Lisbon hoisted the trophy that it has to hand back.
A title performance that might have seemed unlikely in their first appearance in the Tri-Rivers Conference wrestling tournament turned out to be that exactly.
Lisbon was originally crowned team champion Saturday at Lisbon, but when the scoring was questioned a mistake in the tally was identified and Class 1A top-ranked Alburnett received another conference championship. Tri-Rivers Conference Activities Director Phil Steffen released revised scoring Wednesday afternoon that corrected the error, changing a two-point Lisbon win to a 244-239 Alburnett advantage.
The original results were protested by Alburnett Coach Kane Thompson immediately after the meet. Thompson said correspondence between him and tournament officials Monday traced the error to an incorrect setting in the computer program that scored the event.
Lisbon Coach Brad Smith, Thompson and a scoring official confirmed Wednesday a field was incorrectly selected to score advancement points according to Iowa High School Athletic Association sectional competition, instead of those under National Federation of State High School Associations guidelines. First-round byes were awarded points regardless of the outcome of the next match, but should have been awarded if they won the following bout.
Smith said he was informed by Lisbon Athletics Director Lance Kamaus about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday of the official reversal.
“I feel bad for our kids,” Smith said. “They were excited.”
Thompson was glad things were cleared up.
“It was a simple mistake,” Thompson said. “Nobody is at fault.”
The final decision doesn’t overshadow the Lions’ performance. Lisbon’s Nick Williams (120), top-ranked 132-pounder Carter Happel and Jordan Woodward at 182 claimed individual titles. The Lions were powered by a balanced performance, including seven finalists and all 14 wrestlers fourth or better. The way they responded to tough semifinal round with a 12-1 mark in consolation matches, posting nine falls and two major decisions.
“We had so many kids contribute,” Lisbon Coach Brad Smith said. “I can’t say enough of them.”
Woodward scored an important 7-5 victory over Alburnett’s Austin Hoyle, receiving four penalty points, according to Smith. Also, Happel earned his second win over the season over Alburnett’s Hunter Washburn in a battle of state champions. Happel won, 3-0.
The Lions made huge strides from the start of the season, which is the second year back for the Hall of Fame coach. He coached Lisbon from 1979-91, leading City High from 1992-2011. He said the team was average a year ago, but depth has improved. The Lions have more than 20 wrestlers in its renovated wrestling facility. Smith expects the numbers to climb to more than 30 with strong junior classes, which would resemble his 1980′s teams.
The current Lisbon squad had won its previous three tournaments and is 20-5 overall in duals, suffering two losses to Alburnett in early December.
“I just tell my kids if you take baby steps and just keep getting better,” Smith said. “It’s really interesting to see how our kids have progressed.”
Work ethic has a lot to do with the improvements. Smith said he enjoys working with the Lisbon kids again. They listen well and respond to any challenge Smith or other coaches present.
“They show up for practice every day and they don’t have excuses,” said Smith, who praised assistant Greg Butteris and volunteers Jeff Clark, Shane Light and J.J. Butteris for their help with the wrestlers, especially in practice. “I can push them as hard as I want to and they don’t complain. That makes my job that much easier.”
The Lions are ranked eighth. In addition to Happel, Williams is ranked second and conference runner-up Matt Montgomery is seventh at 195. Smith said they could contend for a state trophy in Des Moines in they can get about five wrestlers through a tough postseason road that starts at home Saturday.
“We’re peaking,” Smith said. “We still have a lot left, so things are looking good for us. We’re excited.”
Center Point-Urbana’s Brock Rathbun recorded a little revenge along with a Wamac Conference title Saturday at Independence. He avenged a loss in last year’s conference and state finals to West Delaware’s Pat Woods with an 8-3 victory in the 113-pound title.
Woods, a returning Class 2A state champion, beat Rathbun, 6-2, in the 106-pound conference final last year, pinning him in the first period for the 2A crown.
Rathbun reversed all that Saturday, improving to 36-0 and 71-3 already for his career. The second-ranked Stormin’ Pointer sophomore used a headlock for a five-point move in the closing seconds of the first period, handing he top-ranked Woods his first loss in 38 matches this season.
10 and counting?
Waverly-Shell Rock reach a milestone when it comes to success in the Northeast Iowa Conference. The Class 3A second-ranked Go-Hawks won their 10th straight team title at the NEIC tournament Saturday in Decorah.
The Go-Hawks had eight champions, including the six heaviest weights, and 11 finalists. All 14 WSR wrestlers placed fifth over better, tallying 266 points and beating runner-up Charles City by 50 1/2 points.
The last team to capture an NEIC team title since the Go-Hawks run was New Hampton in 2004. Charles City was the last NEIC champion in consecutive years, winning titles in 2001 and 2002.