BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
DES MOINES – A nearfall right in front of Head Coach Ryan Smith was all Hound wrestler Harlan Steffensmeier needed to advance to the Class 3A semifinals in tonight’s evening session.
Steffensmeier will go up against Jacob Herrmann of Waverly-Shell Rock for a right to wrestle for the state championship Saturday night after beating West Des Moines Valley’s Grant Stotts, who’s been rated number 1 and 2 in Class 3A at 152 lbs throughout the year, Stotts finished the year ranked No. 1 in both Iowa Wrestle and the Predicament, to two top wrestling publications in the state.
It’s the second time Steffensmeier had beaten Stotts, the first of which was at this year’s Ed Winger Classic. Neither wrestler scored in the first period as they worked around the mat sizing each other up without much drama.
Smith had Steffensmeier take a down position to start the second two-minute period and 41 seconds later the senior from Central Lee got out of Stotts’ grasp for a 1-point escape. The two engaged and Steffensmeier was able to get a leg under Stotts and work him into a roll and came out on top for a 2-point takedown at :39 for a 3-0 lead. Stotts was able to score a 2-point reversal on the left edge of the mat with just :08 remaining in the period to trail 2-3 going into the final two minutes.
In the third period, Stotts chose bottom to start and Steffensmeier was able to keep position and at several times getting Stotts close to a cradle. With 1:23 gone in the period, Steffensmeier had Stotts close to a pin right in front of Smith and assistant coach Derek Doherty, who both jumped up from their chairs. The officials gave Steffensmeier a 3-point near fall to set the final score at 6-3.
After the match, Steffensmeier got a bear hug from Smith and then it was back to work preparing for the semifinal match with Herrmann. Tonight’s evening session begins at 7:30 with Class 3A semifinals so Steffensmeier’s match would follow the Class 3A lower weight classes.
Herrmann is a 38-15 junior and was rated 8th in the final ratings on Feb. 7 out of the Predicament. Stotts slides into the consolation round where he will face Mason City’s Luke Deinhart.