Wrestling begins post season

Chari Esmoil · Tuesday, February 7, 2017
On Saturday, Feb. 4, the West Liberty High School Comet Wrestlers began their quest for individual as well as team post season berths.

Competing in 2A Sectional #12 at Davenport Assumption High School, the Comets tangled with foes from Camanche, Northeast Gooselake, Maquoketa, Central DeWitt and Assumption.

The top two wrestlers in each weight class, as well as the top two overall teams would live to see another day of wrestling.

At 106, Will Esmoil received a first round bye and pinned his Central DeWitt opponent in :41 to reach the finals.

In a strategic move, Assumption’s Trenton McDonough would forfeit to Esmoil in the finals, as not to aggravate an injury that had kept McDonough out of competition since early December. With the forfeit, Esmoil secured first place and a ticket to the district meet.

Talen Dengler also received a first round bye at 113 and pinned his next opponent from Assumption in just :53 to reach the finals. There, Dengler made quick work of his Maquoketa foe, downing him by fall in 1:59 to clinch the sectional title and a district berth.

At 120, Ely Gingerich took a first round bye and met up with a scrappy Jacob Felderman of Assumption in his next match. He would drop that match-up by fall.

In his final match of the day, Gingerich hung tough but lost by a 10-2 score to end his first varsity wrestling season.

Second-seeded Coy Ruess took a first round bye and recorded a big 6-2 win in his next match at 126 to earn a spot in the finals.

There, he tangled with #9 ranked Sean Casey of Assumption. Even though Casey would take the match by a 9-0 score, Ruess eagerly advanced to districts in the runner up position.

At 132, Noah Bierman also received a first round bye. His next match was an all-out battle with Eric Campie of Camanche.

Bierman came from behind in the match to eventually pin Campie in 5:56 to end the spry sophomore’s fine season, and advance to the finals himself.

Third ranked Matt Robertson of Assumption awaited Bierman. In his finals match, Bierman would go down by fall, but advanced to districts as a strong runner-up candidate.

Justis Dengler took another first round bye, like several of the other Comets at 138. His next match was against senior Eric Schoel of Central DeWitt.

Dengler banged out an 11-6 decision to fly into the finals. In the championship match, he would fall by pin to the #10 ranked Nate Thoms of Camanche-the second time the two wrestlers have met in two weeks.

Dengler’s runner-up finish earned him a district berth next week as well.

At 145, top-seed Austin Beaver took a first round bye and pinned his next opponent in 2:45 to reach the finals.

Standing in the way of Beaver and a sectional championship was senior Lucas Davison of Maquoketa. The two battled to the very end of the six minute match, where Beaver came out victorious by a 4-2 score to move on to districts.

Joe Kelly was also the recipient of a first round bye at 152. He dispatched his next opponent from Central DeWitt by fall in :47 to reach the finals.

There, he took control of the match with his aggressive style and eventually wore down and pinned his Maquoketa opponent in 3:03 to garner the top spot on the podium and move on to districts.

AJ Lenz had the grittiest performance of the day at 160 pounds. In his first round bout, he would face senior Jimmy Zhang of Camanche.

Zhang had defeated Lenz by a 19-12 score just two weeks prior. During the back and forth match, Lenz injured his shoulder but kept grinding away at Zhang until he put Zhang on his back for the fall in 5:42.

Lenz would have to medically forfeit out of the tournament after the match due to his injury, ending his sophomore season.

At 170, Joe Baker pinned his Northeast opponent in 3:33 in the first round. Second round action pitted Baker against an athletic Brock Timmons of Assumption.

There, Baker would go down by a 14-3 score. In the consolation side of Baker’s bracket, he would drop a gut-wrenching 2-0 decision to end his individual season.

Jackson Gingerich, competing at 182, took a first round bye and met up with senior, Peter Laubenthal of Assumption in his next bout. Gingerich hung with Laubenthal into the second period where he was pinned to drop to the consolation side of his bracket.

He stormed into his next match and pinned a senior from Maquoketa in 3:09, garnering important team points with the bonus point pin. That is where Gingerich’s day would end, however, finishing in third place.

Bryce Esmoil was also the recipient of a first round bye at 195. He pinned his next opponent in just :25 to reach the finals where he grabbed another fall in 1:49 over his freshman opponent from Assumption to claim first place and the opportunity to wrestle at districts.

At 220, Ramon Martinez took a first round bye into the semi-finals. There, he lost by fall to #9 ranked Nick Smith of Central DeWitt.

Martinez got a huge pin in his next match over fellow freshman Will Lapke of Maquoketa. This would be the end of Martinez’ freshman season as he finished in third place.

Andy Lopez, at 285, notched a first round bye and would lose his next match by a 5-2 decision.

This loss sent Lopez to the consolation bracket where he would lose another heartbreaking 6-4 decision to Kolby Snodgrass of Camanche, ending Lopez’ day and season.

Throughout the day, the team’s race was a back and forth affair between the Comets and the Knights of Assumption.

At the end of the competition, Assumption would pull away on the very last match of the tournament with 239 team points. West Liberty was close behind with 236, followed by Central DeWitt (192), Maquoketa (142), Camanche (113.5) and Northeast Gooselake (42).

Assumption and West Liberty will advance to the regional dual series on Tuesday, February 7th at 6:00 pm at Davenport Assumption High School.

There, the Comets will take on West Delaware and Assumption will face Independence in first round duals. The winners of those two duals will square off against each other for the chance to advance to the state dual tournament in Des Moines on February 15th.

The eight individual district qualifiers, Will Esmoil (106), Talen Dengler (113), Coy Ruess (126), Noah Bierman (132), Justis Dengler (138), Austin Beaver (145), Joe Kelly (152) and Bryce Esmoil (195) will travel to Maquoketa Saturday, February 11th to vie for a chance to advance to the traditional state tournament in Des Moines beginning Thursday, February 16th. Start time is noon.

First round pairings for the district tournament are as follows:

Will Esmoil (35-5) vs. Alaina Sunlin (17-20) Monticello

Talen Dengler (24-13) vs. Ryan Clark (30-11) Mt Vernon

Coy Ruess (27-13) vs. Mason Gillihan (10-8) West Delaware

Noah Bierman (24-7) vs. Haiden Smith (25-15) Anamosa

Justis Dengler (26-16) vs. Jake Recker (34-5) Beckman Catholic

Austin Beaver (26-14) vs. Mitchel Mangold (35-5) West Delaware

Joe Kelly (35-2) vs. Grant Oberfoell (14-5) Dubuque Wahlert

Bryce Esmoil (35-2) vs. Luke Funke (27-12) Beckman Catholic
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