DES MOINES — Western Dubuque’s Dawson Nemmers knew Waverly-Shell Rock’s Spencer Derifield.
So when the highly-ranked 152-pounders met up in Saturday’s Class 3A state wrestling tournament finals, there were no secrets.
“I knew some of the stuff he was going to do,” said Nemmers, who lost to Derifield for the third time this season, 9-4. “Just sometimes I was a little bit too slow, but i gave it my all.”
Nemmers, ranked fourth, finished the season 32-2 against wrestlers other than the No. 2 Derifield.
The first time they’d med, Derifield won by fall.
The second time, he won 11-6.
Saturday, Nemmers fought back form a 4-1 deficit to tie the bout 4-4, but Derifield closed out strong and won the title.
What’s ahead for Nemmers — a senior and 4.0 student?
“I’m kind of leaning toward (not wrestling),” Nemmers said. “I’ll just go to college and apply myself the best I can, just as I have in high school and in everything I’ve done.”
Western Dubuque had one more 3A finalist than the Metro and Iowa City areas. It was the first time Cedar Rapids, Marion and Iowa City weren’t represented in the championship matches since 1982.
Cedar Rapids Prairie placed third, leading the Mississippi Valley Conference with eight medalists. The Hawks advanced four to the semifinals but stumbled in each. Prairie rebounded with a strong consolation round Saturday.
“We challenged the kids last night,” Prairie coach Blake Williams said. “They were all kind of down after a difficult round and encouraged them to end on a high note.”
Senior heavyweight Andrew Netolicky led the way, claiming his third state medal. Netolicky won his final two matches, including a 1-0 win over Southeast Polk’s Jake Scanlan in the placing match. Netolicky was indicative of the senior class, which made huge contributions to the Prairie program from their very first year.
Fellow seniors River Whitters (160), Cam Rathje (170) and 195-pounder Casey Becker earned medals. Rathje and Becker won their final matches, placing fifth and seventh, respectively. Whitters placed sixth.
“It’s good. I’m proud of the kids, especially those seniors,” Williams said. “Three of the four finished with a win. River Whitters had a great tournament.”
Freshman Sam Uthoff overcame a knee injury suffered during Wednesday’s State Duals to place seventh at 106. Junior Trey Blaha reached the semifinals at 138 and placed fourth. Skyler St. John was fifth at 145.
Linn-Mar entered as a contender for a state trophy with 12 qualifiers. The Lions struggled at times during the tournament but still placed fifth with 83 ½ points. They still had six medalists, but walking away without a team trophy was disappointing.
“We were very inconsistent,” Linn-Mar coach Doug Streicher said. “We were flat at times. It was not the fight that I want in certain matches and then we’d come out of it. It was not a real solid effort throughout, but at times we did.”
Streicher did not have an explanation, but will try to identify one in the future.
“If I knew the answer to that I’d be a millionaire,” Streicher said. “We thought we were ready and after our district. We will have to reassess.”
Senior 145-pounder Joel Northrup powered the Lions. He placed third for the third time in four years. He entered the tournament unbeaten and finished 52-1, rebounding after a shocking quarterfinal loss.
“For a senior to go through that in the quarters and battle back for third says a lot about his character,” Streicher said.
Lions Matt Wempen, a 2012 state champion, was fourth at 113. Alijah Jeffery (120) and Andrew Holladay (182) placed fifth. It was Jeffery’s third straight medal, placing third the last two seasons.
Damon Griffin (126) and 220-pounder Justin Green each placed sixth for the Lions.
Iowa City West earned a top-10 team finish. The Trojans had three semifinalists, who all placed third.
Kegan Wakefield capped a fine career with his third medal, placing second as a sophomore and seventh last year. Wakefield waved and blew a kiss in appreciation to his supporters in the crowd after an overtime win against Blaha to end his Trojan career.
Chris Walters was third at 126 after a state runner-up performance last year for Prairie. He topped former teammate Wenger in his final match. Mickey Pelfrey placed third for West at 220.
Cedar Rapids Washington’s Zac Gillis earned a state medal in his first real season as a varsity wrestler. He placed fifth at heavyweight, becoming the Warriors’ fourth state placewinner at the weight class since 2005. Gillis missed tying the Warriors’ single-season win record by one, ending at 39-6.
Cedar Rapids Jefferson junior Michael Moncivais placed sixth at 132 in his state tournament debut. He opened the tournament with two pins to reach the semifinals and ended the season at 33-14.
Iowa City High’s Ryan Maas reached the podium. Maas advanced to the semifinals and placed fourth at 220, finishing with a 41-6 mark.