South Tama captures Mustang Duals crown
LE GRAND — On a day in which it seemed the outcome of every dual meet hung in the balance of a handful of matches, it was only fitting for the team champion to be determined by a tiebreaker.
More times than not on Saturday at the East Marshall/GMG Duals, South Tama County was on the right side of the dividing line.
The South Tama wrestling team went 2-0 in pool play and 1-1 in the championship bracket, beating Class 2A No. 9 Union Community to force an eventual tie atop the standings with North Polk. Having edged out the Comets in a one-point dual during Pool A competition, the Trojans were deemed tournament champions for their first team title in two seasons.
“It was hard-fought, it was good to see us wrestle tough in duals this time of year because your younger wrestlers that you’re bringing along, it’s late in the season and they start realizing it’s tougher than what they thought it was going to be,” STC head coach Nathan Van Dyke said. “Just mentally it’s tough to wrestle duals for the younger guys who maybe were in junior high or junior varsity last year.”
Tournament host East Marshall/GMG (17-4) went 0-2 in its pool but broke even for the day by beating both Collins-Maxwell and Benton Community in the consolation bracket. The Mustangs were a match away from beating both North Polk and South Tama during Pool A play, but an injury sustained on Thursday night caught up with EM/GMG on Saturday morning.
Mustang head coach Todd Hinegardner said the absense of Tim Benson from the lineup might have meant the difference between 2-0 and 0-2, but wasn’t overly concerned with the day’s results.
“We weren’t in too bad a shape, we just didn’t match up well with a few teams,” he said. “It’s all matcups in this dual thing. We’re going through a little spell right now where we’re just a little flat, a little complacent.”
Winter weather cancellations have prevented East Marshall/GMG from squaring off with some of the better competition on its schedule, including Benton Community’s Jerry Eckenrod Invite from two weeks ago.
“I need to change our schedule for next year a little bit just to see better competition,” Hinegardner added. “We’re a young team. I’m happy with what they’re doing, but I think we could have done a little better today. But that’s sports.
“We’ve got a good little young team, I’m very proud of them, today wasn’t our best day but I kind of figured this might happen.”
The Mustangs opened on the short side of a 37-30 opener against North Polk, while South Tama opened with a bye because Washington backed out of the tournament. The Trojans began by beating EM/GMG 41-34, propelled by Kalem Schrock’s third-period pin over Isrrael Vargas in the 285-pound match.
South Tama finished off pool play by edging North Polk, 31-30, and advancing as the top finisher in Pool A.
Forest City knocked off the Trojans in the first round of finals play, beating STC 37-30 after a disqualification proved to be costly. Boden Koehler was called for slamming his opponent, Joseph Ray, in their 145-pound match, and what Van Dyke estimated to be a 12-point swing went the Indians’ way.
South Tama bounced back by beating Class 2A No. 9 Union Community, 39-37. Staring at 170 pounds, STC won the first six matches by either pins or forfeits, only to see Union rally to within the two-point final margin.
Logan Arp’s 3-1 victory over eighth-ranked Hunter Worthen at 126 pounds gave the Trojans a 39-12 lead with five matches to go, and the Knights won the rest of the matches but couldn’t score the necessary points. Koehler lost a 16-6 major decision to second-ranked Jack Thomsen, a defending state champion, at 145 pounds, to knock Union’s comeback off course.
Not long after the Trojans had taken out Union, Nort Polk defeated Forest City 45-25 to force a tie atop the team standings that was settled by the earlier meeting between clubs.
“Against East Marshall it comes down to the heavyweight match where they’re rolling back and forth and our guy gets the pin,” Van Dyke said. “If we don’t get that win, we don’t win the first round.
“The second round it comes down to a one-point dual with North Polk, and then we illegally slam a kid against Forest City so we ultimately lose that dual. In the final dual we have to fight off our back and not give up bonus points at 138, and at 145 we have to not get pinned by a state champion.”
Arp was one of four South Tama wrestlers to finish the day with 4-0 records. Brayden Smith at 170 pounds piled up four pins, Brody Chyma was unbeaten at 106, and Rudy Papakee was 4-0 but with three forfeits at 220/285. Arp was 4-0 with two major decisions and two minor decision.
Payton Vest was 3-1 with three pins at 182, and Kalem Schrock was 3-1 with two pins at 285.
“We won the close ones where we needed to so it was a fun day,” Van Dyke added.
The host Mustangs couldn’t get the close ones to go their way, but finished the day with a pair of decisive victories. EM/GMG stomped Collins-Maxwell 73-0 and then beat Benton Community 42-28.
Third-ranked 120-pounder Dominic Ridout, Carson Burchland (138) and seventh-ranked Connor Murty (195) all went 4-0 for the day while Samuel Bandstra (160) and Logan Walton (170) provided 3-1 performances for the Mustangs.
Ridout recorded two pins and two technical falls, while both Burchland and Murty had two pins. Bandstra and Walton both tallied two pins.
“We’re going to find out now what kids want to go on to the postseason, which ones want to hang it up, and with a young team hopefully they choose the former with wanting to get to districts or even state,” Hinegardner said. “Just mentality-wise I think we’ve got to improve.”