HAMMER TIME: Lynx hope to live up to own high expectations
WEBSTER CITY – The wins, the medals and the trophies – they mean next to nothing to Ted Larson and his juggernaut Webster City wrestling team at this point in the season.
Resting on their laurels? Forget about it.
In short, it’s time to go to work.
The Lynx head into Saturday’s Class 2A sectional tournament at Roland-Story High School in Story City focused on the task at hand. They don’t want to just win; they want to dominate.
“We want to be the hammer, not the nail and we’re not focusing on what we’ve done, we’re focusing on what we’ve got to do,” Larson, as intense as ever when talking about the postseason, said. “I don’t want to jinx anything, but right now we’re right on task with where we want to be.”
WCHS certainly can use the past as momentum though when it ties up with opponents from fellow sectional squads Ballard, Gilbert, Humboldt, Nevada and Roland-Story. The Lynx tied the school record for dual victories with 21 and captured several tournament titles, including the North Central Conference hardware for the third time in four years.
And Larson thinks, based on practice, the best is yet to come.
“We’ve had the best week of practice that we’ve had all year this week,” he said. “Our intensity in the room is where it needs to be and our work ethic is where it needs to be. The only thing left to do now is go do it.”
The top two individuals at each of the 14 weights will qualify for next week’s district tournament in Webster City. The first- and second-place teams will advance to Tuesday’s regional duals.
On paper, the sectional appears to be a two-team race between WCHS and Humboldt. The Lynx have topped the Wildcats at two tourneys this season and won the only dual-meet confrontation handily.
So, yes, the Lynx are the favorite in the team race. But does Larson care about labels? Nope.
“I don’t care what other people expect and (the wrestlers) don’t care what other people expect,” he said.
Several school records serve as a backdrop in the postseason. Jacob Powers (36-4 at 145 pounds), seventh-ranked Connor Larson (35-7 at 170), Brandon Patten (34-10 at 182), fourth-ranked Dylan Fielder (35-2 at 195), Gus Gasca (35-10 at 220) and fourth-ranked Gavin Dinsdale (34-7 at 285) all have a shot at reaching the single-season school record for wins (41, set by Royce Nessa in 2012) will quality postseason showings.
Connor Larson (134 wins) and Fielder (133) are also closing in the school record for career victories (138, set by Tyler Patten in 2011).
“The records are neat, but they’re not the focus right now,” Ted Larson said. “The focus is on going out and winning that first match on Saturday.”
WCHS boasts 10 grapplers with at least 25 victories and eight individuals that have won better than 70 percent of their matches.
Three weights to keep an eye on are 170, 195 and 285 where Connor Larson, Fielder and Dinsdale are on collision courses with familiar foes from Humboldt.
Larson will be in the same bracket with fifth-ranked Nikko Wheeler, who denied the Lynx senior a fourth NCC title last month. Wheeler has won two of three meetings this season.
Fielder will also be out to avenge a conference tournament loss to third-ranked Reed Dreyer. Fielder is 2-1 against Dreyer during this campaign.
Dinsdale is 3-0 this season against fifth-ranked Dylan Hendricks.
“A lot of it is going to be position in those matches. That’s the chess game that you play when you’re wrestling,” Ted Larson said. “When you wrestle each other this many times it’s going to be back and forth, so we’ve got to create opportunities to score points.”
A total of 10 ranked wrestlers will take the mat beginning at noon. Ballard has two premier individuals in seventh-ranked Nathan Macki (126) and third-ranked Mitchell Broer (132), while 10th-ranked Parker Witthuhn (126) leads Roland-Story.