DES MOINES — As quickly as Ashton Barker was assured he would become Iowa City Liberty’s first state medalist, he almost missed the opportunity to accept it.
The Lightning sophomore sprang to action and answered the call just in time.
Barker etched his name in the school’s record book, yet again, becoming the three-year-old school’s first medalist Friday at the Class 3A state wrestling tournament at Wells Fargo Arena.
“I’m excited about it,” said Barker, who is Liberty’s lone district champion and state qualifier.
Eighth-ranked Barker received a medical forfeit over Bettendorf’s No. 4 Will Jefferson in the 170-pound quarterfinals, advancing to the semifinals and securing a top-six finish. According to Bettendorf Coach Dan Knight, Jefferson suffered a knee injury and couldn’t compete.
“I can definitely take it any way,” Barker said. “I wanted to wrestle. Stuff happens. You can’t predict it.”
Barker, a sophomore, was unaware he needed to report to the mat in uniform to earn the forfeit. He was in the concourse level of the arena visiting with family when he heard the call to report to mat 8.
Barker had five minutes to throw on his singlet, grab his headgear and get to the scorer’s table to avoid a double forfeit. Officials told him he was cutting it close when he arrived.
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“I was upstairs talking to my parents,” Barker said. “They wanted to see me.”
“I got conditioning in though,” Barker added with a laugh. “That is all that matters.”
Barker fell to Ankeny Centennial’s Logan Neils, 11-4, in the semifinals. He will compete in consolation action Saturday.
Mount Vernon's Renaissance man
Some students are athletes. Others perform on stage or even follow interests outside of the classroom.
Then, there is Ryan Clark, who has a knack for all of them. It caused Mount Vernon assistant coach Aaron Truitt to describe him as a “Renaissance man.”
In addition to making his third state wrestling tournament appearance, Clark plays football, baseball and runs track. He is active in jazz choir and the school musical, keeping almost a 4.0 grade-point average. If that wasn’t enough, Clark is a 4-H member.
“It’s been a blast,” said Clark, who placed fifth as a junior and was ranked seventh at 120 pounds. “I love doing it and I love staying busy.”
His presence will be missed next season.
“He is a great kid that has done everything we asked and more and always did it with a smile,” Truitt said. “He is a winner in my mind and we will miss having him in our program.”
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Clark was part of the cast of Mount Vernon’s production of “The Little Mermaid” last year. He has a role in the school’s rendition of “Oklahoma!” He even convinced teammate Paul Ryan to join him.
“I love meeting new people,” Clark said. “I love trying new things. My parents encourage me and it was awesome to get a couple of my wrestling buddies out for the musical.”
He had to manage his time wisely, checking on the length of wrestling practice to see if he had a conflict with a rehearsal. The spring is more hectic.
“It gets super busy with track, musical and school,” Clark said. “We’re just starting out a little bit toward the end of wrestling season, so we’re missing a couple rehearsals, but I love it.”
Schriever derailed by default
Mason City’s top-ranked Cullan Schriever entered the tournament with a chance to become Iowa’s 28th four-time state champion next year. The junior 120-pounder had already won consecutive Class 3A titles at 106.
Schriever reached the semifinals, despite suffering a broken ankle in the regular season. He returned from that injury but couldn’t overcome a serious shoulder injury against Fort Dodge’s Carson Taylor. He was forced to default in the first period, ending his hopes for a third straight crown.
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