Chari Esmoil · Wednesday, February 1, 2017
The West Liberty High School wrestling team is taking a business-like approach to the mat with them this season. Ss the old saying goes, “business is good”.

Thursday, Jan 26, the Comets ended their regular season dual action with a 59-18 rout over Bellevue in front of a home crowd at West Liberty High School.

Just like several other RVC foes, Bellevue forfeited five weights to the Comets, thus digging a 30 point hole for themselves before a single match even took place.

Starting at 160 pounds, AJ Lenz dispatched his opponent by fall in the first period. Joe Baker followed with a 5-2 decision and Jackson Gingerich took the first of the five forfeits to put the Comets up 15-0.

Bryce Esmoil grabbed an 11-3 major decision over 1A #7 ranked Mason Lyons at 195. Ramon Martinez lost by fall at 220 and Andy Lopez received a forfeit at 285.

Brian Collins pummeled his opponent for a 17-7 major decision victory in his varsity debut at 106, followed by another Bellevue forfeit to Talen Dengler to run the score to 35-6.

Bellevue got another six points with a fall at 120. Coy Ruess wasted no time in pinning his 126 pound opponent in :40.

Brady Putney, also seeing his first varsity action, received a forfeit at 132 as would Justis Dengler at 138. The Comets were open at 145 to give Bellevue its last score of the night.

Joe Kelly rounded out the Comets annihilation with a third period pin. This 59-18 win capped a fine regular season dual record of 19-1 for the Comets. Their lone loss was to Class 3A Dubuque Hempstead on criteria.

The River Valley Conference tournament, hosted by Northeast Community High School, took place on Saturday, Jan. 28.

Thirteen RVC schools entered their teams into the clash, looking to come out on top of the team race. When it was all said and done, the Comets were victorious, racking up 230 points to claim their third straight RVC Tournament crown.

Wilton was second with 192 points, followed by Camanche and Regina both with 153 and Tipton with 123.

The remaining eight schools were all well below one hundred team points accumulated on the day. This Comet victory was once again the result of a total team effort at every single weight.

At 106, Will Esmoil (33-5) received a first round bye and rattled off two pins to move on to the finals against familiar foe, 1A #6 ranked Nolan Noonan of Cascade.

There, he would avenge a 3-2 loss from earlier in the season, by grinding out a 10-2 major decision to claim the first individual RVC Championship for the Comets.

Talen Dengler (22-13) started out his 113 pound bracket with two byes and a dominant :28 fall to reach the finals. Dengler put up a great fight against Austin Lenz of Tipton, but fell short, losing by fall to grab runner up placement.

At 120, Ely Gingerich received a first round bye and dropped a heartbreaking 6-4 decision in the second round. Two more byes and an 8-0 loss sent Gingerich to a fifth place finish.

Coy Ruess (26-12) wrestled to his seed placement at 126 by receiving a first round bye, followed by two pins in less than a minute and a half to reach the coveted finals.

There, he downed a familiar foe, Cory Anderson of Wilton in an excellent 9-6 match victory to become the second Comet RVC Champion.

At 132, freshman Brady Putney stepped in for injured Comet senior, Noah Bierman, to wrestle in just his first of two actual contested varsity matches.

He received a first round bye and lost by a fall to a tough Camanche opponent that ended up placing third. Putney would receive another bye before falling by pin in his final match to bow out of the tournament.

Justis Dengler (25-15) received a first round bye at 138 and followed that up with a quick :55 pin and a 7-1 decision to reach the finals against a nemesis from Camanche, Nate Thoms.

There, he was caught in a quick move and was pinned to come away with runner up hardware for the Comets.

Austin Beaver, wrestling banged up at 145, took a first round bye and got a pin in the second round to earn a semifinal berth against 2A #5 Baylor Crigger of Camanche.

Crigger came out on top of a 13-0 score and Beaver went to work on the back side of the bracket with a pin and a 10-4 victory to snag a well-deserved third place, bringing his season mark to 24-14.

Joe Kelly ran his sparkling season record to 33-2 with four pins in under four minutes to lock up his second RVC title in three years. His finals pin came in workmanlike fashion in just 1:38 over his opponent from Northeast Gooselake.

At 160, AJ Lenz (19-17) received a first round bye. He lost by fall in the second round, received another bye in the third round and followed that up with a :46 fall.

Lenz dropped his consolation semifinal match by fall but pinned his last opponent from Wilton in 1:38 to grab fifth place. Most importantly, he kept Wilton from scoring any more points towards the team race at 160 pounds.

Joe Baker (18-14) also received a first round bye at 170 and dropped his next match by a gut wrenching 3-2 score. Another bye and a 1:36 victory by fall sent Baker to the consolation semifinals where he battled a tough and familiar North Cedar opponent.

Baker would drop that match by a 7-2 score but ended his day with a determined pin in 1:43 to finish fifth.

At 182, Jackson Gingerich (25-11) received two straight byes before meeting up with 2A #4 ranked at 195, Visouth Peterschmidt of Mid Prairie, who recently dropped to the 182 weight class.

Gingerich lost by fall to Peterschmidt but stormed back with two pins of his own, the last in just :40 to secure a strong third place.

Bryce Esmoil received a first round bye at 195 and recorded three pins in a row to earn his third RVC Championship. His season record stands at 33-2.

Big freshman, Ramon Martinez (5-17) received a first round bye at 220 and lost by fall in the second round. He drew another bye and was pinned in his final match to end his day on the mat.

At 285, Andy Lopez (28-13) received a bye and then got a quick :37 fall to advance to the semifinals. There, he lost by fall. On the back side of his bracket, Lopez caught fire and pinned his next two opponents to gather up a third place medal.

Saturday, Feb 4, the Comet grapplers will look to extend their individual and team seasons as they compete in the class 2A sectional at Davenport Assumption starting at 12:00 pm.

Other schools competing at 2A sectional 12 will be Camanche, DeWitt Central, Maquoketa, Northeast and host Assumption.

The top two wrestlers of each weight class will advance to the district meet on February 11th in Maquoketa for the chance to move on to state competition.

The top two teams at sectionals will also advance to the regional duals series on Tuesday, February 7th at a site to be determined.
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