WAPELLO, Iowa – Ask any of the Wilton wrestlers or coaches what goals the team has for this season and they will likely repeat the same two words: state duals.
It's a lofty goal that the Beavers haven’t achieved since 2014, but as they proved with a Willard Howell Invitational title Saturday at Wapello High School, it's certainly not out of reach.
Wilton coach Gabe Boorn touted his team’s depth before the season started after adding 12 new wrestlers.
In just their second competition of the season, the Beavers proved just how deep their lineup is.
Four of their wrestlers finished first – Reid Johnson at 126 pounds, Cory Anderson at 138, Trey Brisker at 152 and John Rife at 182 – while two others finished runner-up, Colton Cruse and Cameron Reddick.
Johnson didn’t waste any time securing Wilton’s first title, recording a fall over Centerville’s Ethan Wagner in 44 seconds, before Anderson pinned Centerville’s Kayden Kauzlarich two matches later.
“I got the nerves out, (this week) went well, everything went my way,” Anderson said. “Last year I lost to (Kauzlarich) in the finals by one point, so it was good to get revenge.”
Both were key victories after Centerville entered the final round of first- and third-place matches with a 4.5-point lead.
But they were far from all Boorn was impressed with as the Beavers finished with 186 points to win the tournament, 6.5 points ahead of second-place Centerville.
“Reid Johnson put together a great tournament today … he was really able to step up and perform,” Boorn said. “Cory Anderson had a heck of a finals match, good hips, good motion, and Trey Brisker was dominant throughout the day. John Rife had a heck of a day too.
“Coy Baker and Eli didn’t quite wrestle up to their capability in their first match, but they battled tough on that backside and wrestled really well. Calib Lilly wrestled with some confidence today, so up and down the lineup some good things, plenty of things to keep working on and fine tuning. But it was a good start to the season.”
Wapello finishes eighth
Wapello wrestling coach Rocky Hamilton was satisfied, but not overwhelmingly happy with the way his young squad wrestled at its home tournament.
“For having as young of a team as we have, I thought we did OK,” Hamilton said. “… I thought we were in better shape than everyone else and we wrestled hard. We have some things to fix. But I have a young group that works hard, and I think we’re going to be OK.”
While Daniel Meeker secured the Indians’ lone title of the day at 120 with a 6-3 decision over English Valley’s Seth Thompson, Blair Noble placed third at 132, Colton Meeker fourth at 106 and Mitchell Moore fourth at 126.
Those five scored the majority of Wapello’s 69 points, which placed them eighth in the team standing among a field of 11.
“Most of our kids are smaller, so we have to wrestle some kids up at weights, and I’m pretty impressed with our 132-pounder (Noble),” Hamilton said. “He’s given up two weight classes, and he wrestles really hard. He might not have been a champ, but the effort that he gives, it’s nice to have kids that will work that hard for me.
“Dan Meeker, watching him wrestle, he was a state place winner last year, but he doesn’t ever stop trying to get better. He believes in everything you tell him, he’s just a fun kid to coach and a good leader on our team.”
Durant finishes 11th
Durant’s Mason Bird led the Wildcats by finishing second at 285, but the team managed just 26 points in the team standings, finishing 11th.
Cameron Ruggerio finished the day strong, defeating Mount Pleasant’s Garrett Boecker with an 18-15 decision in the 160-pound fifth-place match.