NEOLA, Iowa — Consider it a lesson learned for the Harlan wrestling team.
Two days after a 52-15 dual loss to Creston/Orient-Macksburg, the Cyclones bounced back in a big way Saturday. Seven wrestlers reached the final round of the Tri-Center Invitational, and six won titles as Harlan dominated the 10-team tournament with 201 points — well ahead of second-place Tri-Center’s 151.5.
“We went from the outhouse to the penthouse in three days,” Harlan coach John Murtaugh said. “We’ve got to keep getting better because we’re not a finished product yet.”
But the Cyclones proved Saturday they can be fast learners. Their weaknesses against Creston — basic positioning, physicality and mental toughness — became assets at Tri-Center’s annual meet.
Harlan set the tone in the final round when its first three representatives — Wil Beach (106 pounds), Chris Hopkins (113) and Broghan Kelly (120) — each landed bonus-point victories.
The squad’s final three winners dug a little deeper to get their hands raised. Adam Zaccone (170) trailed late into the last period before pinning Woodbine’s Mason Mentink. Cale Stork (195) overcame a 4-0 deficit in the third by pinning Woodbine’s Darin Peterson, and heavyweight Jordan Siebert held on for a 6-5 upset of East Mills’ David Howell, ranked No. 5 in Class 1-A.
“The whole team just took control of it and corrected problems,” Siebert said. “This is what we were working for. Everyone who went to the finals definitely wrestled their heart out.
“We did what we wanted to do, and it turned out well for us.”
The outcome ended Tri-Center’s two-year winning streak in its own tournament. The 1-A No. 8 Trojans competed without many key starters, including top-rated Loren Williams at 152 pounds.
The home team still celebrated a pair of individual champions in No. 3 Darrian Irlbeck (145) and No. 9 Ben Wellman (182).
“For the guys we had, I’m very happy for us to get second,” Trojans coach Andy Hensley said. “I feel like this is the best we’ve wrestled at this tournament the last four or five seasons. We had probably literally 100 points sitting out. For the guys we had, we wrestled really well.”
Carroll Kuemper also picked up two ranked winners in Alexander Schmitz (126) and Jared Eischeid (132). Other top finishers were Griswold’s Tanner Potter (138), West Monona’s Logan Moore (152), Woodbine’s Josh Matusik (160) and Missouri Valley’s John Wohlers (220).
East Mills continued its breakthrough season, finishing a close third with 150 points. Five Wolverines reached the finals.
The program, in its seventh year, had never finished higher than fifth at any tournament before this winter. It also boasts a 10-2 dual record one season after Howell became the team’s first state tournament qualifier.
“It’s nice that I’m upset about not finishing higher,” coach Claude Lang said. “We’ve never scored 150 points in a tournament before this year. We’re not content with that, and I like it.”
Harlan, meanwhile, is enjoying a big confidence boost on the heels of its biggest disappointment. And with a 7-1 dual mark and plenty of wrestling ahead, the Cyclones’ outlook is considerably brighter than 48 hours earlier.
“As a team we really felt like we needed to come together and get something done,” Siebert said. “This is the highlight of the year so far.”
Team scoring: Harlan 201, Tri-Center 151.5, East Mills 150, Woodbine 126, Carroll Kuemper 119.5, Griswold 113, West Monona 89, Missouri Valley 81, Treynor 53, Clarinda Academy 28.
Individual results (championship round): 106 pounds: Wil Beach, Harlan, major dec. Ben Christensen, East Mills, 13-1. 113: Chris Hopkins, Harlan, pinned Christian Polley, Tri-Center, 1:03. 120: Broghan Kelly, Harlan, pinned Lucas Hedstrom, Woodbine, 2:58. 126: Alexander Schmitz, Kuemper, dec. Zach Vance, Griswold, 13-6. 132: Jared Eischeid, Kuemper, pinned Austin Dollen, 3:36. 138: Tanner Potter, Griswold, dec. Lane Stortenbecker, East Mills, 5-1. 145: Darrian Irlbeck, Tri-Center, major dec. Malachi Mentink, Woodbine, 19-9. 152: Logan Moore, West Monona, dec. Josh Hopkins, East Mills, 1-0. 160: Josh Matusik, Woodbine, dec. Colby Jennings, East Mills, 6-0. 170: Adam Zaccone, Harlan, pinned Mason Mentink, Woodbine, 5:19. 182: Ben Wellman, Tri-Center, major dec. Matthew Monahan, Woodbine, 10-0. 195: Cale Stork, Harlan, pinned Darin Peterson, Woodbine, 5:15. 220: John Wohlers, Missouri Valley, dec. Tyler Johannsen, Harlan, 2-1. 285: Jordan Siebert, Harlan, dec. David Howell, East Mills, 6-5.