SPORTS

Lisbon's Cael Happel captures third state crown

Junior could become four-timer; Lions with three champs; Noonan wins Cascade's first state crown; Sims grabs gold

DES MOINES — The celebrations can be just as memorable as the state championship performances that precede them.

For Cael Happel, his was modest. A quick gesture, a visit to the scorer’s table, hug from a coach and then a walk to an adjacent tunnel and hallway to run sprints.

Lisbon assistant and Happel’s dad, Dean, laughed as he said his son wasn’t “wired” right and blamed his wife, Dawn.

“Some people might think I’m crazy with the amount of time I spend for just six minutes out there but it’s worth it,” Happel said. “Every second, every extra rep I do that’s what it goes to, to win that match, blowing it wide open. It’s an awesome feeling to see your work pay off in the end. It makes you want to go back and do it all over again.”

Happel became the 91st wrestler in state his to win three titles, capturing the 132-pound crown at the Iowa High School Athletic Association Class 1A state wrestling tournament Saturday night at Wells Fargo Arena. He moved into position to join the select group of 27 four-timers.

Happel dominated Underwood’s Logan James, 23-9, in the final. He capped a perfect season at 53-0.

“That’s just a steppingstone,” said Happel, who won the family’s 10th state title, tying Dean with three and earning a shot at matching Carter’s four from 2013-16. “I’ve got to do it all over again next year. I’m looking forward to it, but it means a lot to me right now.”

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His relentless style and attack allowed him to pull away and resulted in 11 takedowns. He recorded two in the first, four in the second and five in the final period.

“I work all year to get my hand raised on Saturday night,” Happel said. “I work my butt off every day in and out of the wrestling room. It just feels good.”

Happel became the ninth wrestler in Lisbon history to win at least three titles. He could become the school’s fourth four-time champion. Lisbon already boasts more four-timers than any other program.

“It never gets old,” Happel said. “I love winning. Whatever it is I like to win, I don’t like to lose and that’s just the competitive nature I grew up in with five brothers. I’ve been blessed to have that edge.”

About Dean and Dawn, the matriarch has a competitive edge as well, but it is their support that has made the biggest difference.

“I’m blessed with two loving (and) very supportive that support me all the way,” Happel said. “I couldn’t be more thankful for them.”

For three straight seasons, Cobe Siebrecht has joined Happel in the finals. Unlike his teammate, Siebrecht had to settle for silver. Not anymore.

Siebrecht (52-1) concluded his prep career with a 9-1 major decision over Underwood’s Nick Hamilton for the 138 title.

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“It feels awesome,” Siebrecht said. “I knew I wasn’t going to leave this (arena) without first. I knew I had to get it because there’s no way I could live with myself, if I came out three times in a row. Second sucks.”

The bout was tight in the second with Siebrecht came out of a wild scramble with a takedown and three nearfall, breaking it open.

“I’m in practice every day and Cael, Robert and I get in those kid of scrambles,” Siebrecht said. “That’s just something I just picked up in practice.

“As soon as I felt it in the match, I’m like I got to hit it.”

Freshman Robert Avila Jr. (55-1) recorded the Lions first title. He scored a first-period takedown and an escape in the second for a 3-1 victory over Logan-Magnolia’s top-seeded Briar Reisz for the 126 championship.

The numbers are staggering. This marks the eighth time Lisbon has crowned at least three individual state champions in the same year and the first time since 1990. Lisbon’s best total was in 1982 and 1983, crowning four each season.

“This year, for these guys, they all worked out together,” Smith said. “They beat each other up in practice. Then, outside the room they’re best friends. When you have a group like that, who are close-knit, and they push and challenge each other it makes everybody raise to another level.”

Lisbon finished runner-up after two straight team titles. Don Bosco won with 151 points, 46 1/2 more than the Lions.

Aidan Noonan (49-0) capped an undefeated sophomore season with a 4-2 decision over Woodbury Central’s top-seeded Beau Klingensmith for the 113-pound title. He broke open a scoreless match with a penalty point, escape and takedown in the second.

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“I didn’t have any nerves going out there,” Noonan said. “I knew what I need to do to win, so I just knew I had to get ready for it.”

He became Cascade’s first state champion.

“It makes it a lot sweeter,” Noonan said. “We’ve never had a state champ before so it’s pretty cool.”

Iowa Valley’s top-ranked Garet Sims made his second straight state finals appearance. This time, Sims will be toting home a gold medal. Sims (52-0) handled Alta-Aurelia’s No. 2 Nick Gaes, 13-4, for the 220-pound title.

North Linn’s Brady Henderson (39-2) returned to the finals and finished with a second straight runner-up finish. The Lynx senior dropped a 3-0 decision to Kory Van Oort, of West Sioux, at 152.

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

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