DES MOINES — It was a nice accomplishment for Linn-Mar, especially for the seniors that capped their careers.
Pats on the back and high-fives will have to wait. Work still remains for the Lions.
“You will appreciate it more after the weekend, because we have business to do (Thursday),” Linn-Mar Coach Doug Streicher said after the team’s sixth-place finish in the Class 3A state duals tournament Wednesday at Wells Fargo Arena on the eve of the traditional meet. “We’ll have the banquet and a nice trophy there for the seniors. It’s a good reward for that group to come through and cap their four years. I’m happy for them.”
Linn-Mar made its sixth appearance in the team competition and first since 2014. The performance was the Lions’ best since placing sixth in 2012. They placed two spots above their seed, posting a victory and concluding the season with a 9-3 mark.
“We worked for it all four years of high school,” said senior Reece Seery, who recorded a pin in his final high school bout. “I thought we wrestled well.
“It means a lot to us but it should also mean a lot to the juniors, sophomores and freshmen. We’ve kind of paved a path for them to go.”
Linn-Mar had the tough task of taking on Waverly-Shell Rock, which reached the final for the third straight season. The Lions won six matches, getting pins from Bryce Parke (132), top-ranked sophomore and finalist Tate Naaktgeboren at 160 and state medalist Luke Gaffney in a 42-28 loss.
“We sent our guys out there,” Naaktgeboren said. “We knew we could compete with all the teams. We believe in all our guys and the guys who wrestled did well. The guys who came in the last dual for qualifiers gave it all they’ve got.”
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The Lions rebounded with a 50-29 over fourth-seeded Fort Dodge in the consolation round, assuring a finish above their seed. Reserves carried the load in the finale, falling to Norwalk, 56-21.
“We did a good job battling against a good team,” Streicher said. “We wanted to see where we were at and get the guys on the mat. Our plan was to try to get two matches in for the starters that are wrestling the rest of the week, shut them down and make sure they are ready to go.”
The majority of the starting lineup returns next season. Seven starters are freshmen and sophomores with one junior. The future looks bright for the Lions.
“I really like our freshman class,” Streicher said. “The guys in the starting lineup, obviously, but we have some guys behind them that are freshmen and pretty darn good wrestlers. Give them a year or two.”
The top-seeded Go-Hawks beat No. 2 Southeast Polk 59-12 for the title. The Rams beat the Go-Hawks in the final the two previous years.
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