Prep Wrestling

State wrestling: Top-ranked trio powers Lisbon

Lions look for third straight traditional state team title; seeded third in 1A duals

Lisbon's Cael Happel celebrates his victory over Wapello's Daniel Meeker in the Class 1A 120-pound championship match of the 2018 State Wrestling Championships at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines on, Saturday, February 17, 2018. Happel won by tech fall 27-12. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Lisbon's Cael Happel celebrates his victory over Wapello's Daniel Meeker in the Class 1A 120-pound championship match of the 2018 State Wrestling Championships at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines on, Saturday, February 17, 2018. Happel won by tech fall 27-12. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
/

LISBON — Lisbon has a luxury unmatched at most Iowa high school wrestling programs.

At the heart of a third-ranked lineup with six wrestlers rated in the top 10 of their respective weights, the Lions boast a stretch of three straight title contenders, which is a rarity to say the least.

Freshman Robert Avila Jr. (126), junior Cael Happel at 132 and 138-pound senior Cobe Siebrecht take the mat in succession for Lisbon. All three ranked No. 1 at their weight and each are a nightmare for opposing competitors and coaches.

“Those three guys are going to be state champs,” Lisbon Coach Brad Smith said. “I really feel confident.”

Lisbon makes its fifth straight appearance at the state duals tournament Wednesday at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. The Lions also have eight qualifiers and hopes for a third consecutive traditional state team title, beginning Thursday.

Lisbon (25-1) is the third seed in the Class 1A duals, facing No. 6 Emmetsburg (20-0) in the quarterfinals.

“It will be a tough tournament,” Siebrecht said. “I feel like there are three teams with Denver and Don Bosco that are real good. Same with the traditional (tournament).”

Leading the charge is the top-ranked trio. They are a combined 140-1 this season without a loss to an Iowa prep. It isn’t crazy to say the competition is a break from the daily battles inside their own practice room.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

“We’re very blessed that we get guys at our weight that have good workout partners every time,” Siebrecht said. “It’s crazy in the room. We get into some crazy scrambles and everything.

“We’re pushing ourselves and each other.”

The contrast in wrestling styles causes each day to be a learning processes. Flurries can get heated at times as they try to get the better of each other, but that ends as soon as the live-go does.

“It gets a little chippy out there, I guess,” Happel said. “It’s almost like war every day. It’s tough. We love it. We love going in there and beating each other up. When the whistle blows and it’s done, we’re friends again. It’s good.”

Smith is one of the most decorated coaches in Iowa high school history. He ranks first with 12 state title teams and ranks second all-time with six state dual crowns and 624 career dual victories. Smith has coached wrestlers to 50 state titles, including four-timers Scott Morningstar (1979-80), Shane Light (1987-90) and Carter Happel (2013-16) of Lisbon and Iowa City High’s Jeff McGinness (1992-93).

He had high praise for all three. Avila (48-1) has taken 1A by storm with his versatile attacks.

State duals preview

A closer look at the Gazette area teams competing in Wednesday's Iowa high school wrestling state duals tournament, plus predictions for all three classes.

Continue Reading

“He’s so technically advanced,” Smith said. “I’ve seen him hit technical moves that I haven’t seen before and I’ve been in this game for 41 years. It’s unbelievable the stuff he can do.”

Smith has guided two generations of Happels to nine state championships. Cael has his own strengths.

“Cael is different from Carter,” Smith said. “Carter was a very good technician, but he wasn’t real physical. Cael is very technical and very physical. He’s in your face the whole time.”

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

Thank you for signing up for our e-newsletter!

You should start receiving the e-newsletters within a couple days.

Happel (46-0) is attempting to match his father, Dean, with a third state title this season and keeping his chances intact to join Carter in the elite category.

“I’m feeling good about it,” Happel said. “I’ve been wrestling well lately. I’m feeling good.

“I’m looking forward to going out and just wrestling. It will be fun.”

Siebrecht (46-0) is a two-time finalist. Smith noted that Siebrecht remains after practice to do extra push-ups and pull-ups and is often the last to leave along with Happel.

“You think you have him scored on and all of a sudden you’re on your back,” Smith said. “He has a lot of funk and he’s a heck of a lot stronger than he looks.”

The Lions' strength doesn’t end there. Senior Ryne Mohrfeld is ranked seventh at 145, extending that powerful part of the lineup.

“He’s not as flashy,” Smith said. “He’s hard-nosed. Anything can happen with Ryno, too. He’s solid.”

The Lions won their fourth state duals title in 2017, placing fourth last season. Lisbon is expected to be in a dogfight with Denver and Don Bosco.

Lisbon will need a complete effort, including contributions from Cade Siebrecht (106), ninth-ranked 113-pounder Quincey Happel, No. 10 Cole Clark (182) and heavyweight Brant Baltes, who jumped from nine to 33 wins over the last year.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

“We’re going to need more,” said Smith, noting Underwood and West Sioux are also contenders. “Very seldom just three state champs win you a state (team) title.

“I think it’s a five-team race. On paper, I think it’s Don Bosco, Lisbon or Denver. We’ll see what happens.”

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

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

CONTINUE READING

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.