BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
DES MOINES – Despite a disappointing first round of wrestling Thursday at the state wrestling tournament, Fort Madison will send two Bloodhounds after a spot on the podium Friday.
Junior Danen Settles, wrestling at 285lbs and junior Sam Hayes, 195lb, advanced to the second round of consolation wrestling after both losing in the first round in heart-breaking fashion. The Hounds went 0-3 in the first round of wrestling Thursday morning.
Senior Elton Kruse, wrestling in his only tournament in three years with the Bloodhound program, was ousted early after losing 11-2 in his first match of the day, and then falling in a crushing 9-8 decision on the consolation side at 113 lbs.
In his first match, Kruse found himself with a familiar foe in North Scott’s Josh Connor. Connor beat Kruse 8-0 in a dual meet about 10 days ago.
Connor got on top early in the match with a takedown at 1:21 and Kruse couldn’t wiggle free as Conner rode the first period out with a 2-0 lead. Connor started the 2nd period down and was able to escape 11 seconds into the period and then he was able to move around to get another takedown at the 1:33 mark.
Kruse then was given a warning for stalling as he fought to find a way out of Connor’s grasp down 5-0 after two.
At the 1:31 mark of the third, Kruse got the upper hand and scored a takedown and tried to maneuver Connor into a cradle, but Connor fought that off in the middle of the mat. Kruse then tried to force a lateral roll with Connor on the mat, but Connor rolled out and escaped.
With both wrestlers on their feet and time running out, Kruse tried a lateral toss, and Connor turned the tables and wrestled Kruse to the ground for another takedown and then a 3-point near fall as time ran out at 11-2.
In the wrestleback consolation, Kruse took a 5-0 lead on Jackson Breeson of Ankeny Centennial. The senior took Breeson to the mat early for a takedown with :34 seconds gone in the period. Kruse maintained control of the match and then wrapped Breeson up in a cradle, but couldn’t manuever the shoulders down in the package and time expired for a near fall 3.
“He was hipping down hard on his right side and I couldn’t get his shoulders down,” Kruse said of the near fall.
Smith said it was a tough spot because letting go to readjust risks losing the advantage.
“His lock was too low and it needed to be higher up near the neck. Once you’re in position, it’s hard to readjust without losing the hold. We hoped taking the top in the second he could have locked it up again, but it didn’t work out,” he said.
Breeson would battle back and score all nine of his points in the 2nd period off two reversals and two near falls. Both times, Kruse had Breeson compromised but Breeson got seated and was able to push his way into the reversals, both of which resulted in the near falls. Breeson was penalized after two warnings for stalling, but the penalty came with just :07 left in the third and Kruse couldn’t score before the buzzer.
Kruse said he was happy to get the experience to wrestle in that atmosphere.
“I was really happy to be up here,” an emotional Kruse said after the match. “I just wish I would have gotten the job done, but I improved on my first match so that was a good thing,” he said.
Smith said Kruse is an example for future kids coming into the program that may think they are undersized.
“It’s one of those stories, that he didn’t even wrestle as a freshman. He was small and didn’t think he’d been any good. But he came out as a sophomore undersized and he keeps plugging away and plugging away and finds himself just a couple points away from a second day of wrestling in the tournament,” Smith said. “It’s a great example for future kids coming through the program. Elton wrestled his fanny off and I feel bad, but at the same time, he can hold his head high.
Senior Sam Hayes suffered a quick pin in his first match against Glenwood’s Noah Carter (20-4). Hayes had the advantage off the whistle and pulled Carter and began to roll him over in a cradle off the whistle, but somehow, Carter spun a reversal and rolled over Hayes for two points and then caught him on his back just :18 seconds into the match.
Hayes said it was a silly mistake, but he’d never experienced a reversal like that.
“The first five seconds I thought I was going to hook him, that’s my move. I get in deep, but somehow he just hooked my leg and rolled me through. It was a stupid mistake. I’ve never been rolled through like that before,” Hayes said.
Smith said it was a bizarre reversal and takedown.
“I have to look at it on tape, I don’t know how that kid rolled through that. That was bizarre, but props to him because I’ve never seen that before,” Smith said. “But it’s tough up here, so you can’t take anything for granted for sure.”
Hayes agreed and said he took that to heart in his second match of the morning.
The senior took on sophomore Kane Schmidt of Bettendorf (32-12) and scored a takedown 25 seconds into the match. Schmidt was able to score a reversal at the edge of the mat and get an advantage, but Hayes escaped for a point to set at 3-2 after 1.
Hayes started the 2nd period down, was able to escape on a second try to get up and spin, and then was able to get Schmidt hooked up and pulled to the mat for a takedown at the 1:05 mark and scored a fall five seconds later for the win.
“All the kids are tough up here. I thought I could have pinned him in the first, but that’s what you’re up against here and you just have to keep fighting,” he said.
Settles faced off against Manuel McGowan-Serrano at 285lbs in a match that was even through the second period tied at 2. Settles suffered a takedown 29 seconds into the match but managed an escape and then escaped again in the second period off the whistle.
McGowan-Serrano started down in the third period and escaped and, after about 1:30 on their feet pushing and shoving, McGowan-Serrano got Settles to the mat. Settles escaped again for a 5-3 deficit and time ran out before he could find any points.
“He just took better shots than me. I don’t want to say he was quicker than me, but he was off the whistle,” Settles said.
“I just needed to make some adjustments after that match and talking with Coach Smith and Coach (Jason) Crooks about those adjustments and I was able to make them in the second match.” Settles said.
Settles faced Hunter Haggstrom (13-10) of Glenwood in his second match and went right after the senior. Settles scored a take down at 20 seconds into the match. Haggstrom was able to get out of it, but Settles snatched him up again 25 seconds later and spun him to the mat for the pin at the 1:13 mark.
Both Hayes and Settles will wrestle again Saturday morning beginning at 10 a.m. Their opponents will be determined by quarterfinal action on the championship side of the bracket. Quarterfinal action starts for Class 3A and 1A at 9 a.m. with 2nd round consolation wrestling to follow.