BACK IN TEAM MODE: Reaching state duals the next goal for No. 11 Lynx
WEBSTER CITY – Individual aspirations can go on the back burner for a little while – for one night anyway.
Tonight is all about the team.
No. 11-ranked Webster City will look to cross one more season-long goal off the list when it travels to Humboldt to compete in the Class 2A regional duals. The Lynx (21-3) will crank it up at 6 p.m. with a semifinal clash against Perry (6-17); No. 7 Humboldt (20-2) and Estherville-Lincoln Central (21-11) will square off in the other semifinal on the opposite mat.
The semifinal winners will battle at 8 p.m. for the right to advance to next Wednesday’s state duals inside Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. Reaching the big stage as a unified team has been part of the plan all along for the Lynx and – whether they like it or not – they’ll be the favorites when the green and red ankle bands are strapped on tonight.
“We’ve just got to keep doing what we’ve been doing and I know I sound like a broken record, but it’s what we have to do,” WCHS head coach Ted Larson said. “I think we’re in a good spot and I feel good about the way we’re wrestling.”
WCHS can break the school’s single-season record for dual wins with a victory over Perry – a team the Lynx blasted, 66-13, when the two programs met at the Lynx Duals in early January. WCHS won 11 of 14 matches in the first encounter and they did it without the services of eighth-ranked 160-pounder Alex Oswald. The Blue Jays were also missing an integral part of their lineup in senior 152-pounder Seth Stetzel – the unquestioned leader of the team.
It would take something catastrophic for WCHS to slip up in the semifinal round, but that doesn’t mean Larson is about to let his squad relax.
“I think Perry is wrestling better than they were when we beat them (in Webster City),” he said. “I feel confident that we won’t overlook them. This team is so well self-disciplined and we just take care of one step at a time.”
Eight of the 14 wrestlers in the Lynx lineup enter the regional with 30 or more victories, led by senior 145-pounder Jacob Powers (38-4). No. 7-ranked (170) Connor Larson (37-7) and No. 4 (195) Dylan Fielder (37-2) are right on his heels, as are seniors Brandon Patten (36-10 at 182), Gus Gasca (36-11 at 220) and sophomore heavyweight Gavin Dinsdale (36-8).
Oswald (31-5) and Freddie Seeley (30-16 at 120) joined the 30-win club at Saturday’s sectional tournament.
WCHS knows it will most likely have to get through Humboldt once again to advance out of the regional. The North Central Conference rivals are quite familiar with one another although the battles have been one-sided this season. The Lynx handed Humboldt a 37-18 dual loss last month and have topped the Wildcats at three tournaments, including the sectional.
Superstition haunts some coaches when they’re forced to beat the same team over and over again, but Larson doesn’t buy into those worries.
“We are so focused on what we’re after that we’re not even thinking about what happened last time,” he said. “It’s what’s in front of us right now.”
WCHS was 6-2 in head-to-head matches against Humboldt at the sectional, including a 4-1 mark in championship bouts.
Familiar ranked rivals could meet again at 170, 195 and 285. Connor Larson and fifth-ranked Nikko Wheeler have split four matches; Fielder owns a 3-1 season lead on third-ranked Reed Dreyer; and Dinsdale has taken three of four from fifth-ranked Dylan Hendricks, although it was Hendricks who secured the fall in their last battle on Saturday.
Connor Larson needs two more victories to reach Tyler Patten’s school record for career wins (138), while Fielder trails Patten by three entering tonight.
The Lynx have not seen Estherville-Lincoln Central this season.