WEBSTER CITY - All four top-five wrestlers for Ballard won championships and Collins-Maxwell had two wrestlers place third at the Class 2A District meet in Webster City Saturday.
Ben Lee (182 pounds), Tate Battani (160), Skyler Noftsger (152) and Jarrett Miller (138) are returning to state for Ballard after taking home the top prize at Webster City.
Lee took part in the match of the day when he faced off against unbeaten Kyler Fisher of Southeast Valley in the finals in what could be a prelude to a state championship match next week. Lee entered the match ranked No. 3 in 2A by The Predicament and Fisher came in at No. 2.
The match was scoreless in the first period, then Lee moved out to a 1-0 lead early in the second with an escape. He came close to getting a takedown later in the period, but Fischer used his tremendous balance and athleticism to fend it off and keep the score even.
Early in the third period, Fisher countered Lee’s earlier escape with one of his own to even the score, but 27 seconds into the period, Lee found an opening and got the elusive takedown for a 3-1 advantage.
“His defense was strong — he was constantly moving his feet (so) it was a pain in the butt to get to his legs,” Lee said. “But he had a couple spots where he just left his feet and tried reaching for my head and that was one of the points where I easily get to pull slow ankles and finish it, thank goodness.”
Fisher got an escape and almost took down Lee with a double-leg near the edge of the mat.
“I could have been called for fleeing the mat — I kind of dove out of it — but I also had a hard-wizard on another shot he got in,” Lee said. “It was a fight.”
Lee held on for a 3-2 victory to go to 44-6 on the season.
“This is the first ranked 2A kid I’ve beaten,” Lee said. “I’ve wrestled a lot of 3A ranked kids and a couple 1As, but this is the first 2A since we do so many big competitions. So to beat him seeing (him) No. 2 right above me was awesome.”
Lee pinned Algona’s Calvin Kruse in two minutes, 57 seconds during the semifinals in his other match of the day.
Battani, rated No. 4, pinned South Central Calhoun’s Brody Goodman in 5:49 during the semifinals. In the championship round, he pulled off a 16-6 major decision over ninth-ranked Reymundo Vasquez of Clarion-Goldfield-Dows to take a 42-7 record into his fourth state tournament.
“I’ve been wrestling the best I feel I ever have in high school,” Battani said. “Just gotta keep wrestling good and see what I can do. I feel good.”
Noftsger, rated No. 2 at 152, pinned Algona’s Austin Chase in 42 seconds during the semifinals, then won a rematch with No. 9 Luke Rohmiller of Webster City in the finals by a 7-1 decision. Noftsger beat Rohmiller by a 10-5 score at sectionals last week in his first meet back from an elbow injury.
“It wasn’t as good as last time — I didn’t get as many takedowns,” Miller said of his finals win on Saturday. “But I still won by more. I still ended up on top, so I guess it’s alright.”
Noftsger will take a 33-3 record into the state tournament. He finished second at 138 last year.
“I’ve just got to work from here, make it to the finals again and make stuff happen,” Noftsger said. “I’ve still got this next week to work and I’ve got to put all the time I’ve got into working hard. I’m still a little ways from where I need to be, but I’ve got a week to clean things up.”
Miller, No. 2 at 138, stuck Algona’s Cole Johnson in 2:48, then pulled off a 14-3 victory by major decision over Clarion-Goldfield-Dows’ Reed Abbas in the finals. Miller nearly got caught a couple times by Abbas, but he survived each instance to move his season record to an impressive 46-2.
“I felt a little reserved because I wasn’t comfortable with a couple of the positions we were in,” Miller said. “I haven’t wrestled a lot of kids like that recently and he’s a good kid. But I knew what I was doing and what I had to do to win.”
Miller said going against Abbas is good preparation for state.
“You never know what you’re going to expect at the state tournament,” Miller said. “Basically what we’re going to do is just keep on working hard in the room and doing what works for us, and it’ll all pay off at the state tournament.”
As a team, Ballard came in third out of eight schools at the district meet with 84 points. Clarion-Goldfield-Dows won with 131 points and Webster City came in second with 122.
“I’m excited as all get out for the four that we had move on,” Ballard head coach Steve Mickelson said. “I’m kind of heartbroken for the other four, just because they put in the effort and the work all year long as well.”
Colin Anderson, a state qualifier last year, took fourth at 285, having to take on two of the three top-five wrestlers in 2A on Saturday. He lost by a 13-1 major decision to No. 5 Spencer Trenary of Clarion-Goldfield-Dows in the semifinals, then by fall to No. 4 Dominick Edgerington of Algona in the third-place match to finish his senior season at 35-16.
“He battled, I’ve got to give him that,” Mickelson said. “He fought all the way through everything today.”
Josh DeTar finished third at 220 with a 1-1 record. He lost by fall to Humboldt’s Brandon Johnson in the semifinals, then pinned Southeast Valley’s Xavier Nichols in 52 seconds during the third-place match.
Josh Borg (145) and Gerald Gute (170) each placed fourth for Ballard. Gage Long was ill and unable to compete at 126.
Caleb Fullerton and Jacob Pierick were the two Collins-Maxwell wrestlers to take third. Fullerton competed at 138 and Pierick 106.
Fullerton nearly upset Reed Abbas in the semifinals, taking a 14-4 lead in the third period, but Abbas caught him and scored a pin in 5:28. Fullerton came back with a pin over Cole Johnson in 3:23 during the third-place match, but didn’t get a wrestleback to finish his junior season at 26-9.
“He had that match,” Collins-Maxwell head coach Mike Leslie said. “Little mistakes we were trying to clean up this week and it came back to burn him today. Hopefully that makes him hungrier for next year, getting that close.”
Pierick finished his freshman season at 20-14. He lost by fall to Pocahontas Area/L-M’s Jacob Mielke in the semifinals, won by fall in 1:28 over Webster City’s Reece Sadler in the third-place match, then lost a wrestleback with Tyler Stein of Clarion-Goldfield-Dows by fall.
As a team, Collins-Maxwell placed 10th out of 11 schools at Webster City with 20 points. The Spartans beat West Marshall by six points for 10th, despite being the smallest school by far in the competition.
“Getting two guys this far and one of them just shy of making it to the big dance, with only five guys in the room and what they had to work with — I’m pretty proud of them,” Leslie said.
The state wrestling tournament takes place next Thursday through Saturday at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. The competition for 2A begins at 9 a.m. on Thursday.
Final team scores: 1. Clarion-Goldfield-Dows 131 points, 2. Webster City 122, 3. Ballard 84, 4. Pocahontas Area/L-M 45, 5. Southeast Valley 39, 6. (tie) Gilbert and Algona 38, 8. Humboldt 27.5, 9 South Central Calhoun 23, 10. Collins-Maxwell 20, 11. West Marshall 14.
Individual results - Ballard and Collins-Maxwell
106 pounds - 3. Jacob Pierick (CM), 1-2. 138 - 1. Jarrett Miller (B), 2-0; 3. Caleb Fullerton (CM), 1-1. 145 - 4. Josh Borg (B), 0-2. 152 - 1. Skyler Noftsger (B), 2-0. 160 - 1. Tate Battani (B), 2-0. 170 - 4. Gerald Gute (B), 0-2. 182 - 1. Ben Lee (B), 2-0. 220 - 3. Josh DeTar (B), 1-1. 285 - 4. Colin Anderson (B), 0-2.