HEY, STATE DUALS … WE’RE BACK!
HUMBOLDT – Down by six points, three matches to go and a spot in the Class 2A state duals on the line – you would think it would be hand-wringing time.
You’d think wrong.
The truth was Webster City was precisely where it wanted to be. No ifs, ands or buts about it.
Comfort came from the realization that three savvy seniors who, combined, have close to 100 victories this season were yet to step onto the mat. And just like that all was calm on the Lynx sideline.
Jacob Powers (145 pounds) Tanner Hild (152) and eighth-ranked Alex Oswald (160) did exactly what was needed as they dominated the final three bouts against No. 7-ranked Humboldt in last night’s Class 2A regional finals to send No. 11 WCHS back to the state duals for the third time in the last four years and fifth time overall with a 35-28 victory.
Humboldt (21-3) led 28-22 heading into those final three battles, yet the Wildcats had to know they were in trouble. And Powers didn’t waste any time in evening the dual with a 55-second decking of Collin Flick. Hild followed it up with three takedowns and eight near-fall points in a 14-1 manhandling of Thaylan Bowman to give the Lynx the lead 32-28.
That left it up to Oswald, who is no stranger to the big stage. Rather than wrestle tentatively, he went on the attack and stayed out of numerous throw attempts by Gus Arnold to prevail 6-0 and clinch the state duals spot.
“I wasn’t nervous at any point,” Oswald, a two-time North Central Conference champion, said of his deciding match. “The adrenaline was just pumping and I was ready to go and get after it.”
Humboldt altered its lineup at the heavier weights in an attempt to offset the Lynx superiority at those spots throughout the season and, for a while at least, it looked like it might work. It came as a surprise to WCHS head coach Ted Larson, who admitted he didn’t think the Wildcats would alter their talented roster.
“They were looking for max points and, yeah, it did surprise me,” he said. “But the shame is the rankings system we have failed because you’ve got two teams that are pretty equal and one is staying home. Right now Humboldt should be going and we’ve got to fix that.”
Fifth-ranked 170-pounder Nikko Wheeler bumped up to 182 and held off a game Brandon Patten, 6-4, and No. 3 195-pounder Reed Dreyer jumped to 220 and earned a 10-0 major decision over Gus Gasca.
Connor Larson and Dylan Fielder – the Lynx talented twosome at 170 and 195 – went about their business and won by fall and major decision.
Fourth-ranked heavyweight Gavin Dinsdale gave WCHS (23-3) a huge shot of momentum when he rallied from a 6-2 first-period deficit to trip up No. 5 Dylan Hendricks, 10-7, to put the Lynx ahead 13-7. Hendricks tossed Dinsdale to his back with a headlock late in the first period, but Dinsdale returned the favor in the second and then tacked on a takedown in the third.
“I usually get down on myself, but in that match I knew I needed to bring it back,” Dinsdale said after improving to 4-1 against Hendricks this season. “When I’m on top, that’s my domain and I knew I was strong enough to hold him down.”
The dual was deadlocked at 13 when the Lynx claimed arguably the two biggest swing matches at 113 and 120, as Cole Nokes and Freddie Seeley put up nine team points. Nokes hit a shot and deposited Corey Kasperbauer flat on his back for the fall with less than one second left in the second period, and Seeley scored a takedown, two reversals and five near-fall points to fend off Zane Russell, 13-8.
“Those two matches were the turning point,” WCHS head coach Ted Larson said. “I’m just so proud, but I’m not surprised by this group just because they’ve been so consistent all season long.”
WCHS won eight of the 14 matches. Connor Larson’s demolition of Tate Illz at the onset of the dual pushed him to 138 career victories and on the same step with Tyler Patten, the Lynx all-time wins leader. Fielder sits just one win off the pace leading into Saturday’s district tournament.
With another trip to the traditional state tournament on the line in a few days, Connor Larson says his newest record means next to nothing right now, even if it is arguably the school’s highest profile mark.
“Nah, that doesn’t mean anything,” he said with a smile on his face. “The pins record was the one I really wanted and getting to 100 wins was important.”
The Lynx also set single-season school records for team points and falls.
WCHS reached the regional final by bashing Perry for the second time this season, 60-16. Connor Larson, Patten, Fielder, Gasca, Dinsdale, Ty Schnathorst (126), Ryan Ferrari (138), Powers and Hild all notched falls.