GET OUT THE BROOM! Lynx whip Cowboys behind seniors, take all the NCC gold

WEBSTER CITY – There are gobs of wrestling programs across the state that would love – absolutely love – to have Joey Root in their varsity wrestling lineup at either 152 or 160 pounds.

He’d win a lot of matches. Take that to the bank.

But with Webster City’s seemingly unending depth in the middle of its lineup, Root, a senior, has been stuck in varsity Siberia over his career.

Until last night, that is.

With eighth-ranked and North Central Conference 160-pound champion Alex Oswald out of the lineup with the flu, Root – the third-string grappler at the weight at the start of the season – filled the void by knocking off Clarion-Goldfield’s Logan Nelson, 8-7, in a conference slugfest inside the WCHS gymnasium. It brought the monstrous home crowd to its feet and helped propel the 11th-ranked (Class 2A) Lynx past the No. 6 (1A) Cowboys, 38-31.

WCHS (17-3, 7-1 NCC) trailed 24-15 leading up to Root’s bout. It shifted the momentum completely into the Lynx camp and was part of a stretch of seven straight victories that put the dual on ice.

“I’m always excited when I get the opportunity to wrestle on varsity,” Root said. “It’s Senior Night and it was just a great way to go out.”

The win assured WCHS of a share of the conference dual championship – a nice cherry on top of the sundae that was built on Saturday when the Lynx captured the league tournament title.

All seven seniors in the lineup – Jacob Powers (145), Tanner Hild (152), Root, sixth-ranked Connor Larson (170), Brandon Patten (182), second-ranked Dylan Fielder (195) and Gus Gasca (220) – were winners. It was quite a fitting end for a class that produced five NCC crowns – three tournament and two dual titles. It’s the only class in school history to be a part of a pair of conference sweeps; WCHS also accomplished the feat in 2012.

“It’s a feeling that you can’t even describe,” WCHS head coach Ted Larson said afterwards. “For all of those seniors to win and for a senior (Root) to step in and back up another senior (Oswald), it doesn’t get better than this.

“For Joey, it solidifies four years of being in that room and getting beat on by those guys that were doing this when they were five years old when Joey wasn’t. He came to this late and we talked him into coming out … I hope this shows other kids what can happen if you keep working hard.”

Clarion-Goldfield (12-3, 5-3 NCC) led 24-5 before Jacob Powers started the comeback with a dominant 14-1 major decision win over Brady Brott in a rematch of Saturday’s NCC final. Powers turned Brott three times in the first period to build a 9-0 cushion and cruised the remainder of the way.

Hild picked up career win No. 97 by decking Dakota Hennigar in 1:48.

Nelson opened up a 5-1 lead on Root midway through the second period, but the Lynx reserve continued to battle and eventually tied the match at 5 after four minutes. He scored the winning takedown with 40 seconds to go.

Emotions on the Cowboys’ bench boiled over after the match and they were docked two team points.

“When I was behind I just kept thinking that anything can happen and I’ve got to keep my head up,” Root said.

Connor Larson continued the surge with a 12-takedown clinic for a 23-8 technical fall over Ryan Lee that gave WCHS its first lead, 23-22.

Patten put Ryan Anderson in a cradle for the fall in 3:36 and Fielder bullied Elliot Ahrens before flattening him in 3:12.

Gasca put the dual in the Lynx back pocket with a hard-fought 3-1 decision over Caleb Hanson. Gasca escaped early in the second period and then added a takedown on a throw-by later in the period for the winning points.

“I didn’t know it was completely up to me,” Gasca said. “Everybody knew it was up to me, but nobody told me.

“We worked really hard this week and Ted really pushed us. We’ve worked for this, so we’re really happy.”

Junior Freddie Seeley (120) got WCHS on the board early in the dual with a 17-2 technical fall over Lucas Lienemann. Seeley rolled up five takedowns and six near-fall points.

The Lynx held an 8-6 advantage in matches and a 29-13 takedown cushion. Clarion-Goldfield grabbed one more bonus point, 15-14.

Ted Larson said he’ll let his squad enjoy the conference sweep for about 24 hours. It’s back to work today as the Lynx get set to take part in Saturday’s Norsemen Duals in Story City and then it’s on to the postseason.

“This is awesome and to do this at home in front of a huge crowd like we had, it’s huge,” Ted Larson said. “But this is regular season stuff. Now we’ve got to get ready for the postseason.”