116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Matt Culver is an accomplished student-athlete.
Not only is he a member of Cedar Rapids Jefferson's wrestling team, but he also plays football and baseball, earning a state team trophy in each. Culver is also a member of the National Honors Society, participating in Academic Decathlon.
Now, the J-Hawk senior can add champion of his home prep wrestling tournament to the list.
Culver claimed his first title at Jefferson's J-Hawk Invitational on Saturday. Culver handled Alburnett's Tucker Franklin, 19-6, in the 160-pound championship.
'It's pretty big,' said Culver, who owns about a 4.40 grade-point average and 34 ACT. 'Ever since I was a freshman I wanted to win my (home) tournament. I wanted to go out with a bang and go out on top.'
Jefferson Coach Matt Orton laughed when he said he encourages others, including his daughter, to be more like Culver. He recalled him studying for on the way to Iowa City for practices with the Eastern Iowa Wrestling Club. His dedication has paid dividends on and off the mat.
'He's a great kid,' said Orton, noting Culver has applied for admission to Stanford. 'I wish I had more like him.'
Culver is ranked fourth in Class 3A but was seeded third behind top-seeded Franklin, who is ranked ninth in 1A and New Hampton's 2A second-ranked Ryan Gorman.
Culver was on a mission in the final, tallying six takedowns in the first two periods and adding three nearfall for a 15-5 lead. He padded his lead in the third with two more takedowns.
'I felt quick on my feet,' Culver said. 'I just focused on hitting my stuff. I wanted to push the pace.'
The recent plan has been to place more confidence in his conditioning, pushing his opponents and being able to sense when they break.
'I think he's getting better at doing that,' Orton said. 'He's smart and listens.'
Culver cleared a tall hurdle to reach the finals, beating Gorman. He scored two takedowns in the final period for a 5-2 decision. The semifinal victory boosted his confidence.
'I knew going in that was going to be one of my toughest matches of the day,' Culver said. 'It felt good to get through that and over that hump.'
Culver is looking to cap his final campaign with another first. He has yet to reach the state tournament. His sights are set for Wells Fargo Arena and have been since a lost at last year's district meet.
'Getting to Des Moines would mean a lot,' Culver said. 'That's what I've been working for all four years.'
Alburnett's Tanner Sloan was second at the J-Hawk Invitational last season, but this time he finished the job. Sloan, ranked first in 1A, needed just 1:27 to deck Indianola's Kade Kolarik for the 170-pound title.
'I took another step,' said Sloan, the defending 1A state champion. 'That's positive. I've been working hard. I feel I have more options.'
Sloan said he has tried to expand his offensive repertoire, working on chain wrestling and transitions emphasized by Alburnett Coach Clayton Rush. He executed it well in the final, working from a butcher to a half-nelson to end it. It was his third first-period pin of the day.
With the postseason approaching, Sloan will attempt to test his stamina.
'Get on the mat more and build up my lungs,' Sloan said. 'Wrestle more than a couple of minutes.'
West Delaware's Mitch Mangold (145) and Harrison Goebel (182) reached the final. Goebel improved to 23-2 this season, beating Waterloo East's top-seeded Tyrell Gordon, 6-2, in the final. It was his second victory over a ranked 3A foe, pinning Fort Dodge's Keaton Dornath in the semifinals.
'He had a good day,' West Delaware Coach Jeff Voss said. 'He has become a little more consistent in what he's doing.'
Goebel scored a takedown and then turned Gordon for two nearfall to break things open, adding another takedown.
'He wrestled in positions he could score points out of,' Voss said. 'That's the kind of progress that you want to see from him.'
New Hampton crowned one champion, but it was a pretty important victory in securing the team title with 222 points. The Chickasaws' Keaton Geerts defeated Fort Dodge's Triston Lara, 4-2, at 138 in a battle of top-ranked wrestlers in 2A and 3A, respectively.
Geerts earned the Outstanding Wrestler award voted by the coaches.
Fort Dodge led the field with four champions, including titles from top-seeded Drew Bennett (113), Brody Teske (120) and 152-pounder Cayd Lara. Second-seeded Triston Licht won at 195, helping the Dodgers close with 215 1/2 points.
In another marquee matchup, Underwood's 1A top-ranked Alex Thomsen edged New New Hampton's 2A No. 2-ranked Michael Millage, 3-1, for the 126-pound championship.
At C.R. Jefferson
Teams — 1. New Hampton 222, 2. Fort Dodge 215.5, 3. Indianola 200, 4. Dubuque Hempstead 142, 5. Clinton 102.5, 6. West Delaware 95, 7. Moline (Ill.) 92, 8. Waterloo East 84.5, 9. Alburnett 82.5, 10. Underwood 75, 11. C.R. Jefferson 67.5, 12. Boone 66, 13. Marshalltown 42, 14. Davenport Central 37, 15. Fort Madison 31, 16. Muscatine 8.
106 pounds — Dillon Gottschalk (DH) dec. Dylan Robinson (NH), 8-2; 113 — Drew Bennett (FD) dec. Kobey Pritchard (Ind), 10-8; 120 — Brody Teske (FD) tech fall Joe Pins (DH), 22-7; 126 — Alex Thomsen (Und) dec. Michael Millage (NH), 3-1; 132 — Lance Runyon (Ind) dec. Noah Fye (NH), 6-2; 138 — Keaton Geerts (NH) dec. Triston Lara (FD), 4-2; 145 — Mason Hulse (B) dec. Mitchel Mangold (WD), 9-5; 152 — Cayd Lara (FD) major dec. Reese Hageman (Mar), 17-5; 160 — Matt Culver (CRJ) major dec. Tucker Franklin (A), 19-6; 170 — Tanner Sloan (A) pinned Kade Kolarik (Ind), 1:27; 182 — Harrison Goebel (WD) dec. Tyrell Gordon (WE), 6-2; 195 — Triston Licht (FD) dec. Sam Serrano (DC), 10-5; 220 — Dylan Olson (DH) dec. Payne Johnson (WE), 8-3; Hwt. — Eagan Lickiss (Ind) pinned Jack Roussel (DH), 5:47.
Outstanding wrestler — Geerts (NH)
Gorrarian Award (Most pins in least time) — Paladin Martinez (Moline), three pins in 3:26.
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