Then there was one.
Iowa City West’s Jack Hathaway played a role in whittling down the field of undefeated wrestlers going for a fourth state title this season.
Hathaway scored a 2-1 victory over Southeast Polk’s Cory Clark in the 126-pound finals of Urbandale’s Ed Winger Classic on Saturday, handing the three-time state champion his first loss as a prep.
“It tells me I’m on track to where I should be going,” Hathaway said. “It was really a self-confidence booster.”
Clark, Davenport Assumption’s Topher Carton, who lost Thursday to Bettendorf’s Logan Ryan, and Des Moines Roosevelt’s John Meeks entered their senior seasons undefeated, attempting to join only five other wrestlers who won four state titles without a loss. Meeks is the only one who can accomplish that feat, becoming the first since Maquoketa’s Eric Juergens (1993-96).
Hathaway scored a takedown with about seven seconds remaining to overcome the 1-0 deficit. He heard coaches warning him that time was winding down. He saw an opening for a sweep single and took advantage.
“I had to make something happen as soon as possible,” said Hathaway, estimating he has wrestled Clark about six times in high school. “I guess I kind of did that.”
Staying aggressive and offensive was key, but persistence was key.
“We were in on Clark’s legs a couple of times and almost had takedowns,” West Coach Mark Reiland said. “He got a good shot at the end of the match.”
Hathaway, ranked third, is the defending 126-pound state champion in 3A. He has even earned a national title, so Hathaway has the ability to top Clark, ranked ninth nationally by Wrestling Insider Newsmagazine.
‘Skill-wise, I think he’s right there,” Reiland said. “It was more of a mental game to get over it.”
Clark, Hathaway and Waverly-Shell Rock’s second-ranked Eric Devos have all won state titles and will compete at the NCAA Division I level next year. Hathaway has signed with Oregon State, while Clark and Devos will attend the University of Iowa and Penn, respectively.
Hathaway (35-3) has split two matches with each this season. The competition provides motivation.
“It makes us work a lot harder,” Hathaway said. “We don’t have to worry about only one person, but we have to worry about the other guy, too, so we can just train for that one person. We have to keep in mind the other person.”
Hathaway wants to be at his best as the season winds down and postseason approaches.
“I’d say I’m doing a pretty good job but I make myself work so I am starting to peak now.”
West, ranked third, wrestles against Cedar Rapids Washington and No. 5 Cedar Rapids Prairie at Prairie Thursday night at 5:30 and hosts the Mississippi Valley Conference tournament Saturday, starting at 10 a.m.