Creston/O-M’s patchwork lineup advanced eight wrestlers to the district tournament and moved on to Tuesday’s regional dual competition by winning Saturday’s Class 2A Section 7 tournament here.
That’s the good news.
However, it’s the site of the regional dual — 160 miles one way to Williamsburg — on a Tuesday night that was a source of contention among Panther fans over the weekend.
Atlantic is one of the eight host sites for regional dual competition, where the winning team advances to the State Dual Team Tournament on Feb. 13 at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. However, the Panthers were sent east, while a team much closer to Williamsburg, Prairie City-Monroe, was assigned to Atlantic.
“Our buses will probably meet on the interstate (highway) going opposite directions,” said Panther head coach Cody Downing, after receiving the news from the Iowa High School Athletic Association Saturday night.
The pairings are designed to avoid teams from the same district tournament being in dual regionals together, and a key factor in the pairings is separating the most highly-ranked teams on the most recent Iowa Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association rankings.
Therefore, fourth-ranked Davenport Assumption heads the list of Williamsburg regional teams and meets 45th-seeded Creston/O-M at 6 p.m. in the regional semifinals. The other semifinal pits No. 11 Williamsburg against No. 16 Van Meter/Earlham. The championship match immediately follows the semifinal matches.
Meanwhile, sixth-ranked Atlantic/CAM failed to qualify for regionals after finishing third at the Ida Grove sectional, so even though Atlantic is a regional host site, the Trojans will not be competing. The Atlantic regional matchups are No. 12 Prairie City-Monroe vs. No. 22 Harlan, and No. 13 Humboldt vs. No. 14 Carlisle.
At 128 miles, Humboldt has nearly as much distance to travel as Creston’s 160. Also, Centerville goes 141 miles to Union, La Porte City. Winterset travels 125 miles to Clarion to take on No. 9 Osage instead of the 64-mile trip to Atlantic.
“I can’t explain it,” Downing said Sunday. “I don’t think a lot of people expected Atlantic to not make it and us to make it. They claim they are separating teams from the same districts, and they try to match up higher seeded teams against lesser opponents in the first round. Part of the problem in western Iowa, and especially southwest Iowa, is that we don’t have a lot of votes in how these coaches association things are determined. I was expecting us to go to Atlantic.”
Yet, a team that has had more than its share of adversity in keeping a lineup together is making its ninth trip to regional duals in 10 years, so the first-year head coach is excited about the opportunity for Creston’s most consistently successful athletic program in the past decade.
“We’re glad that we’re in there,” Downing said. “We had everyone contribute Saturday by scoring points, and a lot of bonus points (pins and major decisions) along the way. Every point mattered. We know Assumption is tough, we wrestled them in the ISU team camp last summer. They have a couple of Division I type kids in (No. 1 ranked) Julien Broderson at 195 and (No. 6) Seth Adrian at 220. We’ll see if we need to shift our lineup around and throw anything we can at them to survive. It’s a very competitive regional. We’ll go over there and give it our best shot.”
The Panthers amassed 224 points Saturday to edge Winterset (219.5) for the team title as both advanced to regional dual competition. Left behind was Red Oak, third with 205 points. Clarinda, Southwest Iowa (Sidney) and Shenandoah were the other three teams in Section 7.
Winning sectional championships for the Panthers were 120-pounder Kaden Bolton and 170-pounder Jackson Kinsella. Also advancing as sectional runners-up were Beau Thompson (126 pounds), Garon Wurster (132), Rylan Luther (152), Beau Barncastle (182), Trevor Kinyon (220) and Andy Weis (285).
Placing third and scoring valuable team points were Justin Parsons (106), Brayton Chesnut (138), Briley Hayes (145) and seventh-ranked Sam Chapman (195).
Chapman was upset in the semifinals by Clarinda sophomore Crew Howard, who improved to 31-4 for the season with the 4-3 decision. Then Howard lost to third-ranked Thomas Bentley of Red Oak, 8-1, which meant Chapman (32-8) did not get a chance to wrestle back for second since he had already lost to Howard.
That was the most disappointing part of the day for Downing.
“Sam beat him in the dual, but today he just wasn’t finishing his shots,” Downing said. “He’s missed some mat time with injuries, which has kind of been the story of our season. There were three kids in that weight class that are all capable of placing at state. Unfortunately they’re all in the same sectional and one can’t make it. Thankfully, he’s a junior and has another chance. And he certainly can help us Tuesday in the regional.”
Downing cited the consolation pins by Parsons, Chesnut, Hayes and Chapman in scoring the bonus points that held off Winterset and Red Oak for first place in the team race. Matt Borha also picked up an early victory at 160 pounds.
“It was really great to see those guys step up, after everything that’s happened to us this year,” Downing said. “We lost (Kolby) Hulett early. Then Keaton Street broke his leg two weeks ago, Hayden Green is undergoing surgery on his shoulder and we have been without Triston Barncastle for a while. We might get him back this week for the regional. Despite everything that happened, we’re right back in the regional as a team. The bar hasn’t been lowered here.”
Bolton and Kinsella excelled on Saturday in winning championships.
Bolton sailed through the 120-pound division, scoring six takedowns in a 13-5 major decision over Winterset’s Jensen Kaldenberg. Bolton improved to 26-14 in his sophomore season.
“I felt good on my feet today,” Bolton said. “I tried to push the pace and it worked out.”
“Kaden has a tough district with the Sergeant Bluff kid and Weaver from Atlantic, but going in as a sectional champion helps,” Downing said.
Kinsella, like Beau Barncastle at 182 pounds, had some dramatic late-match scoring moves to earn his way to the Harlan district meet. Kinsella, ranked fourth in the state with two previous close decisions over 10th-ranked Carter Maynes of Red Oak, trailed Maynes 4-0 in the first period of their championship match.
Kinsella, now 41-5 in his sophomore season, pulled even at 4-4 by the end of the first period. Riding Maynes with the score tied in the third period, he was prompted by Downing to release him for the one-point escape with 1:16 left under the strategy of scoring the winning takedown, which came with 35 seconds left for the 6-5 win.
Kinsella said if Maynes had escaped in the final seconds, there would not have been time to score on his feet. Hence, the intentional release.
“Downing gave me the signal to cut him and I thought, yeah, I can take him down,” Kinsella said. “I wanted to have time to score.”
“I just liked what I’d seen from Jackson on his feet, and I didn’t want to take that chance of giving up a late escape and losing by one,” Downing said.
At the same moment that Chapman was getting nipped in his semifinal match, Barncastle drew a roar from the home crowd by scoring late in his 3-2 win over second-seeded Hunter McMann of Red Oak.
He was leading 2-0 early in the finals against Jakob Childs of Clarinda before losing by fall in 1:41, but secured second place with a solid 8-3 win over Shenandoah’s Avery Martin in the wrestleback round.
“He busts his butt in the room every day and it’s great to see him go on as a senior,” Downing said.
“It was a blast double,” Barncastle said of his takedown in his final match with a 3-2 lead in the final period. “I knew I could get it. Creston is always good about pushing the pace, getting stall calls against the opponent and being in position to score late.”
Class 2A Section 7
Team scoring — 1. Creston/O-M 224; 2. Winterset 219.5; 3. Red Oak 205; Clarinda 120; Southwest Iowa (Sidney) 79; 6. Shenandoah 56.
106 — Champ: Tyler Halloran (Clar) dec. Jake Porter (Wint), 6-4. Conso: Justin Parsons (C/O-M) pinned Chase Sandholm (RO), 2:00. (No wrestleback.)
113 — Champ: Johnathon Erp (RO) pinned Kyle Kesterson (SWI), 1:36. Conso: Travis Allen (Wint) pinned Isaac Shields (C/O-M), 2:39. (No wrestleback.)
120 — Champ: Kaden Bolton (C/O-M) major dec. Jensen Kaldenberg (Wint), 13-5. Conso: Sandro Vera (RO) by forfeit. (No wrestleback.)
126 — Champ: Bryce Hatten (Wint) tech fall Beau Thompson (C/O-M), 17-2 (5:48). Conso: Kale Downey (Clar) pinned Bryan Erp (RO), 2:57. (No wrestleback.)
132 — Champ: Kruise Kiburz (Wint) pinned Garon Wurster (C/O-M), 5:33. Conso: Landon Newquist (Shen) pinned Kennedy Lamkins (SWI), 2:31. (No wrestleback.)
138 — Champ: Cam Vanderhoof (RO) pinned Colton Hauschild (SWI), 1:59. Conso: Brayton Chesnut (C/O-M) pinned Carson Rhoads (Wint), 2:10. (No wrestleback.)
145 — Champ: Jack West (Wint) pinned Mister McNaughton (SWI), 1:50. Conso: Briley Hayes (C/O-M) pinned Michael Reed (Shen), 1:21.
152 — Champ: Tyler Brown (Wint) pinned Rylan Luther (C/O-M), :53. Conso: Bruce Lukehart (RO) pinned Gabe Allumbaugh (Shen), 3:06. (No wrestleback.)
160 — Champ: Justin McCunn (RO) pinned Brady Barringer (Wint), :25. Conso: Cole Ridnour (Clar) dec. Matt Borha (C/O-M), 9-3. (No wrestleback.)
170 — Champ: Jackson Kinsella (C/O-M) dec. Carter Maynes (RO), 6-5. Conso: Kade Forsyth (Wint) bye. (No wrestleback.)
182 — Champ: Jakob Childs (Clar) pinned Beau Barncastle (C/O-M), 1:42. Conso: Avery Martin (Shen) dec. Hunter McMann (RO), 3-1 SV. Wrestleback: Barncastle (C/O-M) dec. Martin (Shen), 8-3.
195 — Champ: Thomas Bentley (RO) dec. Crew Howard (Clar), 8-1. Conso: Sam Chapman (C/O-M) pinned Kory Pike (Wint), 1:04. (No wrestleback.)
220 — Champ: Colton Kinnison (RO) dec. Trevor Kinyon (C/O-M), 5-1. Conso: Jarod McGregor (Clar) pinned Dugan Tolley (Wint), 2:34. (No wrestleback.)
285 — Champ: Storm Howard (Clar) dec. Andy Weis (C/O-M), 4-2. Conso: Liam Mahoney (RO) pinned Henry Tromba (Wint), 1:43. (No wrestleback.)