BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
DONNELLSON – It’s been more than 16 years since high school wrestling took place at the Central Lee high school gymnasium.
On Thursday, the Fort Madison High School wrestling team, which features many Central Lee athletes, moved the team, the fans, and even the mat to Central Lee High School to allow those wrestlers a chance to shine in front of their home town. And that they did as FMHS took the opening dual of the season 45-34 off Quincy.
Junior Gunther Johnson of Central Lee took full advantage of the opportunity in front of the Central Lee fans and got a pivotal pin for the Hounds at 285 pounds over A.J. Miller at 23 seconds into the second period. In a match that saw both players get flung about the mat, Johnson was able to take advantage of position in the and roll Miller over the fall.
Head Coach Ryan Smith said he hadn’t seen Johnson wrestle and didn’t know what to expect.
“He’s worked hard and was able to capitalize on position and get that pin and that was a big difference for us,” Smith said. “I’d never seen him wrestle in a match before.”
Johnson said it was great to have a match in his own gym.
“It was pretty cool and there was a whole lot of excitement in here tonight,’ Johnson said.
He didn’t really have a strategy for the match after doing a bit of Greco-Roman wrestling in the spring.
“I hadn’t wrestled since I was 5 or 6 years old. So this was really my first time and my thoughts were just to go out there and let it all hang out. I just went out there and did anything I could,” he said.
Johnson’s pin put the Hounds up 27-23. Quincy was assessed a one-point equipment violation after Fort Madison’s Sam Hayes pinned Quincy’s Blake Poling in just :46 at 195 pounds. Danen Settles brought Fort Madison within two points when he pinned Lucas Bodi at 1:19 in the first period.
The Hounds found themselves down early on when Matthew Peters pinned Nathan Steffensmeier in the 2nd period at 3:11, but Aaron Steffensmeier recorded a 10-4 decision over Thomas Culp at 145 to get the Hounds on the board. Senior Harlan Steffensmeier made quick work over Niel Kozlowshi in just 40 seconds at 152 to put Fort Madison up. Kaleb Vahle pinned freshman Keaton Poe in the first period, Hunter Yohn pinned Central Lee’s Chance Hocker at 170, and JC Lackey got a fall over FMs Lennon Barker at 2:21 to give Quincy a 24-9 advantage.
When Hayes, Settles, and Johnson each got consecutive pins, the Hounds were back on top with the lighter weight classes coming to the mat.
Blake Peter scored a technical fall over the Hounds’ Elton Kruse, 16-0 and Hunter Carter pinned Central Lee’s Mason Schau in just 33 seconds to put the Blue Devils up by 7 27-34. The Hounds’ Dayne Cordray, a junior who didn’t wrestle as a sophomore but went to state as a freshman, got a quick pin of Nick Pohla in 56 seconds to pull the Hounds to within one. Ryan Steffensmeier and Will Larson both got wins by forfeit to hand the Hounds the meet.
Harlan Steffensmeier, who finished third in Class 3A in the 152 pound division last season, said wrestling at home was a moment he will remember.
“It was awesome…just crazy in here,” Steffensmeier said. “I mentioned it to my dad and then I think he went to the athletic directors and they made it happen. I hope they continue to do this in the future.”
Steffensmeier’s dad Gary was inducted into the state Hall of Fame last year at the state tournament at Wells Fargo Arena. His brother Doug is the one who transported the Bloodhounds’ mat to Central Lee for Thursday night’s meet. Doug is Ryan Steffensmeier’s father. Ryan placed 8th at the state tournament last year at 113 lbs.
The complete results of the dual meet with Quincy are below.
Quincy Senior @ Fort Madison on 11/30/2017.
Fort Madison (FOMA) 45.00 Quincy Senior (QUSE) 34.00
138: Matthew Peters (QUSE) over Nathan Steffensmeier (FOMA) (Fall 3:11) 145: Aaron Steffensmeier (FOMA) over Thomas Culp (QUSE) (Dec 10-4) 152: Harlan Steffensmeier (FOMA) over Niel Kozlowshi (QUSE) (Fall 0:40) 160: Kaleb Vahle (QUSE) over Keaton Poe (FOMA) (Fall 1:04) 170: Hunter Yohn (QUSE) over Chance Hocker (FOMA) (Fall 1:09) 182: JC Lackey (QUSE) over Lennon Barker (FOMA) (Fall 2:21) 195: Sam Hayes (FOMA) over Blake Poling (QUSE) (Fall 0:46) 220: Danen Settles (FOMA) over Lucas Bodi (QUSE) (Fall 1:19) 285: Gunther Johnson (FOMA) over A.J. Miller (QUSE) (Fall 2:23) 106: Blake Peter (QUSE) over Elton Kruse (FOMA) (TF 16-0 5:56) 113: Hunter Carter (QUSE) over Mason Schau (FOMA) (Fall 0:33) 120: Dayne Cordray (FOMA) over Nick Pohla (QUSE) (Fall 0:56) 126: Ryan Steffensmeier (FOMA) over (QUSE) (For.) 132: Will Larson (FOMA) over (QUSE) (For.) (QUSE Singlet Strap off on mat -1.00)