Trojans, Mustangs denied in conference finals
DENVER — Hunter Pfantz won’t make any excuses for himself, and he won’t ask anyone else to either.
After finishing fifth, second and third in his first three trips to the North Iowa Cedar League Conference Wrestling Tournament, the West Marshall senior expected more than ever before.
But after a week-long illness, Pfantz found himself on the short end of a 10-7 decision in the 126-pound championship match and again on the second step of the podium Saturday at the Denver Athletic Complex.
Union Community sophomore Lake LeBahn (27-11) bested Pfantz, ranked fifth in Class 2A by The Predicament, thanks to a 3-0 scoring advantage in the third period of their title bout. Pfantz led 5-3 after the first period before LeBahn’s comeback began over the second half of the match, culminating with a third period that West Marshall’s only ranked wrestler could not overcome.
“My expectation was to come in, do what I’m supposed to do, do what I usually do which is come in and win, walk out happy, and that’s obviously not the case today,” said Pfantz (36-5). “He beat me fair and square, it was a good match, I’ll give it to him. I beat him in the past, he beat me today, I’ll beat him at state if I ever see him again.”
Pfantz had cruised into the championship round, starting with a bye before collecting a pair of pins over Zane Nelson of Gladbrook-Reinbeck/North Tama and Owen Kime of Sumner-Fredericksburg. But a long day ended in disappointment for the four-time medalist and three-time state qualifier.
“It definitely makes it harder since I’ve never won conference,” Pfantz said. “It’s definitely been a goal since my freshman year walking in. The NICL is a really tough conference and it would just mean a lot if I ended up winning my senior year, but it just didn’t happen so onto the next, back to work.”
Pfantz was one of two West Marshall finalists in the conference meet Saturday, as senior 220-pounder Ben Krafka capitalized on a pair of free passes into the semifinals before scoring a 4-1 decision over Union’s Rashawn Williams.
In the finals, Krafka more than tripled his initial experience on the mat with Hudson senior Cameron Fulcher. Fulcher improved to 24-2 with a pin of Krafka in 1 minute, 12 seconds. In their first meeting this season, Krafka (26-16) lasted just 21 seconds with Fulcher during dual-meet competition.
West Marshall finished ahead of the rest of the Marshalltown-area schools, scoring seventh place with 107 points. East Marshall/GMG was ninth (74), South Hardin-BCLUW was 10th (68), AGWSR was 11th (43) and Gladbrook-Reinbeck/North Tama was last out of 14 teams (19).
The Trojans had 11 placewinners in all, as Pfantz and Krafka were followed by Jacob Vawter (113) and Cael Kline (160) in fourth place and Grant Nason (132) and Levi Randall (170) in fifth.
East Marshall/GMG, like its cross-county counterpart, had two finalists as well. Dawson Riemenschneider was seeded atop the 138-pound bracket, while Noah Bandstra was seeded second at 170. Both found themselves on the bottom side of the scoreboard in their championship matches, though both had enough perspective to accept defeat in hopes of learning something they can apply down the road during sectionals, districts and perhaps even state.
Riemenschneider, a senior, scored the first takedown of his 138 final with Union freshman Adam Ahrendsen, but the youngster scored a reverse in the second period for a 3-2 lead. Trailing in the third period, Riemenschneider panicked and found himself trying to throw a known thrower and wound up getting pinned in 5:20.
“I went into the match telling myself I didn’t want him to get the legs in or throw me, and I just tried to throw him which was just not using my head,” said Riemenschneider (26-12). “Maybe if I wrestle him again at sectionals I’ll use my head for once and I should be able to make it a better match and maybe beat him.”
Riemenschneider, who wrestled most of the season at 145 pounds, came down a weight class to start his postseason run only a short time ago. He opened his day with a bye and two pins — West Marshall’s Wyatt Edler and Jesup’s Keaton Roscovious — before falling in the 138 finals.
“I knew that [Ahrendsen] was a thrower so that’s why me trying to throw him didn’t really make any sense,” said Riemenschneider. “I had the single [leg] up and kind of ditched it and went for the throw when I should have stuck with my regular moves.
“I wanted to place again, obviously I would have liked to win it, but I did get one place higher than last year so I guess that’s an improvement.”
While Riemenschneider gets to savor the possibility of squaring off with at sectionals next Saturday in Van Horne, Bandstra won’t have that chance. Denver, no longer wrestling with Tripoli, is a big fish in the 1A pond, so Bandstra and the Mustangs are done with the Cyclones for the rest of the season.
The East Marshall/GMG junior, who last year was a runner-up at 160, stood on the same step following his 8-5 loss to fourth-ranked Cael Krueger of Denver in the 170 championship match.
“I wrestled him right before Christmas … and he pinned me, so I caught up a little ground but I’m still not satisfied,” said Bandstra (33-5), who is ranked 10th by IAwrestle.com. “It’s still a good stepping stone. Conference to me is a good place to see where you’re at, but it’s still practice before the show next week. I’ll learn from my mistakes and hopefully clean it up for next week.”
Bandstra trailed 2-0 after the first period but quickly escaped in the second and got a takedown for a brief 3-2 lead. Krueger (38-2) countered with an escape of his own to tie things up before taking control in the third. He escaped 10 seconds into the final period and tacked on two takedowns for an 8-5 decision.
“I know that you can’t wrestle defensively and win matches, and that’s what I did,” said Bandstra. “I kind of got caught up in the fact [Krueger] is such a long, lengthy kid who likes to shoot from space, so I tried to wrestle defensively and I don’t think I took any shots the whole match. Obviously if you’re not going to shoot, you’re not going to win.”
An upset would have stunned the hometown crowd, as the Cyclones cruised to the team title with five champions and 238.5 points, but Bandstra still kept the idea in the back of his mind after collecting a quarterfinal pin and a 3-1 decision in the semifinals over Wapsie Valley’s Ben Weepie.
“That was definitely in my mind the whole night, especially in the semifinals I was looking forward to [the finals] because I wanted my revenge,” Bandstra said. “That was definitely one of the driving factors in practice the last couple weeks.”
Riemenschneider and Bandstra set the tone for a Mustang group overwhelmed by illness. East Marshall/GMG sent just six wrestlers to the conference meet and five of them placed, much to head coach Todd Hinegardner’s liking. Josh Terrones took fourth at 132, while Dane Thompson (120) and Connor Murty (182) both finished fifth.
“I was kind of tickled,” Hinegardner said. “I was kind of hoping we’d be up a couple of spots, maybe beat some of them kids we shouldn’t, but I was proud of the guys today.”
The only other area finalist belonged to AGWSR, as Cougar freshman Trey Lashbrook worked through a solid bracket to reach the 113 title round. Lashbrook, who entered the NICL tournament on a 25-match win streak, pushed that number to 27 with a 13-0 major decision of Sumner-Fredericksburg’s Spencer Matt and a 6-3 semifinal thriller over South Hardin-BCLUW’s Taylor Kolthoff.
In the finals, Lashbrook collided with Denver’s ninth-ranked sophomore Jacob Moore, who claimed his second NICL title in as many years with an 11-3 major decision.
Lashbrook (36-2) held a 3-2 lead midway through the contest before the Cyclone underclassman came away with the last nine points of the match, closing with three nearfall points before the final whistle.
Of AGWSR’s five wrestlers, four of them placed. Brody Roder (145) and Dayton Haley (160) were fifth while Ali Gerbracht (106) was seventh.
Kolthoff, who last year was runner-up at 106 to Denver’s Moore, came up shy of the 113 finals but rebounded to place third after a 6-2 decision of Vawter in the consolation finals.
All seven South Hardin-BCLUW wrestlers placed on the day led by Kolthoff. Koty Kruse (145) and Owen Fuller (182) finished fourth, Neifer Ralston (132) and Ryne Fuller (285) were sixth, Michael Fuller (152) was seventh and Hunter Allen (120) came away eighth.
Three of Gladbrook-Reinbeck/North Tama’s four wrestlers in attendance took home sixth-place medals for their efforts, as Zane Nelson (126), Cory Isenhower (138) and Bronson Wrage (195) scored for the RebelHawks.
NICL Conference Tournament
Team Standings — 1. Denver 238.5, 2. Union Community 172, 3. Sumner-Fredericksburg 147, 4. Wapsie Valley 146, 5. Hudson 127.5, 6. Dike-New Hartford 121, 7. West Marshall 107, 8. Jesup 87.5, 9. East Marshall/GMG 74, 10. South Hardin-BCLUW 68, 11. AGWSR 43, 12. Aplington-Parkersburg/Grundy Center 33, 13. Waterloo Columbus 32, 14. Gladbrook-Reinbeck/North Tama 19.
1st — Brooks Meyer (DEN) 34-6, fr., over Kolten Crawford (U) 32-8, fr., (Fall :35); 3rd — Carter Littlefield (J) 32-6, so., over Sam Hackett (WC) 20-18, fr., (Fall :23).
1st — Jacob Moore (DEN) 17-1, so., over Trey Lashbrook (AGWSR) 36-2, fr., (MD 11-3); 3rd — Taylor Kolthoff (SH-BCLUW) 26-6, so., over Jacob Vawter (WM) 18-11, so., (Dec 6-2).
1st — Jack Thomsen (U) 37-2, so., over Isaac Schimmels (DEN) 32-10, fr., (MD 13-4); 3rd — Grant Bixby (DNH) 29-12, jr., over Cayle Huebner (WV) 19-16, so., (MD 9-1).
1st — Lake LeBahn (U) 27-11, so., over Hunter Pfantz (WM) 36-5, sr., (Dec 10-7); 3rd — Reese Welcher (WV) 27-10, so., over Owen Kime (S-F) 23-12, fr., (Fall 3:06).
1st — Donny Schmit (WV) 37-2, sr., over Gabriel Lewis (DEN) 27-3, so., (Dec 3-0); 3rd — Colten Dralle (S-F) 17-16, so., over Josh Terrones (EM/GMG) 15-16, jr., (Dec 4-2).
1st — Adam Ahrendsen (U) 32-11, fr., over Dawson Riemenschneider (EM/GMG) 26-12, sr., (Fall 5:21); 3rd — Keaton Roscovious (J) 17-18, so., over Brett Meyer (S-F) 28-16, jr., (Inj. 3:30).
1st — Colin Schrader (WV) 32-6, sr., over Izik Rodriguez (HUD) 28-12, jr., (Fall 3:14); 3rd — Kaleb Brouwer (DNH) 16-11, fr., over Koty Kruse (SH-BCLUW) 24-17, jr., (Dec 13-6).
1st — Caleb Wilson (DEN) 40-4, sr., over Nathan Hyde (WV) 17-7, jr., (TF-1.5 3:45 (15-0)); 3rd — Izak Krueger (J) 23-11, so., over Kaleb Roach (U) 16-15, jr., (Dec 11-9).
1st — John Ebaugh (DEN) 29-9, so., over Ethan Fulcher (HUD) 32-4, so., (MD 14-5); 3rd — Treyten Steffen (S-F) 31-12, so., over Cael Kline (WM) 21-18, fr., (Fall 3:31).
1st — Cael Krueger (DEN) 38-2, jr., over Noah Bandstra (EM/GMG) 33-5, jr., (Dec 8-5); 3rd — Ben Weepie (WV) 25-9, sr., over Payton Pelke (U) 31-11, sr., (MD 15-5).
1st — Hunter Maitland (AP-GC) 29-7, sr., over Weiland Steffen (S-F) 35-6, jr., (Dec 7-4); 3rd — Lane Albertsen (U) 28-13, jr., over Owen Fuller (SH-BCLUW) 29-14, jr., (Fall 2:47).
1st — Wes Geisler (HUD) 38-0, sr., over Trevor Dorn (DEN) 29-12, so., (Fall 1:26); 3rd — Brock Meyer (S-F) 35-7, sr., over Daniel Graves (DNH) 13-5, jr., (Dec 6-2).
1st — Cameron Fulcher (HUD) 24-2, sr., over Ben Krafka (WM) 26-16, sr., (Fall 1:12); 3rd — Rashawn Williams (U) 24-16, jr., over Brad Cunningham (DNH) 16-20, jr., (Dec 3-1).
1st — Brian Sadler (J) 36-0, sr., over Chase Ahrends (DNH) 33-3, sr., (Fall 2:19); 3rd — Brock Farley (DEN) 36-7, jr., over Dawson Ellingson (HUD) 36-4, sr., (Fall 5:13).