September 19, 2021

Busy summer for Panther wrestling

Creston varsity finished 9-1 and third overall behind defending 2A state champion West Delaware and Southeast Polk

It’s been a busy summer for the Creston wrestling team, including a pair of national tournament participants at Fargo, North Dakota.

Graduated senior Jackson Kinsella competed in the Junior freestyle division (19 and under) and incoming Panther sophomore Will Bolinger wrestled in the Cadet freestyle division (16 and under) in the USA Wrestling event in Fargo recently. Kinsella qualified by placing second in the Iowa qualifying tournament at 195 pounds, and Bolinger was fourth in his 170-pound Cadet state meet.

Kinsella, who will wrestle at University of Nebraska-Kearney, lost a 4-2 match to Carter Grewe of Wisconsin in the round of 64, and was eliminated in an 11-0 loss to Eli Sheered of Texas. Wyatt Voelker of West Delaware was eighth in that freestyle class, and won his weight class in Greco-Roman (upper body wrestling only) style.

Bolinger went 1-2 at nationals. He lost 11-0 to Aidan Yzagguirre of Arizona, came back to win 13-2 over John Moyer of Ohio and was eliminated in a 12-0 consolation loss to Mason Villwok of Nebraska.

“Jackson went 0-2, but when you look at the bracket and see that Voelker barely placed in freestyle, you know the quality of that bracket was really high,” Creston coach Cody Downing said. “Just being there is a good experience. I think this was Jackson’s third time at nationals.

“Will won a match at nationals after getting the fourth and final qualifying spot in the state tournament, so that was good for him,” Downing added. “I’m pretty excited about bringing him back with that experience. He showed he belonged.”

Griffin Gammell of Waukee, whose parents and grandparents are from Creston, earned All-American honors at 182 pounds in freestyle. He is the son of Jed Gammell and Sara Coen.

Southwest Valley’s Ady Lundquist was a national qualifier but a shoulder injury kept her out of the Fargo competition.

Bolinger arrived back in Creston just in time to join the rest of the Panther team on a recent trip to the Quad Cities for a team camp. TLAN (Train Like a Norseman), directed by Luther College coach Dave Mitchell, was held at TBK Sports Complex in Bettendorf because use of the dorms by the public is still not allowed due to COVID-19 precautions.

A team of 24 Panthers was split into two teams at the event held July 18-21. Creston varsity finished 9-1 and third overall behind defending 2A state champion West Delaware and Southeast Polk. The only loss was to West Delaware. The Panthers placed third without the services of returning state placewinner Tristan Barncastle, who suffered an injury at a previous camp this summer.

Southeast Polk, a mix of varsity starters and backups as several starers were competing in Fargo, was one of the nine teams losing to Creston. The others were Central DeWitt, Lake Mills, Algona, New Hampton, Benton Van Horne, Austin (Minnesota) and Cheatham County of Tennessee twice.

“I thought we definitely held our own against some good competition,” Downing said. “Every one of our guys got at least 10 matches. Each day was divided into four sessions, with one being technique, others involving team building activities and dual meets. David Carr of Iowa State and Roman Bravo-Young of Penn State were two of the guest technique counselors, so that was a good experience.”

An individual tournament was held on the final day. Creston champions were Christian Ahrens, Jagger Luther and Will Bolinger. Taking second were Chris Wilson and Brennan Hayes.

The Panthers also participated in the Southwest Iowa Wrestling Series on four Sunday nights in June, hosted by Lincoln, Neb., Riverside of Oakland, Atlantic and Red Oak. The program is an offshoot of the former University of Nebraska-Omaha camp before wrestling was dropped as a sport at UNO.

“Some southwest Iowa coaches thought it would be good to continue that tradition and just rotate hosting the other teams once a week in June,” Downing said. “Creston will host one of the nights next year. We averaged 18 to 20 kids at the Sunday sessions this year. Kids are busy in the summer, so I was happy with that.”

Larry Peterson

LARRY PETERSON

Former senior feature writer at Creston News Advertiser and columnist. Previous positions include sports editor for many years and assistant editor. Also a middle school basketball coach in Creston.