Hounds send seven to state tourney Wednesday

Six FM wrestlers finish top two at Bettendorf qualifier


BETTENDORF – Fort Madison went into the late afternoon of Saturday’s Class 3A state qualifier with 10 wrestlers still in reach of a spot at next week’s state tournament in Des Moines.

By the end of the day, seven Bloodhounds punched their ticket to next week’s Iowa High School Athletic Association’s State Wrestling Tournament at Wells Fargo Arena starting Wednesday. Class 3A action takes place at 6 p.m. Wednesday-Friday with finals on Saturday, Feb. 18.

With the new format, the top three wrestlers in each weight class from the district events advance to the state final. That move opened the door for many wrestlers, but sucked a little of the excitement out of the district championship matches.

Four of the Bloodhounds advanced to the title match including Teague Smith at 170 lbs., Aidan Pennock at 152, Ike Thacher at 195, Daniel Sokolik at 220, and Nolan Riddle at 145.

Thacher, a junior, had the easiest road to the title at 195. Thacher wrestled a total of 86 seconds to take the title. In the 1st place match off the whistle, Thacher grabbed the back of the head of Bettendorf’s Ronan Numkena and pulled him to the mat, and after about 20 seconds of control, Thacher registered the pin for the title. Thacher was ranked 8th in the state at 195 going into the match.

“He’s just been on a roll,” said Head Coach Ryan Smith. “He’s a handful and he’s looking very tough. Dominant. Not just squeaking out matches. He’s looking very good.”

Smith’s match for the title at 170 was one of the most exciting matches of the night in the waning moments. Smith had a 6-4 lead with 10 seconds left in the match when Bettendorf’s Armon Williams executed a last-second reversal as the two tumbled out of the circle when the timer hit 0. Officials originally ruled that the match was tied giving Williams a 2-point reversal, but the points were wiped away after a consultation when the two officials ruled time had expired on the match.

Head Coach Ryan Smith said he was absolutely sure time had expired.

“Yeah, there was just no time left for him to have executed that,” Smith said. “They made the right decision.”

Smith said he was happy for his son who missed qualifying last year, finishing 3rd at Iowa City West.

“I’m happy for him because he works hard. You know sometimes the best wrestlers don’t make it. That’s what's great about this new format. Before, there were a lot of really good wrestlers who didn’t get to go to state, and now more of those kids get to go,” Smith said.

Teague Smith said he didn’t wrestle his best match in the finals, but he was ecstatic to be able to go to Des Moines and represent Fort Madison. Smith said the added number of wrestlers at state doesn’t change his mindset at all.

“It doesn’t mean anything to me. It’s just about wrestling. Going out there and competing,” Smith said.

“I’m very excited about this. Last year, I didn’t make it and this year I went out and got the job done.”

Sokolik forfeited his finals match against the state’s top-ranked wrester in Iowa City’s Ben Keuter after securing a spot in the top three.

Sokolik advanced with pins in the first and second round at 220. The senior’s been battling a knee injury for most of the season and opted to protect the injury rather than tussle with the University of Iowa signee.

Nolan Riddle and Bettendorf’s Tyco Carmichael battled to a 0-0 first period score in the title match at 145. Riddle took the down spot and got wrapped up in a package about 18 seconds into the 2nd period and succumbed to the pin. But with the change in format, Riddle wasn’t wrestling for much more than a better seed Wednesday.

“Today was pretty good. I can’t ask for a lot more. I’m going to state. Tyco is a good wrestler and I can hang with him on my feet. I struggled with him when I was down,” Riddle said.

Riddle said he’s ready for the state tournament.

“I’m ready for it. I’ve been training all year for it and I’m excited.”

At 152, Aiden Pennock got in trouble early with Bettendorf’s Elijah Mendoza and trailed 4-0 early after a takedown and nearfall. Pennock rolled out of a package to curb the damage, but Mendoza was able to rework the hold for the pin in the first period.

“Last year I was just a match away and lost and didn’t get to go. This year, my focus was getting to the finals and punching my ticket on my own terms,” Pennock said.

“Now that I know I’m going to get there, it really put a topping on my day, despite not wrestling very well in that last match.”

Ryan Smith said almost every Bloodhound wrestled above their seed.

"I don’t think there’s a weight where we wrestled below our seed and there were quite a few where we wrestled above our seed. Noah was seeded fifth and he finished third and actually wrestled for second so he knocked off some kids above him at 120,” Smith said.

The new format did take some of the luster out of the title matches with both wrestlers in those matches being assured a state entry. The matches were for bragging rights and seeding at the tournament.

“I’m not against the top three going. Because there have been many years, and not just us - other teams as well, where there were some really, really good kids that deserved to go to state and didn't.”

Noah Swigart and Logan Pennock both locked up berths wrestling back through the consolation side. Swigart got a shot at 2nd place, but it was moot with the top 3 all going to state. Pennock finished second when the kid he was supposed to wrestle for a true second was given a medical forfeit.

“I didn’t wrestle my freshman year. I was on the fence about it this year and people got me to wrestle and I don’t regret it at all,” Swigart said.

“This is just a phenomenal experience. I just want to wrestle hard up there and do the best I can.”

Logan Pennock also finished third in 2022 and said something has clicked this year.

“This feels really good. I think I could have made the finals and competed,” Pennock said. “I just got caught on my back.

“This feels really good to be able to go this year. Last year was an upset, but something clicked in my head this year and I’ve been wrestling better.”

Emmett Kruse (160), Cory Arnett (285), and Landon Rudd (182) all had chances to get to state but were stifled in their 3rd place matches. Kruse had a couple big wins on the day, but couldn’t find a path out of a pickle in the consolation finals.

Kruse trailed just 6-3 going into the third period of the 3rd place match, but Dubuque Senior’s Beau Healey tallied four near falls and a takedown in the third period to pull a tech fall 19-4.

Davenport North’s Jeremiah Henderson and Arnett engaged in hand fighting for most of the first two periods in the 285 lb. 3rd place match. Arnett went for a toss in the middle of the third that backfired and ended up with the Bloodhound on his back on the mat giving Henderson the points he needed to secure the win and the tournament berth.

Rudd went 1-1 on the day but lost to Burlington's Solomon Cordero in the 3rd place match by pin in the 3rd period.

Tatum Schelich and Hayden Woolever also participated Saturday, but were eliminated with two consecutive losses.

Fort Madison, wrestling, high school, districts, qualifier, Bettendorf, Bloodhounds, state tournament, Wells Fargo Arena, Pen City current, sports,


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