Comets record up to sweet 16

Chari Esmoil · Wednesday, January 18, 2017
The West Liberty High School wrestling squad added two more dual wins on Thursday, Jan. 12, over Northeast Gooselake and North Cedar, to run their season record to an impressive 16-1 mark.

The night was highlighted by celebrating the careers of two senior members, Joe Baker and Noah Bierman. Both seniors finished with 2-0 records on the evening. Baker won by fall and by a 10-8 overtime decision. Bierman took a forfeit and won by fall.

Neither dual was too exhilarating, as the Comets punished both teams, losing just three matches all night. The home team was victorious by a 67-5 rout over Northeast and a 63-9 drubbing over North Cedar.

Against Northeast, Coy Ruess, Joe Kelly, Joe Baker and Jackson Gingerich all notched falls for wins. Austin Beaver ground out a major decision while Justis Dengler won by an 8-4 margin. Northeast handed the Comets six forfeits.

North Cedar also gave up several forfeits to the Comets, putting themselves in a 30-0 hole before any wrestling even took place. Will Esmoil, Talen Dengler, Coy Ruess, Noah Bierman and Andy Lopez all flattened their opponents for falls.

Joe Baker squeaked out the exciting overtime victory to round out the scoring of contested matches. Justis Dengler, Austin Beaver, Joe Kelly, Jackson Gingerich and Bryce Esmoil were the recipients of the five forfeits.

Saturday, Jan. 14, the boys in blue trekked to Solon to participate in the reputable Ed Hadenfeldt Invitational.

Ranked teams competing in the event were 1A #1 Lisbon, 2A #2 Solon and 2A #4 West Liberty, along with eleven other teams loaded with talent, looking to come out on top. According to IAwrestle, there were 30 ranked wrestlers among the fourteen weight classes.

The Comets showed that they belong in those higher ranks by sending four wrestlers into the finals at the end of the day.

The 106 pound bracket saw Will Esmoil pin his first three opponents, including 2A #5 Keegan Scheeler of Center Point Urbana in the semifinals, before falling in the finals to 1A #2 Cobe Siebrecht of Lisbon by a 16-1 tech fall to finish as runner-up.

113 was without a doubt one of the toughest brackets of the tournament with five ranked wrestlers battling it out.

Talen Dengler won his first match by fall, then lost by fall to 1A #1 ranked Cael Happel of Lisbon, and by fall to Aidan Dall of Solon, before grabbing two pins of his own en route to a 7th place finish.

Coy Ruess received a first round bye at 126 and pinned his next opponent only to be rewarded with facing the #1 ranked wrestler in 2A and former state champ, Drew West of Solon in the semifinals.

Ruess would go down by fall. He would win his next match 4-3 and finish fourth after dropping his final bout 9-3.

At 132, Noah Bierman started hot with two pins in a row to reach the semifinals. There, he faced 1A #2 ranked Cooper Siebrecht of Lisbon.

Bierman put up a good fight but fell by tech fall to get sent to the consolation side. He lost his next match 7-0 but bounced back to pin his final opponent from Albia to grab fifth place.

Justis Dengler received a first round bye and was bounced to fight it out in the consolation bracket after getting pinned in his next match by David Morris of Albia.

Dengler pinned his next foe from Solon and lost by tech fall to a crafty Clear Creek Amana opponent. He would get some redemption for himself by beating Morris of Albia 8-2 for 5th place.

At 145, Austin Beaver was also the recipient of a first round bye, won by a 14-5 major decision and gritted out a 7-0 decision to reach the finals against a familiar foe, Jack Butteris of Lisbon. Beaver would drop the match by a close 4-2 score to finish runner up.

Joe Kelly ran his season record to 24-1 by blowing through his competition via three pins and one 9-1 major decision. His pin in the finals over 2A #7 Graeson Dall of Solon secured the first championship spot on the podium for a Comet.

The 160 pound group was another high powered bracket with four wrestlers ranked in the top 6 or better. AJ Lenz lost by fall, received two byes, and dropped an 8-1 decision to bow out of the tournament.

Joe Baker received a first round bye at 170, then lost a heartbreaking 1-0 match to Byron Boleyn of North Cedar. Baker rattled off two straight wins via fall and 6-2 decision to set up another chance at Boleyn for 3rd/4th place.

The match was once again very close, until Boleyn caught Baker and pinned him sending Baker to a fourth place medal.

At 182, Jackson Gingerich tallied a first round bye and won his next match 8-2. In the semifinals, he lost by fall to 1A #7 ranked Garret Sims of Iowa Valley. On the consolation side, Gingerich lost his next match by fall but bounced back to win the final match of his day by fall to snare a fifth place finish.

Bryce Esmoil was awarded two byes in a row at 195 to reach the semifinals without even wrestling a match. There, he pinned his opponent in 2:18. He pinned 2A #5 Karlton Skubal of Washington for the second time in two weeks to take the second Comet champion medal.

At 220, Ramon Martinez received a bye then lost by fall to the eventual champ in his next match. Martinez lost by fall, received a bye the next round and lost again by fall to finish 8th.

At 285, Andy Lopez received a bye and then got a quick :45 pin to reach the semis against 2A #9 Tyler Linderbaum of Solon. He would drop that match by fall, but stormed back with a fall and a huge 9-4 decision over his Washington opponent to secure third place.

As a team, the Comets were third (187) behind Solon (231.5) and champs Lisbon (237.5).

This next week will be another Thursday night triangular at Camanche that includes Mid Prairie and a Saturday tournament at L-M High School in Letts.

Start time for the L-M Invitational is 10 a.m. With the RVC Conference Tournament coming up on January 28th, the Comets will need to use these last few competitions to fine tune their skills if they plan on repeating as RVC Tournament Champions.
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