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DES MOINES — The state trophy has reached its new home in Solon.
Well before the Solon caravan toted the hardware down I-80, each Spartan qualifier had a hand in grabbing the championship.
Solon needed every single point to capture its first state wrestling team title, capitalizing on numerous opportunities throughout the three days of the Class 2A tournament at Wells Fargo Arena.
Solon edged New Hampton, 96 1/2-96, tying the closest team race — excluding ties — since Dallas Center-Grimes topped North Tama by a half-point for the Class 1A title in 1984.
“They had a goal at the beginning of the year that this is what they wanted to do,” Solon Coach Blake Williams said. “We came up a little short in the Duals with a runner-up.”
Senior Bryce West won his third title at 126 pounds, earning a major decision for a vital extra point. The Spartans had a number of instances where extra effort accounted for the margin of victory.
All eight qualifiers scored at least two points in what Williams called a “total team effort.” They tallied 23 1/2 bonus points overall.
The Spartans’ success in consolation rounds powered them, helping the take the lead when New Hampton went 0-5 Saturday morning and setting the stage for West.
They won all three consolation matches with bonus points the first day. Solon had a fifth-place finish from heavyweight Tyler Linderbaum and Trevor Nelson was sixth at 160. Williams rallied the team Friday night.
Ben Carr (138) had bookend bonus-point victories. He posted a technical fall in the final seconds of his first-round match. Carr added a pin in the third-place match.
“We said we can still win this thing still,” Williams told the team. “Take care of what you can control in that consolation round and they did.
“Ben Carr getting that fall in the third-place match (was) huge.”
Solon’s Graeson Dall competed on a broken leg and had to default from the tournament. He was on crutches, celebrating with the team when the title was clinched. Dall shed tears of joy.
Without his first-round fall, the Spartans would have two runner-up trophies.
“It all makes sense,” Dall said. “Everything is coming clear why this happened and why this happened to me. I believe it happened for a reason. I was supposed to come down here and win that one match.”
Solon just missed a sweep, but they were able to get the job done.
“It means a lot,” Carr said. “Especially since Wednesday stung a lot, so this helps heal it.”
HURT HENDERSON WINS
The week before the state tournament North Linn senior Brock Henderson was in a walking boot, suffering a hurt ankle during regional dual competition.
The injury didn’t stop him from winning his second straight state title. Henderson scored a takedown, a strong ride and an escape to defeat Southeast Warren/Melcher-Dallas' Brady Kyner, 3-0, for the 120-pound crown.
“He wasn’t moving as well as he does,” North Linn Coach Brad Bridgewater said. “I told him if Jordan Burroughs can win a world title on one leg then he could win a state title on one.”
Henderson improved to 48-2, giving him a career mark of 175-9 and breaking the school’s wins record of 167 held by four-time state champ Dan LeClere. He finished as a four-time state medalist, placing fourth or better each time.
“Brock’s a great kid,” Bridgewater said. “He’s an extremely hard worker. He’s what you want in your wrestlers.”
BIG MEN WIN TITLES
North Fayette Valley’s Jordan Baumler and Mount Vernon heavyweight Tristan Wirfs closed the 2A tournament with big wins.
Baumler reached the state final, following his brother, Nick, who was a runner-up in 2015 and 2016. This time, a Baumler came away with gold, scoring a takedown as time expired to beat Creston/O-M’s Kadon Hulett, 6-5, at 220.
“It is unbelievable,” Baumler said as tears streamed down his face. “I worked so hard. An injury last year crushed his dreams, broke my heart. He had worked so hard so I knew I just had to do for him and I did it.”
It was the program’s first title since Lance Guyer in 1998, coming before North Fayette merged with Valley Community.
Wirfs also had a one-point victory. The 6-foot-5, 285-pounder caught Mustangs coach Vance Light and then was lifted in the air by assistant coach Aaron Truitt, following his 3-2 victory over Atlantic-CAM’s No. 3 John McConkey.
The pair exchanged escapes and Wirfs, a highly touted offensive line recruit for the University of Iowa, drug his toes in for a decisive takedown with 1:20 left. Wirfs (21-3) is the first Mustang to win a heavyweight crown since Matt Kroul in 2004.
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