Magic number up to 18

Chari Esmoil · Wednesday, January 25, 2017
The West Liberty High School Wrestling Team continued taking care of dual business last Thursday, Jan. 19 at Camanche with wins over Mid-Prairie and Camanche.

With those two victories, the Comets clinched the 2017 RVC Dual Team Championship. The varsity squad now sits at a record 18-1 in duels.

The Comets squared off with Mid-Prairie in the first dual that ended with a lopsided 68-12 team score.

Corralling falls for the squad were Coy Ruess, Austin Beaver, Joe Kelly, AJ Lenz, Jackson Gingerich, Andy Lopez and Talen Dengler.

Justis Dengler racked up a 16-1 tech fall and Bryce Esmoil defeated 2A #4 ranked Visouth Peterschmidt 5-1.

Noah Bierman had #10 ranked Duncan McCain on the ropes before the two collided hard in the center of the mat, knocking each other for a loop momentarily, allowing McCain to come out of a scramble to put Bierman on his back for the eventual fall.

Bierman would not wrestle the rest of the evening or at the tournament on the following Saturday. Ramon Martinez lost by fall in his bout. Eli Gingerich, Joe Baker and Will Esmoil all received forfeits to round out the scoring.

Camanche came out guns a blazing, putting the Comets in a 17-0 hole after a Comet forfeit at 132, a Justis Dengler loss by fall and Austin Beaver’s 15-0 tech fall loss to 2A #5 ranked Baylor Crigger.

Joe Kelly got the Comets on the board with a 1:00 fall over a spastic opponent at 152 pounds. AJ Lenz lost a high-energy match by a 19-12 score.

Joe Baker gutted out a 5-1 win over his foe, after suffering an injury in the first period. That injury would also keep him from competing on Saturday as well.

Camanche forfeited three straight weights to Cobain Polman at 182, Jackson Gingerich at 195 and Bryce Esmoil at 220, sending the Comets ahead 27-20.

Andy Lopez dropped a 6-1 match at heavyweight. Will Esmoil got a pin and Talen Dengler scored a 16-1 tech fall to secure the win for the Comets, pushing the team score out of reach at 38-23 with just two matches left.

Ely Gingerich lost by fall and Coy Ruess grabbed those six back with a pin of his own to bring the final tally to 44-29, Comets.

Saturday, January 21, the Louisa-Muscatine tournament proved to be an all-out battle for the Comets.

At 106, Will Esmoil recorded two falls to reach the finals match where he pinned his opponent from Cedar Rapids Kennedy in 1:55 to grab the first Comet championship.

Talen Dengler also reached the championship match with a first round bye and a 9-2 decision at 113. He wrestled a scrappy match and came up short in the finals, eventually losing by fall to finish second.

At 126, Coy Ruess pinned his first opponent in 1:20. He wrestled a fierce semi-final match that went into overtime, where he lost by fall at the 6:26 mark. Ruess bounced back to win his next bout by a 10-0 decision. He dropped his final match of the day, 9-4 to finish fourth.

Justis Dengler had his day cut short at 138 after winning his first match 5-0. He would have to medically forfeit out of his second match due to injury, thus defaulting out of the rest of the tournament to finish sixth.

At 145, Austin Beaver also suffered an injury during his first match, losing by fall and defaulting out of the rest of his day to finish fourth in his round robin bracket.

Joe Kelly took just :48 total time to win his first two matches by fall at 152, to set up a showdown with 1A #3 ranked Brennan Swafford of Mediapolis.

This finals match lived up to its billing with several volatile scrambles and situations. At the end of regulation, Kelly trailed 10-6, just his second loss on the season, to finish second.

At 160, AJ Lenz lost his first match by fall and bounced back with two straight pins to send him to the 3rd/4th place match. Lenz dropped the final match by fall to garner fourth place.

Jackson Gingerich found himself in a hornet’s nest of a bracket at 182 with the 1A #4, 2A #7 and 3A #4 ranked wrestlers. Gingerich lost his first match in a barnburner of a bout by a 4-3 score.

He pinned his next opponent in :46. He would lose his next match by fall but rebounded with a second period pin to finish fifth.

At 195 Bryce Esmoil received a first round bye and pinned his next opponent in 2:37 to set up his finals match with 3A #10 ranked Sam Pape of Cedar Rapids Kennedy.

After a scoreless first period, Esmoil started the second period in the top position, turning Pape for the fall to claim the second Comet championship in 2:48.

Ramon Martinez lost his first match by fall, to the eventual champ, received a second round bye and was pinned in his final two matches to finish sixth at 220.

At 285, Andy Lopez wrestled the best he has wrestled all season. Seeded fourth, Lopez won his first match by a 3-0 score to face the 1A #7 ranked Cody Crawford of WACO. Lopez faced Crawford head-on and won by a 5-4 score, to reach the finals.

There, he also won by a 5-4 decision to land the third Comet championship of the tournament.

The Comets, wrestling with just eleven of the fourteen weights, once again ended up in third place behind team champs Cedar Rapids Kennedy (217) and West Delaware (181.5), with 153 total points.

This week the Comets host one final RVC dual on Thursday night against Bellevue.

Saturday, Jan. 28, they will venture to Northeast Gooselake High School for the 13 team RVC Conference Tournament.

With a full team, the Comets are considered one of the favorites to win the title. This week of just one dual will serve the team well as they look to heal up from the injuries that several seem to be battling.

Start time for the RVC tournament is set for 10 a.m. in Gooselake.
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