Comets thwarted by criteria

Chari Esmoil · Wednesday, February 15, 2017
On Tuesday, Feb. 7, the West Liberty High School Comet Wrestling team competed in the Class 2A Regional Duals at Davenport Assumption High School against West Delaware.

The Comets entered the night with high hopes of besting West Delaware to set up a showdown with the host school in the finals where the winner advanced to the State Dual Tournament in Des Moines Wednesday, Feb. 15.

This would be the last night that the Comets would compete as a team, as they fell behind early and weren’t able to make up for lost ground in the end, falling to West Delaware 36-37 on criteria.

Down 0-15, Bryce Esmoil stepped in at 195 to pin his foe in 1:07 to slow the onslaught from an aggressive West Delaware team.

The Hawks put up nine more points before Will Esmoil flattened his opponent in :27 for the fall. Talen Dengler, Coy Ruess, Noah Bierman and Justis Dengler all came up with big wins to bring the score to 30-30 with just two matches remaining.

Austin Beaver was injured during his match and was forced to default out of the competition with an elbow injury.

Joe Kelly wasted little time when he was called upon, dispatching his opponent by pin in 1:20 to tie the team score at 36 all.

Just as in the team’s only other dual loss of the season with Dubuque Hempstead back in December, the Comets would lose 36-37 on criteria, ending their fine dual season at 19-2.

This young Comet squad has shown nothing short of huge heart and character in competition this season.

With another solid year under their belts, and losing just two seniors, it is pretty clear that this group will be a very special team next season.

Saturday, February 11th, eight of the team’s district qualifiers ventured to Maquoketa High School for the Class 2A District 6 event to battle for a top-two individual placement, with a trip to the state tournament on the line.

At 106, Will Esmoil (38-5) began the day with a 1:49 pin over Alaina Sunlin of Monticello, one of just two girls from across the state that qualified for districts. In his second and final match of the day, Esmoil grabbed another pin in 2:56 to punch his ticket to Des Moines.

At 113, Talen Dengler lost by fall to a talented Ryan Clark of Mt Vernon. Dengler bounced right back to pin Justin Holst, a junior from Maquoketa in 2:44 to end his great freshman campaign at 26-14.

Coy Ruess battled and never backed down in his first match at 126. He would drop the bout by fall late in the third period sending him to the consolation matches.

There, he pinned his opponent from West Delaware in 1:32 to finish his sophomore season with a 29-14 mark.

Senior Noah Bierman dropped a gritty 9-3 decision at 132 to Justin Light of Mt Vernon in his first match.

Like Talen Dengler and Ruess, he also came back to pin his second opponent from Anamosa in 1:04 to complete his strong season at 26-8.

At 138, Justis Dengler lost by a 10-0 score to Jake Recker of Beckman Catholic. He would find himself in another tough match in round two, losing that one by a 7-1 score to round out his junior season with a 27-18 record.

Wrestling bruised and banged up, Austin Beaver (27-16) faced Mitch Mangold of West Delaware for the second time in five days.

Mangold was the victor by a 3:02 fall. Beaver pinned his next opponent from Maquoketa in 5:31 to end his sophomore campaign.

At 152, Joe Kelly won his first match by injury default over 14-7 senior, Grant Oberfoell of Dubuque Wahlert. He would go on to pin Cody Feldman of Beckman Catholic in 3:47 to secure his third state appearance in as many years.

At 195, Bryce Esmoil overcame a stomach bug from the days prior to win his first match 12-7 over Luke Funke of Beckman Catholic.

In his second match, he fell behind early but settled in and eventually pinned #2 ranked Sam Moore of Mt Vernon to collect the third Comet state qualifying spot.

The individual state tournament begins Thursday, February 16th at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines at 6:00 pm for Class 2A.
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