Prep Wrestling

Iowa 1A state wrestling finals: Cael Happel wins fourth title, Aidan Noonan denies Adam Allard

Lisbon crowns 4 champions, Don Bosco wins team title

DES MOINES — Cael Happel poured every ounce of his heart and soul into a goal he formed five years ago.

He sat in the upper deck and watched his older brother, Carter, join an exclusive group of prep wrestlers. He immediately decided he wanted the same and dedicated all his effort into achieving it.

Every ounce of blood, sweat, tears, nutrition and rest produced dividends Saturday night. When Happel pinned Underwood’s Logan James in the second period at 138 pounds, he rose to his feet as the 28th four-time state champion in Iowa history during the finals of the Class 1A state wrestling tournament at Wells Fargo Arena.

“That’s 4 1/2 good years of hard work just paid off right there,” Happel said. “Every little thing I did since I was in eighth grade when I watched Carter do it. Every little thing that I did went into that moment right there.”

After his bout with James, he stretched out his hands and raised four fingers on each hand before putting his hands together and pointing straight up. He gave Lisbon Coach Brad Smith and his dad and Lions assistant, Dean, hugs and then bounded up the steps to embrace his mother, Dawn.

“She’s probably put in more sacrifice than I have into my career and my brothers,” Happel said. “She’s one of the best moms you can ask for when it comes to this sport. She actually knows what it is. She understands it.”

Like many of his matches at state and throughout his career, he mauled James for three minutes before cinching up a cradle and getting the fall in 3:29.

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Happel can make a case for being the most dominant four-timer. He tallied 25 ˝ bonus points in 16 state tournament bouts. He has scored bonus points in each of them, recording nine technical falls, five pins, one major decision and one match that was an immediate injury default.

He has outscored some of the state’s best 1A wrestlers by a total of 280-87. All but four points allowed were from escapes or releases. He hasn’t been taken down and has allowed just two reversals.

“It’s awesome,” Happel said. “I don’t really think of the results like that. I go out and wrestle hard for six minutes or as long it takes and whatever happens happens, but I’m worried about scoring points.”

Happel improved to 53-0 this season, bringing his career mark to 217-5. He ranks second all-time in Iowa history, just two wins back of Missouri Valley’s Nathan Haynes, who went 219-33 from 2015-18.

Happel joined older brother, Carter, who won four titles for Lisbon from 2013-16. They are just the second brother tandem to achieve the feat, matching Don Bosco’s Mack and Bart Reiter.

“It’s an awesome feat,” said Happel, who has aspirations of NCAA and Olympic titles. “It’s cool to put my name with those guys who have won it. It’s incredible, but I have bigger goals.

“History is history. I’m going to look back in 30 years and see my name as a four-time state champ. It’s going to be awesome.”

Aidan Noonan knocks off Adam Allard

Happel was able to complete the quest for four titles, but before he took the mat Cascade’s Aidan Noonan was dashing the dreams of another going for a fourth crown.

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Noonan, who was Cascade’s first state champion last season, stunned West Sioux’s three-time titlist Adam Allard and the rest of the sold-out arena. He scored three nearfall as time expired for a 4-2 decision at 126.

“Go the whole time,” Noonan said. “Wrestle six minutes. Good things will happen.”

Noonan (39-0) wasn’t going to concede anything. He prepared to be champion again, regardless of the credentials in front of him. He didn’t back down from the spoiler role.

“It’s always the goal to win,” Noonan said. “We each have to train the hardest to beat the best, so that’s what we did.”

Noonan trailed 2-0 most of the match. He continued to apply pressure and received a penalty point for stalling. He said he knew he was in short time, but didn’t realize it was that short.

“About halfway through the third period I could feel him getting tired, so I knew I could do it,” Noonan said. “I see him counting swipes and I’m just thinking, ‘Hold on,’ because you know he’s going to try to do something at the end there.”

3 other Lisbon wrestlers win gold

Lisbon crowned four champions with a runner-up finish from Cole Clark at 195 and placed second with 144 1/2 points, finishing 25 1/2 behind champion Don Bosco.

Robert Avila Jr. is halfway to the same feat as Happel. For the second straight year, the Lisbon sophomore stood atop the podium, pinning Martensdale-St. Marys’ Cole Cassady in 3:22 of the 132-pound final.

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Like Happel and Avila, teammate Brandon Paez claimed a state title as a freshman. For the fourth straight weekend, Paez wrestled Midland’s Damon Huston for a tournament championship.

Huston won the Tri-Rivers Conference meet with Paez winning at sectional and district. Paez controlled a bout again with a 5-0 victory in the 120 final.

“It feels really good,” Paez said. “Especially, when it most counts to get on top of that podium. I’m happy about that.”

Paez (47-6) said Happel and Avila told him to be himself. He trusted in his training and wasn’t surprised with the outcome. He is ready to get back to work.

“I’ve never felt like this before,” Paez said. “I’ve never worked for something so hard and actually achieved, but this isn’t the end. It’s just my freshman year.”

Ben Smith gave Iowa Valley a state finalist for the second straight year. The senior 160-pounder earned his third straight medal and first state title.

Smith avenged an earlier loss to Don Bosco’s Cade Tenold, using an escape and rideout for a 2-1 tiebreaker victory for the 160 championship.

At the end of the regular season, North Cedar’s Tyler Thurston bumped up to 220, despite being ranked sixth at 195. The move suited his style better and that proved correct. Thurston became the Knights’ first state finalist since 2006, but lost to Ogden’s third-ranked Blake Haub, 4-3.

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Class 1A results

106: No. 1 Gable Porter (Underwood) dec. No. 4 Jaiden Moore (Don Bosco), 7-0

113: No. 1 Marcel Lopez (New London) (48-1) dec. No. 3 Clayton McDonough (Central Springs), 6-2

120: No. 7 Brandon Paez (Lisbon) dec. No. 3 Damon Huston (Midland), 5-0

126: No. 2 Aidan Noonan (Cascade) dec. No. 1 Adam Allard (West Sioux), 4-2

132: No. 1 Robert Avila Jr. pinned No. 2 Cole Cassady (Martensdale-St. Marys), 3:22

138: No. 1 Cael Happel pinned No. 2 Logan James (Underwood), 3:29

145: No. 1 Nick Hamilton (Underwood) dec. No. 2 Cael Rahnavardi (Don Bosco), 7-5

152: No. 2 Marshall Hauck dec. No. 1 Briar Reisz (Logan-Magnolia), 7-5

160: No. 3 Ben Smith (Iowa Valley) won in TB-1 over No. 1 Cade Tenold (Don Bosco), 2-1

170: No. 1 Ethan Fulcher (Hudson) won in TB-1 over No. 2 Carson Tenold (Don Bosco), 3-2

182: No. 1 Thomas Even (Don Bosco) pinned No. 2 Treyton Cacek (Graettinger GTRA), 4:31

195: No. 2 Tate Hagen (West Hancock) dec. No. 1 Cole Clark (Lisbon), 7-4

220: No. 3 Blake Haub (Ogden) dec. Tyler Thurston (North Cedar), 4-3

Hwt.: No. 1 Chet Buss (North Butler-Clarksville) major dec. No. 2 Ryley Snell (Interstate 35), 10-2

Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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