The Nodaway Valley/OM Wolverines showed they belonged at the regional duals last Tuesday night in Gilbertville but were unable to forge through to state duals with a win in the second round of the event.
After a dual meet they also entered into Friday at CAM High School, the Wolverines finish the dual season 20-4. That ties the school record for wins in a season.
One of those wins was a 42-36 win over MFL MarMac in the first round of regional duals.
“In the last three years, we’ve progressively pushed a lot of different goals. Three years ago, we graduated a [big] group of seniors and weren’t sure what the future would hold. Last year we qualified for the regional duals for the first time in about 15 years,” NV/OM co-head coach Brad Honnold said. “At the beginning of the year, we knew we had a mature, solid nucleus of kids and set that goal early on. We centered our schedule on hoping that would help us get a trip there.”
The Wolverines did get a trip there and relished in it. Against the Bulldogs in the first round, NV/OM won six head-to-head matches and MFL MarMac won six. Each team received one forfeit.
In the second bout of the matchup, senior Bradley Gebbie stepped up and delivered an 8-4 decision that was crucial in the start of the meet.
“Obviously, all the kids who were expected to win won in the fashion we had hoped, but one of the two key wins we needed to have was 132 [with Bradley]. He’s a senior and has been one of the key kids in our program and has even been dealing with a broken nose. He went out and did exactly what we needed him to, and we knew if we took care of business like we needed to we would have that dual,” Honnold said. “Another one that was crucial was at 175. On paper, it was one we were probably favored in, but we really needed a pin to make ourselves feel good. Caleb Christensen (a freshman) went out and got a quick pin. Once he did that, we knew we were at ease with how things were.”
Other winners in the opener were Keyin Steeve (126) by fall, Carmine Shaw and Eli Harris by forfeit, Ashton Honnold by fall, Trent Warner by decision and Ty Strode by fall.
Don Bosco beat NV/OM 57-15. The head-to-head wins the Wolverines were able to get were a pin by Carmine Shaw at 144 pounds and a 7-1 decision from Ashton Honnold at 215. The Dons, who were eventual state dual champions, had nine pins in the dual.
“We got to be in that gym with one of the top programs in the state in Don Bosco. We competed hard, won those swing matches and were super pleased with how we wrestled in that first round against MFL, then we went right to work against Don Bosco,” Honnold said. ”They ended up being dual team state champions. We would’ve loved to have made state duals, but instead, it was a stepping stone in our program, and we’re super appreciative of that.”
With a lineup comprised of both varsity and junior varsity wrestlers, the Wolverines went 3-1 on the evening, losing to Adair-Casey/Guthrie Center but beating Griswold, CAM and Southwest Valley.
The Wolverines now turn their attention to a Class 1A District Tournament Saturday at Interstate 35 High School. Teams entered include BGM (Brooklyn), Cardinal (Elgin), East Union, Interstate 35, Lynnville-Sully, Martensdale-St. Marys, Montezuma, Moravia, NV/OM, Southeast Warren/Melcher-Dallas and Wayne.
The top two wrestlers at each weight class qualify for the traditional state tournament, which is Feb. 16-18 at Wells Fargo Arena.
The Wolverines suffered a dual loss at Interstate 35 to a fellow-ranked Roadrunners team. Honnold hopes that sour taste in his team’s mouth serves as fuel for them to go out and perform like they’re capable of this time.
“The state kind of tried to put one or two top teams in each district, and I’d say at our district, it’s us and I-35. It’s nice to know we’re one of those top teams. We’re going to see a lot of teams we haven’t seen,” Honnold said. “We’ve had to do a lot of research and get some film on some of those kids. The biggest thing is you throw a lot of the rankings and records out the window. It comes down to who wants it more and who wants their season to continue.”