By Rob Gray and K.J. Pilcher
DES MOINES — First, Nashua-Plainfield’s Cody Marks denied Ryan Hall of Jesup a state tournament berth.
Then, Marks’ misfortune gave Hall a second chance.
“It’s insane,” said Hall, a 138-pounder who ensured he would at least place at state for the third straight year with a Class 1A quarterfinal pin Friday at Wells Fargo Arena.
It’s been a whirlwind, too.
One week ago, Hall placed third in his district because Marks beat him, 11-8, in a wrestleback.
Then bad luck struck Marks, who sustained a season-ending hand injury in Wednesday’s state duals.
Hall’s phone rang a while later — and dejection turned to elation.
“Once I got that call Wednesday I was just jacked,” said Hall, a senior who finished fourth at 125 last year and sixth at 103 as a sophomore. “Ready to rock and roll.”
Last Saturday felt very different.
“It was a crazy day,” Hall said. “It’s tough. It takes a lot out of you.”
“Nobody really expects me to be here, so I’m not really supposed to be here right now,” said Hall, who faced No. 4 Payton Rice Of Manson-Northwest Webster in Friday’s late 1A semifinal round. “Just by chance, so right now I’m just going with everything I’ve got. Nothing’s holding me back.”
WILDCATS STRIKE: It’s been an historic tournament for Maquoketa Valley’s wrestlers. The Wildcats qualified six for state — the most in at least 35 years, according to a team website. And Friday, three reached at least the semifinals with dominant and/or dramatic wins. 182-pounder Troy Hunt and 220-pounder Adam Steger advanced to the semis with pins. Ryan Parmely used a last-second reversal to seal a 4-1 win in the 195-pound quarterfinal. All three beat wrestlers ranked fourth or higher by The Predicament. The Wildcats entered Friday night’s semifinals fifth in the 1A team standings.
FAMILIAR FOES: One of the most anticipated matches of the tournament occurred in the Class 3A quarterfinals.
Southeast Polk’s three-time state champion and top-ranked Cory Clark faced Iowa City West’s state champion Jack Hathaway with a spot in the 126-pound semifinals at stake. It was the eighth time the NCAA Division I signees – Clark with the University of Iowa and Hathaway with Oregon State – with Hathaway handing Clark his lone prep defeat in January.
Clark posted a 3-0 victory, scoring an escape and takedown in the third period, for his seventh win, including a second in state competition, against Hathaway.
“He wrestled his match. I didn’t wrestle mine,” Hathaway said. “That’s how it goes. I felt really weak during the match. I couldn’t get anything going.”
Hathaway rebounded with a 28-second pin over Nathan Twito of Ames. Hathaway set set aside his disappointment to remain in the tournament.
“It wasn’t too tough to do it,” Hathaway said. “It sucks having to do it.”
Hathaway was attempting to become a two-time state champion, but has secured his fourth straight medal.
BLACK FRIDAY: Eddyville-Blakesburg’s Megan Black became the first female wrestler to place at the state tournament. She won her wrestleback Friday afternoon to cement a top-eight finish. Last year, Black, along with Cassy Herkelman of Cedar Falls, were the first females to ever qualify for the tournament.