IOWA CITY – Phillip Laux has received plenty of cheers as a two-time state champion for Iowa City West.
He received one more chance to thrill his hometown crowd and took advantage.
Laux posted a 13-4 major decision over Gunnar Woodburn, of Claremore, Okla., in the opening match of the Cliff Keen/Wrestling USA Dream Team Classic Friday night at West High School. Laux won one of three matches for Iowa in the dual won by USA Dream Team, 40-7.
Laux received a boost from competing one more time in his home gym. Representing his state and surrounded by the Trojans’ green and gold colors, he felt comfortable.
“It felt really good to be here at home,” Laux said. “When I went out for introductions I felt everyone was behind me.”
Where he wasn’t behind was on the score board. Laux scored the only points in the first with a takedown, adding a second-period escape and another takedown before Woodburn, ranked sixth nationally, got away for a point. He continued to dominate, posting four more takedowns, trying to turn Woodburn late.
“I felt I wrestled pretty laxed and had fun with it,” Laux said. “(At the end) I was just listening to my coaches and going for it.”
The win caps a stellar prep career that will send him to Madison, Wis., next year to wrestle for University of Wisconsin and Badgers Coach Barry Davis. It also is one more victory, proving Laux is one of the nation’s top prep wrestlers.
“It was exciting to finish it here at West,” Laux said. “It’s been a great experience.”
West teammate Justin Koethe lost a close battle at 160. After a 1-1 tie in regulation, Koethe surrendered a takedown 19 seconds into sudden victory, dropping a 3-1 decision to No. 2 ranked Zac Brunson, of Winston Churchill High School in Eugene, Ore. Koethe has signed with Wisconsin, while Brunson will wrestled for the University of Illinois next year.
Cedar Rapids Prairie’s Zach Witte took the mat against Brian Realbuto, of Somers, N.Y., at 152. It was Witte’s first battle against one of the nation’s best. Realbuto scored six takedowns in a 15-4 victory, giving Witte a good gauge of his progress and what is essential to make.
“I know where I am ability wise,” Witte said. “I know where I want to be. I have a lot of work ahead of me.”
Witte, a two-time state champion and three-time finalist, admitted he had never wrestled someone with as much talent as Realbuto, a three-time New York state champion and Cornell University recruit. Despite getting in on a couple leg attacks, including one in the second period where he penetrated on a double-leg and switched off to a single leg, Witte could not finish scores.
“I was able to get in on is legs quite a bit,” said Witte, who had four escapes. “It could have been a different match if I finished. His hips were pretty strong (but) I should have finished.”
Witte will wrestle for the University of Northern Iowa next year. He isn’t going to dwell on the all-star competition and will continue to improve as he moves to the college level. Overall, he enjoyed participating in the event.
“It’s an accomplishment being here with an elite group of kids,” Witte said. “I wish I would have put points on the board for Iowa.”
Collin Bevins, the state champion heavyweight for Creston/Orient-Macksburg, added the only other win for Iowa. Bevins scored three takedowns, two reversals and cinched up a cradle for two nearfall in the first en route to a 12-9 win over Austin Goergen, of Caledonia, Minn., who is ranked fourth nationally.
“It was one of my most fun matches in high school,” said Bevins, raving about the atmosphere and the boost provided by cheering from the large crowd. ”It was surreal.”
Bevins and Goergen delighted the crowd with an action-filled and entertaining match. That style played right into the hands of Bevins, who competed in a track meet earlier this week where he won the shot put with a throw of 49 feet, 11 inches and the 200 meters in 23.3 seconds.
“It’s huge being an athlete,” said Bevins, who will play football at Iowa Sate next year. “It boosts your confidence quite a bit.”
Iowa had a chance to win a few more matches and cut into the 11-2 differential, but lost in the final seconds. Iowa recruit Alex Meyer, of Southeast Polk, gave up a reversal and three nearfall points to Zach Nevills, of Clovis, Calif., in a 7-6 loss at 170. Top-ranked Devin Peterson, of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., scored a late reversal to top West Des Moines Valley’s Tarin Phillips, 8-7, at 195. At 120, George DiCamillo, of St. Ignatius, Ohio, scored a late takedown for a 5-4 win over UNI recruit and three-time Denver-Tripoli state champion Dylan Peters.
“Our team fought and we were right there at the end,” Laux said. “There was just a move or two difference between winning and losing.”
In the marquee match of the evening, Pennsylvania four-time state champion Jimmy Gulibon topped Southeast Polk’s four-time state champion Cory Clark, 5-2. Gulibon, a Penn State recruit, scored two takedowns to earn the win over Clark, an Iowa Hawkeye recruit.
Iowa fans got a good look at future Hawkeye Nate Skonieczny, of Walsh Jesuit High School and Stow, Ohio. Skonieczny scored 10 takedowns and was working for a fall as time expired to beat North-Linn two-time state champ Logan Mulnix at 138. Skonieczny was a two-time Ohio state champion, earning 180 prep wins.
AT IOWA CITY WEST
USA DREAM TEAM 40, Iowa 7
(Individual takedowns in parentheses)
113 pounds – Phillip Laux (IC West) major dec. Gunnar Woodburn (Oklahoma), 13-4 (6,0); 138 – Nate Skonieczny (Ohio) major dec. Logan Mulnix (North-Linn), 23-10 (10,0); 182 – Jordan Rogers (Washington) major dec. Jared Bartel (Mason City), 12-4 (4,0); 170 – Zach Nevills (California) dec. Alex Meyer (SE Polk), 7-6 (0,0); 152 – Brian Realbuto (New York) major dec. Zach Witte (C.R. Prairie), 15-4 (6,0); 132 – Mark Grey (New Jersey) dec. Kyle Larson (WDM Valley), 3-1 (1,0); 160 – Zac Brunson (Oregon) dec. Justin Koethe (IC West), 3-1 OT (1,0); 195 – Devin Peterson (Wisconsin) dec. Tarin Phillips (WDM Valley), 8-7 (2,1); 145 – Jason Tsirtsis (Indiana.) major dec. Gabe Moreno (Urbandale), 22-8 (8,0); Hwt. – Collin Bevins (Creston/OM) dec. Austin Goergen (Minnesota), 12-9 (3,1); 120 – George DiCamillo (Ohio) dec. Dylan Peters (Denver-Tripoli), 5-4 (2,1); 220 – Michael Kroells (Minnesota) won by injury default over Willie Miklus (SE Polk); 126 – Jimmy Gulibon (Pennsylvania) dec. Cory Clark (SE Polk), 5-2 (2,0).
Takedowns: USA 39, Iowa 13; Reversals: USA 7, Iowa 6; Escapes: USA 18, Iowa 35; Nearfall points: USA 13, Iowa 4; Penalty points (awarded): USA 0, Iowa 0. Total match points: USA 116, Iowa 72.