OAKLAND — Claiming district wrestling titles at each of the weight classes from 182 and up is no small feat.
Those four athletes are prone to be large after all.
So after six of Bedford/Lenox’s seven district qualifiers punched their tickets to state, it’s fair to say the feeling in the air was festive as the squad and its supporters hung around as long as anyone else.
Derek Venteicher (182 pounds), Brenden Christensen (195) and Chance Strough (220) won district titles in successive fashion, after Drew Venteicher (152) had already clinched a title with his 10-6 decision over Underwood’s Michael Baker.
“When you have the competition in the practice room it makes a big difference because everyday they’re getting those good wrestling matches,” Bedford/Lenox coach Derek Weller said. “Whether it’s at a tournament or a practice room, you pick up on stuff. Somebody does something you haven’t seen and you catch it in the practice room, and then we can go ‘oh well I want to try that, or how did you do that?’” Especially working with Derek, there’s a lot of stuff that he knows that maybe Kyler doesn’t know or Brenden doesn’t know.”
Kyler Christensen (285) advanced on as well, even after falling to Mount Ayr’s Josh Cox in the first-place match.
Kyler Christensen and Cox have had their fair share of battles this season, with Cox taking each of them.
It was Cox, who in a way saved Christensen’s season at the Corning sectional.
Cox defeated Christensen in the semis in the sectional and Christensen won his first match of the consolations. He knew he needed help in the form of a Cox win in the final.
“I came up to him and said, you’ve got to give me the wrestleback. I’ve got to come back,” Christensen said of speaking with Cox. “He goes ‘no problem, you’re coming with me to districts.’” He gave me that chance to come back, I came all the way back. We’re buddies now. It’s good matches every time we meet up.”
Cox defeated Clarinda’s Storm Howard in the final of the sectional, giving Christensen the chance he needed for a wrestleback, which he won over Howard by first period pin.
The senior heavyweight advanced by rule because of his win in his first match.
Nate Briggs won his wrestleback at 145 pounds over Griswold’s Shawn Swain after waiting to see if he’d have the opportunity following a championship match.
“I was just hoping to God that he (Tri-Center’s Bryon Freeberg) would win and he came through,” Briggs said after Freeberg’s win over Swain came by 8-5 decision.
Briggs then competed in one of the last matches of the day and grabbed a pin late in the second. He noted that his technique felt good, even as he fought leg pain that caused him to limp and hop off the mat into the arms of excited coaches.
As happy as anyone for Briggs was Christensen, who came down to matside and leaped for joy when the fall was recorded.
There were smiles everywhere for the Bedford/Lenox supporters.
Four firsts for Raiders
Just as enthusiastic as Bedford/Lenox were Mount Ayr, which had four of its five competing wrestlers win district titles. Each became a first-time qualifier.
Cox, previously mentioned above, pinned his first round opponent in 21 seconds and then pinned Kyler Christensen early in the second period.
With his spot to state secured, Cox jumped high with hands raised, with the Mount Ayr crowd directly parallel to where he pinned Christensen. Showing emotion after a win is the usual for Cox. Not that Mount Ayr’s excitable coaching staff would ever discourage it.
“I just get really excited. It just all rushes to me at once. I don’t know how else to explain it,” Cox said.
Cox says he turned things up around two weeks ago, and finished the end of the season well.
That, and having the desire to do big things aided him to this berth to Wells Fargo Arena.
“A big thing is I’ve got to have heart. You can’t wrestle without heart,” Cox said.
Joining Cox in Des Moines will be Bryce Shaha (106) and Trae Ehlen (113), who ripped off back-to-back titles to start the championship round.
The two have lost just a combined nine matches as freshman.
Marcus Daughton earned his first state appearance and follows his brother Cal, who competed at state last year.
Daughton nabbed two pins to earn his spot at the Well.
Area squads nab spots
East Union’s Sherman Hayes (132) and Matthew Wittstock (138) have worked plenty in the wrestling room, putting in extra hours to get to this stage.
Hayes returns to state after competing there a year ago, and Wittstock makes his first trip now as a senior.
Hayes took runner-up and pushed second-ranked Logan James of Underwood to a late 3-3 tie before yielding an escape in the third that proved the difference in a loss.
Wittstock lost to Hawkeye 10 champ Austin Gutknecht of Clarinda, but defeated Tri-Center’s Trevor Nelson in the wrestleback by fall.
“I push him. He pushes me,” Wittstock said of Hayes. “This has been my goal since I was a freshman. Now that I’ve made it, I just want to place. Step it up a little bit. Go higher.”
Southwest Valley pushed through Teagan Lundquist to state, despite a loss by fall to the state’s top-ranked wrestler, Alex Thomsen of Underwood.
Area third-place finishes came from East Union’s Jarryn Stephens (120) and Dylan Steinhoff (182), as well as did Southwest Valley’s Dylan Dalton (160), Merik Gaule (170) and Tallen Myers (220).
Myers had maybe the most impressive postseason run for the season for the Timberwolves.
“Bumping up to 220, placing third at districts, I can’t say anything bad about that either. It was a good day,” Southwest Valley coach Jason Wetzel said
Champion — 106: Bryce Shaha (MA; 113: Trae Ehlen (MA); 120: Blake Thomsen (Und); 126: Alex Thomsen (Und); 132: Logan James (Und); 138: Austin Gutknecht (Clar); 145: Bryson Freeberg (TC); 152: Drew Venteicher (B/L); 160: Marcus Daughton (MA); 170: Gabe Pauley (AHSTW); 182: Derek Venteicher (B/L); 195: Brenden Christensen (B/L); 220: Chance Strough (B/L); 285: Josh Cox (MA).
Individual results (placing matches)
Bedford/Lenox — 132: 3rd place match Benjamin Ehlers (AHSTW) pinned Dylan Heideman (B/L) 4:56; 145: 2nd place wrestleback Nate Briggs (B/L) pinned Shawn Swain (Gris) 3:55; 152: 1st place match Drew Venteicher (B/L) dec. Michael Baker (Und) 10-6; 182: 1st place match Derek Venteicher (B/L) tech fall Joe Kenkel (AHSTW) 16-1; 195: 1st place match Brenden Christensen (B/L) dec. Gavyn Fischer (AHSTW) 8-3; 220: 1st place match Chance Strough (B/L) dec. Brady Canada (AHSTW) 3-1; 285: 2nd place match Kyler Christensen (B/L) no wrestleback, RULE.
East Union — 106: 3rd place match Mick Schroder (Riv) dec. Cole Wimber (EU) 7-4; 120: Elliot Young (AHSTW) tech fall Jarryn Stephens (EU) 21-5; 132 — 2nd place match Sherman Hayes (EU) no wrestleback, RULE; 138 — 2nd place match Matthew Wittstock (EU) pinned Trevor Nelson 5:14; 182: 3rd place match Dylan Steinhoff (EU) tech fall Chris Darnold (EM) 16-1.
Mount Ayr — 106: 1st place match Bryce Shaha (MA) dec. Connor Attkisson (TC) 4-2; 113: Trae Ehlen (MA) dec. Joel Sampson (AHSTW) 5-1; 120: 3rd place match Jarryn Stephens (EU) dec. Quentin Gregg (MA) 10-5; 160: 1st place match Marcus Daughton (MA) pinned Jackson Dunning (St. A) 1:05; 285: Josh Cox (MA) pinned Kyler Christensen (B/L) 2:28.
Nodaway Valley — 126: 3rd place match Jaedden Rassmussen (AHSTW) pinned Ryan Hull (NV) 5:27.
Southwest Valley — 126: 2nd place match Teagan Lundquist (SWV) no wrestleback, RULE; 160 — 2nd place match Jackson Dunning (St. A) no wrestleback, RULE. (SWV’s Dylan Dalton took third); 170: 2nd place match Jace Morgenstern (Clar) pinned Merik Gaule (SWV) 3:12; 220: 2nd place match Brady Canada (AHSTW) no wrestleback, WBR Tallen Myers (SWV) (Myers took third).
*RULE = no wrestleback.