Iowa City West's Nelson Brands wins Independence title

Lisbon's Werderman claims 170-pound crown, Lions place sixth

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INDEPENDENCE — Iowa City West’s Nelson Brands is happy to be competing again.

The Trojans’ two-time state champion missed some time during the summer and spent a third of the year without an official match.

Brands certainly picked up where last season ended. He won five matches, recording three pins and a technical fall, and won the 160-pound title at the two-day Cliff Keen Independence Invitational on Saturday.

Class 3A top-ranked Brands improved to 7-0 with a 16-9 championship decision over Mediapolis’ Brennan Swafford, who is ranked second in 1A.

“It’s the first big matches of the year,” Brands said. “I felt a little bit off balance but I’ve been off the mat for about four months. I felt good.

“I missed (Junior Nationals in) Fargo (N.D.) and all that stuff but it’s felt good to get back into competition.”

Brands handled the field, pinning both opponents Friday including one in nine seconds. He scored 25 points in his quarterfinal victory and built a double-digit lead before a semifinal pin. His only hiccup was in the finals, working on a major decision but surrendering a late takedown to win one point shy.

“It was more workmanlike than anything,” West Coach Mark Reiland said. “He’s slowed down his pace a little bit. He’s been fighting some sickness and I think that’s playing a part in the confidence he has going out there right now.”

Brands was one of the most dominant wrestlers in the state, tallying almost 500 takedowns last season. He showed signs of that with seven takedowns against Swafford, including three in the third. Brands is ready to continue to build on the start as he gets more mat time.

“I feel a lot better than last year, if I wanted to compare it to last year, but I don’t want to compare it to last year,” Brands said. “I’m getting better every single day (and) that’s my goal every day.”

Lisbon’s Bryce Werderman followed Brands on the championship mat. He was one of two Lisbon finalists. Werderman captured gold, dropping Clarion-Goldfield-Dows’ Reymundo Vasquez, 9-4, at 170.

Werderman was seventh here last season, but placed sixth at state.

“I knew I’d have a tough weekend and I needed to dig through and get what I can,” Werderman said. “I know it’s only going to get me better for the end of the year.”

Lisbon Coach Brad Smith said Werderman is a “hard-nosed” kid. Werderman said he has made the most strides scoring points, which showed with four takedowns against Vasquez.

“My offense,” Werderman said. “That’s the key now. Just keep going. Always attacking and attacking. Needing to get the last takedown even if you’re still up.”

Lisbon state champion Cael Happel reached the 120-pound final, but gave up a five-point throw to Cevion Severado of Christian Brothers College (Mo.) High School and fell 10-6. Severado was a silver medalist in Greco-Roman at the 2017 Junior World Championships.

Solon heavyweight Tyler Linderbaum produced a strong start to the season despite limited practice after being a key piece to a state semifinal football team. He broke open a 1-1 match in the third with a takedown and two nearfall, dropping Algona’s Dominick Etherington, 5-2 for the title.

Linderbaum finished with two overtime victories and a good showing in the finals of a tough bracket.

“For him to do what he did, he’s got a good start to the season,” Solon Coach Blake Williams said. “He’s just such a fierce competitor (and) that’s why he has excelled in anything he does.”

North Fayette Valley returning state champion Jordan Baumler earned another gold. Top-ranked Baumler scored a third-period escape for a 3-2 victory over Independence’s No. 8 Hunter Crawford for the 220-pound title.

Alburnett’s Tanner Sloan earned a runner-up finish, losing to Iowa State recruit Tyler Buesgens of Scott West (Minn.) High School in the 195-pound final. Sloan was impressive, forging his way to the championship bout. He beat Waterloo East’s Class 3A top-ranked Tyrell Gordon, 6-0, in the semifinals and Missouri standout Charlie Cadell of Christian Brothers College High School.

Sloan, No. 1 in 1A, said he made a claim to being the top 195-pounder in the state.

“It was pretty cool,” Sloan said about beating some higher seeds. “It didn’t end up how I wanted.”

Class 3A second-ranked Fort Dodge captured the title in the 31-team field. The Dodgers won all four championship matches, receiving a technical fall from three-time state champion and Penn State recruit Brody Teske, a major decision from 106-pound freshman Drake Ayala and Cayd Lara’s decision at 152.

Fort Dodge finished with 386 points, 86 1/2 more than runner-up Christian Brothers which also crowned four champions. Scott West was third with 287 1/2 points.

CLIFF KEEN INDEPENDENCE INVITATIONAL

At Independence

Teams — 1. Fort Dodge 386, 2. Christian Brothers College (Mo.) 299.5, 3. Scott West (Minn.) 287.5, 4. New Hampton 260.5, 5. Clarion-Goldfield-Dows 256.5, 6. Lisbon 253, 7. C.R. Prairie 249.5, 8. Crestwood 213, 9. Smithville (Mo.) 204.5, 10. Solon 192, 11. South Tama 185, 12. Iowa City West 182.5, 13. Linn-Mar 181.5, 14. Ankeny 178, 15. Fort Madison. Other area teams — 16. Independence 148.5, 21. North Fayette Valley 107, 22. C.R. Xavier 103.5, 23. Maquoketa 94, 25. Alburnett 83, 28. Clear Creek Amana 46.

Championship matches

106 pounds — Drake Ayala (Fort Dodge) major dec. Jarod Kadel (Columbus County), 12-4; 113 — Vincent Zerban (Christian Brothers College) dec. Caleb Rathjen (Ankeny), 6-5; 120 — Cevion Severado (Christian Brothers College) dec. Cael Happel (Lisbon), 10-6; 126 — Brody Teske (Fort Dodge) tech. fall Jackson Stauffacher (Scott West), 19-4; 132 — Drew Bennett (Fort Dodge) major dec. Brady Fritz (South Tama), 12-4; 138 — Kyle Prewitt (Christian Brothers College) dec. Tyler Shackle (Scott West), 3-2; 145 — Michael Blockhus (New Hampton) dec. Joshua Saunders (Christian Brothers College), 5-3; 152 — Cayd Lara (Fort Dodge) dec. Alex Rivera (Smithville), 12-8; 160 — Nelson Brands (I.C. West) dec. Brennan Swafford (Mediapolis), 16-9; 170 — Bryce Werderman (Lisbon) dec. Reymundo Vasquez (Clarion-Goldfield-Dows), 9-4; 182 — D.J. Shannon (Christian Brothers College) dec. Jacob Wempen (Linn-Mar), 11-4; 195 — Tyler Buesgens (Scott West) pinned Tanner Sloan (Alburnett), 1:27; 220 — Jordan Baumler (North Fayette Valley) dec. Hunter Crawford (Independence), 3-2; Hwt. — Tyler Linderbaum (Solon) dec. Dominick Etherington (Algona), 5-2.

l Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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