Five area wrestlers qualify for state: Ballard sends four, C-M has first-ever qualifier
Four Bombers and one Spartan are headed to the state wrestling meet this week at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
Ballard advanced its three ranked wrestlers – Mason Askelsen, Gabe Christensen and Gage Long – along with underdog Nick Wacha from the Class 2A District 1 meet in Adel Saturday. Collins-Maxwell freshman Brody Sampson became the first wrestler in the brief history of the Spartan wrestling program to qualify for state after taking first at the 1A District 5 meet in Pleasantville.
Askelsen and Christensen both won a district championship. Askelsen is ranked fifth at 195 pounds and Christensen seventh at 160.
Askelsen defeated Woodward-Granger's Devan Brown by a 15-6 major decision in the semifinals. In the finals he pinned Gilbert’s Joe Larimore – ranked 10th - in one minute, 54 seconds to stay perfect on the year at 28-0.
“Mason is at his first state tournament,” Ballard head coach Casey Christensen said. “He was a district champion and has the expectation to finish high on the stand this year.”
Gage Christensen went to 36-6 after edging Woodward-Granger's Dustin Harney by a 3-0 decision and pinning Greene County’s Nathan Black in 59 seconds.
“Gabriel has had a solid year and is confident after winning the district title,” Casey Christensen said. “This is his first state trip and he is excited. The coaches expect him to be on the stand Saturday.”
Gage Long and Nick Wacha placed second for Ballard.
Long, ranked eighth at 138, pinned Adel-Desoto-Minburn's Kadin O’Connor in 4:56 and lost by a 3-1 decision to Greene County’s Brady Stauffer. He will take a 36-8 record into state.
“Gage Long has qualified for the last three years and hopes to make his mark in his final year,” Coach Christensen said. “He’s got a tough first round and we plan on him being on the stand.”
Wacha pinned Greene County’s Broc Hamann in 45 seconds to reach the finals at 220, where he lost by a 7-0 decision to Prairie City-Monroe's Cooper Sloan to put him at 14-10.
“Nick Wacha is another first-time state qualifier,” Casey Christensen said. “He moved up from JV to varsity and has gained confidence with each new match. We think he can surprise some wrestlers with his strength and athleticism.”
Reese Broer also competed at districts for Ballard. Broer fell one spot shy of quaifying at 132, placing third with a 1-1 record to end the season at 22-20.
Broer lost by a 10-2 major decision to Woodward-Granger's Riece Graham in the semifinals. Broer bounced back to earn a 12-1 win by major decision over Knoxville’s Luke Spaur, but he was unable to get a wrestle-back.
Sampson won an individual district championship at 182 for Collins-Maxwell in 1A at Pleasantville. Sampson pulled off a 3-1 decision over eighth-ranked Mason Juhl of Pekin in the semifinals and an 11-4 decision over Sigourny-Keota's Aidan Schuster in the finals to head to state with a 33-8 record.
“I think it's a huge accomplishment for a freshman especially at this weight class,” Collins-Maxwell head coach Mike Leslie said. “This is a big deal for the program as we've had some guys close over the past few years but haven't been able to get anyone through.”
Jacob Pierick fell one place short of making state for the Spartans. Pierick came in third at 120 pounds to end his senior season at 34-11.
Pierick lost by technical fall to undefeated Marcel Lopez of New London in the quarterfinals. Pierick pinned Pleasantville’s Tyler Gibson in 5:39 during the third-place match to earn a wrestle-back, but he lost by fall to North Mahaska’s Paul De Jong.
The state tournament will take place this Thursday through Saturday at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. Competition begins at 9 a.m. on Thursday and Friday with the 1A first round then 1A and 3A quarterfinals and Saturday’s consolation semifinals and finals start at 10 a.m. Saturday, with the finals slated to begin at 6 p.m. that evening.