Bobcats through to Round 2

MHS seniors Williams, Gomez both win by decision in state wrestling debuts

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE - Marshalltown head wrestling coach Mike Mann, top right, pumps his fist as senior heavyweight Julian Gomez takes Tate Sykora-Matthess of Cedar Rapids Washington to the mat for one last takedown in his 4-1 victory in the first round of Class 3A action Thursday at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.

DES MOINES — Two Marshalltown High School wrestlers did what they were there to accomplish on Thursday, and quite convincingly they earned advancement to Friday.

MHS seniors Carson Williams and Julian Gomez both blew through the first round of Class 3A action at the Iowa High School State Wrestling Championships inside Wells Fargo Arena, each winning by decisions that never appeared to be in question.

Williams, who is ranked fourth by The Predicament at 220 pounds, piled up a pair of takedowns and three nearfall points in his 7-0 triumph over Iowa City West’s Brett Pelfrey, while Gomez knocked off eighth-ranked heavyweight Tate Sykora-Matthess of Cedar Rapids Washington in a 4-1 victory moments later.

It’s the first time Marshalltown has had two wrestlers win in the first round since 2016.

“After weigh-ins we just went and kind of soaked it all in before we actually wrestled,” Williams said, “and getting that first win was huge and boosted my confidence a lot.”


Williams scored his first takedown late in the opening period against Pelfrey (7-6), who was later eliminated from the 220-pound bracket with his second loss of the opening day. Williams (33-2) deferred his choice to start the second period and Pelfrey selected neutral, which led to another Williams takedown. With a little persistence, Williams worked his way into an arm bar and turned Pelfrey for a lengthy nearfall.

Williams chose the top position to start the third period and rode out his opponent for the 7-0 shutout.

“We just knew we could beat the guy on his feet,” MHS head coach Mike Mann said of Williams’ opponent. “From a coach’s point of view we didn’t think [Williams] would have much of a problem. He took him down twice, got a nearfall and pretty much dominated the match.

“Carson was ready to come down here and participate. He was just ready to get going here and this is step one.”

Williams will face seventh-ranked Luke Gaffney of Linn-Mar (16-3) in Friday’s quarterfinals.


Shortly after Williams had won, Gomez was called to an adjacent mat and made his way into the second day with a bit more dramatics. Gomez scored the opening takedown with two seconds left in the first period, and his clinching takedown in the third period came with four seconds remaining.

Sykora-Matthess (17-4) was eliminated in the consolation round later in the day, sent there by a Bobcat senior who weighs 214 pounds in the 285-pound bracket.

“I was just wrestling kind of cautiously, I was nervous, but my brother’s always telling me to try to get at least one takedown every period with these big guys and that’s what I was trying to go for,” Gomez said, referring to his older brother Pedro, the 2013 state champion heavyweight. “I also don’t want to go out shooting 10 times a period because I’m not as strong as they are and I don’t want to wear myself out with these big guys, so just a few good shots and that should be it.”

Gomez got inside on three good shots, in fact, but the second one didn’t get the desired result. After deferring his choice in the second period to Sykora-Matthess, Gomez surrendered an escape and took a 2-1 lead into the third before another takedown attempt sent both wrestlers to the boundary.

There were no points awarded, but Gomez remained the aggressor and got his final takedown with just four seconds left to seal the win.

“It’s not really our coaching strategy, but I’ve noticed it, that’s kind of his M.O. (modus operandi),” Mann said. “His brother did the same thing. … Maybe he just feels like he’s going to take one shot and if something would go bad we’re going to be out of time.”

Instead, Gomez earned extra time with Friday’s quarterfinals, advancing to face third-ranked Maddux Borcherding-Johnson from Norwalk (32-3). Borcherding-Johnson pinned his opponent in 1 minute, 13 seconds, and stood matside to watch how Gomez got through the first round.


The East Marshall/GMG trio remained so, while South Tama lost one of its three state qualifiers on the first day.

All three East Marshall/GMG matmen advanced with first-round wins, including a technical fall for second-ranked Dominik Ridout at 126 pounds and pins for Samuel Bandstra (170) and fourth-ranked Conner Murty (220).

Ridout (23-1) ran up a 16-1 tally on Winterset’s Jake Porter (31-13) to move into the quarterfinals on Friday, where he will face Gilbert’s Cael Ihle (32-3).

Bandstra (25-9) broke down Osage’s Colin Muller (32-6) for a third-period pin in 4:26, earning a shot at second-ranked Chase Babcock (42-0) of New Hampton/Turkey Valley in today’s second round.

Murty (31-1) made his way to Friday with a five-minute pin of Clarke’s Jake Smith (27-4). In the quarterfinals awaits fifth-ranked Treyton Burnikel (23-2) of Crestwood.

South Tama’s Logan Arp pushed through to the second round with an opening 4-2 triumph over Decorah’s Brady Stille (20-12). Arp (19-6), who placed fifth last year at 126 pounds, will meet Taylor Huggins (26-4) of Davis County in today’s 132-pound quarterfinals.

Brayden Smith took the long way to Friday, falling 8-5 to fifth-ranked Mason Askelsen (29-0) of Ballard in the first round of the 195 bracket. Smith (26-7) kept his podium hopes alive by bouncing back with a 13-5 major decision over Crestwood’s Landen Schemmel (23-8). Smith’s next opponent will be either Jesse Schwery of Harlan (34-8) or No. 2 Jackson Kinsella of Creston/Orient-Macksburg (48-1).

STC sophomore heavyweight Rudy Papakee (24-11) was unable to advance in his first foray to state, instead suffering a pair of losses by fall. West Lyon’s fourth-ranked Jordan Ver Meer (40-2) pinned Papakee in 52 seconds, and Okoboji’s Nick Bronstad (35-14) eliminated him with a pin in 2:16.


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