MAGIC RUNS OUT: Lynx lack fire, drop 3 duals and finish 8th in 2A

DES MOINES – Connor Larson had a smile on his face as he walked off Mat 3 for the final time yesterday evening inside Wells Fargo Arena. Was it the perfect ending? No. But it was good enough to ease a little bit of the pain.

A hopeful traditional state tournament qualifier, Webster City’s seventh-ranked 170-pound senior had to settle for a dominant day at the Class 2A state duals after that larger goal was extinguished at last weekend’s district tournament.

And Larson spent the entire day showing why he’s won so many matches.

Larson piled up two falls and was one of three Lynx to go 3-0 on a day that was otherwise forgetful. WCHS (23-6) struggled with energy and consistency throughout the tournament, dropping three duals and placing at the back of the eight-team field.

“I’m disappointed we didn’t wrestle better,” WCHS head coach Ted Larson said after his team fell to second-ranked Davenport Assumption (43-20), third-ranked Albia (39-30) and North Central Conference rival and fifth-ranked Clear Lake (32-27). “The competition was tough, but we didn’t wrestle to our full potential. I’m not going to blame it on anything because we’re in the same boat as everybody else. There were just some teams that were better than us.”

Senior Gus Gasca (220 pounds) and sophomore Gavin Dinsdale (285) also won all three of their bouts. But the Lynx lineup combined to go just 14-25 on the mat; they picked up three wins by forfeit against Albia.

“We’re not satisfied,” Ted Larson said. “Everybody I’m sure will say, ‘Hey, you’re eighth out of 96 2A teams,’ but we didn’t do what we set out to do.”

Connor Larson certainly accomplished what he intended to do. He needed just 1:55 to deck Assumption’s Joe Argo, and after receiving a forfeit against Albia he chucked Clear Lake’s Rowdy Yates to the mat for the fall in 14 seconds – his single-season school-record 32nd pin this winter.

Larson capped his career with 142 victories, currently tops on the school’s all-time leaderboard. WCHS four-time state place winner Tyler Patten and current senior Dylan Fielder sit tied for second with 138.

“I just wanted to have fun and that’s what I did because there was no pressure,” Connor Larson, who also owns the Lynx all-time pins record, said. “(The all-time wins record) is cool just because the person (Patten) that had the record before, he’s unreal. He’s so good.”

Fielder, fourth-ranked at 195, sat out the tournament with a lingering rib injury; he will compete today when the traditional state tournament gets underway.

Nelson Ball, another senior, made his season debut at the varsity level in place of Fielder and won two of three matches.

Assumption took the first eight matches and built a 37-0 lead before the Lynx were able to make it respectable late with victories in five of the final six bouts.

Albia spotted WCHS a 12-0 cushion with a pair of forfeits at the onset of the dual, but then reeled off six consecutive wins to take the lead for good. The Lynx didn’t get a mat victory until the 12th of 14 weights on a fall by Gasca.

WCHS and Clear Lake both sat down two traditional state qualifiers in the seventh-place battle. Larson, Brandon Patten (182), Ball, Gasca and Dinsdale notched consecutive wins to give the Lynx their first lead, 27-24, with two matches remaining. But Clear Lake was able to pick up back-to-back major decisions at 106 and 113 to claim its third win of the season over the Lynx.

One frustrating day doesn’t spoil an entire season though. WCHS still had hoards of success this year and won more duals than any other team in program history.

“This team has done things that have never been done before,” Ted Larson said. “So we can’t take away from that.”