DES MOINES — On paper, it was a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup in the 170-pound semifinals of the Class 3A state wrestling tournament.
In reality, it was all Cedar Rapids Kennedy’s top-ranked Ben Sarasin from start to finish Friday at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa.
Sarasin beat Linn-Mar’s Jacob Wempen by major decision, 11-3.
Sarasin opened with a takedown seven seconds into the match and never looked back.
“That first takedown was huge for my confidence for the rest of the match, knowing I can take him down — not easily — but I could take him down without too much struggle,” Sarasin said. “After that, I was just trying to rack up points. I was being a little bit too conservative at points, but I was really feeling myself after that first takedown.”
Kennedy assistant coach Craig Mallicoat said Sarasin wrestled a smart match. Sarasin and Wempen have wrestled before, so Sarasin knew what to expect, but he still had to execute.
Sarasin got five takedowns in the match — two in the first and second periods and one in the third. Sarasin got a takedown at the end of every period so he could get a ride-out and not allow an escape. That’s what allowed him to secure the major decision,
“(The major decision) makes a statement,” Sarasin said. “That’s a big deal. It makes a statement to the opponent I have in the finals, it makes a statement to the fans and it makes a statement to me that I can do it — I can score a lot against any of the top guys.”
Sarasin wrestles Waukee’s No. 3 Anthony Zach in the finals. This is Sarasin’s first finals appearance.
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“If he moves his feet, that’s his key to victory,” Mallicoat said. “When he moves his feet, and gets into a rhythm — that’s what he needs to do. He needs to wrestle the same match he wrestled tonight, really. He needs to wrestle smart, and he has to move his feet — I can’t stress that enough. I might as well record it and just play a recording. If he moves his feet, it’s hard for anyone to keep up with him.”
Sarasin knows he’ll be nervous, but he just needs to stay loose keep attacking.
“He needs to basically go out there and wrestle with blinders on,” Kennedy head coach Dennis Hynek said. “The outside noise is what it is and he has a good opportunity. He’s having fun out there. If he can go out there loose and be on the balls of his feet and move his hands and his feet, then I think he’ll have a really good opportunity.”
Sarasin is Kennedy’s only wrestler still alive in the tournament. He’s scored 22 of the team’s 28 points. Kennedy sits in 17th place after the second day of wrestling.
Iowa City West has two grapplers in the finals. No. 1 Nelson Brands (160) will wrestle Iowa City, City High’s No. 4 Wilfred Kadohou and Francis Duggan (220) will wrestle No. 2 Greg Hagan of West Des Moines Dowling. West is in sixth place with 63 team points.
City High sits one spot in front of West with 65 team points. City High has three wrestlers still alive: Kadohou at 160 pounds and Jacob Dykes (195) are both wrestling for state titles. Ethan Wood-Finley (106) lost in the semifinals to Mason City’s Cullan Schriever, and he’ll wrestle on the consolations side of the bracket on Saturday.
Fort Dodge still paces the pack with 128 team points. The next closest team, Waukee, has 102 points.
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