SOMBER STATE: Fielder only Lynx qualifier to medal, takes 6th at 182
DES MOINES – A shrug of the shoulders spoke volumes and succinctly summed up Dylan Fielder’s thoughts on his three-day experience at the state wrestling tournament.
How did Webster City’s third-ranked junior 182-pounder feel about picking up a second consecutive state medal?
“I’m pretty disappointed,” Fielder said down in the tunnel at Wells Fargo Arena after placing sixth in Class 3A, the same spot he finished at 182 in 2A as a sophomore. “I guess it’s another medal, but I wish it could have been higher. I just didn’t wrestle well at all.”
Fielder (39-5) was actually the bright spot for a WCHS squad that left for state earlier in the week with thoughts of championship night celebrations. The reality was the Lynx won just two of six matches – both victories came from Fielder – over the final two days of competition.
Junior third-ranked 160-pounder Connor Larson and senior heavyweight Landon Johnson were both eliminated from medal contention on Friday.
Lynx head coach Ted Larson didn’t shy away from the disappointment either.
“Am I frustrated? You bet I’m frustrated because I know we’re better than what we showed down here,” he said. “Expectations were high and that’s good, but when you put yourself out there and you go for it like we came here to do … we love this sport and yet we hate it because of the ups and the downs and the peaks and the valleys. But that’s why I love it because that’s the way life is too.”
Fielder’s tournament concluded with back-to-back losses in the consolation semifinals and finals on Saturday.
He drew the short stick and had to face top-ranked Justin Kreiter (46-3) of North Scott in the consolation semifinal, and Kreiter’s power was the difference as he put Fielder on his back twice in the second period before earning the fall in 3:37.
“He was probably the strongest kid and the best kid I’ve wrestled all year,” Fielder said of Kreiter, who went on to finish third. “I just couldn’t get anything going in that match.”
Linn-Mar’s gangly sixth-ranked Andrew Holladay (42-10) used an unorthodox approach to clip Fielder in the fifth-place match, 9-5.
Fielder hit a double-leg takedown early in the first period, but when he went for it again Holladay used his length to pull off an inside trip that sent Fielder to his back, resulting in a four-point move for Holladay.
Fielder was never able to catch up.
It took only seconds for Holladay to recognize Fielder’s leg attack, and Ted Larson says that’s something he and his wrestler will continue to try to improve upon.
“You’ve got to be able to adjust and adapt down here because in today’s world with YouTube, everybody can see everybody’s matches,” Ted Larson said. “You have to be able to work from a tie-up, you have to be able to work from out in the field, so it’s all things that we have to go back and work on.”
Fielder was bounced from the front side of the bracket Friday afternoon with a 4-2 sudden victory loss to fourth-ranked Luke Sargent (35-8) of Southeast Polk in the quarterfinals. Both wrestlers earned an escape and stall point in regulation, and Sargent scored the winning takedown with 21 seconds left in the extra minute.
Fielder responded with back-to-back wins; he decked Glenwood’s Hunter Hoffman (17-12) in 1:57 and then held off North Central Conference rival Tyler Frideres (35-11) of Algona, 7-5.
Johnson’s aspirations to medal vanished Friday afternoon following back-to-back losses in the quarterfinals and consolation second round.
Johnson (33-10) was unable to move the tree-like Pedro Gomez (37-3) of Marshalltown, the top-ranked heavyweight and eventual state champion. Gomez scored on leg attacks in the final 10 seconds of both the first and second periods en route to a 7-2 victory over Johnson.
The Lynx senior was eliminated with a 6-4 loss to Newton’s Derrick Hurt (31-7). Three of Johnson’s 10 losses this season came courtesy of Hurt.
“It’s probably the best and worst way to finish,” Johnson said. “Making it to the state tournament is one step, but I just wish I could have gone out another way. You just don’t want it to end.”
Ted Larson shared in his heavyweight’s disappointment, but he commended Johnson for the way he led the team.
“I think Landon had a tremendous year,” he said. “It pleasantly surprised me how he led this team, so I commend him for everything that he’s given this program.”
Stuck on 99 career wins, Connor Larson (34-7) will need to wait until late November to join the fraternity with 100. The draw didn’t work in his favor either, as he ran into second-ranked Dalton Witte (39-7) of Burlington in the consolation second round.
A first-period takedown gave Connor Larson a 2-0 lead and it remained that way until the third when Witte, who spent the entire bout working on a double underhook, finally capitalized and tossed Larson to his back for the fall in 5:18.
“It’s pretty sharp right now,” Ted Larson said of the mental anguish his son was working through. “He tore that monkey off his back by getting here, but with all the expectations he’s disappointed.
“I can’t say it enough that those rankings don’t mean crap except to give a kid a false sense of security and a target on their back. So we’ve got to learn to deal with that in the right way.”
Southeast Polk rolled to its first traditional state team title with 180.5 points. Bettendorf was second with 134.5.
The Rams (three) and Bulldogs (four) combined to win half of the individual crowns. Southeast Polk put 11 of its wrestlers on the medal podium.