Riddle 4th, Thacher 8th as season wraps in Des Moines

Bloodhounds put two on podium in Smith's final year


DES MOINES – Fort Madison put two Bloodhound wrestlers on the podium in Class 3A wrestling at the IHSAA State Wrestling Tournament this weekend, but both felt they left a little bit on the mat.
The Hounds' Ike Thacher captured 8th place at 190 lbs. after finishing fourth in 2023. And Nolan Riddle built on his 2023 appearance at Wells-Fargo Arena in Des Moines with a 4th-place finish at 157 lbs.
Both wrestlers wrapped up their senior season with solid post-season performances. Riddle went 5-2 at the tournament with losses to Grant Kress, the top-seeded wrestler at 157 and Cinsere Clark, the No. 2 seed. Kress would exit the tournament with an injury that required him to be taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital Friday night. He suffered that in a match with Iowa City High’s Kael Voinovich, who won the 157 division with a 12-3 decision of Jaxon Miller of Carlisle. Voinovich also pinned Riddle in the district title match last week.
Thacher went  3-3 in the tournament and wound up losing the 7th-place match to Johnston junior Kolby Gibbons.
Neither Thacher nor Riddle suffered a pin in the tournament.
Riddle’s 3rd place match against West Des Moines Valley's Clark was about as evenly matched as possible with a lot of action. Clark would score first when he was able to throw Riddle from a tie-up at the edge of the circle and jump on his legs on the way out for 2-points before a reset for being out of bounds. Clark took the 2-0 lead into the second period, where Riddle this time was able to get the takedown, but Clark quickly spun back over for a reversal and a 4-2 lead.
 The Bloodhound would get an escape and then lunged at Clark, who was headed for the outer circle again. Riddle grabbed Clark's legs, but the hold was ruled off the mat and no points were awarded. Trailing 4-3 going into the final two minutes, Riddle started on top and Clark escaped. Riddle took a shot that Clark was able to counter and ride the move to the 7-3 win.
“We kept on tying up and we ended up on the end of the mat every time. It came late in the match where I needed to score and I just tried something," Riddle said.
Despite the loss, he was happy with his four-day performance.
“I’d say so, yeah. I pinned my way through the whole tournament besides Kress, so I’d like to say so. I wish I could’ve ended my last match better. That’s my last match I’ll have in high school. But it is what it is - you gotta keep going,” he said.
“I came in here this time a lot more comfortable, less nerves. I knew the surroundings and the noises and it was more comforting this year.”
Riddle said he would like to wrestle in college or possibly attend a two-year college and join a police department.
Thacher, the 7th seed at 190, wound up just missing standing on the podium where he was seeded. Johnston’s Kolby Gibbons earned a 3-1 decision over Thacher in the 7th place match so the two flipped steps in the award ceremony Saturday night. Gibbons was seeded 8th coming into the tournament with a 16-2 record on Wednesday.
Thacher said he was upset that he couldn’t do more for Head Coach Ryan Smith in his last season.
“He means a lot to me… I love Coach Smith. He’s been there a lot for me and it really sucks that I couldn’t do more for him in his last season,” Thacher said.
The Hound senior said losing to Denarii Michel of Ames 2-1 in the quarters hit him mentally, a problem he’s been dealing with all season.
“I’ve had a problem with that the whole season. When I lose in a tournament, my mentality to go out there and wrestle isn’t as strong from that point.”
Thacher also said it was tough this time around wrestling without two of his classmates, Teague Smith and Henry Wiseman, who suffered injuries and weren’t able to compete at state when they deserved to be there.
“It's unfortunate that friends I’ve grown up with and wrestled with and watched build their skills with me didn’t get the opportunity that I did. And I don’t know, it kinds of sucks that I wasn’t able to perform as well as I wanted,” he said.
In the match with Gibbons, Thacher scored an escape after a scoreless first period. Gibbons deferred on the flip and Thacher started down to get the escape, but after some time in a tie-up, the two ended up pulling each other to the mat, where Gibbons was able to get control when Thacher lost hold of a leg and trailed 2-1 at the end of the second period. In the final two minutes, Both Thacher and Gibbons got a stalling warning with 35 seconds left, and in moving off the caution, Gibbons was able to escape for the 3-1 win.
Smith, who was coaching in his last tournament as a head coach, said the emotion of the last matches probably hasn’t set in yet.
“Probably not totally, but I’ll still be around. It’s not like I’m never going to come back here. Whether as a spectator or some assistance some day. Yeah, my head coaching career is over, but I’ll be around wrestling til I die,” he said with a chuckle.
Smith was proud of the way the four wrestlers competed. Joe Hartman (165) and Cory Arnett (285) both were eliminated prior to the consolation finals.
”They’re tough kids up here, and this isn’t an easy thing to do. They represented themselves well,” he said.
“To be on the podium is a damn good accomplishment and we’re happy for them for that. There’s a lot of top-eight seeded kids that don’t make the podium. In the grand scheme of things, you always want a little more, but you’re happy, and you know it could’ve been worse.”

IHSAA, Iowa High School Athletic Association, sports, varsity, wrestling, tournament, Wells-Fargo Arena, Pen City Current, Ryan Smith, Ike Thacher, Nolan Riddle,


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