HUXLEY - Two Ballard wrestlers began their quest to return to the state finals and another is heading to districts for the first time after they won championships at the Class 2A sectional meet in Huxley Saturday.
Skyler Noftsger and Ben Lee each took second at state in 2017 and they started off the 2018 postseason on the right foot by placing first Saturday. Senior Josh Borg scored an upset win at 145 and six other Bombers will be joining them at districts next week in Webster City.
Noftsger, ranked No. 2 at 152 pounds in Class 2A, according to The Predicament, returned to the mat after missing almost two weeks with an elbow injury. It didn’t bother him too much Saturday as he won both of his matches to go to 29-3 on the season.
“It doesn’t really hurt during my matches, it’s just a restriction almost,” Noftsger said. “I can’t always get as far out as I want or as close as I want. Toward the end of the match it just goes numb, but it still works fine.”
Noftsger pinned Nevada’s Rodrigo Perez in two minutes, 42 seconds during the semifinals Saturday. In the finals Noftsger faced off against No. 9 Luke Rohmiller of Webster City and prevailed by a 10-5 decision.
“I might have (Rohmiller) next week too,” Noftsger said. “It’s just a small step to try and get back on top of the podium.”
Lee, No. 3 at 182, didn’t waste any time getting to 40-6 on the season. It only took him a combined 39 seconds to pin his two sectional opponents — Collins-Maxwell’s Cody Galbraith and Webster City’s Hunter Collicott.
“Each match is a process to get to state,” Lee said. “Today I wasn’t too worried to wrestle a total of 40 seconds and get through the finals. I know I’ll have matches next week and the week following.”
State veterans Jarrett Miller and Tate Battani also won sectional titles for Ballard Saturday.
Miller showed why he’s rated No. 2 at 138 by pinning West Marshall’s Wyatt Elder in 1:20 and Collins-Maxwell’s Caleb Fullerton in 1:41 to put his season record at an impressive 42-2. Battani was also near the top of his game at 160, pushing his season record to 38-7 after pinning Webster City’s Harrison Hayes in 22 seconds and West Marshall’s Cael Kline in 1:05.
Borg was the surprise of the day for Ballard. He entered the meet seeded fourth with a losing record, but knocked off top-seeded Carson Johnson of Gilbert in the semifinals en route to his first sectional title.
Borg opened by pinning Webster City’s Daltyn Peck in 1:37. Going up against Johnson (39-13) in the semifinals, Borg maintained an edge through most of the match, then caught Johnson in the middle of the third period, scoring a fall in 5:13.
“I went out there knowing I could win,” Borg said. “He’s a good wrestler, but he did the same move, (I) caught him on his back and ended up winning.”
Borg went on to defeat West Marshall’s Ben Klieman by major decision, 11-2, in the finals to even his season record at 20-20.
“It feels great — first year doing it,” Borg said. “I just got out there and did what I had to do.”
Ballard’s Colin Anderson (285), Josh DeTar (220) and Gage Long (126) also advanced to districts.
Anderson and DeTar both lost to ranked opponents from Webster City in the finals.
Anderson (33-14) pinned Nevada’s Max Hovar in 30 seconds during the semifinals. He went up against No. 1 Cooper Lawson in the finals and was pinned in 1:33.
DeTar (26-13) earned a fall over West Marshall’s Ben Krafka in 1:48, then faced off against sixth-ranked James Cherry. Cherry stuck DeTar in 41 seconds.
Long had to win a wrestleback to earn his way to districts.
In the semifinals, Long pinned Nevada’s Cale Dumbaugh in 2:27 and he lost by fall to West Marshall’s Hunter Pfantz in the finals. Long came back to just edge out Webster City’s Nick Gasca by a 12-9 decision in the wrestleback to take a 28-17 record into districts.
As a team Ballard, rated No. 4 in 2A, placed second in a tight race with No. 5 Webster City. The Bombers scored 248 points to 254 for the Lynx.
“I don’t think we wrestled real smart today and I don’t think we wrestled with the intensity that we could’ve or should’ve in some of those matches,” Ballard head coach Steve Mickelson said. “But they’re younger kids. Hopefully they’ll learn from it and bounce back on Tuesday.
Placing second qualified Ballard for regional duals.
The Bombers are the fourth seed overall in 2A and will face off against No. 32 seed Van Meter/Earlham in the semifinal round Tuesday at Huxley. South Tama (No. 13) and No. 18 Atlantic-CAM will compete in the other semifinal match.
Collins-Maxwell will also be sending two wrestlers to districts, despite only having five individuals compete Saturday.
The Spartans were by far the smallest school at the meet. They had had to compete in a 2A sectional due to going in with Colo-NESCO for wrestling, even though there are no wrestlers from Colo-NESCO in the varsity program.
“We looked at it before we got here and we were hoping to get two through, we thought we had a chance,” Collins-Maxwell head coach Mike Leslie said. “We’re thrilled.”
Fullerton (25-8) advanced after pulling off an 11-1 major decision over Nevada’s Emilio Saldana in the semifinals, then losing to Miller. Jacob Pierick (19-12) lost by fall to Webster City’s Reece Sadler in the semifinals at 106, but he rebounded to pin Ballard’s Jordan Thomas and win a wrestleback over Gilbert’s Nate Vanderwerff by fall in 3:48.
The Spartans scored 55 points to place last in the team standings.
The 2A district meet in Webster City takes place next Saturday at noon.
Final team scores: 1. Webster City 254 points, 2. Ballard 248, 3. West Marshall 168, 4. Gilbert 163, 5. Nevada 100, 6. Collins-Maxwell 55.
Individual results - Ballard and Collins-Maxwell
106 pounds - 2. Jacob Pierick (CM), 2-1; 4. Jordan Thomas (B), 1-2. 113 - 4. Tiernan Edgar (B), 0-2. 120 - 3. Alex Bangs (B), 1-1; 6. David Dolph (CM), 0-2. 126 - 2. Gage Long (B), 2-1. 132 - 3. Jim Chism (B), 1-2. 138 - 1. Jarrett Miller (B), 2-0; 2. Caleb Fullerton (CM), 1-1. 145 - 1. Josh Borg (B), 3-0. 152 - 1. Skyler Noftsger (B), 2-0. 160 - 1. Tate Battani (B), 2-0. 170 - Gerald Gute (B), 1-1. 182 - 1. Ben Lee (B), 2-0; 4. Cody Galbraith (CM), 0-2. 195 - 3. Joe Hofbauer (B), 1-2. 220 - 2. Josh DeTar (B), 1-1; 5. Zach Martinez (CM), 0-1. 285 - 2. Colin Anderson (B), 1-1.