Austin Blythe may be the defending champion at 285 pounds and a two-time state tournament finalist, but he went into a Class 2A quarterfinal match with Davenport Assumption’s Tyler Swope as an underdog.
And he knew it.
Swope had beaten the Williamsburg junior twice this season and had a chance to do it again Thursday with the match knotted 2-2 late in the third period. This time, Blythe (50-3) made a big move in the final seconds for a 6-2 win. He celebrated wildly in front of a packed house at Wells Fargo Arena.
“It feels good to get him back,” Blythe said. “Those losses weren’t a fluke or anything. I went out there and wrestled to get him back. I couldn’t hold it in after I beat him.”
He’ll face unbeaten Brett Johnson (36-0) from Roland-Story in today’s semifinals and could avenge his other loss this season if he and top-ranked Adam Praska of Crestwood-Cresco reach the final.
Blythe was ecstatic to have kept his chances for another title alive.
“I didn’t want to feel that pain of losing,” he said. “I don’t like losing. I’m kind of a competitive guy.”
Independence went into the day fifth in the team standings, but its 23 1/2 points dropped the Mustangs to ninth. Two of its three quarterfinalists were sent to the consolation bracket.
“It kind of put the morale down a little bit, but both those guys will battle back and place,” said 215-pound Ryan Fank, the team’s lone semifinalist after pinning Sheldon/South O’Brien’s Pete Matthews.
Fank will face Solon’s James Morris, who held off a late charge from Gilbert’s Cole Jackson for a 6-5 victory. Morris has beaten Fank three times, the last two by 3-2 scores.
“It’s going to come down to whoever can get a takedown,” Fank said.
Union’s 119-pounder Logan Thomsen continued his impressive run with a 15-7 upset victory over No. 4-ranked Cole Anderson of Forest City. Thomsen (35-6) pinned Webster City’s Tyler Raygor in the opening round.
“He’s the type of kid that just goes and goes. He wears on guys,” said Union Coach Pat Hogan.
Thomsen, a freshman, faces Decorah’s unranked Zach Henning for a spot in the final. He’s come on late in the season and is wrestling his best at the right time.
Henning (21-7) is unranked.
“For (Thomsen) it doesn’t matter,” Hogan said. “He’ll wrestle the same way.”
Other area wrestlers going for finals berths today are MFL-Central’s Mitch Funk at 103, Kalen Greiner of Sigourney-Keota at 112 and heavyweight Ivan Sagastume from West Liberty.
Denver-Tripoli held onto first place in the team race with 63 points. Two-time defending champion Ballard is second with 49.