HUXLEY - Ballard junior Gage Long is headed back to the state wrestling tournament.


Long, an eighth-place finisher at state last year, took second at 132 pounds during the Class 2A district meet in Huxley Saturday. Long, ranked 10th, pinned South Tama’s Kyler Smith in two minutes, 33 seconds then lost a 3-2 battle to ninth-ranked Lake Lebahn of Union in the finals.


In the loss to Lebahn Long gave up a first-period takedown and then scored an escape. Lebahn picked up an escape in the second period and Long countered with one early in the third, but he couldn’t pick up any more points.


“I would’ve loved to be on top of that podium, but you lose a close match what can you do? We’re still getting back (to state),” Long said. “We’re going to go show everybody that I can beat that kid.”


But before he could punch his ticket to state Long had to compete in a wrestleback. He pinned North Polk’s Easton White just before the end of the third period.


“That was pretty big for me,” Long said. “I don’t have a lot of experience coming back after a loss. Keeping my head up is good work for me because I know I’m going to hit tough kids at state. That’s a big confidence booster heading into this next week.”


Long is 37-6 heading into state. He wants to better last year’s finish.


“I’m looking for top five this time,” Long said.


Long opens state today against fifth-ranked Nate Curry of Sergeant Bluff-Luton (46-5).


Mason Askelsen (182), Jack Chism (195) and Reese Broer (126) also competed at districts for Ballard. Askelsen and Chism both placed third and Broer came in fourth.


“Overall I’m a little bit disappointed,” Ballard head coach Steve Mickelson said. “I don’t think we wrestled with the enthusiasm that I saw all week.”


Mason Askelsen lost by fall in overtime to South Tama’s Payton Vest in the semifinals. He came back to win by fall over East Marshall-GMG’s Tayte Nauman in 3:23 during the third-place match, but didn’t get a wrestleback to end the season at 26-12.


Chism lost by fall to sixth-ranked Connor Murty of East Marshall-GMG during the semifinals. He responded by pinning BCLUW-South Hardin’s Lucas Gunderson in 2:46 during the third-place and that earned him a wrestleback.


In the wrestleback Chism came up short against 10th-ranked Jacob Steenhoek of Gilbert by a 9-2 decision to end the season at 28-18. Chism performed much better against Steenhoek than last week at sectionals when he lost by fall.


Broer ended his junior season at 28-17 after losing eight-ranked Logan Arp of South Tama by a 12-3 major decision in the semifinals then dropping the third-place match to ninth-ranked Hunter Worthen of Union by an 8-1 decision.


The state wrestling tournament takes place today through Saturday at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. Class 2A competition begins today at 1:30 p.m.


Final team scores: 1. Union 101 points, 2. Gilbert 88, 3. North Polk 66, 4. South Tama 65, 5. East Marshall-GMG 54, 6. Perry 50, 7. Woodward-Granger 45, 8. Ballard 36, 9. Nevada 23, 10. BCLUW-South Hardin 23, 11. Roland-Story 12, 12. West Marshall 8.