East’s Meling, West’s Pfantz moving on
DES MOINES — Nick Meling will be the first to tell anyone there’s no room for error at the state tournament.
Abiding by his own code of conduct, Meling wrestled past Assumption’s Jacob Felderman in the first round of the 120 bracket at the Iowa High School Wrestling Championships on Thursday, a confident 6-2 decision.
The East Marshall/GMG senior continuously recognizes the gravity of the event he’s participating in, but combats the nerves with perspective and talent on the mats.
“I knew coming in that matches are close down here, and that you’ve got to wrestle your best,” Meling said. “The nerves get to everybody, no matter who you are. Undefeated or not, nerves get to you. I had to come down here and wrestle this as just another match.”
Meling didn’t have much trouble with Felderman after he got his second takedown in the second period to go up 4-2.
Another tackle for points in the third gave Meling just the right amount of confidence to stay humble but poised. With a minor upset in the bracket below him, Meling will tussle with No. 4 Shea Ruffridge (Pocahontas Area) in the quarterfinal round at 120.
East Marshall/GMG head coach Todd Hinegardner said Meling will have to stay his course if he wants to remain on the championship side of the bracket.
“He’s got to realize he’s got to keep doing what he does, and do it well,” Hinegardner said. “He doesn’t do a lot of things, but he stays in position and keeps the pace and tempo. He’s in better shape and condition than anyone I know. His forte is to push the pace and stay in position.”
The biggest key for Meling will be letting his muscles do the thinking for him. On a few occasions this year, Hinegardner said he’s been able to tell when Meling is ‘in the zone,’ and once the match finishes, it’s a complete blur for the Mustang senior.
“He’s got a good single, but he’s a position guy,” Hinegardner said. “But he’s been in the zone this year. And I’ve asked him after a match if he remembers anything. Hopefully, that’s what we’ve got to pull out of him tomorrow. Just flow. He should be able to walk off that mat not remembering a thing, because he’s just that kind of instinctive kid.”
The Mustangs also touted 138-pounder Dawson Riemenschneider at this year’s state meet. “Remmy” as Hinegardner calls him, took a tough draw in the first round. A 23-6 tech fall sent the East Marshall/GMG junior to the backside of the 138 bracket.
“For Remmy, it was just a learning process for him,” Hinegardner said. “Just get him down here and soak this all up; feel the pressures and crowd, the energy, and then step on the mat and compete. He faced a pretty decent kid in the first round, for Remmy. In the last match here, I knew it’d be a close match, and it comes back to a few little things.”
Riemenschneider took another loss to Trevor Marlin (Creston/O-M) a narrow 7-4 decision that just slipped away from the junior.
“He felt the pain of it, and that’s a good thing,” Hinegardner said. “He cared. And he’s willing to listen a little bit afterwards and I told him to absorb it. Spend the next two days here, absorb everything you can. Watch some 38-pounders be successful. I call it being a sponge.”
West Marshall’s Hunter Pfantz will be moving on to the consolation side of the bracket at 113.
Pfantz had a heartbreaking loss to No. 10 Kole Hansen in the first round. Pfantz led 7-1 early in the third period. But Hansen kept wheeling, earning two takedowns to make it 7-5 with 19 seconds to go.
As time expired, Hansen was awarded a three-point nearfall, handing the West Marshall junior an 8-7 loss. Head coach Todd Klein as well as Pfantz fell to their knees in disbelief as the final buzzer sounded.
Pfantz rebounded, however, and after getting a takedown to take a 5-3 lead, he was able to get a pin in 5 minutes, 6 seconds and move on in consolation play.
South Hardin-BCLUW’s Ian Showers was not as lucky, taking two losses in the first two rounds and being eliminated from the state tournament.
Showers drew No. 4 Kaleb Olejniczak (Perry) in the first round, and suffered a 9-3 decision defeat. On the back end, Showers slowed up and was pinned in 1:46, ending his senior-season campaign.
Class 2A quarterfinals and consolations begin at 2:30 p.m. with the quarter final matchups. Second round consolations will follow the 3A semifinals and third round consolations.