Two Bombers place seventh in 2A, one Spartan takes eighth in 1A at state wrestling tournament
DES MOINES – Two Ballard wrestlers ended their season with a victory and a Collins-Maxwell freshman made history at the state wrestling tournament last Thursday through Friday at Wells Fargo Arena.
Senior Mason Askelsen and sophomore Gabe Christensen both earned a spot on the medal stand for Ballard. Askelsen ended his career with a seventh-place finish at 195 pounds and Christensen came in seventh at 160.
“I’m very proud of Gabe and Mason to come back and win their very last matches,” Ballard head coach Casey Christensen said. “Mason gets to go out on a high note, so that’s awesome.”
Both wrestlers went 3-2 during the tournament.
Askelsen, ranked fifth at 195 in 2A, opened Thursday’s competition by winning an 8-5 battle over South Tama County’s Brayden Smith. He had to go up against top-ranked Wyatt Voelker in the quarterfinals on Friday and suffered his first loss of the season by major decision, 21-9.
Askelsen came back to defeat Independence’s Marcus Beatty by a 10-4 decision in the consolation second round later on Friday. But he ended the evening with a heartbreaking 6-4 loss to seventh-ranked Matthew Wirtz of Emmetsburg.
Saturday saw Askelsen take on Mid-Prairie's Cael Garvey in the seventh-place match. He pinned Garvey in three minutes, 51 seconds to complete his final season with a 31-2 record.
“Ending my high school career with a win at the Well feels good,” Askelsen said. “It’s kind of emotional.”
Christensen opened the tournament with a hard-fought 4-2 victory over Woodward-Granger's Dustin Harney. He faced off against second-ranked Wyatt Appleseth of Panorama in the quarterfinals Friday and lost by major decision, 13-2.
Christensen defeated River Belger of Notre Dame/W.B./Danville in the consolation second by a 4-1 decision to guarantee a spot on the podium. He lost by major decision to Union’s Hunter Worthen in the consolation third round, 12-0, but came back Saturday to win an 11-10 thriller over Dike-New Hartford’s Nick Reinicke and finish his sophomore year at 39-8.
“I wanted it really bad,” Christensen said. “It’s not where I wanted to finish on the podium, but seventh is better than eighth.”
Gage Long also picked up a victory for Ballard at 138.
Long, an eighth-place finisher at 132 as a sophomore, failed to get a win in his two matches at state last year. After losing a tough 6-5 match to Sioux Center’s Dao Keokhamthong in the first round on Thursday he defeated Winterset’s Jensen Kaldenberg by major decision in the consolation first round.
Long was unable to keep the momentum going in the consolation second round, losing by major decision to Crestwood’s Chase Thompson, 13-5. Long finished his senior season at 38-7.
“Gage has just been a true asset to the team,” Casey Christensen said. “He was just one match short of placing and that was tough. But he’s handling it pretty well.”
Nick Wacha was a surprise story for Ballard at the tournament. He qualified at 220 after starting the year as a JV wrestler.
Wacha lost by fall to second-ranked Kobe Simon of West Liberty and to Mid-Prairie's Josh Wallington in his two matches on Thursday. He ended his junior season at 14-12.
“Nick got some good experience,” Casey Christensen said.
Coach Christensen is hoping getting four wrestlers to Des Moines and two to place this year gets the program headed back toward being one of the top in 2A once again.
“Talking to some of the wrestlers that didn’t make it that are down here watching they kept telling me they’re going to be here next year,” Casey Christensen said. “I just had another wrestler say he couldn’t wait for the offseason.”
Freshman Brody Sampson became the first Collins-Maxwell Spartan ever to qualify for state this season. He one-upped that accomplishment by also earning a spot on the podium with an eighth-place finish at 182 in 1A.
“It’s a big deal,” Collins-Maxwell head coach Mike Leslie said. “He’s a kid at a man’s weight – it's an upperclassman weight. It’s a big thing and it’s opened a lot of people’s eyes. He’s for real.”
Sampson was pinned by South Hamilton’s Brent Greenfield in the first round Thursday. Later that day he won a 5-3 decision over Denver’s Brennen Graber to keep his season alive.
On Friday Sampson won his second match in a row with an 8-5 win over Tri-Center's Brecken Freeberg in the consolation second round. That secured his spot on the podium.
Sampson lost by fall to ninth-ranked Cayden Miller of Midland later on Friday. In the seventh-place match he led eighth-ranked Mason Juhl of Pekin most of the way, but got caught late and was pinned with 12 seconds left.
Sampson finished his freshman season with a 35-11 record and a ton of confidence going forward.
“It was difficult, but I'm happy I placed,” Sampson said. “I’m proud of it, the coaches are proud of it and I’m hoping to be here next year.”
West Delaware won the 2A team championship with 150 points. Don Bosco took first in 1A with 179.5.
Class 2A – Ballard
138 pounds – Gage Long, 1-2. 160 – 7. Gabe Christensen, 3-2. 195 – 7. Mason Askelsen, 3-2. 220 - Nick Wacha, 0-2.
Class 1A – Collins-Maxwell
182 – 8. Brody Sampson, 2-3.