What we learned from the Mendenhall Invitational: Ballard wrestling's Gabe Christensen makes statement

Joe Randleman
Ames Tribune

Ballard's Gabe Christensen won an individual title and Ames had two wrestlers place in the top three at the Jack Mendenhall Invitational Saturday in Ames.

Christensen, ranked fourth at 182 pounds in Class 2A, defeated Ankeny's Cade Bennethum, ranked third in 3A, by a 9-7 decision in the championship round to claim his title. He went 3-0 during the tournament to remain undefeated on the season at 17-0.

Ballard placed 13th out of 17 teams at the tournament with 73 points.

Ames took 15th in the team standings with 51 points. Kyler Hall was runner-up at 285 and Jabari Hinson third at 113 for the Little Cyclones.

Freshman Jabari Hinson placed third at 113 pounds for Ames at the Jack Mendenhall Invitational Saturday in Ames.

Hall, ranked seventh in 3A, saw his record move to 19-5. Hinson, ranked third, improved his record to 15-2.

Indianola won the team championship with 161 points. Ankeny took second with 153.5.

Here is what we learned from how Ames and Ballard performed Saturday:

Christensen makes a statement

"It feels good to keep winning," Christensen. "I knew (Bennethum) was good. I just knew I needed to keep my weight back, wait for him and do what I needed to do."

Christensen jumped out to a 3-0 lead, but Bennethum rallied to tie the score by the end of the first period. Christensen picked up an escape 10 seconds into the second period and went up 6-3 with a takedown 33 seconds into the period.

Christensen held an 8-7 lead at the end of a frantic second period. He added a second takedown with 58 seconds left in the period, but gave up an escape and a takedown later in the period.

An escape by Christensen in the third period resulted in the final margin. He fended off a big shot by Bennethum with 10 seconds left to keep his unbeaten record intact. 

"He likes to throw," Christensen said. "I knew if I took my time and didn't give him a big move the match was mine."

Ballard's Rhett Hedrick placed fourth at 152 during the Jack Mendenhall Invitational Saturday in Ames.

Freshman Rhett Hedrick (152) and senior Kale Krogh (285) both came in fourth for Ballard. Nick Wacha finished fifth at 220 and Beau Warg seventh at 195.

Injury hurts Hall

Hall pinned Cedar Rapids Kennedy's Parker Heidt, won by a 4-1 decision over Indianola's Cael Crawford and pulled off an 8-2 decision over Clarion-Goldfield-Dows' Daniel Chavez to reach the finals at 285. Crawford is ranked ninth in 3A.

During the final, Hall faced off against Boone's Hector Garcia. The match was a scoreless tie midway through the third period when Hall suddenly grabbed his face while on the mat.

"He hit his head pretty good earlier in the day, but they said he didn't have a concussion at that point," Ames head coach Andy Fecht said. "We don't know if it was related to that or something different."

Hall was unable to continue the match, losing by injury default.

"Hopefully it's nothing too bad," Fecht said. "He wrestled above his seed. We're not sure what happened in that finals match, but you take that away it's a 0-0 match that could've gone either way."

Hinson gains valuable experience

Hinson has taken the mat by storm in his first year wrestling for Ames. He entered the tournament with just one loss.

He received a bye then defeated Spencer's Gabe Cauthron by major decision, 14-2. But during the semifinals, he lost to fifth-ranked Bowen Downey of Indianola, 2-0.

"He's not happy with where he's at," Fecht said. "Jabari hates to lose and that's a good thing."

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Hinson bounced back strong, defeating Papillion-La Vista (Neb.)'s Jacob Campbell by an 11-8 decision and Ankeny's Fnu Maihan by a 4-3 decision. 

"He came back and won a couple of really tough matches on the backside and showed a lot of character," Fecht said. "He had a tough match with the Indianola kid, but I think we can make some adjustments after studying that and maybe have a different result the next time we see him."

Hinson got a stall call and a takedown in the final 10 seconds of the match to get the win over Maihan.

Jackson Winkey was the only other Little Cyclone to place during the tournament. He came in sixth at 152.