BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – For the first time since 2013, the Fort Madison Bloodhounds will put some numbers on the wrestling conference champion banner hanging in the HoundDome.
Despite taking advantage of six forfeits, the Hounds sent a strong message in defeating visiting Keokuk 70-12 Thursday night.
“I’m not going to lie, it feels good. It’s been frustrating being runner up a couple of times in that span, but it doesn’t count if you don’t get the numbers on the banner,” Head Coach Ryan Smith said.
“It was definitely a team goal, but now it’s time to move on and the next big thing is the district tournament.”
Districts will be held Feb. 9 at Mid-Prairie and the Hounds have two more matches and a conference meet before districts.
“We’ve had such a tough schedule that it’s hard to totally gauge what districts will be like. We’ll be battle-tested no doubt about that. We’ve wrestled a tough tournament schedule.”
Smith said he feels good about the Hounds’ preparation and said now it’s how they adjust mentally going into the final phase of the season.
All eight of the matches Tuesday that took place were won by pinfall with Keokuk winning just two matches on the night.
The Hounds’ Will Larson started the night with a quick pin over Keokuk’s Hunter Haage in just :55 at 132 lbs. Nathan Steffensmeier grabbed a hold of Dakota Haage on the right side of the mat right off the whistle and forced him down chest-to-chest to the mat and scored a fall in just :24.
Keaton Poe battled the Chiefs’ Corey Skinner at 160 lbs until 25 seconds left in the first period when Skinner turned an attack by Poe into a take down, got Poe on his back, and the referee slapped the mat at 1:41.
Chance Hocker continued the night’s theme of quick pins by slipping Kolbe Barnes into a cradle at the :35 mark in the first period. Hocker countered a Barnes attack and rolled him smoothly over on the left side of the mat for the pin.
Keokuk’s Dylan Jeffers then scored a quirky pin over the Hounds’ Diego Lozano at 182 lbs. Lozano controlled the match after the two wrestlers sized each other up for about 45 seconds. Lozano got Jeffers to the mat and rode him through the end of the first period. In the second period with about :30 left in the period, Jeffers took an injury break to get treatment for a cut. On the reset, Jeffers took the down position, was able to stand up and grab hold of Lozano and swing him to the ground while pulling both arms inside and scored a quick pin at the 3:45 mark.
Smith said it was just an issue of awareness.
“He wrestled really well for three and a half minutes or so. You just gotta be aware, you can’t just roll around and find yourself on your back. That’s happened to him a couple times this year, but that was bizarre how it flipped that quick,” Smith said.
“You live and learn, you just gotta focus on the learn part.”
At 195 lbs Levy Lowney scored a 2:49 pin and then Danen Settles pinned Gage Daniels at 1:29 at the 285 lb match. Dayne Cordray took the final match of the night with a pin over Tres Merydith at just 1:41.
The complete results of the match are below.
Fort Madison (FOMA) 72.0 Keokuk (KEOK) 12.0 126: Gavin Wiseman (FOMA) over (KEOK) (For.) 132: Will Larson (FOMA) over Hunter Haage (KEOK) (Fall 0:55) 138: Mason Schau (FOMA) over (KEOK) (For.) 145: Nathan Steffensmeier (FOMA) over Dakota Haage (KEOK) (Fall 0:24) 152: Jakob McGowan (FOMA) over (KEOK) (For.) 160: Corey Skinner (KEOK) over Keaton Poe (FOMA) (Fall 1:41) 170: Chance Hocker (FOMA) over Kolbe Barnes (KEOK) (Fall 0:35) 182: Dylan Jeffers (KEOK) over Diego Lozano (FOMA) (Fall 3:45) 195: Levi Lowney (FOMA) over Zack Glasscock (KEOK) (Fall 2:49) 220: Jarrett Settles (FOMA) over (KEOK) (For.) 285: Danen Settles (FOMA) over Gage Daniels (KEOK) (Fall 1:29) 106: Owen Kruse (FOMA) over (KEOK) (For.) 113: Elton Kruse (FOMA) over (KEOK) (For.) 120: Dayne Cordray (FOMA) over Tres Merydith (KEOK) (Fall 1:41)