Grapplers begin new season

Chari Esmoil · Wednesday, December 6, 2017
On Tuesday, Nov. 28, the West Liberty Comet wrestling team began its 2017-2018 season with a quadrangular at Lisbon with the host Lions, New London Tigers and Davenport North Wildcats.

The first dual of the night pitted the Comets against Davenport North. Recording pins were Justis Dengler, Jackson Gingerich, Sam Gingerich and Coy Ruess.

Brian Collins scored an exciting 8-6 overtime victory at 113 pounds. Austin Beaver, Joe Kelly, AJ Lenz, Bryce Esmoil, Andy Lopez, Talen Dengler and Will Esmoil all received forfeits to push the final score to 69-9 in favor of the Comets.

Dual number two had the Comets squaring off against New London. The Tigers were overmatched from the start, falling to the Comets 66-6. Kelly, Lenz, Bryce Esmoil, Kobe Simon and Lopez all notched pins.

Ruess gritted out a come from behind 8-6 overtime victory over state ranked Javis Krieger at 138 pounds. Jackson Gingerich topped his foe by a 10-4 score to finish out the contested bouts.

Gathering forfeits for the Comets were Sam Gingerich, Collins, WIll Esmoil, Justis Dengler and Beaver.

The final dual, a widely anticipated matchup with Class 1A #1 ranked Lisbon, was a clash from start to finish. Kelly started things off at 160 with a speedy :15 pin.

The Comets lost the next two matches by a pin and a major decision at 170 and 182 to make the team score 6-10, Lions. A Lisbon forfeit at 195 gave the Comets a 12-10 lead. Another pin at 220 for Lisbon gave the hosts a 16-12 lead.

Lopez got an important pin at 285 to help the Comets to an 18-16 margin. Alex Beaver stepped in and collected a forfeit at 106, pushing the Comet lead to 24-16. Sam Gingerich got bumped to 113 as did Collins to 120 pounds.

Both fought hard in their respective matches, but fell by fall to their quality opponents. Lisbon lead 28-24 at this point. Talen Dengler tangled valiantly with his highly ranked competitor but lost by tech fall at 126 pounds as the team score jumped to 33-24, Lions.

Will Esmoil got three points back for the Comets with a 9-4 triumph over his ranked opponent at 132 pounds. Coy Ruess made things extra exciting with a quick :46 pin at 138 pounds to even the score at 33-33 with two matches remaining.

The Lions won those final two bouts by fall and regular decision to secure the 42-33 win over the Comets.

Thursday, November 30, the Comets looked to get back on the winning track with a quad at Cascade along with West Branch and Durant.

The Comets had little trouble as a team, dispatching Durant by a 78-0 score, pounding on West Branch 64-9 and blowing away Cascade 62-11.

The Comets were led by Lopez with three pins and Kelly and Lenz with two apiece. The Comets received 20 forfeits throughout the night to make for an early departure from Cascade.

Saturday, December 2nd, the team was again tested at the prestigious Keith Young Invitational at Cedar Falls High School.

Multiple ranked wrestlers from all three wrestling classes dotted the 16-team field that included Denver, West Des Moines Valley, Cedar Rapids Kennedy, North Scott, Waverly-Shell Rock, Don Bosco, Mason City, Cedar Falls, Bettendorf, Union, Charles City, Dowling Catholic, Cedar Rapids Jefferson and Waterloo West.

Six Comets found their way to the podium at the end of this grueling day.

Will Esmoil came out on top at 132 pounds with a 6-0 victory over Gabe Lewis of Denver in his championship bout. He finished with a 3-0 record on the day.

At 138 pounds, Ruess went 3-1 to gather a hard-fought fifth place finish with a 1:49 pin in his final match to secure his podium spot. He was 3-1 on the day.

Austin Beaver started his day with two straight pins at 152 pounds, before dropping his semi-final match by a 0-6 score. He then lost his placing match by a close 2-4 difference to secure his 4th place podium placement.

At 160 pounds, Kelly ripped off three straight wins, including two quick pins and an 8-1 victory in the semis to reach the championship match. He dropped the contest by a 2-7 score to claim runner-up honors.

Jackson Gingerich went 2-1 on the day at 182, winning his placing match by a convincing 10-2 major decision to claim his fifth place spot on the podium.

At 195, Bryce Esmoil recorded two pins and a tech fall throughout the day to grab the second individual Comet championship on the day.

As a team, the Comets finished in seventh place with 142.5 points-a vast improvement from last years thirteenth place finish. The team championship was claimed by Denver with a massive 215 points.

The Comets return to mat action Thursday, Dec. 7 at 5:30 p.m. at Mid Prairie High School along with West Branch and Iowa City Regina.

The following Saturday, December 9th, the crew travels to Mount Vernon for another tough test along with fifteen other teams. Start time is 10 a.m.
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