DES MOINES — Robert Avila Jr. would have been easy to miss if you were looking for Lisbon’s trademark red and black colors.
The Lions’ top-ranked freshman donned a green-and-black singlet the team wore for a dual to honor veterans. Avila chose to wear it Thursday to honor veterans, including one very close to his heart.
“My grandpa, Tony (Avila), passed away a couple years ago,” Avila said. “This is in memory of him. That first match was dedicated to him.”
Avila dominated in his debut at the Class 1A state wrestling tournament Thursday at Wells Fargo Arena. He recorded one of six bonus-point victories for Lisbon, which is fourth with 23 points and all eight qualifiers in the field.
Avila said his grandfather died a couple years ago and he loved to watch his grandson compete.
“He was a huge supporter of me,” Avila said.
Speaking of family, Avila’s wrestling family is fairly new. Avila’s family lived in Las Vegas and has found a new home in Lisbon. He has been a perfect fit.
“He really likes it here,” Lisbon coach Brad Smith said. “He’s an Iowa guy now. He gets along with the kids. They all hang out together.”
Avila built a 16-6 lead, scoring five takedowns and five nearfall before decking WACO's Jalen Collins in 2:45.
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“It’s big, gaining some momentum,” Avila said. “I just have to keep pushing the pace. I got a little sloppy there for 15 to 20 seconds, but I can fix those in the next couple days. I just need to make sure I perfect everything. Make no mistakes.”
Avila was one of five Lisbon quarterfinalists. Two-time state champion Cael Happel (132) and two-time finalist Cobe Siebrecht posted technical falls. Ryne Mohrfeld added a major decision. They were joined by 106-pounder Cade Siebrecht.
Three rebounded with consolation victories after losing one first-round match in overtime and two by a combined three points. Lisbon finished 8-3 overall with 12 bonus points.
“I thought we wrestled really well,” Smith said. “We wrestled tough. We battled. Even the matches that we lost, we were right in there.”
Tri-Rivers Conference rival Alburnett was seventh with 10 1/2 points after the first session, going 3-1 with two quarterfinalists. State runner-up Jaymus Wilson and Kanan Morris opened with falls. Former medalist Mason Wickman added a fall in consolation.
Morris made his first state appearance. He had to defeat a higher ranked wrestler in a district wrestleback to reach Des Moines and he plans to make the most of it.
“Down here is a new beginning,” said Morris, who pinned New London’s Cameron Raines. “I didn’t win districts, so I still have something to prove. I want to get on that podium.”
MFL MarMac was perfect in the opening round. Michael Egan (145), Nathan Johanningmeier (182) and 220-pounder Garrett Keehner advanced, helping the Bulldogs tie for eighth with 10 points. Keehner pinned Pleasantville’s Cale Anthony to improve to 45-0.
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Midland’s top-seeded Damon Huston (106) and No. 4 Brett Schoenherr at 220 moved into the quarterfinals with first-period pins. Huston made quick work of Colfax-Mingo’s Noah Strohmeyer, sticking him in 1:06.
“I figured I might as well get in there and out right away, so I could watch the other matches,” Huston said. “That was pretty much the game plan. Get in there and make quick work of my guy.”
North Linn, Iowa Valley and Dyersville Beckman each went 2-for-2. The Lynx received a major decision from state runner-up Brady Henderson at 152 and a fall from 182-pounder Quinton Rechkemmer.
State finalist Garet Sims (220) opened with a pin and Ben Smith (152) notched a 10-5 decision over South Winneshiek’s Logan Schnuelle for the Tigers.
The Blazers’ Grant Hoeger (138) and second-seeded Own Grover at 195 advanced.
East Buchanan’s Luke Recker and Taylor Fox won first round matches at 220 and heavyweight, respectively.
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