116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
VAN HORNE — Revenge can be a strong motivator and a sweet reward.
A pair of wrestlers enjoyed exactly that against state champion opponents Saturday.
West Liberty's Will Esmoil and Union Community's Jack Thomsen avenged losses to returning state titlists, claiming individual crowns at the Bobcat Jerry Eckenrod Invitational at Benton Community.
Esmoil earned outstanding wrestler honors with a 4-3 victory over Davenport Assumption's top-ranked Matt Robertson in the 132 final. He reversed a two-point loss to Robertson in the final at Mount Vernon a month ago.
'I knew I wanted to come back stronger,' said Esmoil, who wrestled with a broken left thumb suffered in the previous match with Robertson. 'I had it taped this match and ended up getting the job done.'
The top-two ranked wrestlers had another wild and active match filled with scrambles. This time they finished in Esmoil's favor. The first led to a takedown in the first and a 2-0 lead. The final one fended off Robertson's late takedown attempt for the win after he released Esmoil with a little more than 30 seconds left.
'Robertson was doing a really good job, getting in on Will's legs,' West Liberty Coach Jeff Wiele said. 'Will was able to scramble out, but both are scramblers. When you look at those two wrestle it is like, 'Holy Smokes.'
'It's kind of fun to watch, even as a coach.'
Esmoil was comfortable in each of those situations. He has developed strong mat awareness from numerous matches he has wrestled.
'You have to keep wrestling,' Esmoil said. 'It's pretty much experience, wrestling since when you're young. You have to chain wrestle.'
A rubber match could come at districts. The pair would be favored to reach the final of the state qualifier. Esmoil proved he can compete with the defending 132 state champion.
'It helps, for sure,' said Esmoil, who placed third at 106 last year. 'Let him know that I'm there. We're going to have battles.'
Thomsen also had a rematch set in his sights. He was pinned by Williamsburg's Grayson Kesterson in this tournament's final last year. Thomsen reversed the result, recording a 2-1 decision for the 120-pound title.
Thomsen opted for a neutral start in the final period, getting a takedown and riding out Kesterson for the final 30 seconds.
'I knew what he was going to do this time, so that's why I didn't choose bottom,' Thomsen said. 'He pinned me last year, so I picked neutral and got the takedown on him.'
Thomsen, who placed seventh at state last year and six spots behind the 106-pound winner Kesterson, received a big confidence boost with the victory.
'Now, I know I can beat whoever I want,' Thomsen said. 'It's about believing in yourself.'
West Liberty pushed five to the finals, including 195-pounder Bryce Esmoil, who won by medical forfeit. The Comets finished second to Don Bosco, which crowned three champions for 219 points.
West Delaware's Mitchel Mangold helped prevent West Liberty from matching the Dons in gold medals and held the Comets to 187 points.
Fourth-ranked Mangold stopped West Liberty's No. 2-ranked Joe Kelly, 7-0, in the 152 final.
Mangold broke open a scoreless match in the second, getting an escape, a takedown and then turning the Comets' three-time state medalist and 2016 state runner-up for two nearfall. He added a takedown in the third.
'We conditioned really hard this week and over Christmas break, so I knew I had the gas,' Mangold said. 'I'm pretty good getting away so I got back on my feet and I knew I had to get a takedown to open up my match. It was there, got on top and got my turn. It was going right today.'
Mangold is looking to improve last year's third-place state finish. He isn't concerned with wins and losses to get to that point, though.
'We're focusing on scoring points,' Mangold said. 'As a team and an individual, I've set a goal to score eight points. If I score eight points, I'm on my offense and giving myself a really good chance to win. Don't focus on winning or losing. Just go out and score points.'
North Linn's Heath Moyer (113), Independence's Hunter Crawford at 220 and Williamsburg heavyweight Keaton Zimmerman also won titles.
BENTON COMMUNITY BOBCAT JERRY ECKENROD INVITATIONAL
At Van Horne
Teams — 1. Don Bosco 219, 2. West Liberty 187, 3. Williamsburg 184.5, 4. West Delaware 172, 5. Davenport Assumption 151.5, 6. Union Community 125, 7. Dallas Center-Grimes 124, 8. Independence 118, 9. Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont 106, 10. Vinton-Shellsburg 77.5, 11. C.R. Jefferson 75.5, 12. Centerville 59, 13. East Marshall 50, 14. C.R. Washington 41, 15. North-Linn 40, 16. Benton Community 39.5.
106 — Daniel Kimball (DB) dec. Matthew Lewis (Cent), 5-3; 113 — Heath Moyer (NL) dec. Michael McClelland (DB), 9-5; 120 — Jack Thomsen (UC) dec. Grayson Kesterson (Will), 2-1; 126 — Easton Larson (DB) dec. Jalen Schropp (Will), 1-0; 132 — Will Esmoil (WL) dec. Matt Robertson (DA), 4-3; 138 — Gable Fox (DB) pinned Coy Ruess (WL), 2:28; 145 — Sage Walker (EBF) dec. Cael Meyer (WD), 7-4; 152 — Mitchel Mangold (WD) dec. Joe Kelly (WL), 7-0; 160 — Zane Mulder (DCG) major dec. Austin Hellman (DB), 11-1; 170 — Noah Bandstra (EM) major dec. Kort Johnson (VS), 9-0; 182 — Julien Broderson (DA) pinned Bryce Schares (DB), 2:20; 195 — Bryce Esmoil (WL) won by medical forfeit over Harrison Goebel (WD); 220 — Hunter Crawford (Ind) pinned Henry Martens (DA), 1:40; Hwt. — Keaton Zimmerman (Will) dec. Andy Lopez (WL), 3-1.
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