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DES MOINES — Iowa City West’s Nelson Brands preferred the repeat performance.
Western Dubuque’s Max Lyon favored his first title run a little more.
They both can agree this year’s state tournament was twice as nice.
Brands and Lyon each won their second consecutive state titles at the Iowa high school Class 3A state wrestling tournament Saturday night at Wells Fargo Arena.
Brands defeated Fort Dodge’s second-ranked Cayd Lara, 11-9, for the 152-pound title, adding it to his 138 crown last season. He is the sixth wrestler in West history to win multiple titles and the first since Phil Laux won consecutive titles in 2011-12.
“The second is way better,” Brands said. “Now, I just have to get that third.”
He also matched the feat of his father, University of Iowa associate head coach Terry Brands, who won titles in 1985 and 1986 for Sheldon. The Trojans junior is already looking to put ol’ dad in his rearview mirror.
“I am myself,” the younger Brands said, “but it’s going to feel good to one-up my dad.”
Brands (54-1) had to scrap for his second gold. He built a 4-2 lead in the first, but Lara stormed back, cinching up a cradle for a takedown and two nearfall as the second period expired for an 8-6 lead.
Brands was unfazed. He added an escape and two takedowns with the final coming with about 35 seconds left. Brands rode Lara out for the victory.
“I got caught there,” Brands said. “I got to keep working. I’ve got to keep the pace super high.”
Brands opened the tournament with dominant performances and gutted out two victories to close the tournament. He demonstrated toughness and maturity to overcome those challenges, including the third-period deficit in the final.
“He trusts in what he’s done, what he’s trained and what he’s been doing all year,” Reiland said. “We just keep reinforcing to follow the plan. Stick to what you know best.
You just believe in what you’ve been doing and trust that.”
Lyon (52-0) had a little easier time, beating Glenwood’s second-ranked Anthony Sherry and becoming Western Dubuque’s first two-time state champion.
“For me, the first one was better because of just coming off second place I wanted to get first place so bad,” said Lyon, a three-time finalist and four-time medalist. “The second one, getting your hand raised feels all the same. You get that excitement, that rush. It’s great.”
Lyon scored bookend takedowns for a 7-0 decision at 182. He established the tone immediately, getting the first takedown about five seconds into the match.
“It’s always the plan,” Lyon said. “If you’re wrestling your match, you’re going to win matches.”
Lyon was one of three Western Dubuque finalists that doubled the school’s individual championship total to six. Not only was Lyon joined by 132-pounder Bradan Birt and heavyweight Aaron Costello, but they swept their finals bouts, helping the Bobcats to a program-best fourth in the team standings.
“Coach is always saying to leave the program better than you found it,” Lyon said. “I think me and my class have done that. With three finalists this year, it’s never happened. With me being the first two-time state champion, I hope it's momentum going forward and there is more good things to come for them.”
Birt (48-3) matched the accomplishment of his brother, Tristan Birt, who won a 2014 2A title for Dubuque Wahlert. The Bobcats senior upset Southeast Polk’s top-ranked Cade DeVos, 14-10.
“It meant a lot to see him win,” Lyon said of Birt. “It was pretty cool.”
Costello (53-0) capped the Bobcats' week with the perfect exclamation point. Costello held a 1-0 lead when he tossed Indianola’s third-ranked Eagan Lickiss for a second-period fall.
“I got a hold that I like,” Costello said. “He pushed in and I went with the move.”
Costello was a state runner-up last year. He was determined to close out his career on top of the podium.
“It’s really exciting,” Costello said. “I did it in front of a lot of fans. Did it with two other guys tonight and it’s a lot of excitement for Bobcat Nation.”
Southeast Polk won its third straight team title, sweeping the traditional and State Duals competition. The Rams received a title from 145-pounder Zach Barnes and had five other finalists, scoring 158 1/2 points.
Fort Dodge was second, crowing two champions. The Dodgers’ Brody Teske (120) won his third state title and remains unbeaten in his three-year career, improving to 49-0 this season and 135-0 for his career.
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