DES MOINES — Cedar Rapids Prairie’s Josh Lambrecht and Cedar Rapids Jefferson’s Conner Herman have traveled similar paths, and that’s just not the road from Southwest Cedar Rapids to downtown Des Moines.
Herman and Lambrecht suffered disappointing district losses last year that postponed their state tournament debuts. Both used them as motivation and find themselves at the same destination.
Lambrecht and Herman each earned quarterfinal wins last night in the Iowa High School Athletic Association Class 3A state wrestling tournament at Wells Fargo Arena.
The Westside duo have earned a spot on the awards stand Saturday night with their latest victories. What is left is to find out what level they will be perched.
“It feels great,” Herman said. “Now I just have to climb to the top of the awards stand. Hopefully, we can climb to first.”
Fourth-ranked Herman beat No. 5 Joe Scanlan, 6-2, at heavyweight. he broke open a scoreless match with a penalty point, escape and a takedown in the second and iced it with a takedown as time ran down.
“A lot of things happened in my favor,” said Herman, who faces Davenport West’s No. 2 Nolan Proehl in the semifinals. “I had the opportunity to score.”
As a sophomore, Herman suffered an upset loss in a district semifinal, placing behind two eventual state medalists without a wrestleback. He then watched as an opponent he pinned weeks earlier became a state champion. This soothes the sting slightly.
“Not forget (but) it patches it up a little bit,” Herman said. “It’s probably going to be there the rest of my life. I know I could have been there.”
Lambrecht was denied state by a double-overtime loss in a wrestleback and also placed behind two state medalists last year. The second-ranked senior had enough.
“After that loss I was plain sick and tired of losing,” said Lambrecht, who improved to 20-1. “It’s just all mental.”
Lambrecht claimed a 3-2 win over Davenport Central’s Josh Behrendt, riding him out the entire third period for the win. He moves to a semifinal match with Dubuque Hempstead’s Brock Haas. Lambrecht’s sites are set on a state title.
“Right now, I’m just taking it one match at a time,” Lambrecht said. “Hoping to do the best I can.”
From Westside to Iowa City West, which has three semifinal and is tied for fourth with North Scott at 42 points. Bettendorf leads the team race with 75, three points ahead of defending champ Waverly-Shell Rock.
Jack Hathaway (112), Gradey Gambrall (135) and Nick Moore (160) all won. Moore, who is attempting to become Iowa’s 19th 4-time state champion, pinned Des Moines North-Hoover’s Nick Vasey in 1:21.
“He’s going out and taking it one match at a time,” West Coach Mark Reiland said. “That‘s what he’s trying to do and that’s what he has to do.”
Not much west the Trojans’ way. West went 4-8 Thursday, including a 1-4 consolation round mark.
“This is about as bad a day that I can remember,” Reiland said.
The only consolation win came from an unlikely source. West’s top-ranked 152-pounder Justin Koethe recorded a seven-second pin after losing his quarterfinal with Bettendorf’s Joey Trizzino by disqualification.
The result stunned the crowd. Koethe was called for an illegal slam just eight seconds into the match. Trizzino could not compete. Koethe paced the mat while they tended, fretting what seemed inevitable.
“I knew he was going to call it,” said Koethe, who beat Trizzino, 7-5, at Urbandale’s Ed Winger invitational on Jan. 23. “Why take the chance?”
Linn-Mar freshman Joel Northrup won the rubber match with Waterloo West’s Alonzo Henderson, posting an 8-2 win at 103. He built a 6-2 lead after two periods with two takedowns and a reversal, securing his spot in the Grand March.
“All year when I work out that’s one of the goals,” Northrup said. “To stand on the podium wherever it is. it’s a big thing.”
Western Dubuque’s Jim Gotto reclaimed a state medal after a year absence from the tournament. Gotto notched another thrilling victory, winning his second straight 3-1 overtime decision. He topped Bettendorf’s No. 6 Bubba Hernandez at 125. Staying calm was key.
“I didn’t doubt myself for one minute,” Gotto said. “You have to believe in yourself and your training.”
The Class 3A semifinals are set for today at 2:15 p.m.
Bettendorf, Cedar Rapids Jefferson, Cedar Rapids Prairie, Class 3A state tournament, Conner Herman, Gradey Gambrall, IHSAA, Iowa City West, Jack Hathaway, Jim Gotto, Joel Northrup, Joey Trizzino, Josh Lambrecht, Justin Koethe, Linn-Mar, Nick Moore, Trojans, Western Dubuque, Wrestling