For high school wrestlers around the state, all roads lead to Wells Fargo Arena on February 16. The Iowa High School State Wrestling Tournament set for February 16-18 will be a culmination of all the blood, sweat, and tears that so many wrestlers have given towards their goals.
The first step was the Sectional Tournaments that were held around the state on Saturday, February 4. The STC Trojans travelled to Bondurant-Farrar for the Class 2A Sectional 9 tournament along with PCM, Knoxville, Grinnell, Saydel, and Bondurant-Farrar.
The Trojans have had a consistently successful group of wrestlers over the past three years. Now juniors, Brady Fritz, Tanner Probasco, Colton Vest, and Isaac Judge are the ones to watch out for from South Tama. They have been in the varsity lineup since their freshman year, are three-time district qualifiers, State place-winners and have each earned their 100th wins this season. Judge was a WaMaC champion in 2016 while Vest captured a conference title this year at Williamsburg.
South Tama’s Kyle Kucera gets a takedown in overtime to defeat Knoxville’s Chase Bellon. The win secured Kucera a trip to Districts.
News Herald Photo/Allison Graham
At 126 STC's Brady Fritz started his day with a bye. He then made quick work of pinning Ethan Kirby of Grinnell (1:15) in the semifinals. In the finals Fritz dominated Cody Lehman of Saydel, capturing the sectional title with a tech fall victory. (16-1, 3:32)
At 132 STC's Tanner Probasco faced Walter Long of Bondurant-Farrar in the semifinals. Probasco easily pinned Long (1:26) to move to the finals. Probasco then had a thrilling match with Saydel's Klayton Keller. After some back and forth with both Probasco and Keller appearing to have the upper hand, Probasco finished it off with a pin over Keller for the championship.
At 138 STC's Colton Vest had a very strong day with pins over PCM's Chase Shirk in the semis and Grinnell's Lane Milner to earn his second straight sectional title. Vest has had an incredible season and holds the Trojans best record at 42-1. His only loss of the season came early in the year against Class 3A #8 ranked Josh Geerke (Xavier) while still wrestling at 145.
At 152 STC's Isaac Judge may be the most high-profile wrestler for the Trojans. He finished 3rd at the State Tournament last year and has been ranked 2nd behind West Liberty's Joe Kelly all season. Judge has not been shy that his goal this season is to capture the Class 2A Championship. On Saturday, he got one step closer to that goal with a pin over Bryson Cline of Grinnell in the semis and a major decision victory over Riley Spaur of Knoxville for the sectional championship.
At this point in their wrestling careers the success of these four is well earned and expected. But the Trojans will also have two more former district qualifiers joining them on Saturday.
STC's 182 pounder Dalton Rosenburg and 220 pounder Kyle Kucera will also be vying for a trip to State. Rosenburg pinned Cameron Brown of Knoxville in the semis but lost a tight 4-3 decision match to Saydel's Trevor Sprague in the finals. The brackets worked in Rosenburg's favor though as Brown went on to pin Jacob Hayworth of Bondurant-Farrar, preventing any potential wrestleback situation.
STC senior Kucera will get his final chance at a trip to State. With just four wrestlers in the 220 sectional brackets, Kucera faced Clayton Welch of PCM. Kucera won by fall (5:30). In the championship match Kucera kept it interesting with Knoxville's Chase Bellon. The match went into overtime and Kucera struck with a takedown to win the bout. He rose from the mat with a smile on his face knowing he was headed to districts with a favorable seeding.
But sending six on wasn't quite satisfying for head coach Nate Van Dyke because it meant that five of his wrestlers were done for the season. It's always a tough way to finish a season, but Pedro Rodriguez, Josh Thiessen, Tanner Walz, Cael Kellogg and Daniel Ochoa all have at least one more year of eligibility and another shot for a deeper post-season run in 2018.
All in all it was a great day for the Trojans who ended the day with 8 pins, one tech fall, one major decision, and one decision win.
The Sectional 9 qualifiers, including the STC six will move on to the Class 2A District 5 tournament (Knoxville High School) this Saturday where they will clash with Sectional 10 opponents from Albia, Centerville, Central Decatur, Chariton, Clarke and Winterset.
STC's district matchups include:
Sec. 9 Champ: Brady Fritz (STC) vs Sect. 10 Runner-Up: Ethan Wagner (Centerville)
Sec. 10 Champ: Gabe Ruepke (Chariton) vs Sect. 9 Runner-Up: Cody Lehman (Saydel)
Sec. 9 Champ: Tanner Probasco (STC) vs Sect. 10 Runner-Up: Kruise Klburz (Winterset)
Sec. 10 Champ: Tiger Terpstra (Centerville) vs Sect. 9 Runner-Up: Klayton Keller (Saydel)
Sec. 9 Champ: Colton Vest (STC) vs Sect. 10 Runner-Up: Dominick Morris (Albia)
Sec. 10 Champ: Blake Ryerson (Winterset) vs Sect. 9 Runner-Up: Chase Shirk (PCM)
Sec. 9 Champ: Trevor Sprague (Saydel) vs Sect. 10 Runner-Up: Nathan Bair (Clarke)
Sec. 10 Champ: Kade Kelso (Central Decatur) vs Sect. 9 Runner-Up: Riley Spaur (Knoxville)
Sec. 9 Champ: Isaac Judge (STC) vs Sect. 10 Runner-Up: Jonathan Bair (Clarke)
Sec. 10 Champ: Ben Mason (Albia) vs Sect. 9 Runner-Up: Dalton Rosenburg (STC)
Sec. 9 Champ: Kyle Kucera (STC) vs Sect. 10 Runner-Up: Brett Martin (Albia)
Sec. 10 Champ: Trace Carson (Central Decatur) vs Sect. 9 Runner-Up: Chase Bellon (Knoxville)
The two highest profile matches project to be at 126 and 152 as STC's 5th ranked Fritz could face 6th ranked Ruepke, should they both advance to the finals. Also, the 152 2nd (Judge) and 3rd (Kelso) ranked wrestlers could see each other in the finals should they both advance. Dalton Rosenburg will also see 10th ranked Nathan Bair of Clarke in his opening round bout.
Wrestlers take the mats at noon on Saturday, February 11 in Knoxville.