Andrew Foutch tracked his progress all season. He wasn’t sure when — or if — he would get a shot at the record.
But the wins kept piling up for the Underwood senior. Now, with a career mark of 204-13, he’s within range of Iowa’s most all-time victories. Only Centerville’s T.J. Sebolt, with a 207-1 tally accumulated from 2003 to ’06, owns more.
On the brink of his last Iowa state tournament, Foutch has done the math. The unbeaten 126-pounder could tie the top spot with a semifinal triumph. And the honor would be all his if he takes home a Class 1-A state championship.
“I don’t know (how to react to the idea),” Foutch said. “I just try not to think about it and go to my next match. A title would be everything I’ve been working for most of my life. That would be everything to me.”
Foutch, at 49-0, opens against unrated Johnny Stephens of Lawton-Bronson when 1-A action kicks off the three-day meet at 9 a.m. Thursday at Des Moines’ Wells Fargo Arena. He could meet Carroll Kuemper’s No. 3 Jared Eischeid (41-2) in Friday’s quarterfinals, with a pair of other top-five wrestlers lurking on his side of the bracket for a potential semifinal.
Three Underwood teammates — all with favorable matchups — will join Foutch among western Iowa’s 35 1-A participants. No. 2 senior Taylor Curtis (106 pounds) faces No. 10 Kolby Munson of Ogden and wouldn’t get another ranked foe until the semis. No. 9 junior Riley Klein (113) could start with two straight unrated opponents, and sophomore Cody Kingery (145) begins with a fellow unrated grappler as well.
“I like where all my guys are right now, and we’re ready to go,” Underwood coach Joe Stephens said. “I’m not kidding: I think getting three to the finals isn’t unrealistic. With Riley, I couldn’t have drawn up a better bracket for him myself.”
Any discussion of western Iowa’s top contenders also has to include two-time defending champion Loren Williams (152). The Tri-Center senior, with a 45-1 record, is likely on a collision course with No. 2 Grant Henderson of Alburnett and his 44-2 mark in the quarterfinals Friday.
Williams is joined at state by eighth-ranked teammate Christian Polley (113), who opens against No. 4 Kaden McClintock of Fort Dodge St. Edmonds.
Like Underwood, Carroll Kuemper will also send four to state, though a significantly tougher first round await the Knights. Along with Eischeid’s possible clash with Foutch, No. 8 Alexander Schmitz (132) and his 41-2 record goes against No. 5 Kyle Pegorick, at 47-2, of Midland Wyoming. Unrated seniors Kolby Hilgenberg (145) and Alex Bruch (285) both see top-five competition.
Council Bluffs St. Albert will make a family trip to Des Moines. No. 7 senior Jake Lewis (182) and junior brother Wyatt, ranked No. 10 at 160, will wrestle while their father and coach, Al Lewis, looks on from a corner of the mat.
Both Lewis qualifiers start off with unrated adversaries. Wyatt would get either No. 6 John Pint of North Linn or No. 8 Cole Cook of Tipton in the quarters, while No. 1 and unbeaten Andrew Wellik of Emmetsburg would likely emerge for Jake’s second-round match.
“When it comes to tough draws, hey, this is the Iowa state tournament,” Al Lewis said. “There’s no slouches at this level. In order to be the best, you’re going to have to beat the rest.
“I have some really high expectations. My boys usually do a good job of living up to those. They’ve really been coming on and turning it up several notches since the end of the season.”
Other top-five area wrestlers going are No. 3 Logan Melby (220) of Logan-Magnolia and No. 4 Logan Moore (152) of West Monona.
Riverside and Audubon each qualified three for state, and two each will compete for Woodbine, Exira-EHK, Maple Valley-Anthon-Oto, Southwest Iowa, Griswold and East Mills. Corning, Nodaway Valley and Coon Rapids-Bayard each send one.