FM wins Southeast Conference title after Burlington a no-show on Senior Night
BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – With districts just over two days away and Fort Madison not having wrestled competitively for 13 days, the Hounds are healed up and itching for mat time on Saturday.
The Bloodhounds travel to Iowa City West for the Class 3A District 5 state qualifying meet starting at noon.
Head Coach Ryan Smith said he was disappointed that the Hound seniors didn’t get to wrestle on Thursday, but said his approach has always been one day at a time.
He said that philosophy has helped the Hounds through this crazy COVID season.
“We just take things one day at a time. Do the same things today and the same thing tomorrow,” Smith said. “Sure this year was different but at the same time you block out the distractions and get the most out of the situations we’re dealt. My philosophy is take what we get and make the best of it.”
The Hounds made the best of what they had this year notching their third straight conference championship despite the Feb. 4 dual with Burlington being cancelled.
The lack of matches over the past two week presents some problems with the Bloodhounds not seeing competitive action, but it also provided some benefits in allowing the wrestlers to heal up.
“It would’ve been nice to have a couple more matches in the last few weeks, but that can be a good thing as well,” Smith said. “It gives the kids time to heal up, and now they’re chomping at the bit to get a match. So there’s pros and cons to both situations.”
The Hounds join Iowa City High, Iowa City Liberty and Iowa City West, Pella, Oskaloosa, Burlington, and Ottumwa in the district.
The Bloodhounds will field a wrestler in every weight class, with the exception of 285, where Smith said Brody Fuller is just a couple pounds away from making weight.
“He was just two pounds off last week, and we’re hoping he makes it. He’s has potential to get in there,” Smith said
Mason Schau, a senior wrestling at 160 lbs this year won’t make the trip on advice of doctors. Schau has been dealing with a lingering injury for most of the year.
But 2020 state qualifier Owen Kruse will be looking for a return trip this year at 126. Kruse qualifed at 120 lbs last year.
The top two finishers at each 8-team district advance to state. Kruse will likely be the No. 2 seed in the draw. Iowa City West’s Grant O’Dell is currently 9th in Class 3A at 126 and should draw the top spot.
Gavin Wiseman at 138 is looking for his first trip to Wells Fargo. Wiseman has been ranked No. 10 most of the year at 145 and then 138. The state’s top 138 lb. Class 3A wrestler is set to be at the Iowa City gym Saturday in West’s Hunter Garvin. Wiseman would also probably see a No 2. seed setting up a potential clash between those two before the day is out.
“It’ll be similar to last year. We don’t know for sure who’s wrestling until the rosters are entered tomorrow night, but we’re probably looking at a lot guys in the 2 through 4 spots, and that’s where we qualified a couple last year,” Smith said.
“I don’t see us having any No. 1s unless someone scratches. Owen and Gavin will both be twos and then we’ll have a lot of 3s, 4s and 5s and they will need to make their own hay.”
At 106, Henry Wiseman will land in one of the mid-range spots at 12-11 on the year. Class 3A Kael Kurtz should get the top seed there currently ranked 6th in the state.
Emmett Kruse (14-17) will wrestle at 113 and could see an upper half seed. Cale Seaton from Iowa City High is currently ranked 7th in that division and could grab the top spot.
Matthew Steffensmeier (20-15) will also grab a mid-range seed with Parker McBride of Iowa City West currently ranked 8th at 120 in 3A. McBride is the only ranked wrestler in that division.
At 132 senior Brock Califf will try to cap his senior year with a trip to the state tournament in his first year wrestling. Califf is just 10-15 on the year and will probably start with a mid-range draw, but has shown flashes of quickness and freakish strength that could prove troublesome on Saturday. West’s Kael Scranton is ranked 8th in that division and will probably draw the top spot.
At 145 Aiden Pennock will wrestle for a chance to finish in the top two. Pennock doesn’t have a current state ranked wrestler in that division, so it’s an open field.
Freshman Teague Smith (24-12) should get a top five seed but has 3rd ranked Graham Gramball in the draw. Teague qualified for the AAU state meet last year as an 8th grader.
At 160, Brant Booten will representing Fort Madison. Booten is 8-7, but again no one in the district draw there is currently in the top 10 in the state.
Freshman Ike Thacher is back after some injury time over the past few weeks. He brings an 18-10 record into districts, which could reward him with a decent seed. West’s Ashton Barker is currently ranked 3rd at 170.
The Hounds’ Austin Ensminger (12-19) will go into the 182 lb bracket where no one is currently ranked in the top 10, which could create an interesting day for the senior’s last chance to get to Des Moines.
Levi Lowney will go at 195 and should be seeded in the middle of the bracket. Iowa City High’s Ben Kueter lurks in the bracket as the top wrestler in the state in 3A at 195.
Daniel Sokolik will wrestle for Fort Madison at 220, another bracket that is wide open with no top 10 wrestlers in the draw.
Smith said he won’t single any kids out with expectations,
“They wrestle their best and they’ll be in the boat. I think we’ll have a lot of kids who’ll be in it Saturday,” he said.