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DES MOINES — New Hampton came into the Class 2A State Duals as the top-ranked team in the state and with a little swagger in their step.
In three duals on Wednesday, it showed exactly why. The Chickasaws topped Denver-Tripoli 51-23 in the first round, Davenport Assumption 46-24 in the semifinals and Solon 45-23 in the final.
With ranked wrestlers at 10 weights, it’s not hard to see how they managed to pull off a State Duals title.
“We had some good swing matches,” New Hampton head coach Nick Hemann said. “This is special, this is something great.”
Now comes the second, harder part — winning the traditional team title as well. New Hampton has won both twice in the team’s history (1990, 1993) and will be looking for its six individually-qualified wrestlers to make that happen once again.
If how those six wrestled during their three duals is any indication, New Hampton is looking pretty strong. The qualifiers went 15-1 on the day and notched 11 bonus-point wins.
As a team, the Chickasaws had 22 extra-point wins during the State Duals, with eight coming in the finale against Solon. In fact, 220-pounder Noah Hopp actually sealed the state championship with one, a quick 1:06 pin of the Spartans Jackson Walker.
“[New Hampton 106-pounder] Dylan Robinson and I said in fifth grade that this is what we wanted,” Hopp said. “We’ve been working for it ever since.”
Solon did strike first in the meet, as Drew West (126) pinned New Hampton’s Nolan Usher but the Spartans weren’t able to keep the momentum going. Solon proceeded to drop the next four matches in a row, putting itself in a 21-6 hole before the midpoint of the dual.
Three of the four matches Solon lost in that spurt were by fall and the Chickasaws had every bit of momentum they could possibly want. The turning point of the match very well could have been the last win of the spurt of four, as New Hampton’s Keegan Tenge was victorious in a dramatic match at 152 pounds.
Matched up against Solon’s No. 5-ranked Graeson Dall, Tenge had an upset brewing throughout the bout. Tied at two late in the match, Tenge got into a scramble with Dall and pinned him as the clock struck all zeros.
Pandemonium erupted as the New Hampton crowd, for a second, managed to completely drown out the rest of the fans in Wells Fargo Arena. The Spartans, meanwhile, had looks of near complete disbelief on their faces and its coaching staff was given a “coach misconduct warning” after the match. It ended up costing them a team point later in the match, as Solon was docked during the 195 bout for throwing headgear.
But for Tenge, who didn’t qualify for state individually, the win made both his upset and the team victory a little sweeter.
“It’s a great feeling, a great way to go out on top,” Tenge said. “This is what I wanted, it’s a dream come true.”
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