwood 23.5; 4, Lisbon 23; 5, West Sioux 19. Also from WI: t11, Riverside 9; 14, Logan-Magnolia 8.5.