April 17, 2024

‘We’re not done winning state titles’

The Creston wrestling seniors were honored Sunday at the team’s banquet held at Mario’s. Back row, from left: Austin Evans, Jagger Luther, Christian Ahrens, Max Chapman, Carson Rieck. Front row: Will Bolinger, Lincoln Keeler, Boone Pryor, Brandon Briley and Milo Staver. Not pictured: Quinten Fuller.

The message from coach Cody Downing at the Creston wrestling banquet Sunday was clear — it doesn’t matter who is graduating, the Panthers aren’t done winning state titles.

“It’s never been about one group, one class, one person,” he said to the group gathered at Mario’s Sports Bar and Grill to celebrate the historic season. “After we won in 2007, they said we wouldn’t do it again. We did it in 2016. After that, they said we couldn’t do it again. Now here we are state champions again.”

It’s true, next year will look vastly different than this one did. Graduating 11 seniors, the team does not have any juniors at this moment to fill that role.

The senior class boasts a host of accolades including four-time regional duals qualifiers, four-time Hawkeye 10 dual champions, four-time John J Harris Invitational team champions, three-time Hawkeye 10 tournament champions, eighth place at the state duals in 2021, fifth place in 2023 and state dual champions this season.

Out of the 14 members of the starting lineup this season, nine were seniors. And coaches agree, on many other team, the other two would be varsity starters as well.

At each tournament and dual, Downing had a little yellow sticky note in his pocket. “I told the seniors to meet and write down what you want to accomplish,” he said. “We slam dunked everything on here.”

Denny Abel presents the Mike Abel Outstanding Wrestler award to senior Austin Evans.

The note had five items listed: Hawkeye 10 dual and tournament champions; John J. Harris champions; at least nine state qualifiers; top three at the state duals and district champions.

This season, the Panthers had a 20-1 dual record, falling only to 3A powerhouse Indianola. They were Hawkeye 10 dual champions and Hawkeye 10 tournament champions. They took home gold at the Riverside Invitaional, Dewitt “Saber” Invitational, Eddyville Dual Tournament, Ottumwa Invitational, John J. Harris Invitational and the IHSAA Districts in Atlantic.

Not only did they knock all those items off the list, they sent a record-breaking 11 Panthers to state — two above their goal. And instead of simply finishing in the top three at state duals, they brought home a title.

Qualifying for state were Lane Travis (106), Christian Ahrens (120), Brodrick Phelps (126), Lincoln Keeler (132), Brandon Briley (138), Austin Evans (144), Milo Staver (157), Will Bolinger (165), Jagger Luther (190), Quinten Fuller (215) and Max Chapman (285).

Four came home as place winners. Travis took eighth, Evans seventh, Chapman fifth and Ahrens fourth.

At the banquet, Evans was named the Mike Abel award winner. He led the team this season in wins (45), tech falls (9), three-point near falls (28) and team points (301.5).

Briley led the team in major decisions (6), takedowns (102), reversals (16), escapes (71) and match points (377). Chapman led the team with 30 pins.

Letterwinners: Seniors, Jagger Luther, Austin Evans, Wil Bolinger, Quinten Fuller, Lincoln Keeler, Max Chapman, Christian Ahrens, Brandon Briley, Boone Pryor, Carson Rieck, Milo Staver. Sophomores, Brodrick Phelps, Gunner Martwick, Kylen Parsons, Jackson Pettegrew, Lane Travis, Evan Abel, Kal Barber, Ethan Holliday. Freshmen, Colby Brammer.

Hardest Worker Award: Lane Travis.

Best Teammate: Quinten Fuller.

Most Improved: Lane Travis.

Hawkeye 10 Academic All-Conference: Wil Bolinger, Brandon Briley, Austin Evans, Quinten Fuller, Jagger Luther, Carson Rieck, Milo Staver.

2024 Coaches Award winners: Brodrick Phelps, Carson Rieck, Jagger Luther, Boone Pryor, Gunner Martwick, Kylen Parsons.

Mike Abel Outstanding Wrestler Award: Autin Evans.

Cheyenne Roche

CHEYENNE ROCHE

Originally from Wisconsin, Cheyenne has a journalism and political science degree from UW-Eau Claire and a passion for reading and learning. She lives in Creston with her husband and their two little dogs.