INDEPENDENCE — Isaiah Weber adopted more of a Zen approach this season.
While teammates pace and become excitable before wrestling matches, Weber prefers to remain chill, listening to an eclectic music playlist that shuffles from Christian music to rap and pop.
“I’m just relaxed,” Independence’s two-time state finalist said. “I’m just enjoying myself. Sometimes I listen to music, depending on how I feel. I just relax, have fun and get ready.”
Weber kicked off the postseason in dominant fashion, claiming one of eight titles for the host Mustangs Saturday at a Class 2A sectional. Independence captured the team title with 264 1/2 points, advancing 10 to next week’s district tournament and qualifying for Tuesday’s regional duals.
“At the end of the year, you want to wrestle your best,” Independence Coach Michael Doyle said. “I think our team did that up and down the lineup for the most part.”
Weber (33-1) was zeroed in from the start of the day, opening with a first-period pin. In the final, the Mustangs’ top-ranked 138-pounder handled Vinton-Shellsburg’s No. 9 Brady Ortner. He racked up 12 nearfall points and finished an 18-3 technical fall with 13 seconds left in the second.
It was an example of how he has switched his mentality from last season. He is concerned about stockpiling points each match this season and not worried about the result.
“I just keep trying to score and do what I can do,” Weber said. “I have a better mental game this year. I don’t care whether I win or lose. I just want to do the best that I can.”
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Weber is looking to improve his last two state runner-up finishes. After his dream of being a four-timer was dashed, he turned his sights toward three titles. Now, he’s ready to get that elusive first one.
“I was within finger reach of it,” Weber said of his freshman finale. “Last year, it hurt just as much (but) it wasn’t the same. I was ready for the next best thing and I didn’t get it again. I guess it’s the next best thing again”
Doyle said Weber has positioned himself to take the last step on the state podium. He has witnessed added confidence and a drive to become his best.
“It shows his maturity,” Doyle said. “‘I’m going to relax and work hard. I’m going to get better every day.’ He’s had that attitude al year. He’s a super tough kid.”
Independence teammate Brandon O’Brien looked just as strong. The top-ranked 132-pounder tallied three takedowns and cinched up a cradle for two nearfall, beating Union Community’s third-ranked Kolten Crawford, 9-0, in the final. O’Brien, a 3A state finalist last season, also had a first-period pin, improving to 36-2.
Kale Wieland (113), Carter Straw (126), Mitch Johnson (170), 195-pounder Marcus Beatty, Korver Hupke (220) and freshman heavyweight Brady McDonald won titles for the Mustangs.
Williamsburg finished second with 201 points, advancing to the regional duals. Kayden Gryp (120) and 10th-ranked Gavin Jensen (106) won titles for the Raiders, who send six to the district meet at home.
“The kids did a heck of a job to come in to this sectional, which we thought was loaded, especially with Independence and Union being ranked teams,” Eckenrod said. “I was very proud with how our guys battled. All 14 kids did a heck of a job and that’s why we got second place.”
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Gryp knocked off Benton Community’s Jaiden Moore for the second time this season. Gryp scored his first points with 47 seconds remaining and rode out Moore, adding two nearfall in the final seconds for a 4-1 victory.
“Kayden is a grinder and always has been,” Eckenrod said. “Moore is an animal. He’s a great wrestler, but so is Kayden. He’s done it in the offseason. He’s wrestled in Fargo. He’s put in his time and that’s why he’s getting better every year. He’s so tough.”
Union advanced five to the district meet with four champions, including two-time state titlist Adam Ahrendsen. He pinned Benton Community’s seventh-ranked Austin Roos for the 182 crown. He was joined atop the awards stand by Lincoln Mehlert (145), Hunter Worthen (152) and Stone Schmitz at 160.
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