BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
CEDAR RAPIDS – Seven wrestlers on the FMHS varsity squad got a good look at some of the best wrestlers in the state Saturday. And two came away with medals.
Junior Harlan Steffensmeier ran up against the top-rated Class 2A wrestler at 138 lbs. in Keaton Geerts of New Hampton and suffered his first pin of the season at Saturday’s J-Hawk Invitational at Cedar Rapids Jefferson.
The loss put Steffensmeier, who is now 28-2, on the season in the 3rd-4th place match with Class 3A 5th-ranked Nathan Feldman of Dubuque Hempstead. Steffensmeier held on in the match for a 4-2 win to take the Hounds’ highest placing at the Invite. It was the second time in less than a week that Steffensmeier got the best of Feldman. He scored a 9-2 win at the Lancer Duals in North Scott on Jan. 7.
Harlan had a bye in the first round and then scored a 12-1 major decision over Grant Ohlsen of Moline before running into 38-1 Geerts. Geerts went on to win the championship at 138 after defeating Class 3A’s top-ranked Tristen Lara.
Ryan Steffensmeier also came away with a medal at the invite placing 5th at 113 lbs. Steffensmeier is now 16-7 on the year and scored a 10-6 decision over Ellex Williams of Moline in the 5th-6th place match. The junior had a bye in the first round and then lost to Kobey Pritchard of Indianola, who’s ranked 3rd in the state in Class 3A. Steffensmeier then pinned Evan Woods of West Delaware at the :25 mark, before recording a 10-1 major decision over Darrin Bethard of Clinton to put him in the 5th-6th place matchup.
Aaron Steffensmeier and Diego Lozano were both one match away from placing. Steffensmeier wrestling at 132 lbs. got knocked from the placing round by James Runestad in a 6-2 decision. Lozano at 182 lbs., had his place hopes dashed by Chayton Reif of Indianola in a 13-11 decision.
Head Coach Ryan Smith said the competition was very tough at the meet.
“It was a very tough tourney but a part of the process. It allowed us to find out what our weaknesses are before we get to state,” he said.
“There were a lot of top 10 teams and top 10 individuals. Lots of state champion caliber competitors. We’re not where we want to be necessarily, but we battled and learned a lot about ourselves today.”
The Hounds host Keokuk on Thursday and travel to Urbandale for a 20-team high-caliber tournament there as well.
“It doesn’t get any easier as we go forward, but it’s part of the process and we’ll be ready for districts because of it,” Smith said.