BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – It’s becoming an annual trek for the family that is Fort Madison High School wrestling.
On Friday, Head Coach Ryan Smith thanked about 70 people who showed up at 5 p.m. to wish three Bloodhound wrestlers well as they headed to Des Moines for the state wrestling tournament.
Action begins Thursday morning for the Bloodhounds, as Class 3A kicks off the tournament at 9 a.m. at Wells-Fargo Arena, with a 7 a.m. weigh-in.
Fort Madison will be represented by seniors Elton Kruse at 113lbs, and Sam Hayes at 195 lbs and junior Danen Settles at 220 lbs.
Head Coach Ryan Smith said the trio has seen some of the other wrestlers in their respective brackets, but that’s not the focus.
“As far as who’s in the brackets, we’ve see one of them head-to-head this year at 113 and the others will be brand new,” he said. “The big thing is that we continue to take care of what we do and not worry about our opponents. We do what we do, battle hard and put pressure on our opponents and wrestle in positions that were comfortable in.”
Senior Elton Kruse goes into the tournament with a 22-12 record after claiming second at the district qualifier in Cedar Rapids last weekend.
Kruse’s first match is against North Scott’s Josh Conner, who comes into the match 28-13 and recently scored an 8-0 decision over Kruse in the North Scott duals two weeks ago.
“He’s solid on top and he gets to his offense quick on his feet so I just gotta make those adjustments,” Kruse said.
He said as far as any other wrestlers he will come up against in the bracket, he just has to do what he’s done all year and have the right frame of mind.
“I just do what I’ve done all year and go in with mindset that I have to wrestle hard for six minutes each match,” he said.
Junior Danen Settles, who will be wrestling at the 285lb bracket said he hasn’t even looked at the bracket. He goes in with a 32-11 record and will face Davenport Central’s senior Manuel McGowan-Serrano who has a 26-7 mark on the year.
But Settles said the bracket doesn’t matter because he will just face who’s in front of him.
“I haven’t even looked at it,” Settles said. “I don’t worry about that stuff I just go out and do what I have to do.”
Hayes, who’s had three years of potential state tournaments taken away due to various injuries is going in with a simple mindset. Just keep winning. Hayes takes on Glenwood senior Noah Carter. Carter is 19-4 on the year.
“There’s tough kids out there, obviously, and I just have to give 100%
Hayes said he’s seen some of the kids in the bracket, but he said most of those are on the upside of the bracket.
“I’ve wrestled several of them but there are on the upside of the bracket, but I’m just going to go out and do what I do. It doesn’t matter what’s out there,” he said.
Smith told the send-off crowd that having the community support provides incentive to the kids headed to Des Moines.
It helps when they go out on the mat and they know you folks are behind them and they’re not going out there alone,” Smith said.
“I’m excited about the opportunity these guys have. They are all great kids and I’m confident that they’ll do well and put forth their best effort.”
All brackets are available and updated at www.trackwrestle.com. And Pen City Current will be updating Bloodhound matches on our social media channels as they are completed.