West Liberty's Joe Kelly tops state champion for Mount Vernon Invitational crown

Kelly and heavyweight Andy Lopez help Comets tie Lisbon for team title

MOUNT VERNON — Joe Kelly was feeling a little under the weather.

Just a cold and nothing that resembled the circulated rumors.

The West Liberty senior looked healthy, capturing the 152-pound title and helping the Comets tie Lisbon for the team title Saturday at the Mount Vernon Invitational. Kelly was one of three West Liberty champions, matching the Lions’ individual title haul and their 222 team points.

Kelly, ranked second in Class 2A, defeated Wapsie Valley’s returning state champion and 1A top-ranked Kaleb Krall, 12-3, for the 152 crown. He beat two ranked wrestlers Saturday and welcomed the challenge.

“I love wrestling people at the top,” said Kelly, a three-time state medalist and 2016 state runner-up. “It lets me know where I am and where I need to be.”

Kelly wasn’t thrilled with where he was at after his 16-8 major decision semifinal victory over East Buchanan’s Brayden Nunemaker, who is fourth at 145 in 1A. He hydrated and made sure to refuel his nutrition, outscoring Krall 12-1 after surrendering the first takedown.

The University of Iowa signee kept on his attack with two reversals, two takedowns and four nearfall.

“I came in ready to compete,” Kelly said. “I came in ready to wrestle to the end.”

The team title came down to the end of the tournament as well. State champion Bryce Esmoil won by fall in the 195 championship match, pulling West Liberty within four points and setting the stage for heavyweight Andy Lopez.

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Lopez heard the announcements of the team race and knew what was at stake. He had been in that position before last season at a dual-meet tournament. Lopez delivered again, posting a 4-0 decision over Mitchell Huisenga, of Washington (Iowa) in the final.

“It was exciting,” Lopez said. “It’s fun.

“I wanted to pin him to win it for the team, but the win is OK.”

Lisbon received titles from 120-pounder Cael Happel and brothers Cobe and Cooper Siebrecht. Happel dominated Wapello’s third-ranked Daniel Meeker, 22-7, in the final.

Cobe Siebrecht added a 12-2 major decision against Cascade’s No. 8 Nolan Noonan at 126, improving to 18-1. Cooper Siebrecht (17-2) topped Dyersville Beckman’s seventh-ranked Jake Recker, 5-2, for the 145 championship.

“They’re both good technically,” Lisbon Coach Brad Smith said of the Siebrechts. “They are hard-nosed and don’t give up points.”

Top-ranked Lisbon had five finalists and placed 11 wrestlers in the top six. Smith said the Lions had some good showings, but others lost some key consolation matches.

“I expected more,” Smith said. “Overall, I thought we wrestled well. It was not one of our best performances, though.”

Sigourney-Keota crowned two champions in 106-pounder Mason Dye and 220-pounder Kaleb Reeves, whose championship pin kept West Liberty within four points going into the last bout.

Mount Vernon’s Ryan Clark captured gold at his home tournament. Clark, ranked eighth in 2A, used two first-period takedowns for a 6-5 victory over Cedar Rapids Xavier’s Ivan Thomas in the 113 final.

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Beckman’s Luke Hageman (160) and 170-pounder Tristin Westphal-Edwards, of Washington (Iowa) also won titles.

MOUNT VERNON INVITATIONAL

At Mount Vernon

Teams – 1. (tie) Lisbon and West Liberty 222, 3. Mount Vernon 165, 4. Davenport Assumption 153, 5. Washington, Iowa 150.5, 6. Wapsie Valley 103.5, 7. Dyersville Beckman 87, 8. East Buchanan 85, 9. Wapello 84.5, 10. Sigourney-Keota 66.5, 11. Louisa-Muscatine 64.5, 12. C.R. Xavier 53, 13. Cascade 52, 14. Marion 31, 15. Mid-Prairie 18.

Championship matches

106 pounds – Mason Dye (S-K) major dec. Aidan Nooan (Cas), 12-3; 113 – Ryan Clark (MV) dec. Ivan Thomas (CRX), 6-5; 120 – Cael Happel (Lis) tech. fall Daniel Meeker (Wap), 22-7; 126 – Cobe Siebrecht (Lis) major dec. Nolan Noonan (Cas), 12-2; 132 – Matt Robertson (DA) dec. Will Esmoil (WL), 6-4; 138 – Donny Schmitt (WV) dec. Coy Ruess (WL), 11-4; 145 – Cooper Siebrecht (Lis) dec. Jake Recker (DB), 5-2; 152 – Joe Kelly (WL) major dec. Kaleb Krall (WV), 12-3; 160 – Luke Hageman (DB) dec. Paul Ryan (MV), 1-0; 170 – Tristin Westphal-Edwards (Wash) dec. Bryce Werderman (Lis), 5-3; 182 – Hunter Connor (L-M) dec. Owen Grover (DB), 8-6 SV1; 195 – Bryce Esmoil (WL) pinned Heath Weber (EB), 2:41; 220 – Kaleb Reeves (S-K) pinned Logan O’Connor (Lis), 1:45; Hwt. – Andy Lopez (WL) dec. Mitchell Huisenga (Wash), 4-0.

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

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