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Bobcats secure spots on medal stand

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE - Marshalltown High School senior Carson Williams celebrates after securing a place on the podium with his Class 3A state quarterfinal victory over Linn-Mar’s Luke Gaffney. Williams won the match by decision, 5-3.

DES MOINES — A pair of first-time state qualifiers will find themselves on the podium on Saturday night at Wells Fargo Arena.

Marshalltown High School seniors Carson Williams and Julian Gomez will receive medals during the awards ceremony, though the number on them has yet to be determined. Williams, ranked fourth at 220 pounds in Class 3A, will wrestle twice today to find his final place somewhere between third and sixth, while Gomez will compete for seventh place at heavyweight in today’s 10 a.m. session in Des Moines.

Williams (34-3) was defeated by top-ranked Bradley Hill of Bettendorf (27-0) in the championship semifinals, getting pinned in 3 minutes, 58 seconds, but he had already adjusted his goals to aim for the highest remaining target on Saturday.

“It was great getting to the semifinals and all, but you’ve got to think ‘I want to climb the podium even more tomorrow’ so hopefully I get two wins.”

Williams earned his way into the semifinals with a 5-3 decision over seventh-ranked Luke Gaffney from Linn-Mar. After a scoreless first period, Williams scored an escape and a takedown to carry a 3-0 lead into the final frame. Gaffney escaped quickly and eventually maneuvered his way into a tying takedown with 25 seconds left.

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE

After a restart, Williams wriggled free but fought for the reversal instead, securing two points for a 5-3 victory. It guaranteed him a spot on the podium.

“I was really pumped after winning that match because then I knew I was going to be on the stand, and that’s always been my dream since I was a little kid,” he said.

Finishing at least as high on the podium as his older brother Peyton did as a 220-pound senior in 2017 — fifth place — is something of a priority for Carson.

“I’d like to [finish higher than him], but at least even with him,” Carson said with a smile. “He’s been in the (wrestling) room every day and I [wrestle] with him and he’s a big reason why I am where I am right now.”

Carson, a University at Buffalo football recruit, will face off with fifth-ranked Colton Hoag of Le Mars in today’s consolation semifinals, with one more match after to determine his final place.

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE

Gomez began his day with a loss in the quarterfinals, dropping a 6-2 decision to third-ranked Maddux Borcherding-Johnson. Undersized for a heavyweight, Gomez was unable to take the full-sized Borcherding-Johnson to the mat and managed only two escapes in the loss.

Gomez turned it around to survive the “blood round” — a colloquialism for the round dividing wrestlers from elimination or the podium — with a 6-3 victory over Burlington’s Julius Harris. Harris earned the first point with his second-period escape, but Gomez chose the neutral starting position for the third period and exploited his advantage with three takedowns to guarantee his place on the podium.

The celebration was stunted in the consolation third round match, where Togeh Deseh of Muscatine (40-6) used the right combination of strength and speed to give Gomez a 9-4 setback.

Gomez (14-6) will meet Pella’s Kody Huisman (22-10) in today’s seventh place match.

“We all just do our best and you get down here, there’s a qualifying level, there’s a place level and there are guys that are just bigger, faster and stronger,” said MHS head coach Mike Mann. “There’s just another level.”

Williams and Gomez will mark Marshalltown’s first pair of state placewinners since Josh Edel (fourth), Peyton Williams (fifth) and Devan Mann (seventh) finished on the podium in 2016.

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