DES MOINES – Solon’s Lance Evans made it look easy.
He was dominant most of the tournament and didn’t surrender a point in his last match. The Spartans’ three-time state medalist showed the toughness that has marked his prep career.
Evans said he battled mononucleosis the entire week, but still captured the 220-pound title of the Iowa High School Athletic Association Class 2A state wrestling tournament Saturday night at Wels Fargo Arena.
The Solon top-ranked senior record two pins and a technical fall before beating Mount Vernon’s No. 2 Josh Cannon, 3-0, in the final.
“All the hard work I’ve put in paid off,” Evans said. “Everything I had to go through, it’s pretty special.”
Evans (31-0) and the Solon coaches tried to take steps, helping him conserve energy during the tournament. He didn’t bother with warm-ups and spend any unnecessary time at the arena when he was done wrestling.
“I’ve been doing all I could to keep my strength,” Evans said after the championship, which was his only state match to go all six minutes. “I went right back to the hotel after matches.”
Illness isn’t the only thing he has had to overcome in his career. Earlier this year, he fought through a high-ankle sprain. It paled compared to returning from torn femoral cartilage his junior season, preventing him from wrestling the regular season. He rehabbed and came back for the 2013 postseason, placing fifth at 195. He never wavered from his goal.
“This was always in my mind,” said Evans, who was seventh at 182 as a sophomore. “All the rehab I did, I told myself it was all for a state title.”
It happened to be Solon’s first state title since Cody Kroul won the 189-pound 2A title in 2004, and just the third in school history. Evans said Kroul helps with coaching staff and he has made an impact on Evans.
“It’s been great training with the last state champion,” Evans said. “It means a lot to do it again.”
Solon is a neighbor to Lisbon and Mount Vernon. All three programs boasted individual champions this year. It was the first time all three crowned an individual champion since 2004 with the Spartans’ Kroul, Lisbon’s Ryan Morningstar (1A 152) and Mustang duo Jacob Craig (2A 171) and Matt Kroul (2A heavyweight) earning titles.
Lisbon’s Nick Williams (1A 120) and Carter Happel (1A 132) and Mount Vernon’s Trey Ryan (2A 170) claimed titles this season with Evans.