Muscatine wrestling coach Joe Kane knew that the lower weight classes could be a weakness for the Muskies this season. That was apparent in Muscatine’s home quadrangular meet to open the season, especially in a 48-33 dual loss to Louisa-Muscatine. Muscatine also lost 55-24 to Central Dewitt but easily dispatched Highland 48-28.
“I saw some good, some bad, and a lot of things in between,” Kane said. “The best part about tonight is now we know where we’re at.”
Outside of getting pinned far too often, and Kane said his team needs to work in staying in matches and keeping them close, their issues at the lower weights proved costly against the Falcons. The Muskies were coming off an impressive win over the Huskies in the previous dual and had jumped out to a 30-6 lead over the Falcons.
However, the Muskies forfeited three consecutive matches at the 106, 113 and 120-pound weight classes. Their lead turned into a 30-30 tie, and soon a 36-30 lead for the Falcons after Louisa-Muscatine’s Gage Connor pinned Brady Holmes. Louisa-Muscatine dominated the remainder of the dual to hand Muscatine a loss.
“We’re the little brother, we’re the little school,” Louisa-Muscatine coach Tom Mashek said. “The pressure is all on them. We just want to come in and fight. That’s hard for them to be in that situation, but we appreciate the opportunity to wrestle a bigger school that’s close by.”
The win over Muscatine came on the heels of a resounding 45-27 loss to Central Dewitt for Louisa-Muscatine. Hunter Connor led the way for the Falcons, as the senior pinned both of his opponents and spent just over two minutes on the mat. Chase Kruse, like Connor, also pinned both of his opponents in the Falcons' season opener. Even so, Mashek still sees plenty of room for growth for his team.
“We were a little too aggressive,” Mashek said. “We need to get in better shape. I was disappointed in our conditioning. We have to wrestle harder in our live matches (in practice) because if you don’t do that you won’t get in shape. I love this team though.”
Despite the 1-2 record, there were plenty of positives for Kane and the Muskies as well. For starters, Gavyn Ashley looked every bit the part of a wrestler vying for a state tournament appearance in his senior season by pinning all three opponents. In Kane’s assessment, the senior looked smooth to start the season.
“It felt good to get back on the mat for awhile,” Ashley said. “I didn’t want to rush it, and I just waited until I got an open shot.”
Both Nolan Bell and Carter Oldfield walked away from Thursday’s action with 3-0 records in the 285 and 170-pound weight classes. Both wrestlers received walkover victories in the first two duals before pinning their Central Dewitt opponents. Kane also noted that Ryan Townsend showed promise in the 138-pound weight class, as the sophomore won all three of his matches.
However, Kane would like to see some better fundamentals across the board as the Muskies continue their season.
“We had some guys that were really dominant, but we’re looking to fine tune and sharpen what they did executed well,” Kane said. “We saw some good things but there’s some fundamentals we need to improve. We were getting in some positions of advantage and not capitalizing.”
“When we get to the angle or deep on a shot we have to blow through the guy and finish what we started.”