BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
DES MOINES – A little bitter with the sweet came for Fort Madison’s Owen Kruse Friday night.
After securing a spot on the 126-pound podium at Saturday’s award ceremony with a win in afternoon action, Kruse suffered a 12-4 loss at the hands of Ankeny’s Cael Cox Friday night at the Iowa State Wrestling Tournament in Des Moines.
Cox used a strategy of steady leg and ankle grabs to keep Kruse wrestling defensively. The Bloodhound would get out of four of them, and then outlasted a 2-point near fall in the 2nd period, but couldn’t find a pressure point in the third to get back in the match in the last minute.
Kruse will wrestle Waverly-Shell Rock’s Carter Fecht for 7th place overall on Saturday afternoon with consolation semifinals for all classes completed before consolation finals are wrestled. Class 1A starts the consolation finals and then 3A.
Fecht was rated No. 4 in Class 3A at 126 in the final rankings.
Kruse earned a spot on the podium after winning his first consolation match Thursday night.
After taking down Marion’s Wes Logan 7-0 Thursday, Kruse squared off with Lewis Central’s Taber Dominguez around noon Friday.
The first period was a feel-out session without much action on the mat and a lot of shoving and gauging strength. Kruse was given a caution at the start of period 2 starting on top.
Dominguez then scored an escape 13 seconds into the period and was able to get Kruse to the ground, but the senior Hound held onto a leg for about 10 seconds before giving way to the 2-point fall. Kruse was able to get to the outer circle to break but had to go down on the restart.
Dominguez was then whistled for a caution on the restart for moving. He was able to stall while Kruse muscled his way toward the scorer’s table where he was able to power through to a reversal with no time left and the two points being awarded at the buzzer.
Trailing 2-3 Kruse again started down on the third and fought with Dominguez all over the mat and at one point, with less than 30 seconds left, Kruse had his chest to the mat with Dominguez in control on top.
But Kruse wasn’t done and literally muscled his way up and out of Dominguez’s grasp.
“I knew what the situation was and I was down by one, and I had to – I just had to,” Kruse said.
Kruse was able to get to his knee and sit through the hold and rollaround with just two seconds left for a 2-point reversal and then rolled Dominguez to the mat where the clock saved the pin, but not a 3-point near fall.
Head Coach Ryan Smith said he drills the Hounds in last-moment wrestling.
“We spend a lot of times in those situations – what are you going to do, you’re losing by one and the clock’s ticking,” Smith said.
“We spend a lot of times in tie-ups, too and not just to neutralize, but make offense.”
Kruse said he could tell from his opponent’s body language that there was wiggle room even in the final seconds.
“I knew he was tired and I knew I needed to go 100% to the whistle,” Kruse said.
Despite Friday night’s events, Kruse said getting on the podium was his goal and he was happy with his effort.
“The last four years it’s been everything. That’s what I’ve been working toward and now it’s real – and it’s awesome,” Kruse said.
On Thursday junior Gavin Wiseman was literally moments away from moving on the championship side of the bracket when he had Cedar Falls’ Dylan Whitt on the ropes in the second period. Whitt advanced to the semifinals at 138.
Wiseman trailed 2-1 after the first period after scoring an escape. Then the junior leveraged an arm and circled Whitt for about 20 seconds trying to force a rollover. Whitt finally gave in but was able to use Wiseman’s momentum to keep the roll moving and avoid a pin. Wiseman did get a 2-point near fall for the quick roll past the shoulders and led 3-2 after two periods.
Starting down, Wiseman gained a point on an escape and had dashed at Whitt out of the escape, the two engaged in a scrum for position, but Whitt was able to win out with 1:10 left in the period and get position for two points and Wiseman wouldn’t be able to get out.
In the consolation round, Wiseman suffered a first round pin to No. 4 Jackson Helmkamp of Ankeny Centennial, ending the junior’s stay at the tourney.
“That first match, you know, I did everything pretty well in the first two periods and going into the third period was up by one and was pretty confident,” Wiseman said.
“Then I just got a little sloppy with the rest and it came back to bite me in the butt.
“I’m excited I still have next year to come back up here. Got a feel for things this year and we’ll look to do more next year for sure.”
Smith said Wiseman will learn a lot from the first match and will bring that with him into the next season and a possible return trip.
“He wrestled an awesome match against at top tier opponent and a kid who’s made it to the semis,” Smith said of Wiseman’s first match.
“With a minute with left he was in control. It was a good learning experience and the good thing is he gets to bring that back next year.”