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The Muskies will have representation at this year's state wrestling tournament.

They just won't be bringing as crowded of a bus to Wells Fargo Arena as they had hoped heading into Saturday.  

Dalton Sell (195 pounds) and Shane Mathias (220) were the only Muscatine wrestlers who placed in the top two of their weight class at the Class 3A District 2 wrestling tournament in Dubuque, each earning a trip to state, which begins Thursday in Des Moines.

They both pinned their way through the semifinals, and despite losing their first-place matches, avoided a wrestleback to place second. 

"We just set our sights on now trying to win some matches in Des Moines and get some medals," Muscatine coach Joe Kane said. "That's where we can take another step as a program ... not just getting down there but winning matches while we're there. 

"It's a business trip, and part of building the program is building a culture and building an expectation that we're just not going to get a ride down there." 

While Kane was excited for his two wrestlers who advanced, he felt his team let an opportunity at something special slip away. 

After all, it wasn't too long ago when the Muskies wrapped up their dual season with a pair of impressive wins over Marion and Mount Pleasant to finish with a 14-12 record. 

"Districts is a day that's always filled with mixed feelings," Kane said. "It's a day you have some big accomplishments and you're proud of the guys that qualified. But you're always bummed out for the guys that don't make it or don't achieve their goals.

"There's always a bittersweet end. I think that in some cases today came and went, and we weren't ready when it went by us." 

The silver lining for the Muskies is four of the 11 of wrestlers who made the trip to the district tournament were sophomores and another was just a freshman. 

Kane hopes the exposure for the underclassmen will lead to brighter days for the program. 

"For underclassmen to be wrestling varsity in the Mississippi Athletic Conference and in this district says a lot about them," Kane said. "The experience is huge. I think that part of that idea of not letting the moment pass us by is having these underclassmen get this experience. 

"So next year it's more of 'Well, I've already been there and I know what to expect.'"  

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