Larson, Fielder go gold at Mendenhall Invite

AMES – Noticeably hoarse after a day of shouting encouragement, Ted Larson insisted he was speaking as a coach and not as a father as he stepped onto the bus Saturday evening.

Yeah, right.

Larson, Webster City’s head wrestling coach, was more than satisfied with the Lynx sixth-place result at the stacked Jack Mendenhall Invitational that featured three ranked teams and 51 ranked individuals.

But it was the performance of his son – 160-pound junior Connor Larson – that brought out the emotion in his words.

Simply put, Connor Larson put together his finest day on the mat, notching three wins over ranked opponents – including a decisive 5-0 victory over top-ranked (Class 2A) Tanner Schaefer of Spencer in the semifinal round – to claim an individual crown.

“Connor put together a really good day and this is huge for his confidence,” Ted Larson said after watching his team put up 136 points. “He wrestled how all of us coaches know he’s capable of, and that (match against Schaefer) was probably one of the best matches I’ve seen Connor wrestle as far as wrestling his match. He didn’t make any mistakes, he didn’t get anxious and he wrestled his pace. That’s exactly what you have to do; you have to force your will on other people.”

Connor Larson hit a headlock on Schaefer and put him to his back in the first period to build his lead for good. He finished off his quest for the gold by blitzing No. 5-ranked (3A) Isaiah Patton of West Des Moines Dowling, 7-3, in the finals.

His run began in the quarterfinals with a 6-1 decision over No. 7 (3A) River Whitters of Cedar Rapids Prairie.

Fellow Lynx junior Dylan Fielder, ranked No. 2 (3A) at 182, joined Larson on the top of the podium after he fended off No. 3 (2A) and top-seeded Cash Wilcke of OA-BCIG in the championship round.

Connor Larson and Fielder both went 4-0 and ran their season records to 16-4 and 20-1, respectively.

“Dylan had another good day,” Ted Larson said. “I was really pleased with how everyone wrestled. I’m seeing the competitive fight come back in us and I think we lacked that at the beginning of the year.”

Seven other Lynx grapplers placed among the top eight in their respective weight classes, highlighted by fourth-place results from freshman Gavin Dinsdale (220) and 10th-ranked senior Landon Johnson (285).

Johnson dropped a nail-biting 1-0 decision to third-ranked (3A) Andrew Netolicky of Prairie in the semifinals. Netolicky trumped No. 1 (2A) and defending state runner-up Brandon McCracken of Aplington-Parkersburg, 2-1 in overtime, in the gold-medal bout.

Dinsdale – competing for just the second time this season – rolled up three falls.

Jake Powers (145) finished fifth for the Lynx. Gus Gasca (195) was sixth, Alex Oswald (152) was seventh, and Tanner Hild (138) and Brandon Patten (170) were both eighth.

Third-ranked Prairie rode four individual championships and a host of other high finishes to the top of the team standings with 218 points. No. 9 (3A) West Des Moines Dowling was second with 173, followed by Humboldt (159), Indianola (139) and West Des Moines Valley (138).

Clarion-Goldfield (118), the third North Central Conference team entered, was ninth in the field of 18.