BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
DES MOINES – In just a mere 90 minutes a wrestler at the Iowa state wrestling tourney can run a full spectrum of emotions from a loss to a big win.
Walking the lower halls of Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines you see the pain, emotion and celebration of wrestling at the IHSAA State Wrestling tournament as wrestlers advance through the tourney on the championship side or fight through the consolation bracket to reach 3rd place. One sees wrestlers embracing each other and some sitting in solace on the floor.
But the emotions don’t end there. Fort Madison’s Ryan Steffensmeier came off the mat after wrestling his first match in the consolation bracket with a look of pure joy, that just 90 minutes before had been one of disappointment and concern.
Steffensmeier had just pinned Carter Logue of Carlisle at the 1:08 mark to guarantee a minimum of 8th place in the 113 lb. bracket. He’ll now face Kobey Pritchard of Indianola.
Pritchard is 43-6 on the year and is currently ranked 3rd in the state. That match will be a part of the afternoon session that begins at 2:50.
“My mindset was to get to my offense and I knew that a cradle would be a good thing to go for because I knew he had been caught in a cradle before,” Steffensmeier said after the match.
Steffensmeier was coming off a loss in his first match to top-ranked Drew Bennett in a 16-1 technical fall in the 3rd period.
“I thought my effort was there. He’s a tough kid, I versed him before and he got the pin. I thought I wrestled ok, but here you gotta work for it.”
Ryan’s parents who were watching from section 209 were extremely happy for their son’s progression through the bracket.
“I’m just very happy for him. I knew he’d have a tough time with Bennett, but this last match I didn’t know what to expect. I’m just…happy,” said an emotional Doug Steffensmeier.
Ryan’s mother Diane Steffensmeier said it was a relief.
“We’re just so proud of him,” she said. “It was such a heartbreaker for him last year not making state and finishing 3rd at district.
I know I was a little nervous in the first matching losing but that kid’s a tough kid, but Ryan obviously came back and got the win and we couldn’t be happier.”
Ryan’s cousin Harlan will also be wrestling in semi-final action in the 2:30 session facing Triston Lara, the No. 1 ranked 3A wrestler at 138 lbs.