CLARENCE — The challenge remains the same every time Solon’s Hayden Taylor steps on the mat.
Opponents, tournaments and venues don’t matter to the two-time state champion. The quest for dominance is constant against anyone, anytime and anywhere.
“You have to go into every match thinking you have something to prove to someone,” said Taylor, who is 16th in trackwrestling.com’s national high school rankings. “They are coming after you and they think they’re going to beat you. You have to prove them wrong.”
Taylor barely broke a sweat in a first-period fall and a technical fall, capturing the 160-pound championship and helping Solon to the team title Saturday at the North Cedar Invitational. The Class 2A top-ranked Spartan posted a 17-2 technical fall over Belle Plaine’s Connor Timm in the final and improved to 8-0.
He bulked up for football, getting back down to 160 after winning state gold at 126 and 145 his first two seasons. The jump hasn’t affected his results. He tallied 24 points in two matches that lasted a total of 3:05.
“I feel just as strong as I have in past seasons,” said Taylor, who has four pins, a technical fall and two major decisions. “I got a little bit heavy for football, but now I’m back down to 160. I’m still getting in shape and excited to compete.”
Solon Coach T.J. Bevans said Taylor has acclimated to the new class.
“He got there and is doing well, now,” Bevans said. “He’s maintaining it well.”
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Taylor didn’t compete as much as normal during the spring and summer with events canceled. He trained with Sebolt Wrestling Academy or with friends. Taylor, a dynamo in the neutral position with the ability to ride tough, focused on gains in one position.
“Wrestling underneath has gotten better,” Taylor said. “I’ve been exploding off the whistle a lot more. I started doing a better at the end of sophomore year, but this year I can tell I’m more explosive on bottom.”
The Spartans crowned three champions. Sixth-ranked Gage Marty pinned his way through the 220-pound bracket, stopping North Linn’s Nathan Rechkemmer in 3:07 of the final. Heavyweight Nash Altman followed with a second-period fall over Montezuma’s Kennen Roadcap.
The consecutive pins by Rechkemmer and Altman cemented the team race. The Spartans finished with 195 points, beating Wilton by nine.
“I knew it was close but didn’t know exactly,” Altman said. “It’s awesome. I’m glad the team is winning and we all could contribute.”
Altman began the tournament 1-4 but has two pins Saturday. He’s faced a tough opening schedule that included highly-ranked wrestlers and state medalists in 1A and 2A.
“It’s a challenge to open the season,” Altman said. “It gives you the motivation to give your best and win the matches that you can.”
Solon had a tournament-best six finalists. The Spartans have answered some questions that came at the start of the season.
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“It’s been a pleasant surprise,” Bevans said. “We lost a lot last year, including our coach. We didn’t know what to think coming into the season. We were unsure where we were at. A lot of young kids. Five freshmen in our lineup and then another seven juniors with four of them being new.
“We didn’t return a ton, but we knew where we’d be.”
North Linn’s Cade Cook (120) and Blaine Baumgartner at 138 earned titles. Cook was decisive in a final bout between ranked wrestlers.
Cook, ranked seventh, never trailed in a 9-2 decision over Highland’s Bryce Thompson, who is ranked eighth at 113. He built a 3-0 lead in the opening period and pulled away with three takedowns in the third.
Baumgartner recorded a second-period pin over Solon’s Kaden Lamm for the championship.
Belle Plaine had three finalists. Jack Schwenn was first for the Plainesmen, pinning Solon’s Lucas Kampman in 3:09 in the 170 final.
NORTH CEDAR INVITATIONAL
Teams — 1. Solon 195, 2. Wilton 186, 3. New London 168.5, 4. North Linn 146.5, 5. Belle Plaine 101, 6. Durant 70.5, 7. North Cedar 63, 8. Highland 54.5, 9. Central City 34, 10. Montezuma 20.
106 pounds — Brody Brisker (W) pinned Easton Schlabaugh (H), 5:09; 113 — Garrett Burkle (W) pinned Kole Murray (NC), 2:21; 120 — Cade Cook (NLinn) dec. Bryce Thompson (H), 9-2; 126 — Marcel Lopez (NLo) tech. fall Ethan Gast (D), 23-8; 132 — Kael Brisker (W) pinned Cael Bridgewater (NLinn), 1:14; 138 — Blaine Baumgartner (NLinn) pinned Kaden Lamm (S), 3:57; 145 — Dominic Lopez (NLo) major dec. Caleb Ebert (S), 10-2; 152 — Josh Glendening (NLo) major dec. Curtis Schott (NLinn), 13-1; 160 — Hayden Taylor (S) tech fall Connor Timm (BP), 17-2; 170 — Jack Schwenn (BP) pinned Lucas Kampman (S), 3:09; 182 — Dylan Grage (D) dec. Chase Wickwire (BP), 8-4; 195 — Currey Jacobs (NLo) pinned Johnathan Lilly (W), 3:15; 220 — Gage Marty (S) pinned Nathan Rechkemmer (NLinn), 3:07; Hwt. — Nash Altman (S) pinned Kennen Roadcap (M), 3:10.
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