1st Test of ’14: Lynx Duals packed with talented teams, individuals

WEBSTER CITY – Many unfamiliar and talented teams will blanket the wrestling mats inside the WCHS gymnasium on Saturday when Webster City hosts the Lynx Duals at 10 a.m.

Webster City, 14th in the initial Iowa High School Wrestling Coaches Association dual rankings released last month, will be joined by fellow 2A ranked squads Osage (No. 7) and Ballard (No. 16). Also in the field will be 3A foes Indianola, Cedar Rapids Xavier and Ankeny Centennial, as well as 2A schools Forest City and Perry.

The eight-team field will consist of two pools; four mats will be used. A round-robin format will used to decide the order of finish. The tournament will then go into a bracket to determine the champion.

WCHS head coach Ted Larson says the tournament popped up almost accidentally. When the schedules were released prior to the season he realized his squad was open this weekend. He sent out emails to other schools to see if they wanted to join the tournament and he quickly received more inquiries than he could accommodate.

“There were a lot of teams open this Saturday … I had more teams than I could take,” Larson said. “It could have been a 16-team tournament here, but we’re not quite ready for one that size. So that’s how we ended up with the teams we got.

“It’s going to be a good tournament with (teams) coming from all areas. We’re pretty excited about good competition coming that we normally don’t see.”

The Lynx (9-2) ended the pre-Christmas portion of the season by winning the prestigious Don Miller Invitational in Fort Dodge for the first time since 1991, and nine grapplers enter the New Year already with double-digit win totals.

No individual had a better month of December than senior 145-pounder Jacob Powers (16-0), the last unbeaten on the team. Fifth-ranked 170-pound senior Connor Larson (13-3), fifth-ranked 195-pound senior Dylan Fielder (13-1) and sophomore heavyweight Gavin Dinsdale (13-2) have all lit up the competition as well.

Powers, Fielder and Dinsdale were all Don Miller Invite champions. Senior 160-pounder Alex Oswald (13-3) and senior 182-pounder Brandon Patten (13-5) were silver medalists.

WCHS actually went into the final tournament at less than full strength. Illness ravaged the team, and while there are still some lingering effects, Ted Larson says his squad is on the right track.

“We were limping going into that Fort Dodge tournament, but right now we’re healthier,” he said. “We’re still not 100 percent, but we’ve got more guys where the pendulum is swinging the right way now.”

Saturday’s test will tell Larson a lot about his team. The field includes 20 ranked wrestlers, including multiple individuals at 126 (3), 132 (3), 138 (2), 152 (2), 160 (2), 170 (2), 195 (2) and 285 (2). And this is just the first obstacle for the Lynx; this month also includes big North Central Conference duals, a trip to the Mendenhall Invite in Ames and the conference tournament.

“It’s go time now,” Ted Larson said. “Our schedule, from here on out, is rough. So we’ve got to get prepared for it and this is a good way to get started.”