Area wrestlers aim for a spot on the podium at state wrestling tournament
Several area wrestlers have a great shot at placing during the state wrestling tournament this Thursday through Saturday at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
In Class 3A, both Ames wrestlers — senior Gabe Greenlee at 285 pounds and freshman Brent Slade at 145 — have an excellent shot at the podium in Class 3A. Greenlee takes a 31-0 record into state, where he placed second at 285 last year after falling to Bettendorf’s Griffin Liddle by a 7-2 decision in the title match.
Greenlee opens the 2021 tournament against Des Moines North/Hoover’s Orlando Fuentes (12-7). He could have a semifinal rematch with third-ranked Maddux Borcherding-Johnson (31-3) of Norwalk, whom Greenlee defeated by sudden victory in last year’s semifinals, and then face Liddle (23-1) again in the championship match.
Greenlee already got revenge on Liddle with a 3-1 victory over him at the Ed Winger Classic. But he’d love another crack at both him and Borcherding-Johnson.
“I’ve proved to myself I can beat them,” Greenlee said. “I’m honestly looking forward to get the chance to wrestle them again because I know I can widen that gap.”
Slade (27-4) is ranked sixth in 3A at 145. At districts in Marshalltown he defeated fifth-ranked Brennan Amos of Newton by an 11-3 major decision and fell just short against top-ranked Joel Jesuroga of Southeast Polk in the finals by a 7-5 score, giving him a lot of momentum heading into Wells Fargo Arena.
“He’s definitely in the mix of things at the state tournament,” Ames head coach Andy Fecht said. “I’m excited to see how he ends up down there.”
Slade opens against Cooper Wiemann of Mason City (24-5) and could face seventh-ranked Peyton Westlin of North Scott (28-6) in the quarterfinals. Jesuroga (23-0) is also on Slade’s side of the bracket.
In 2A, there are seven area wrestlers that enter state ranked in their respective weight classes.
Gilbert’s Fernando Villaescusa, who won a state title in Arizona last year, is ranked third at 182 with a 34-1 record. He takes on Casey Pick of Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley (29-12) in the first round and could face fourth-ranked Cael Meyer of West Delaware (24-4) in the quarterfinals.
Second-ranked Spencer Mooberry of Osage (39-2) is also on Villaescusa’s side of the bracket.
Roland-Story's Kade Blume (40-1) is ranked fourth at 106. He just defeated third-ranked Carson Doolittle of Webster City for the second time in a row during districts.
Blume opens against Kaden Kremer of Independence (34-11). Seventh-ranked Cody Hay of Bondurant-Farrar (32-2) is a likely quarterfinal opponent and second-ranked Carter Anderson of Albia (42-1) is also on his side of the bracket.
“I know that Kade is one of the toughest 106-pound wrestlers in the state,” Roland-Story head coach Leland Schwartz said. “I think he has a good shot to place.”
Ballard’s Mason Askelsen is ranked fifth at 195 and is undefeated at 28-0 heading into his first state tournament. He will face Brayden Smith of South Tama Count (25-6) and his likely reward should he win that match is top-ranked Wyatt Voelker of West Delaware (34-0).
“Mason was a district champion and has the expectation to finish high on the stand this year,” Ballard head coach Casey Christensen said. “A potential finals match could happen in the quarterfinals.”
Christensen’s son Gabe is rated seventh at 160 with a 36-6 record. He takes on Dustin Harney of Woodward-Granger (40-8) in the first round.
Christensen just defeated Harney by a 3-0 decision to win his district title at Adel. Should Christensen prevail he will likely face second-ranked Wyatt Appleseth of Panorama (43-0) in the quarterfinals.
“This is his first state trip and he is excited,” Casey Christensen said. “The coaches expect him to be on the stand Saturday.”
The Bombers’ Gage Long is ranked eighth at 138 with a 36-8 record. Long, a three-time qualifier who placed eighth at 132 as a sophomore, goes up against Sioux City North’s Dao Keokhamthong (22-2) in the first round then could face top-ranked Isaiah Weber of Independence (36-1).
“Gage hopes to make his mark in his final year,” Casey Christensen said. “He’s got a tough first round and we plan on him being on the stand.”
Roland-Story's Christian Eslick is ranked ninth at 145 with a 34-2 record. Eslick goes up against Central Decatur’s Logan Jones (47-6) in the first round then could face second-ranked Nick Fox of Osage (32-2) in the quarterfinals.
“Christian has a favorable first-round matchup. Christian beat Jones 17-10 at our dual tournament near the end of January,” Schwartz said. “Christian has worked extremely hard to get where he is, and I believe that he also has a great chance to end up on the podium in Des Moines.”
Gilbert’s Joe Larimore is rate 10th at 195 in 2A. Larimore (33-3) has a tough opening draw against fourth-ranked Reese Moore of Forest City (26-4).
Gilbert also has state veteran Cael Ihle (31-3) wrestling at 126. Ihle faces seventh-ranked Blake Engel of West Delaware (34-4) in the first round and, should he prevail, could take on second-ranked Dominic Ridout of East Marshall (22-1) in the quarterfinals.
“Fernando, Joe and Cael have all done a great job this year!” Gilbert head coach Scott Auderer said. “They have worked hard, stayed focused and earned where they are at right now. Now it is time to take the next step. They are looking forward to the opportunity they have in front of them this week and are grateful for it.”
Ballard’s Nick Wacha will be making his first state tournament appearance after opening the season as a JV wrestler. Wacha is 14-10 at 220 and will go up against second-ranked Kobe Simon of West Liberty (33-3) in the first round.
In the 1A competition, South Hamilton’s Lane Swenson and Trevor Thompson both enter the meet ranked.
Swenson is ranked second at 170 with a 38-2 record, but he is coming off a 5-2 loss to Central Springs’ Caden Jacobsen in the district finals. Swenson placed seventh at 170 a year ago.
Swenson will open against 10th-ranked Carson Hartz of Columbus Catholic (36-7) then could face eighth-ranked Max Kohl of Lisbon in the quarterfinals.
Thompson is rated fourth at 195. He is 29-4 and gets a difficult first-round matchup against second-ranked Matthew Francis of West Hancock (38-1).
Keyton Remsburg (113) and Brent Greenfield (182) will also compete for South Hamilton.
Remsburg is 23-13 and will open against fourth-ranked Dawson Schmidt of Wapsie Valley (28-3). Greenfield is 33-7 and will take on Collins-Maxwell's Brody Sampson (33-8) in the first round.
Sampson is the first Collins-Maxwell Spartan to qualify for state. The winner of the Sampson-Greenfield match will likely face top-ranked Carson Tenold of Don Bosco (34-1) in the quarterfinals.
The state tournament will take place this Thursday through Saturday at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. Competition begins at 9 a.m. on Thursday and Friday with the 1A first round then 1A and 3A quarterfinals and Saturday’s consolation semifinals and finals start at 10 a.m. Saturday, with the finals slated to begin at 6 p.m. that evening.