DES MOINES – Alburnett’s Hunter Washburn said he feels at home in Wells Fargo Arena.
Might as well, since the top-ranked Pirates acted like they owned the joint.
Alburnett blitzed the field in the opening round of the Iowa High School Athletic Association Class 1A state wrestling tournament Thursday at Wells Fargo Arena. The Pirates advanced seven into the quarterfinals and have all nine alive, earning 28 points, 9 1/2 ahead of Woodbury Central.
Washburn and the Pirates soaked up the atmosphere, enjoying food and drink after weigh-ins and watching as their hometown fans drove more than two hours and flooded section 105 to take their seats for the performance.
“They just controlled the whole area,” Washburn said. “It was awesome. It gets you pumped up. You want to compete hard and give them a good show.
“It’s a great environment and every wrestler wants to come down here and compete.”
The Pirates didn’t let their fans down, posting a 9-2 record with six pins. They answered any questions coach Kane Thompson had about them following Wednesday’s State Duals championship.
“They came out pretty good,” Thompson said. “We had some tough draws and matches.”
One of the toughest was top-ranked Washburn’s match against No. 3 Aaron Bartenhagen of Durant at 113. Washburn, last year’s 106-pound champion as a freshman, earned a 10-6 win. Washburn planned to relax, workout and then focus on the quarterfinal match against Riverside’s No. 10 Jacob Vogel (44-10).
“You have to beat them all some time,” Washburn said about the early test. “It’s good. I got him out of the way. Now, I just have to keep moving forward.”
Washburn had to battle for the win. He built a 5-2 advantage after the first, scoring in the first 36 seconds. Bartenhagen added an escape and a takedown in the second to tie it 5-5 before Washburn pulled away.
“I’m glad I rebounded from it,” Washburn said. “I know no one is invincible. I have to keep moving and don’t stop.
“It kind of scared me, because three or four points are a good lead, but I was only up 6-5. I chose down, got out and scored some more points.”
Top-ranked Zach Fowler sparked the Pirates immediately, pinning Aplington-Parkersburg’s Logan Johnson in 3:25. Jacob Koch had a pin at 126 and Conner Shulista (132) and 138-pound senior Colton Martin won by decision.
Senior Grant Henderson (45-2) and Dylan Windfield (44-1) recorded falls at 152 and 160, capping the first-round wins. Jordan Henderson (120) and 170-pounder Zach Hoyle pinned wrestle-back opponents.
Grant Henderson, ranked second, decked Aplington-Parkersburg’s Blake Pruisner in 3:17.
“I thought Grant looked real tough,” Thompson said. “He came out scoring. He wanted to score points and that opened up the match.
“Windfield is a pinner anyway. When he gets you on your back, you’re probably not getting off.”
The stakes are raised for Henderson in the second round. He faces two-time state champion Loren Williams (46-1) of Tri-Center. The approach is similar to Washburn’s Thursday.
“Our attitude is if you want to be an individual state champ you have to beat good guys sometime,” Thompson said. “It doesn’t matter if it is day one, day two or day three. [What] we preach to our guys is let’s be ready to beat whoever is in front of us.”
North Linn defending state champion Brendan Schott took a step Thursday toward repeating. Schott (39-0) won his 85th straight match over the last two seasons with a 5-1 victory over West Hancock’s fourth-ranked Ryder Clark at 170.
Schott will also be part of a No. 1 vs. No. 2 quarterfinal bout. He will face Marcus MMC’s second-ranked Jacob Meehan (42-1) Friday.
“It’s a good way to start it, but it’s far from over,” Schott said. “The way I think about it is we are just getting started, and it is off to the next round.”
Schott notched a takedown in the first, but three nearfall points in the final period helped seal the win. He wanted to end the match early.
“It was big,” Schott said. “It separated me from him in the match. I wish I would have been able to hold him there for the win.”
“To be the best you have to beat the best,” Schott said. “So, that is what I’m going to do. … I’m ready to go.”
BGM’s Adam Hawkins won a tilt between ranked wrestlers. The second-rated 195-pounder topped Mason City Newman’s No. 4 John Waters, 4-3.
“We’ve been talking all year about coming in here and be champion,” Hawkins said. “I’ve been working. I’m hoping to get to top of the podium for sure.”
Hawkins (44-1) scored two points in the third and had to ride Waters out later to win, but it was the second-period takedown that propelled him.
“It takes a lot of pressure off your back to get that one,” Hawkins said.
West Branch went 2-0 in the opening round. Defending state champion and third-ranked Cade Jones (41-1) pinned Lawton-Bronson’s Blake Sappingfield. The Bears’ Casey Pence (42-4) beat Ogden’s Austin Lentz at 145.
The Midland Eagles posted a perfect round to open the Iowa High School Athletic Association Class 1A state wrestling tournament Thursday at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
Kyle Pegorick (132), T.J. Bowen at 138 and 182-pounder Ryan Leonard each won their first-round match, but it was the way they won that as impressive. The trio did not allow a single point.