Lance Evans disproved the prognosis.
The Solon junior was originally told a leg injury would prevent him from wrestling this season. Evans did not take it to heart.
The Spartans 195-pounder recovered from two preseason surgeries to repair torn femoral cartilage and debuted this year with a sectional title last Saturday at Clear Creek Amana High School in Tiffin. Evans will attempt to earn a second straight state tournament berth at the Iowa High School Athletic Association Class 2A district tournament Saturday at Solon.
Wrestlers in all three classes across the state will compete in district tournaments, beginning at noon. The top two finishers at each weight qualify for the IHSAA State Championships February 14-16 at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
Evans posted 41 wins at 182, placing seventh at state as a sophomore. He is grateful to compete again.
“I was really excited to have that chance,” Evans said. “Originally, when I talked to the doctor he said there’s no chance you’ll be able to wrestle this year, so that was exciting (to wrestle). I wanted to do everything I could.”
The road back has been long. Evans wrestled at a dual tournament in Florida last summer, and tore the articular cartilage, the smooth, white tissue covers the ends of bones and form joints, of his femur. He underwent cartilage graphs in July and August to repair the injury.
“For awhile, I really couldn’t do anything,” Evans said. “I was on crutches for three months.”
After the second surgery, Evans was finally able to be active, riding a stationary bike. He was limited to bike work, lifting weights and swimming. Evans’ body couldn’t wrestle, but his mind was always set on a return.
“It’s pretty frustrating not being able to do anything,” Evans said. “I just kept thinking about what I have to do to get back before the end of the season. There were things I had to do to get back so those were my goals.”
Evans was excited when he was cleared to drill – light wrestling in practice – two weeks before sectional and to wrestle hard the week leading up to the postseason. He recorded a pin in his first match, adding a 9-0 major decision in the sectional final to advance to the district meet.
He said he wrestled conservative and just did the best he could. Evans will continue that approach this weekend, hoping to reach the state meet. Reaching the state podium, despite this season’s adversity, would be exceptional.
“It would be sweeter,” Evans said. “Everything that I’ve been through the past six months, that would make it more special.”
In Class 3A, Marion hosts a district meet. Cedar Rapids Jefferson, Cedar Rapids Kennedy, Cedar Rapids Prairie, Cedar Rapids Washington, Dubuque Hempstead, Dubuque Senior and Linn-Mar make up the field. About 20 wrestlers currently or previously ranked by The Predicament will compete.
At 106, Senior’s Chase Lynn is ranked third, Prairie’s Sam Uthoff is ranked fifth and Linn-Mar’s Noah Ajram is eighth in one of the toughest brackets.
“He’s not worried about it. He’s just worried about making sure he’s at his best just like everybody else,” Prairie Coach Blake Williams said about Uthoff. ”You can only do it one match at a time.”
Cedar Rapids Xavier travels to a district held by Waverly-Shell Rock. Iowa City High and Iowa City West will compete at Mount Pleasant.