DES MOINES - Nothing is a given in sports. And nothing is a given when wrestlers - even the best in the state - fight for a state championship at the Iowa High School State Wrestling Championships.
Unfortunately for South Tama County senior Erik Lux, he found out the hard way.
Lux, the defending champion in Class 2A at 160 pounds, suffered his first loss of the season when he was upset in the opening round by eighth-ranked Jack Leshen of Grinnell.
T-R PHOTO BY TROY HYDE
South Tama County senior Erik Lux was defeated for the first time this year when he lost a 6-3 decision to Grinnell’s Jack Leshen in the opening round of Class 2A 170-pound action at the Iowa High School State Wrestling Championships in Des Moines.
With the match tied at 3 with 30 seconds to go, Leshen was handed an escape and then also recorded a late takedown to seal his 6-3 victory.
"He had high goals but everyone is tough when you get down here," South Tama County coach Nate Van Dyk said of Lux. "Crazy stuff happens. He wasn't the only defending champion to lose today."
Lux earned a pin on the backside of the bracket to stay alive and can still walk up the medal stand Saturday.
His teammate - junior Kolton Smith (32-11) - won his opening match at 160 pounds to move on in the championship bracket and will wrestle in the quarterfinals today against Jacob Van Ginkel of Waterloo Christian.
South Tama's other wrestler was senior Levi Kaufman (35-8) and he also went 1-1 and will wrestle tomorrow. He dropped his first match 8-2 to West Delaware's Jake Voss (43-3) but came back to win a 4-2 decision in sudden victory over Forest City's John Lawton.
"Glad to still have three guys still here," Van Dyk said. "Kolton is a very good athlete and we knew this would come eventually. We didn't see this as an upset. We came here expecting to win."
Both East Marshall/GMG wrestlers will be back at it today. Junior Zach Underhill (120) and senior Jay Reisetter (39-4) both lost their opening-round match but bounced back to stay alive on the back side.
"Both guys had pretty tough draws, so we are just happy to still be wrestling," East Marshall/GMG coach Troy Underhill said. "We knew Jay's match would be close. And things won't be easy for either one of them (today)."
Reisetter, ranked No. 7 lost a 3-2 decision to third-ranked Steven Holloway of Mediapolis in round one but then rallied to earn a pin in the elimination match.
"I like Jay," Coach Underhill said. "That (Holloway) kid he lost to will likely be in the state championship match."
Zach Underhill faced off with top-ranked and undefeated Leighton Gaul of New Hampton in the opener and lost 12-0. But he stayed alive at 120 with a win by fall in the third period. And the 35th pin of the season for Underhill ties a school record.
"It feels good to still be wrestling and to get a win here," Zach Underhill said. "I just need to wrestle my heart out (today). All it takes is hard work."
Coach Underhill said his son had a tough, emotional season last year losing his best friend in a car accident. It was gratifying for Zach to get to state and earning a win was just icing on the cake.
"Just getting here for Zach was the goal," Coach Underhill said. "He broke the ice by clinching the berth to state. All the pressure was off him after that. He got a horrible draw but he is still alive."
Lux will now have to wrestle his way through the back side of the bracket to get on the medal stand. But the future Northern Iowa Panther looked really good in round two when he scored a second-period pin. He led 4-0 with two early takedowns and had a 7-3 advantage when the pin occurred.
"He showed good character by coming back and taking care of business," Van Dyk said. "He didn't pout and didn't think about that other match too long. He wanted another title and he worked hard to get it, but he was able to bounce back. Sometimes the guy that comes all the way through from the back side and takes third is the toughest guy in the tournament."
South Hardin-BCLUW sophomore Blake Cooper also competed Wednesday but went 0-2 at 195 and was eliminated. He suffered two first-period pins and ended his season with a 17-21 record.
Davenport Assumption leads the Class 2A team standings with 30 points. West Delaware (23), Charles City (22.5) and Mediapolis (20) are all 10 points off the lead. Wins today by any of the wrestlers still remaining in the tournament will guarantee them a spot on the medal stand. A loss though in the opening match today eliminates them from the tournament all together. Gaul was third at 113 last year and four at 112 the season before.