MANCHESTER – Independence opened the season with a brand new wrestling facility with fancy state of the art features.
The Mustangs have a new banner to hang on the wall.
Ninth-ranked Independence beat No. 5 West Delaware, 32-30, in the finals of the Iowa High School Athletic Association Class 2A regional dual Wednesday night at West Delaware. The Mustangs earned their first State Duals appearance since 2009. The State Duals is Wednesday, Feb. 19 at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
The banner might be destined for the Mustangs’ gymnasium but it would be a nice complement to that practice room.
“We have to add to it as much as we can,” Independence Coach Michael Doyle said. “It wasn’t very pretty but a win is a win.”
Not just a win, but a significant win. Not only did it secure the first State Duals berth in five years, it came at the expense of their rival, who the seniors had not beaten until this season. It made the achievement a little sweeter.
“We beat them three times this year,” Doyle said. “That’s really gratifying, I think.
“You want to beat everybody but to beat your rival three times in one year and to have the final one to go to state tournament is something those seniors will remember for a really long time.”
Drew Davis will remember it as well. He took the mat with two matches left and Independence (25-5) holding a 29-24 lead. The team’s fate teetered on his result.
Davis posted a 4-0 win over Logan Reilly at 120, securing the Mustangs regional dual title. He was mobbed by teammates on the side of the mat.
“I just went out there and tried my hardest,” Davis said. “It allowed us to win and go to state. I’m sure everyone is proud of me.”
He scored a reversal and two nearfall points at the end of the second period, which was the difference. He went for a move, knowing it could be all or nothing. He was confident once he hit the move.
“I was thinking we’re going to win this thing,” Davis said. “I knew I could win it.”
After falling down, 10-0, Chase Straw (145) and Jake Juhl gave Independence its first lead at 11-10 with a technical fall and pin.
The Mustangs used three straight wins and four in a five-match stretch to take control of the dual. Kyle Fank started it with a first period fall at 182 and Matt McMillan and Jason Grover recorded decisions at 195 and 220. Jacob Wolfe received a forfeit at 106 to take a 29-20 team lead.
Doyle said the Mustangs are young, but have been in their share of nail biters. The approach is to go out and wrestle hard and Doyle was proud of their response.
“They just kept fighting and battling,” he said. “Usually, if they do that good things will happen.”
The Hawks (17-8) were able to cut into Independence’s margin of victory from almost two weeks ago, but not enough to return to Des Moines.
“That doesn’t matter to cut down margin,” West Delaware Coach Jeff Voss said. “We came here to win and we didn’t get it done.”
The only match West Delaware was able to overturn from the Del-Buc Trophy dual was at heavyweight. The Hawks’ Richie Heveron scored an escape in ultimate tiebreaker to beat Mitch Ciesielski, 3-2, making the score 23-20.
Connor Wickman (132) and Beau Vaske (138) opened with a fall and major decision, giving West Delaware a 10-0 lead after two. Jake Voss (160) and state champ Pat Woods at 113 added major decisions for the Hawks.
The Mustangs defeated No. 8 Charles City, 46-26. Independence overcame an 18-0 deficit after the first three matches. Matt McMillan scored an overtime win at 195, giving the Mustangs its first lead at 22-21 with five matches remaining, and Nick Holt (160), Kyle Fank (182), Jason Grover (220), heavyweight Mitch Ciesielski and Mitch Evens at 113 all added falls.
West Delaware reached the final with a 38-30 win over 15th-ranked Union Community (25-5). The Hawks won five of the last eight bouts, receiving pins from Brent Lammers (170), Colin Weber (220) and Woods.