Close, Hageman in for Marshalltown matmen

PHOTO PROVIDED - MHS wrestlers Bennett Hageman, left, and Austin Close qualified for state wrestling at Saturday’s district meet in Waverly.

WAVERLY — The Marshalltown wrestling team walked away from the Class 3A District 8 district meet with two state qualifiers on Saturday night.

Bobcat freshman Austin Close won his bracket at 182 pounds to earn his first trip to Wells Fargo Arena, while junior Bennett Hageman joins Close as a first-time state qualifier after placing second at 120.

Close (19-14) was seeded first in his bracket and received a bye in the opening round. He then went to work in the semifinals and pinned Ryan Cook from Cedar Rapids Xavier three seconds before the end of the second period.

Close trailed Jacob Nicolas from Ames in the third period of the finals, but he eventually reversed the role and put Nicolas on his back for a pin 51 seconds into the third period.

Marshalltown head coach Mike Mann said Close, who was the first freshman to win a district since Jacob Groth in 2004 for MHS, had an outstanding day and earned his place in the state meet.

“He’s do or die guy and sure enough he was down in the finals, go thrown to his back and almost got pinned, fought off it like numerous times,” Mann said. He had a bloody nose issue, so we had three times to talk to him and he was down 5-2, told him to not quit, no idea what will happen. Talked to him after and asked what was it, he said kid was would give him an opportunity. He reached and hung onto his head, got a freshman district champ. Hasn’t happened since 04.

“It’s kind of crazy, you usually don’t get freshmen at bigger weights but it was one of those times and he had the good enough record. He’s a yo-yo guy, he gets pinned or pins and he was on fire today. He’s got something mentally about him where he has to find a way to win. Just trying to create and opportunity, some of those things you don’t teach. He has that ‘it’ factor.”

Hageman (20-12) was seeded second and started his day with a 6-0 decision win over Zack Barnett from Waverly-Shell Rock in the quarterfinals. Hageman then beat Amarreon Sykes from Waterloo West with a second-period pin in the semifinals, but he lost to two-time state champion and The Predicament’s Class 3A No. 1 wrestler at 120, Cullen Schriever from Mason City, by a 4-0 decision.

Hageman bounced back well in the second-place match, however, with a 6-0 decision over Reese Dietz from Cedar Falls.

“Bennett powered through it,” Mann said. “It was interesting the two-time defending champ was in a boot at the [CIML Conference meet]and just got out of his cast, he limped through it. Kid’s a tough cookie, Bennett only lost to him 4-0. Then he handled the Cedar Falls kid to get to state.”

Zach Bitker (22-10), who came in ranked No. 6 at 126, ended up in fourth and missed out on a second-straight trip to the state meet. He was beaten by an 11-5 decision by Chryshaun Taylor from Waterloo East in the semifinals, then in the third-place match Bitker lost to Dylan Whitt from Cedar Falls by a 5-0.

Jordan Anderson (23-5), ranked No. 9 at heavyweight, had a tough draw to begin with. He was the third-highest ranked competitor in his bracket, with Andrew Snyder from Waverly-Shell Rock (No. 3) and Troy Monahan from Mason City (No. 2) both in his way. Anderson lost to Snyder in the semifinals by a 7-2 decision, then made the second-place match but was pinned by Monahan in overtime to end his season in third place at the district meet.

Carson Williams at 195 and Coltin Grimm at 160 both also placed third, while Gannon Williams at 170 and Julian Gomez at 220 both finished in fourth.

Team Standings — 1. Waverly-Shell Rock 285.5, 2. Cedar Falls 188, 3. Marshalltown 134, 4. Waterloo West 118, 5. Mason City 117, 6. Cedar Rapids Xavier 108, 7. Ames 80, 8. Waterloo East 77.