Bitker leads Bobcat quartet to state

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY JEREMY BJELLAND • Marshalltown High School’s four state tournament qualifiers pose for a photograph after Saturday’s Class 3A District 5 meet at Cedar Rapids Prairie. Pictured, from left, are Decker Mann, Zach Bitker, Logan Baccam and Brian Trowbridge.

CEDAR RAPIDS — And a sophomore shall lead them.

The Marshalltown wrestling team qualified four wrestlers for the state tournament for the second time in the last three years, each of them set to make their Wells Fargo Arena debut after Saturday’s Class 3A District 5 tournament at Cedar Rapids Prairie.

Sophomore Zach Bitker (24-10) was the first of four Bobcats to book his trip to Des Moines by winning his 113-pound bracket. Bitker went 3-0 with each victory coming by major decision, including a 15-5 triumph over Marion’s Gaven Hiler in the championship match.

The other three first-time state qualifiers for Marshalltown are seniors, and each needed to win a wrestle-back match for true second place to advance to state.

It started with Logan Baccam at 138. He was pinned in 1:36 by sixth-ranked Trenten Wennermark of Prairie in the finals, but Baccam (22-7) bounced back with a pin of his own against Cedar Rapids Kennedy’s Dylan Ironside just before the final buzzer to book his spot at state.

Brian Trowbridge, like Baccam, needed two wins to reach his championship match at 160. Waverly-Shell Rock’s eighth-ranked Bryson Hervol was waiting and won an 11-4 decision before Trowbridge (25-10) scored a 5-2 triumph over Jacob Sherzer of Cedar Rapids Jefferson in what would eventually be the final match on the mats.

In the meanwhile, fellow Bobcat senior Decker Mann (25-15) rebounded from a 6-0 loss to No. 8 Cam Jones of Kennedy in the 220 finals for a quick pin of Mason City’s Jeff Shurtz at the 1:31 mark of their match for true-second place.

A trio of Bobcats came up a win shy of a shot at the wrestleback round. At 106, Bennett Hageman lost a 7-6 decision to Marion’s Niyo Gady in the consolation finals. Jordan Fox suffered the same fate at 195, losing by fall to Cael Knox of Kennedy, and Jordan Anderson was pinned by Waverly-Shell Rock’s Andrew Synder in the 285 consolation final. Each MHS wrestler placed fourth.

Wyatt Himes (152) came in fifth for Marshalltown, which totaled 133 points for fifth place in the eight-team district.

The four state qualifiers matches the most the Bobcats have had since sending six to Des Moines in 2004. In 2016, Reese Hageman, Josh Edel, Devan Mann and Peyton Williams each advanced to the Well, with the latter trio reaching the podium.

The 3A portion of the state tournament begins on Thursday at 1:30 p.m.

Class 3A District 5

At Cedar Rapids Prairie

Team Standings — 1. Cedar Rapids Kennedy 213, 2. Cedar Rapids Prairie 201, 3. Waverly-Shell Rock 186, 4. Mason City 137, 5. Marshalltown 133, 6. Marion 103, 7, Cedar Rapids Jefferson 94, 8. Cedar Rapids Washington 33.