DES MOINES — Western Dubuque’s Dawson Nemmers kept plugging away, trying to find his offense.
His foe in Friday’s Class 3A state tournament semifinal bout, Dustin Caldwell of Clinton, was having none of it.
Until it mattered most.
Nemmers, ranked fourth at 152 pounds, landed a shot with about 30 seconds left in his bout with the third-ranked Caldwell to score the only takedown of the match and a 3-1 win.
As a result, he’s a state wrestling tournament finalist.
And that needed to wash over him a bit before it sunk in.
“When you’re little, you always dream about that and that’s pretty much all it was — a dream,” said Nemmers, the only Gazette area 3A wrestler to emerge unscathed from the semifinal round. “Now it’s, I don’t know, it feels amazing. That’s always what your goal is, but sometimes you’re not always thinking you’re going to make that and it feels awesome.”
Nemmers will face No. 2 Spencer Derifield in the finals.
Derifield knocked off top-ranked Ross Lembeck of Linn-Mar, 6-1.
It was a night of heartbreak for 3A wrestlers from the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City areas.
Iowa City West went 0-3 in the semifinals, with No. 2 126-pounder Chris Walters, third-ranked 138-pounder Kegan Wakefield, and No. 2 195-pounder Mickey Pelfrey falling to slightly higher-ranked opponents.
Cedar Rapids Jefferson’s Michael Moncivais (132), and Linn-Mar’s top-ranked Alijah Jeffery (120) and No. 4 Matt Wempen (113), also fell.
Ryan Maas, City High’s third-ranked 220-pounder, lost, 3-0.
And Prairie seemed most snake-bitten of all, seeing fourth-ranked 138-pounder Trey Blaha, No. 5 145-pounder Skylar St. John, fifth-ranked 170-pounder Cam Rathje and No. 7 285-pounder Andrew Netolicky nipped in close matches.
Those four Hawks lost by a combined six points — with the setbacks to Rathje and Netolicky coming after regulation.
“It’s tough,” Prairie coach Blake Williams said. “Each one of those semifinals were all heartbreakers. It could have gone either way and we just came up on the short end of those. But it’s all about responding and how you respond. We’re just going to have to rebound. We’ve got eight guys placing and six in the top six, so we’re just going to have to score as many points as we can (today).”
Nemmers managed to score his only two-pointer in crunch time.
Now the dream is reality, with one step remaining.
“I knew it would be a tough match,” he said. “I just had to keep moving, doing my stuff and eventually it worked at the end there — tired him out.”