GLENWOOD, Iowa — Lewis Central took a step toward becoming the kind of program it wants to be, and No. 5 Glenwood learned a lesson it won’t soon forget.
When the two Hawkeye Ten Conference foes met Thursday night in what seemed likely to be a competitive final dual of a quadrangular at Glenwood High School, the Titans subverted expectations by starting strong and putting Glenwood in a hole so deep the Rams couldn’t escape.
The Titans scored bonus-point victories in the first six matches, building a big enough cushion to withstand Glenwood’s potent back end of the lineup and ultimately take down the Rams for the first time since the 2012-13 season.
“They had momentum, and momentum is a big thing in wrestling,” Glenwood coach Brad Ache said after his team’s 40-30 loss. “You start out at 106, you get beat. You get beat at 13, you get beat at 20, you get beat at 26, and it just keeps going and piling up.”
“Where our strengths are and where their strengths are really made the difference in giving us an opportunity to compete with a team like this,” Lewis Central coach Doug Kjeldgaard said. “For us to be able to compete and come out of here with a victory is great for our team.
“We’ve been working toward getting to this level for a long time, and I’m proud of our guys.”
Kjeldgaard said he knew bonus points were going to be a key leading up to the match. He couldn’t have scripted the first half of the dual any better.
A 15-0 technical fall for Tanner Wink (106) gave way to back-to-back pins for Taber Dominguez (113) and Brian Paul (120). Quaid Werklund came up with a major decision at 126, Nick Wolf delivered a first-period fall at 132 and Joe Wolf posted another major at 138.
It all led up to the best match of the night, a battle between the No. 2 and the No. 5 145-pound competitors in Class 3A.
Glenwood’s Trevor Anderson (No. 2) escaped from Lewis Central’s Gabe Kjeldgaard (No. 5) in the second period to make it 1-0, and Kjeldgaard returned the favor in the third to tie it up. However, midway through the third period, Anderson broke the stalemate with what proved to be the decisive takedown. Kjeldgaard escaped after the next whistle to make it 3-2, but Anderson held on and finally put the Rams on the board.
The Titans responded to their first loss with a dramatic win at 152, as Caleb Kingery edged Jordan Renshaw in sudden victory.
“I figured that was a swing match,” coach Kjeldgaard said. “Both Gabe and Caleb’s (matches) I figured were swing matches. They could go either way, and for us to win one of those was huge.”
106: Tanner Wink, LC, tech. fall, Dalton Bell, 15-0. 113: Taber Dominguez, LC, pinned Tyler Huey, 1:50. 120: Brian Paul, LC, pinned Ryker Case, 3:52. 126: Quaid Werkund LC, major dec. Dalton Book, 12-2. 132: Nick Wolf, LC, pinned Brian Krewson, 1:42. 138: Joe Wolf, LC, major dec. Tanner Maxwell, 10-1. 145: Trevor Anderson, G, dec. Gabe Kjeldgaard, 3-2. 152: Caleb Kingery, LC, dec. Jordan Renshaw, SV-1 3-2. 160: Willy Waugh, LC, pinned Nick Gill, 1:35. 170: Brett Mower, G, pinned Ryan Higgins, 3:37. 182: Cole Mayberry, G, dec. Tevin Statzer, 11-6. 195: Anthony Sherry, G, pinned Brock Bortolotti, 1:49. 220: Isaac Bales, G, pinned Dylan Koch, :27. 285: Caleb Sanders, G, pinned Zachary McColligan, :34.
At High Plains wrestling invitational, girls get bracket of their own
How hard could it really be, Estefania Barragan thought.
She loved watching her little brother wrestle and deduced if he could do it, so could she.
The then-15-year-old was ready to jump at the chance to try out wrestling for herself even before the school’s coach made an announcement about a girls team forming.
A rude awakening soon followed.
“Oh, it was hard,” said Barragan, now a 16-year-old sophomore. “It was really hard. I think I puked my first practice.”
Barragan didn’t quit. In fact, she and a handful of teammates are back for a second season with West Point-Beemer, and they’re seeing their opportunities increase as interest in girls wrestling expands.
“It’s kind of amazing how fast it’s growing,” Barragan said.
Proof is in gyms and wrestling rooms around Nebraska.
The 49th annual High Plains Invitational, at Central Community College in Columbus, will have an open bracket for girls only. It was the only tournament in the state with a girls bracket a year ago. This season, there are five.
While girls wrestling is not yet state sanctioned, there’s momentum for Nebraska to join seven other states that offer it as a high school activity.
“I think the interest and the conversation has definitely spiked in the last year,” Nebraska School Activities Association Assistant Director Ron Higdon said. “And I think the interest of trying to figure out the ‘how’ has spiked in the last year.”
Maybe nowhere more than at West Point-Beemer, where coach Ray Maxwell has made girls wrestling a priority. After six went out for the team a year ago, Maxwell said that number has doubled this year.
There were tournaments in West Point and Nebraska City in December, one at Winnebago earlier this week and there will be one at Oakland-Craig later this month.
It’s not just the number of tournaments that has increased. Maxwell said there were 50 girls wrestling statewide a year ago. He believes this season’s total is 84.
“I really think that if it would get out in the public more that it would take off and go like crazy,” Maxwell said. “Last year we were fighting just to get them matches. But we’re gaining a little steam. As girls find out they can wrestle other girls, I think it’s only going to increase.”
His last point is one that boys and girls can agree upon. Girls with dreams of a state championship currently are forced to wrestle in the boys tournament. Brittney Taylor of Omaha North has done the best, reaching the Class A finals as a sophomore in 2009. She was one of four girls who qualified for state the following season.
But separating the two on the mat benefits everyone, Maxwell said.
“It’s just plus after plus after plus,” he said.
Said Barragan: “I guess I’m not against girls wrestling guys, but there’s no winning for a guy in that situation.”
In the past some Nebraska girls have chosen to begin preparations for college or international wrestling rather than wrestling boys.
Maxwell, who led a girls team from Nebraska to a national championship at an AAU tournament in Des Moines in the spring, said that he expects all those factors to speed up a timeline for NSAA sanctioning.
“I think it’s more like two to five (years),” Maxwell said when asked when he thought girls wrestling could be a sanctioned sport. “I think (the NSAA is) going to be forced to address it.”
For now, tournaments like the High Plains Invitational provide the best chances for girls to compete. For longtime High Plains wrestling coach Norm Manstedt, the decision to be the first in the state to offer a girls tournament came down to less thinking and more acting.
“Since we have a wide range of schools from all over the state, I said, ‘Let’s just do it,’ instead of worrying about logistics and everything else,” Manstedt said.
He said around 20 girls wrestled in the tournament last year. He’s hoping for 30 to 40 when competition begins at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Barragan holds out hope that a state tournament will be available before she graduates in 2020.
“I want state,” she said.
Even without it, though, she plans to continue in the sport throughout high school.
“I guess that makes me a wrestler,” she said with a laugh.