WATERLOO — West Delaware Coach Jeff Voss roared with a loud laugh when reminded of his words earlier in the week.
His previous comments were funny and turned out to be laughable by the time Saturday night came to a close. Voss really didn’t think his Hawks would struggle to win a dual and in fact they almost walked away without losing one.
Class 2A third-ranked West Delaware went 2-1 and placed second in the championship pool of the Battle of Waterloo at Young Arena. The Hawks dropped a 34-23 dual to 3A No. 2 Waverly-Shell Rock, the tournament champion, in the final dual. The Go-Hawks and Don Bosco also went 2-1, but the Go-Hawks won on criteria.
West Delaware improved to 8-2 this season, including 5-1 this weekend.
“Half of our team is freshmen and sophomores and you don’t know how they are going to react against the competition we have,” Voss said. “We’ve been talking about how they are going to respond each dual. I think our kids responded well all weekend.”
The last round was a rematch of the season opener that the Go-Hawks won by 10. The Hawks fell into a 12-0 hole after two Go-Hawk pins to start the dual. They pulled within 16-15 at the midway point.
Evan Woods put West Delaware on the board with a decision at 120. Senior Ryan Phillips (132) avenged a loss to 3A fifth-ranked Evan Yant, reversing the earlier 5-0 loss into a 6-2 victory. Jadyn Peyton (138) added a fall and 145-pounder Cael Meyer posted a decision.
West Delaware’s Jack Neuhaus (182) and Jordan Bries added wins, but the Go-Hawks won five of the last seven bouts to pull away.
Phillips, Peyton, Meyer and Neuhaus all went 3-0 Saturday. Neuhaus said the Hawks have proven they can compete with anyone.
“I think everybody had the right mindset,” Neuhaus said. “Everyone was confident and their heads were in the right spot.”
West Delaware posted an impressive 27-25 victory over 1A power Don Bosco. The Hawks’ middle weights helped sway things in their favor, winning four straight between 132 and 152 and six in a seven-match stretch.
Phillips sparked the streak with a 29-second pin at 132, bringing ninth-ranked freshman Peyton to the mat at 138.
Peyton provided a momentum-shifting moment, trailing 2-0 and then dumping third-ranked Cael Frost to his back for a pin with just two seconds left in the first period for a 15-14 lead.
“That was a match Jadyn was looking forward to,” Voss said. “He’s not afraid to wrestle anybody. We knew Frost is a good wrestler. He was looking forward to the competition. He battled. When the throw was there he took it.”
Meyer (145) and 152-pounder Mitchel Mangold added decisions. Wyatt Voelker (170) and Neuhaus posted consecutive decisions, putting West Delaware up, 27-17 with two bouts left. When Don Bosco’s Bryce Schares recorded a 2-0 decision over Bries, West Delaware finished the upset.
“We have a bunch of kids who battle every match,” Voss said. “What we see out on the mat is what we see every day in practice. The kids are fighting hard and focusing on getting better. It is starting to show against really good competition.”
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The Hawks opened the championship pool by thumping West Des Moines Valley in the first round Saturday, winning 11 of 14 matches for a 55-12 victory.
“I thought we matched up pretty good with them,” Voss said. “We won some big matches.”
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