WASHINGTON – The Williamsburg wrestling team has knocked on the door of the State Duals tournament each of the last four seasons.
This year the Raiders went ahead and just kicked that door down after having the team goal in their sights all season.
“It was really high on our priority list,” Williamsburg senior 215-pounder Tom Malloy said. “We really wanted to accomplished it. We wanted to do something that was just bigger than going to individual state. We wanted to make it more team oriented.”
Williamsburg punched its ticket for the State Duals for the first time in school history, winning the Iowa High School Athletic Association Class 2A regional dual title Tuesday night at Washington High School. The fifth-ranked Raiders dominated Fairfield and Davis County to qualify for the State Dual tournament Saturday, Feb. 26 at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids.
The Raiders thumped Davis County, 47-21, to finally advance to Cedar Rapids after reaching the regional duals four straight years and fifth time in the last seven.
“It means a lot to finally do it with this group,” two-time state champion heavyweight Austin Blythe said. “It just feels good.”
The Raiders (23-2) blitzed the Mustangs (18-5), scoring falls in their first four matches for a 24-0 lead, which grew to 35-0 after the first seven matches. Blythe opened the dual with a 43-second pin over Colton Boas. Garrett Knepper (103) followed by decking Marvin Lipp in 1:58. Aaron Schultz made quick work of Kody Smith at 112 with a 29-second fall. Trevor Knepper tallied an 8-0 lead before pinning Donnie Wintermote in 3:15 at 119.
The route was on and the Raiders passed the momentum to one another like a baton in a relay race.
“Taking the mas unlike anything with all the fans here,” said Trevor Knepper, who had two pins. “That’s the most exciting part when the whole team is doing awesome.”
Williamsburg coach Grant Eckenrod said that is a mark of a strong dual team. Momentum is a key to this type of wrestling competition.
“We got on a roll and we started feeding off that momentum,” Eckenrod said. “That’s what you have to do in a dual situation.”
J.C. Vercande, ranked fifth, continued the Raiders’ dominating performance with a 17-0 technical fall over Sam Johnson at 130. Vercande scored two takedowns and racked up 11 nearfall points. Vercande’s victory by a Cody Marine decision at 125 and Travis Gorsch’s major decision at 135, giving Williamsburg a 35-0 lead.
The Raiders outscored the Mustangs, 47-4 in match points. They owned a decisive advantage in takedowns (13-7) and nearfall points (20-10) when it was all settled. Williamsburg, which received a pin from Brett Waughop at 171, wanted to apply the pressure.
“That was our main goal (Tuesday night),” said Malloy, who capped the regional final with a first-period fall. “Stay aggressive and good things will happen.”
Just being invited to the party isn’t good enough. The Raiders are focused on bringing home some party favors.
“We wanted to get there but we’re not going to be happy just getting there. We want to go get some hardware,” Eckenrod said. “I know it’s going to be tough but our kids have shown all year they’ll work hard. We’re going to work hard and do the best we can.”
Davis County received a pin from 160-pounder Dylan Nelson. The fall capped four straight wins, including decisions by Jeremy Garber (140), Zach Fligg (145) and Logan Boas at 152.
Williamsburg rolled over Fairfield, winning 10 of 14 matches. The Raiders built a 22-0 lead after five matches and cruised to the 46-17 lead. Williamsburg received pins from Trevor Knepper (119), Vercande (130), Gorsch (135) and Hunter St. John (145).
Top-ranked Blythe won a battle of highly-ranked heavyweights, topping Fairfield’s fourth-ranked Michael Smithburg, 5-2. Watch the match.
The Spartans finished the season 5-9, qualifying with a runner-up sectional finish to the Raiders. Solon reached the regional duals for the fourth time, including its third straight appearance. It served as a great chance for district qualifiers to get a match away from training and for non-qualifiers to get another competition.
“We told the kids it’s a great opportunity,” Solon Coach Brooks McLaren said. “We didn’t perform our greatest.”
The future is promising for the Spartans, who do not have a senior in their starting lineup. They will look to extend their streak next season.
“It’s an exciting experience,” McLaren said. “I told them to remember it because we’ll all be back next year.”
CLASS 2A REGIONAL DUALS
Davis County 52, Solon 22
Williamsburg 46, Fairfield 17
Williamsburg 47, Davis County 21
WILLIAMSBURG 47, DAVIS COUNTY 21
(Individual takedowns in parentheses)
Hwt. - Austin Blythe (W) pinned Colton Boas, :43 (1,0); 103 pounds – Garrett Knepper (W) pinned Marvin Lipp, 1:58 (2,0); 112 - Aaron Schultz (W) pinned Kody Smith, :29 (1,0); 119 - Trevor Knepper (W) pinned Donnie Wintermote, 3:15 (2,0); 125 - Cody Marine (W) dec. Dillon Newton, 4-3 (1,0); 130 - J.C. Vercande (W) tech. fall Sam Johnson, 17-0 (2,0); 135 - Travis Gorsch (W) major dec. Chase Houston, 10-0 (2,0); 140 - Jeremiah Garber (DC) dec. Spencer Dale, 6-3 (2,0); 145 - Zach Fligg (DC) dec. Hunter St. John, 6-1 OT (1,0); 152 - Logan Boas (DC) dec. Ray Schmidt, 4-3 (1,0); 160 - Dylan Nelson (DC) pinned Garrett Harrison, 5:31 (1,0); 171 - Brett Waughop (W) pinned Dustin Miller, 1:39 (1,0); 189 – Willy Bremer (DC) pinned Corbin Blythe, 5:58 (2,0); 215 - Tom Malloy (W) pinned Zach Hale, :37 (1,0).
Takedowns - Davis County 7, Williamsburg 13. Reversals - Davis County 3, Williamsburg 4. Escapes - Davis County 4, Williamsburg 6. Nearfall points - Davis County 11, Williamsburg 20. Penalty points (awarded) - Davis County 0, Williamsburg 2. Total match points - Davis County 35, Williamsburg 62.
class 2A, Davis County, Fairfield, Iowa High School Athletic Association, Mustangs, Raiders, Solon, Spartans, state duals, Trojans, U.S. Cellular Center, Washington High School, Williamsburg, wrestling regional duals