State or bust for Lynx grapplers on Saturday

WEBSTER CITY – Dylan Fielder is an old pro when it comes to this portion of the wrestling season. Now he and his coach, Ted Larson, hope a boat-full of others jump on board.

One day. One tournament. Are you ready?

For the first time since 2006, Webster City will compete with the state’s big boys on Saturday at the Class 3A District 3 tournament inside the Fort Dodge Senior High gymnasium. Competition is set for noon.

Also in the field are Algona, Boone, Carroll, Denison-Schleswig, Fort Dodge, Mason City and Storm Lake.

The gold and silver medalists at each of the 14 weights will advance to next week’s traditional state tournament in Des Moines.

“We know what we have to do. Now we just have to show up and do it,” Larson, Webster City’s head coach, said. “It’s mental at this point of the game. It’s going to take mental toughness to get you into the state tournament.”

Seven years ago – the last time the Lynx were bumped up to 3A – Larson was part of the coaching staff that took three wrestlers to state. Joel Kennedy (fifth at 145) and Marco Trujillo (sixth at 152) wound up on the podium.

So, no, Larson isn’t concerned about the layoff while 1A and 2A grapplers took part in sectionals last weekend. History tells him the Lynx will be just fine.

“We’ve always done well in 3A districts and we’ve never had competition that week before,” he said. “I would be worried about being flat if we would have had a bad practice week, but we haven’t. I feel good about it.”

Fielder (32-2), a junior who is ranked third at 182 and a probable No. 1 seed on Saturday, will attempt to qualify for his third state tournament in as many seasons. He placed sixth in 2A at the same weight in 2012.

But he is the only individual on the Lynx roster with state experience.

Jake Powers (145) and third-ranked Connor Larson (160), both juniors, as well as senior Landon Johnson (285) are all likely Nos. 1 or 2 seeds. Larson (31-5) and Johnson (29-8) were both North Central Conference champions last month and Powers (28-10) has been one of the team leaders throughout the season.

Sophomore Freddie Seeley (113), juniors Alex Oswald (152), Brandon Patten (170) and Gus Gasca (195), and freshman Gavin Dinsdale forecast as potential Nos. 3 or 4 seeds.

Connor Larson – a district qualifier as a freshman and sophomore – looks to have the toughest road to state. He will face a bracket that also includes No. 5 Andrew Bartel of Mason City and No. 7 Kane Springis of Boone. The Lynx grappler hasn’t faced either this season or in past years.

“If you get hung up on rankings and records then, yeah, Connor’s got a tough road to hoe,” Ted Larson said. “But if he keeps wrestling like he has been, I look for him to have a good day and we’ll see what happens.”

Springis has just one loss on his resume this season and that could give him the inside track on the top seed.

“The Boone kid, boy, I don’t know anything about him other than he’s got a tremendous record,” Ted Larson said. “But Connor’s ready. He’s 100 percent and he’s tearing people up in that (practice) room right now.”

Fielder will be the overwhelming favorite at his weight.

“Dylan’s looking good right now, too,” Ted Larson said.

The only disappointment for Ted Larson leading up to Saturday is the call he had to make to keep junior Tanner Hild (138) off the mat for the remainder of the season. An undisclosed back ailment has kept the former district qualifier sidelined since early January.

“Tanner’s beside himself and I’m very disappointed for him,” Ted Larson said. “It’s very painful for him, physically and emotionally, but we’ve got to look at the bright side of this because it could be worse. It’s not his senior year and it’s not life-threatening, so we’ll try to get things in order to where he’s back here next year.”

A healthy Hild would have been a strong contender for a state-tournament slot.