Fielder, Gasca champs at loaded Mendenhall Invite; Lynx 4th

AMES – Hidden in a loaded bracket, Webster City senior 220-pounder Gus Gasca probably didn’t generate much buzz from opposing coaches prior to the start of the stacked Jack Mendenhall Invite.

But Gasca has always had the respect of his coaches, so much so that sometimes they have believed in him more than he has in himself.

Pupil and coaches came together inside the Ames High School gymnasium on Saturday though.

The fifth-seeded Gasca downed the Nos. 4, 1 and 2 seeds in the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals to claim the first tournament title of his career. His performance, along with the gold-medal showing of senior fifth-ranked 195-pounder Dylan Fielder, pushed Webster City into fourth place in the 20-team field with 140 points.

Top-ranked (Class 3A) Waverly-Shell Rock won the team title with 209 points. No. 9 (3A) Cedar Rapids Prairie was second with 184, and Clarion-Goldfield was third with 142.

WCHS had eight grapplers place in the top eight, but it was Gasca who brought the biggest smile to the face of head coach Ted Larson.

“Gus has a hard time believing that he can do the things that we coaches believe he can do, so this is a huge confidence builder for him,” Larson said. “This is fun for us coaches because we can say, ‘See, we told you so.’ Just a huge day.”

Gasca pulled out a 7-5 decision over top-seeded and ninth-ranked (3A) Brady Smith of West Des Moines Valley in the semifinals and then decked Ballard’s Alex Silberstein in 3:31 in the championship.

Fielder had a similar gut-check moment in the round of four before he notched a third-period takedown go get by Waverly-Shell Rock’s Thomas Foy, 3-2.

Fielder notched his second win in three days over second-ranked (2A) Reed Dreyer of Humboldt – this time by fall in 2:34 – in the finals. Fielder hit a second-period takedown and quickly put Dreyer on his back for good.

“It was a typical Dylan and Reed match,” Larson said. “But Dylan kept working and he just wrestled smart all day.”

Fourth-ranked heavyweight Gavin Dinsdale placed third for the Lynx. Jacob Powers (145), fourth-ranked Connor Larson (170) and Brandon Patten (182) were all fourth.

Dinsdale’s lone setback came against third-ranked (1A) Mitch Gambrill of Clarion-Goldfield in the semifinals. He followed with back-to-back wins, including a 3-1 decision over second-ranked Dylan Hendricks of Humboldt in the consolation final.

Dinsdale also beat Hendricks in a dual meet last Thursday, and Larson says they’ll use the loss to Gambrill as motivation for future use.

“For a heavyweight, Gambrill is pretty slick,” Larson said. “But I’m glad we’ve got a match like that so we can work on things we need to work on.”

Powers, Larson and Patten all reached the semifinals before falling; they were all 3-2.

Also placing for WCHS were Freddie Seeley (eighth at 120) and 10th-ranked Alex Oswald (seventh at 160).

The Lynx competed without starters Cole Nokes (113), Tanner Hoveland (130) and Tanner Hild (152). They opted not to insert anyone into the lineup at 113.

“This is arguably the toughest tournament in the state on this given day and it was a battle,” Larson said. “Cole has a broken thumb that we want him to try to heal up, Tanner (Hoveland) is still battling this respiratory stuff, and there’s no reason for Tanner (Hild) to go in there because we want him to heal up.”

WCHS will go on the road for a North Central Conference dual against Eagle Grove on Thursday.