DES MOINES — Being the lighter wrestler finally paid off for Zach Renshaw.
The Council Bluffs Lewis Central heavyweight would prefer to compete at 220 pounds on the mat. After all, he wrestled for a state championship at that weight last year.
But he ran out of time to shrink down after a long football season and opted to spend the whole winter at 285 — though he actually weighs closer to 240. During Friday night’s Iowa Class 3-A semifinal round, that disparity played to his advantage as the sixth-rated standout escaped in extra time to beat No. 7 Andrew Netolicky of Cedar Rapids Prairie 2-1 at Wells Fargo Arena.
Renshaw’s reward is a championship meeting with No. 1 Pedro Gomez of Marshalltown on Saturday night. Finals action begins at 6.
“It’s amazing,” Renshaw said. “I’m not done yet. I want that title. It’s been my goal since third grade is to get that title, so here I am. I want nothing less.”
Renshaw and Netolicky went to the fourth period of the semifinals having traded escape points. After no progress was made there, each had 30 seconds in the fifth to try to ride the other. Renshaw did his part. Then, starting down, he got away with 17 seconds left and held off Netolicky’s desperation shots.
Who would have thought giving up about 30 pounds to an opponent could be a good thing?
“They’re more tired than I am, because we condition a lot harder, I guarantee,” Renshaw said. “So when they’re tired, I know that weight is just dragging them down so I can keep moving.”
Teammate Ethan Ruby (152 pounds) recovered from an opening loss Thursday with three consolation victories during the meet’s second day. But more important than securing a medal for the first time in three appearances is the relief Ruby is giving family after a nightmarish last few weeks.
Ruby’s older brother, Dillon, died in late January. The state experience has provided a rallying point for something positive during dark times.
Dillon had been in the Des Moines stands the last two years cheering on his sibling. Dillon didn’t get on the mat much growing up — basketball was his sport of choice — but the two Rubys spent plenty of time roughhousing.
“He was a fighter and I was a wrestler; we always had good brawls,” Ethan Ruby said. “I definitely want him to know that I wanted him to be here.”
Lewis Central’s No. 8 Austin Lear, after winning Thursday, lost to unrated Kyler Mathews of Waterloo West 7-5 and dropped out on the consolation side.
Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson advanced all four of its qualifiers to Friday, but only Colton Clingenpeel (106 pounds) will wrestle on the meet’s final day. The seventh-ranked freshman came up on the short end of an 11-3 major decision against No. 1 and unbeaten Nolan Hellickson, but bounced back to clinch a state medal when his consolation foe injury defaulted.
Charles Weaver, who also won Friday, got pinned by No. 2 Bubba Hernandez of Bettendorf in the second period of his 145-pound quarterfinal.
Weaver, along with teammates Jason Wallace (138) and Kenny Rhodd (195), each bowed out in the second-round consolations.
A pair of ranked Sioux City North wrestlers — No. 9 Shane Gill (120) and No. 2 Dustin Fuller (170) — dropped quarterfinal matches as well. Carroll’s No. 8 Justin Kaltved beat Gill in a back-and-forth affair deadlocked at five after the third period.
Appearing to be worn out most of the extra minute, Kaltved darted in for the winning takedown in the last four seconds. The No. 8 Carroll freshman went on to lose in the semis 9-1 against No. 2 Jake Koethe of West Des Moines Valley.
Fuller, entering with a 49-0 record, fell victim to No. 1 Duke Egli of Fort Dodge (38-0) in a 9-0 major decision.
Western Iowa went 2-5 in quarterfinals, then 3-8 in consolation round. That means of 28 state qualifiers, five will earn medals.