March 03, 2021

Six wrestlers fall in final match, three miss podium

Barncastle and the Ehlen brothers make way to a podium spot

DES MOINES – As is the case for many wrestlers at the Iowa High School Traditional State Wrestling Tournament, heartbreak was the case for six area wrestlers this past week.

Three wrestlers, guaranteed a medal, lost in their final match of the season while three were bounced from competition in the blood round.

Barncastle defaults to eighth

Creston/O-M’s Triston Barncastle (132) locked up a podium spot Friday, winning in consolations after taking a first-round win Thursday, earning a medal in his first state appearance for the Panthers.

After falling to eventual Class 2A state finalist Averee Abben from Osage in the quarterfinals, Barncastle needed to beat Sargent Bluff-Luton’s Hunter Steffans to have a shot at a podium spot.

It didn’t take long for the 132-pounder to advance, getting a pin early in the second period while holding a 3-2 advantage.

Taylor Huggins of Davis County awaited Barncastle in the next round, and he was too much for Barncastle in a 15-4 major decision loss for Barncastle.

Nearly getting pinned early in the match, Barncastle held off Huggins for nearly a minute, leading to a three point near fall in the first. Huggins scored three takedowns and another three point near fall to help get into major territory. Barncastle didn’t score in the third period.

The loss bounced Barncastle to the seventh-place match against Jackson Jaspers from Mount Vernon.

Before the seventh-place match, Downing said he was thrilled with Barncastle’s showing at state in his first go around.

“I’m really happy with him. He’s had a good tournament and he’s got one more match,” Downing said Friday. “I’d like to see him win that one and take that momentum into next season.”

Unfortunately for Barncastle, he did not get the chance to wrestle for seventh. The 132-pounder missed weight Saturday morning by a few pounds, prompting a medical forfeit to give him eighth place.

Whipple feels the pressure

The fourth-ranked 285-pound wrestler for Bedford/Lenox returned to state after making his first appearance last winter. Last season he was seventh, and was set on making improvements up the podium.

Unfortunately for the heavyweight, the improvements at state did not come this winter as he was bounced from contention Friday morning following his second loss at state.

To get to Friday, Whipple secured a first-round win over East Sac County’s Justin Rupnow.

Leading 3-0, Whipple turned Rupnow and fell on top, closing the match with a pin at 2:34 to send him to the quarterfinals.

The win earned him the rest of the day off as Class 1A, 2A and 3A took shape. To open Friday with a shot at the semis, Whipple faced third-ranked Brant Baltes of Lisbon.

Whipple was unable to score any points in a low-scoring 3-0 final. An escape by Baltes, who was starting on bottom, and a takedown led to the final.

Whipple fell into consolations, getting Matthew Kauffman of Pleasantville with hopes of battling back for third.

The Tiger heavyweight held a 5-0 advantage at one point in the second, but a penalty on Whipple grabbing headgear gave Kauffman his first point, reseting the match for Kauffman to add another point on an escape to go up 2-0.

A takedown attempt from Whipple was reversed on in the final seconds of the second period, leading to a dangerous situation for Whipple where he nearly lost the match.

Had a few more seconds been on the clock, Whipple would have fell by pin. Instead, Kauffman picked up three near fall points to even the score at 7-7.

Early in the third period, Kauffman ended Whipple’s consolation run with a pin to guarantee the Pleasantville grappler a podium spot.

On if this season was any different in consolations, Weller said it wasn’t necessarily different as much as Whipple may have felt the pressure to succeed.

“I wouldn’t say there’s a whole lot of difference there, I’d just say maybe he had a little more pressure this year,” said Weller. “Just simply for the fact that last year he had already showed up and proven himself and everybody is expecting to be on the podium. That weighs on kids, it’s one thing for us as an adult, ... he feels like everybody is expecting him to be there and I guess it just didn’t happen.”

Mount Ayr’s quad group struggles

Mount Ayr’s group battled tough draws and seeding through the tournament, with only two going home with a medal.

With a win over Dalton Ervin of Moravia in consolation Friday to guarantee a podium spot in Class 1A, Drew Ehlen (106) battled Easton Schlabaugh Highland, Riverside Saturday to try and continue his battle back for third.

Schlabaugh grinded out the win with a 4-2 with a takedown and a reversal in the first two periods, which was enough to lock up the win.

The loss for Drew knocked him into a podium match for seventh against Kolton Munson of Ogden, which ended in him getting pinned at 5:20 while trailing 4-2 on points. He had a 2-0 lead in the first before the advantage slipped the other way.

The eighth place finish comes after Drew took seventh in his first go around at state one year ago.

Trae Ehlen was guaranteed a podium spot by working his way to the Class 1A 145 semifinals.

A 15-3 major decision over Carson Klostermann to open competition led to a 5-4 decision win over Jesup’s Jerrett Delagardelle, where Trae got the go-ahead escape point late in the third period.

Facing top-seeded Robert Avila Jr. of Lisbon, Trae stood no chance against the eventual state champion in a 29-11 technical fall. All 11 of Trae’s points came off escapes, which were from Avila Jr. cutting him loose.

Taking on Saturday’s consolation semifinal was another tough go around for Trae, falling in a 3-2 decision to Nick Hageman of Beckman Catholic, Dyersville. A reversal by Hageman at 1:45 led to him riding out the rest of the match on top as Trae couldn’t get away for an escape.

It was a date with Delagardelle again for fifth, with Trae getting bested for the third time in a 6-2 decision loss.

Trae Ehlen finishes his season 41-5 and career as a three-time state qualifier.

Fellow senior Bryce Shaha, a four-time qualifier, was less fortunate to claim a podium spot as he was bounced out of competition earlier than expected.

The 132-pounder won Thursday, getting a major decision to advance deeper into consolation. Friday, the run came to an end, losing in a 3-1 Quinten Aney of Mediapolis.

“I know he didn’t reach his goal, but all I told him was that I was super proud of him,” said MA head coach Eric Ehlen. “He’s had a hell of a career for Mount Ayr and set a lot of our career records. I’m super proud of him, his folks are super proud of him and everyone in Mount Ayr is super proud of him. Hopefully this isn’t the end for him.”

Jaydon Knight’s season fell short of a podium spot as well, getting two quick losses to bounce him out of Class 1A’s 152 bracket after a win Thursday night.

Facing TJ Lau, Knight held a 4-2 advantage into the third period with a shot at wrestling in the semifinals. A go-ahead takedown with 30 seconds left on the clock gave the East Buchanan product an advantage on points at 6-5, which he rode out for the decision win over Knight.

Falling into consolations, Knight bowed out in an 8-0 major decision loss to Ben Foelske of Denver. It was his second tournament run, with last year’s ending in an eighth-place finish.

“This is a wrestling family. ... I feel hurt,” said Eric Ehlen. “I feel bad for Jaydon, I feel bad for Bryce. ... It’s really hard knowing they didn’t reach what they wanted to reach.”

Shaha bows out of high high school wrestling career as a four-time state qualifier with intentions on wrestling in college. Knight is set to return next season as a junior.