WILTON, Iowa — The Wilton High School wrestling practice room has been a hub of activity this week, preparing for the annual state tournament.
Seven Beavers — Tanner Greenwald (106), Brady Ruden (120), Logan Mays (132), Zach Keppy (138), Rich Janney (145), Kaleb Schmidt (152) and Koy Snider (170) — will take to the mat this morning in first round and first round consolation action at Wells Fargo Arena, starting at 9 a.m. in Des Moines.
The last time Wilton sent seven qualifiers to state was in 2002 at now-closed Veterans Memorial Ausitorium.
Reaching the state tournament was a big first step for coach Nick Dohrmann’s team.
“We’ve gotten over the biggest obstacle,” Dohrmann said. “Now, we need to go out there, wrestle one match at a time and wrestle the best we can.”
All week long, Dohrmann and the Beaver coaches have been focusing on making sure the wrestlers are mentally prepared.
“This is what part of their goal was, what they wanted to get out of it,” Dohrmann said. “They want to be a state champion. This is what they’ve prepared for. It’s something they’ve visualized many, many times.
“Now, they need to go out there and perform the way they’ve visualized it.”
After qualifying as a sophomore, Ruden, the only Beaver with state meet experience, faces new challenges.
“He can draw on that, but it’s a new year. Last year’s in the books,” Dohrmann said. “It’s a new year, new state tournament. He’s going to have to go out there and compete.”
Six of the seven competing are underclassmen, with Janney being the only senior competing.
Whether they are a freshman (Greenwald), a senior (Janney), or in between, Dohrmann’s wrestlers understand what they need to do out on the mat.
“They have a game plan,” Dohrmann said. “They need to stick to it. They know how to score on their feet, on bottom, from the top.”
The Beavers also need to be strong in all situations.
“They’ve got to be stubborn to the point where they’re not giving an inch,” Dohrmann said. “To beat those guys, our guys are going to have to be at their best, get out there, fight as hard as they can and enjoy it. They’ve just got to go out there and wrestle their match. They can’t be worried about the outcome.
“If they can go out there and take care of that from whistle to whistle, good things are going to happen.”
Corrections below in first two lines only needed if these are seperate stories.
Move up a class pays off for Durant’s George
DURANT, Iowa — Durant High School’s Drew George had a discussion with coach Jim Weisrock late in the season.
With the Wildcats’ regular 285 pounder sidelined by an injury, and a brutal district bracket looming on the horizon, George and Weisrock agreed to move the Durant junior up to 285 pouds.
It paid off as he finally was able to move on from districts to state.
“Drew felt like his whole career that he has been a heavyweight,” Weisrock said. “He feels more comfortable there. He’s in better shape to press the action and score at the end. It seems the more he’s stayed in the match, more he’s stayed in the match, more he’s stayed in the match at the end he’s been able to score.”
George’s ability to score late in matches showed in the wrestleback match against Wilton’s Jacob Giese at districts, scoring the winning takedown on the edge of the mat right in front of Weisrock and another Durant coach.
“That was a pretty exciting way to end the day there right on the edge of the mat in front of me,” Weisrock said.
Senior Aaron Bartenhagen is back at state for a third straight year and is after his second state medal.
This week was somewhat bittersweet for Weisrock as it was the final time Bartenhagen would be practicing in the Durant wrestling room.
“I know I’m going to miss him personally,” Weisrock said. “I like having him in the room. He’s just one of those quiet leaders who works hard.
“Hopefully, we have him around for three more days.”
Competing at state has brought out the best in Bartenhagen.
“Aaron likes challenges,” Weisrock said. “He’s always enjoyed wrestling tough kids and done pretty well? good? wrestling tough kids.”
Durant’s schedule has prepared both for the state tournament.
“We pride ourself in wrestling a good schedule that promotes good matches as much as possible,” Weisrock said. “We focus on challenging our kids to get better and the only way you can get better is by wrestling good competition.”
Wapello has three wrestlers competing in Class 1A: Jack Walker (113), Nathan Boyer (152) and Ryley Howell (220). West Liberty will be represented in Class 2A by Elliot Henderson (120) and Juan Martinez (285).