TIFFIN – James Wenzel gave his best impression of a caged jaguar.
The Mount Vernon senior paced back and forth, anxiously awaiting his turn to take the mat. He turned that nervous energy into a little revenge and a district berth.
Wenzel avenged an earlier loss to Clear Creek Amana’s Carter Carew with a 7-4 decision, claiming the 126-pound title at the Iowa High School Athletic Association Class 2A sectional title at Clear Creek Amana High School. Wenzel was one of six champions for Mount Vernon, which coasted to the team title with 242 points, 46 ahead of Williamsburg. The Mustangs and Raiders advance to the 2A regional duals Tuesday.
As for the pacing, constant movement is Wenzel’s way to focus on his upcoming bout and relax.
“I always pace a lot,” Wenzel said. “It helps to calm my nerves. I mostly get my head in the match.”
Watch the entire match between Wenzel and Carew
In their last meeting, Carew scored a last-second takedown to win. This time, Wenzel led throughout, recording takedowns in each period and securing his third straight district berth.
“The first takedown was definitely key,” Wenzel said. “If you can get that first takedown it goes a long way to breaking a kid.”
More importantly, it propelled Wenzel into his desired game plan. He wanted to keep a quick tempo from the start to pressure his opponent.
“I’ve been having trouble with that in some of my other matches, getting it (offense) ramped up in the first period,” Wenzel said. “I think that’s what I did a little bit better. I kept him moving and got him tired out.”
Wenzel is a state qualifier in cross country. He said he loves running and it pays dividends on the mat, adding that he isn’t as strong as many so he has to be quicker with better conditioning.
“I have more endurance than most people,” Wenzel said. “That is what I try to use.”
Wenzel was a state qualifier two years ago. He has his sights fixed on returning to Des Moines after a year hiatus. Wenzel is taking one step at a time.
“Right now, I have to get through my next match,” Wenzel said. “I’ll have a match against whoever was second in the other sectional and that’s what I’m looking forward to. You can’t look ahead.”
Mount Vernon teammate Kyle Jilovec has a similar approach. His goal is to nab a coveted state berth, but he was fixed on a sectional title Saturday. Jilovec (138) and Noah Dahlstrom (145) followed Wenzel, winning titles by improving recent one-point victories over their Williamsburg opponents.
Jilovec handled Garrett Blythe, 8-1, in the championship. Dahlstrom cinched up a cradle to pin Williams in 2:38.
“On days like this, and the same next Saturday, we have to bring our ‘A’ game,” Mount Vernon Coach Vance Light said. “If we don’t, you’re probably not going to like the results, so they did a good job of extending themselves.”
More was at stake this time than at the Wamac Conference tournament, so Jilovec had a stronger sense of urgency. He opened with a 5-0 first-period lead after a takedown and three nearfall.
“I try to make the lead out of reach, taking shots and keep building it,” Jilovec said. “That turk right at the beginning of the match really set the tone.”
The title train kept rolling for Mount Vernon, which received championships from Cody Ruden (152), top-ranked 160-pounder Trey Ryan and Mitchell Jilovec at 182. Ryan and Mitchell Jilovec, who only needed 34 seconds in the finals, scored falls.
Mount Vernon advanced 11 wrestlers to the district meet next Saturday at Solon. Coaches saw potential to claim many district berths from 120 to 220, and the Mustangs earned them.
“We wrestled really well,” Light said. “They’ve given a great effort all year long. We needed it (Saturday). They can be happy with themselves.”
Williamsburg had two champions in Aaron Schultz (132) and Corbin Blythe at 220. Ninth-ranked Schultz scored an 11-2 major decision over Mount Vernon’s Charlie Engelbrecht in the finals. Blythe posted two pins, decking Mount Vernon’s Josh Cannon in 2:45 of the championship. The Raiders advanced four to district.
South Tama state champion Erik Lux won the 170-pound title. He remained undefeated with a 2:32 pin over Mount Vernon’s Daniel Abresch. He was one of six district qualifiers for the Trojans, who were third with 189 1/2 points.
Solon junior Lance Evans was pleased with a sectional title Saturday, but he was grateful just to be competing. Evans suffered torn femur cartilage at a dual tournament last summer and missed the entire season recovering from surgeries in July and August. He started light wrestling two weeks ago and has only been wrestling live for one.
Emotions were flowing before the tournament started.
“It was exciting,” Evans said. “I was really happy to be able to compete.”
Evans opened with a pin and then notched a 9-0 major decision over Mount Vernon’s Connor Welch for the 195-pound crown.
“I didn’t do anything too crazy,” said Evans, whose teammate Louis Gnida won at 113. “I just tried to wrestle my style and do the best I could.”
Heavyweight Quintin Taylor was one of two Benton Community champions. He faced Solon’s Logan Linderbaum in the finals. The two had met twice recently with Taylor squeaking out a two-point win and a victory in overtime.
Taylor dominated this match, building a 5-0 lead before pinning Linderbaum in 4:30.
“He’s a tough kid and I’m happy to come out with a win,” Taylor said. “I brought all I had to the table and I was all in.”
Clear Creek Amana sophomore Connor Murphy claimed the 106-pound title, pinning South Tama’s Jaret Probasco in 5:04.
CLASS 2A SECTIONAL
(Clear Creek Amana High School)
Teams - 1. Mount Vernon* 242, 2. Williamsburg* 196, 3. South Tama 189.5, 4. Benton Community 152.5, 5. Solon 140, 6. Clear Creek Amana 76.
* – Teams advance to regional duals Tuesday.
106 pounds - Connor Murphy (CCA) pinned Jaret Probasco (ST), 5:04; 113 - Louis Gnida (Sol) dec. Keaton Sherwood (BC), 9-5; 120 - Dylan Beaver (BC) pinned Kyle Durgin (MV), 1:14; 126 - James Wenzel (MV) dec. Carter Carew (CCA), 7-4; 132 - Aaron Schultz (Will) major dec. Charlie Engelbrecht (MV), 11-2; 138 - Kyle Jilovec (MV) dec. Garrett Blythe (Will), 8-1; 145 - Noah Dahlstrom (MV) pinned Vic Malloy (Will), 2:38; 152 - Cody Ruden (MV) dec. Levi Kaufman (ST), 10-6; 160 - Trey Ryan (MV) pinned Kolton Smith (ST), 3:06; 170 - Erik Lux (ST) pinned Daniel Abresch (MV), 2:32; 182 - Mitchell Jilovec (MV) pinned Kyle Llewellyn (ST), :34; 195 - Lance Evans (Sol) major dec. Connor Welch (MV), 9-0; 220 - Corbin Blythe (Will) pinned Josh Cannon (MV), 2:45; 285 - Quintin Taylor (BC) pinned Logan Linderbaum (Sol), 4:30.
106 - Probasco (ST) pinned Bailey Redlinger (Sol), 1:04; 113 - Sherwood (BC) pinned Levi Wade (MV), :43; 126 – Kade Steuhm (ST) pinned Carew (CCA), 5:35; 132 – Engelbrecht (MV) dec. Jake Robertson (BC), 10-9; 152 – Kaufman (ST) major dec. Aaron Miller (Will), 12-1; 160 – Smith (ST) dec. Cody Marine (Will), 11-4; 182 – Llewellyn (ST) pinned Colin Bryant (Will), 3:09.
Benton Community, Class 2A sectional, Clear Creek Amana, gallery, Iowa High School Athletic Association, James Wenzel, Kyle Jilovec, Lance Evans, Mount Vernon, Mustangs, Quintin Taylor, Solon, South Tama, Vance Light, Williamsburg, Wrestling