116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — West Liberty's Bryce Esmoil isn't one to shy away from a challenge.
The one-on-one aspect of wrestling suits him perfectly.
'Competition is amazing,' Esmoil said. 'My favorite part is knowing there's this guy they say is better and going out there to beat him. One match at a time.'
The Comets sophomore was dominant, going undefeated and helping West Liberty place third with a 3-2 record at the Doug Philipp Duals on Saturday at Cedar Rapids Xavier.
Esmoil weighed in at 195 pounds, collecting a forfeit, but moved up and recorded four pins at 220. He welcomes tougher tests, especially for the team's benefit.
'We try to get him the tougher matchup for him every time,' West Liberty Coach Jeff Wiele said. 'He loves it. He loves competition. He's one of those kids that thrives on it. The better the kid the more excited he is to wrestle. He really enjoys it. He's fun to watch.'
In the final bout, Esmoil, ranked third at 195 in Class 2A, pinned Dubuque Hempstead senior Al Freiburger, who is ranked No. 9 in 3A. He built a 4-0 lead before using a power half for the turn and adjusting for the 2:45 fall.
'My dad walked up and said you better strap up,' Esmoil said. 'This is going to be a good match.
'I went out there and wrestled my hardest.'
Esmoil demonstrates composure and maturity on and off the mat that stems from a strong work ethic and experience wrestling in major tournaments at big venues. He broke open a scoreless match with a takedown and two nearfall in the final 13 seconds of the first period.
'He's really good at that, especially scoring at the end of a period' Wiele said. 'If you yell '15 seconds' to him, you can bet more than half the time he's going to see two points somehow.'
He wrestled less than 8 minutes, 30 seconds. Even though Wiele knew the talent that entered the Comets' wrestling room last season, he continues to amaze him.
'He still impresses me,' Wiele said. 'Look what he did (Saturday).'
Wrestling is in his family's blood. His father, Mark, wrestled at Muscatine, graduating in 1989. His uncle, Matt, placed fourth at state for West Liberty in 1993. The 16-year-old started when he was in Kindergarten.
'All my cousins wrestled,' said Esmoil, recalling how he'd attend duals as a youth and steal the headgear of the Comets' Ian Alke, who is a current assistant, and watching former state runner-up Tomas Lira compete at Wells Fargo Arena. 'It's the best sport.'
Esmoil competed at Junior Nationals last summer, coming a win away from All-American honors. Last year, he placed seventh at the state tournament. As fans applauded and cameras flashed, Esmoil began thinking about state titles and the goal of wrestling after the next Grand March.
'The atmosphere was amazing,' Esmoil said. 'When I was on the podium and smiled, I looked up and looked at the West Liberty people. I was proud of being from West Liberty. It's where I was born and raised.'
The Comets won three duals, beating Anamosa (60-15), Xavier (39-36) and Marion (60-24).
'We're pretty young,' Esmoil said. 'We wrestled tough, though.'
Marion (4-7) finished fourth overall. The Indians defeated Xavier, 42-38. Heavyweight Carson Webster and Jack Eichhorn (106) posted consecutive pins in the last two matches against the Saints.
The Indians closed with a 57-21 victory over Anamosa, matching the program's victory total from last season. Colin Conway (152) and 160-pounder Brady Bartz were 5-0 Saturday.
'It's good to see the kids buying in and working hard as a team and getting some success,' Marion Coach Jason Haag said. 'We are making improvements each time they step on the mat.'
Xavier (2-6) beat Anamosa, 64-12. Top-ranked Clint Lembeck (138) and 113-pounder Jeff Vipond were unbeaten in five duals.
Dubuque Hempstead won the tournament with a 5-0 mark. Mediapolis was second.
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