Twenty-seven wrestlers from Council Bluffs, Glenwood and Sioux City schools want to make their stays at this week’s Iowa state tournament long ones.
For that to happen, many will need to pull a few upsets along the way.
Twelve unranked grapplers will open Thursday’s Class 3-A meet against opponents in the top 10. Five more ranked western Iowa wrestlers start against fellow top-10 foes. Large-school action begins at Des Moines’ Wells Fargo Arena at 2 p.m. with first-round and first-round consolation matches.
Fourteen competitors enter the three-day meet with state experience. Coaches and wrestlers alike agree that the familiarity is worth something amid the brightest lights and loudest crowds of the year.
“I’ve seen a lot of kids get in there and you think they’re ready,” C.B. Thomas Jefferson coach August Manz said. “But no matter what type of season they have, it’s an eye-opener — sometimes the jaw drops. They’re not ready for that first match. Hopefully these guys, with the experience they have, can get in there and take care of business.”
With four qualifiers all entering as district champs, the Jackets have as good a chance as any area 3-A program to miss multiple days of school.
Seventh-ranked freshman Colton Clingenpeel (106 pounds) starts off with unrated Nick Brockman of Waterloo West, while No. 9 Jason Wallace (138) draws No. 7 Karsten VanVelsor of Ottumwa. In a pair of bouts featuring unrated participants, T.J.’s Charles Weaver (145) faces Johnston’s Zack Robinson and Kenny Rhodd (195) gets Algona’s Garrett Johnson.
“It’s nice to see more of our kids go as champions and not just getting second,” said Wallace, a returning qualifier. “It’s going to give us more confidence going in.”
Should they win, all four would almost certainly face the No. 1 or No. 2 wrestlers at their weights in the Friday quarterfinals.
Glenwood will send seven state representatives, though most draw challenging openers after five Rams finished as district runners-up last weekend.
Their three qualifiers from last year — all unrated seniors — will each be heavy underdogs Thursday. Jesse Bendt (138) runs into No. 3 Kegan Wakefield of Iowa City West, Hunter Hoffmann (182) encounters No. 1 Justin Kreiter of North Scott and Alex Killpack (285) is paired against No. 3 Jake Scanlan of Southeast Polk.
Also tasked with tough assignments are unrated Rams Matt Malcom (120) and district champion Cole Peckham (113). Malcom, a freshman, takes on No. 1 Alijah Jeffery of Linn-Mar while Peckham gets No. 7 Jonah Eide of West Des Moines Dowling.
Unrated district runner-up Chase Evans (106) takes on Kyler Lowe of Waterloo East. District winner and No. 9 Sam Jameson — who went to state in 2010 and 2011 — welcomes No. 8 Travis Willers of Pleasant Valley, with the victor likely to earn a Friday quarterfinal spot against No. 5 Jonathan Eide of Dowling.
After finishing its dual season at 21-1, Glenwood will continue to take a collective approach.
“They’re not doing it alone,” Rams coach Brad Asche said. “We’ve been a good team the whole year, and these guys are coming out and are going to wrestle as a team down there. That will be fun.
“We have a little bit of everything. But we have some guys going that definitely, if they have minds set, can do some damage. I’m looking forward to a good next week.”
Three of Sioux City North’s six qualifiers seem favored to open with wins. No. 9 Shane Gill (120), No. 2 Dustin Fuller (170) and No. 10 Alberto Jurado (132) each get unrated foes to start. Jurado wouldn’t see ranked resistance until the semifinals.
Conversely, unrated teammates Gage Martin (160) and Deion Clayborne (145) need upsets. So does No. 10 Dalton Hanson (126) against No. 1 Fredy Stroker of Bettendorf.
Sioux City East’s four wrestlers still alive in the tournament will be hard pressed to stay that way. Drake Swedlund (152), Calvin Buchanan (170) and Brandon Cabney (220) each encounter top-10 foes. No. 10 Mitchell Otto (160) faces unrated Markram Ibraheem of Des Moines East.
Sioux City West’s unrated pair — Marco Rojas (132) and Anthony Combs (220) — faces much different openers. Rojas starts with unrated Juan Figueroa of Storm Lake. Combs must tangle with No. 4 Colton Aplara of Mount Pleasant.
C.B. Lewis Central advances a trio of second-time qualifiers in No. 8 Ethan Ruby (152), No. 8 Austin Lear (182) and No. 6 Zach Renshaw (285). Ruby, who absorbed an upset and runner-up finish at districts, draws No. 2 Spencer Derifield of Waverly-Shell Rock to start. Lear must face No. 9 Seth Skahill of Pleasant Valley, with an unranked foe waiting in the quarterfinals.
Renshaw, a state runner-up at 220 last year, opens with unrated Derrick Hurt of Newton. The senior said he didn’t have time to cut enough weight after football season and elected to stay in wrestling’s heaviest class all year. Checking in at about 240 pounds, he has routinely given up 40 pounds to opponents.
“It’s hard, but that’s the kind of adversity you have to face sometimes; I just have to wrestle smart and not get underneath,” Renshaw said. “Once you get all that early excitement under control, you can stay focused with things and keep going.”
C.B. Abraham Lincoln senior Jordan Peterson — the only qualifier for the Lynx — embarks on his second straight state trip by meeting No. 2 Clayton Eicher of West Des Moines Valley at 113 pounds.