DES MOINES — Nelson Brands let his actions do all the talking this week.
His final performance spoke volumes about the dominance to close his prep career.
The Iowa City West senior needed just 3:15 for to post his second technical fall of the tournament, manhandling Iowa City High’s Wilfred Kadohou, 22-7, for the 160-pound championship at the Class 3A state wrestling tournament Saturday night at Wells Fargo Arena.
Brands apprehensively and modestly flashed three fingers to the sold out crowd and calmly walked away from the mat after winning his third title. He became just the second Trojan with at least three state titles, joining four-time champion Nick Moore (2007-10).
“It doesn’t mean a whole lot,” Brands said. “It means I was one off four and it’s something that I missed.
“I’m not going to live in the past, though. I’m moving on to bigger and better things, moving on to Iowa. I’ve got to be ready to go for the second half of my wrestling career.”
Brands was almost dismissive of the feat, discussing his plans for the upcoming freestyle and Greco-Roman seasons. He owns as many state titles as his dad, Terry (2), and his uncle, Tom (1), have combined.
West Coach Mark Reiland said Nelson can approach the accomplishment any way he wants.
“He acts like he’s been there before,” Reiland said. “Really, that’s what it’s all about.”
Brands was business all week, declining media interviews and focusing on the task at hand.
“I just wanted to relax,” Brands said, “and get ready for this finals match.”
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Brands bolted to a 10-4 lead with five takedowns in the first period. In the second, Brands took Kadohou down to his back twice before the match was terminated. He competed at his typical fast pace.
“It’s how I wrestle every single match,” Brands said. “I wasn’t really thinking specifically for him.”
Brands improved to 55-1, adding to his 152-pound title a year ago and 138 crown as a sophomore. It’s hard to believe he did not qualify as a freshman, but the gains he made between his first two seasons were tremendous. Brands just focused on getting better each season.
“The biggest thing is consistency,” Brands said. “It was a big jump from freshman to sophomore year and I’m glad I made that jump.”
West had two champions. Francis Duggan (15-2) claimed the 220-pound title, beating West Des Moines Dowling’s Greg Hagan, 13-4, in the finals.
Cedar Rapids Kennedy’s Ben Sarasin capped a perfect season, capturing the 170-pound title with a 9-5 victory over Waukee’s Anthony Zach. The finish was a dream fulfilled after getting third last year and fourth as a sophomore.
“It’s crazy,” Sarasin said. “This is something I’ve been dreaming about for so long. I’ve come to state and been denied for so many years.”
He couldn’t be stopped Saturday night, especially in the opening period. Sarasin took a commanding lead with two takedowns in the first with his explosive shots. He added a takedown in the second and reversal in the third.
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“I’m going to wrestle my style and be aggressive,” said Sarasin, who will wrestle next year at University of Chicago. “It worked out. That’s what I always do.”
Sarasin won Kennedy’s first title since Cruse Aarhus in 2007 and 11th overall. He imagined his name added to the list of champions on the wrestling room wall.
“I’ve thought about it a little bit,” Sarasin said. “It’s going to feel really good to have my name go up on the wall and part of that is being a role model for kids in the future, looking up there and saying I want to be like him. That’s huge for me. I think it’s really cool.”
City High’s Jacob Dykes joined Kadohou in the finals. Dykes entered last year’s tournament unbeaten but finished fifth. He said he felt he took his rightful place among the titlists Saturday, beating Indianola’s Reece Bowlin, 7-2, for the 195 championship.
“It’s great, being able to come out here where I feel like I’ve been the last few years,” Dykes said. “Just coming up short, whether it’s been my physical stamina or just the short end of the stick anywhere else. It’s just nice being able to complete what I came here to do.”
Dykes (45-1) said he felt butterflies flutter, waiting to wrestle. Those subsided when he scored the first of three takedowns, scoring one per period and icing it with one late in the match.
“I’ve never been nervous before a high school match, but I was really feeling it in the tunnel there, walking out and pacing on the mat,” said Dykes, City High’s first state champ since Kyle Anson and Zach McKray won in 2005. “After I finally got that first takedown in the early first, everything is like all right. It’s just another one, being able to go out and have fun in my last match.”
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