MARION — Look no further than Dakota Lau for a tangible example of Western Dubuque’s “next man in” mantra.
Two years ago, Lau was the 132-pound starter. He served as a 152 reserve last season. The Bobcats’ 160-pounder continued to prepare and regained a spot on the starting squad.
“This year, as a senior, I have something to prove,” Lau said. “It feels good to be back in the lineup.”
Lau marked his return with a major decision to help put the finishing touches on Western Dubuque’s 58-18 victory over host Marion to open the high school wrestling season. The Bobcats won seven matches and all but two competed weights.
Western Dubuque lost nine starters from a year ago due to graduation. The approach is to work hard and be ready when it is your time to wrestle varsity. Paul Cleary has been the Bobcats head coach for about a decade and maintained the approach of his predecessor Tom Danner.
“It’s our philosophy,” said Cleary, noting the program has about 75 wrestlers on its roster. “We live and die by it. All of (our) programs are into it. It’s just how we operate.”
Lau bided his time and seems to be a solid fit for the Bobcats. He scored three takedowns and four nearfall points in a 12-2 victory over Dylan Mull. It was a good start to a season he hopes finishes in Des Moines.
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“I want to make it to state,” Lau said. “Keep competing every chance I get. My goal is to go out there and do the best I can do.”
His result was the last of five bonus-point wins. Heavyweight Emerson Lux-Morales, Maddox Bries (106), Kyle Schirmer (145) and Trent Busch at 152 recorded pins for Western Dubuque, which received three forfeits.
“We have a lot of guys who haven’t been there but they’ve been around,” Cleary said. “There are a bunch of names no one knows but I think they are a nice, tough squad. They work hard and are fun to coach.”
In the closest contested match of the night, Western Dubuque’s sixth-ranked state medalist Sawyer Nauman notched two second-period takedowns to edge Abe Duval, 5-3, at 195.
Rafael Boucher (113) and Wesley Logan (126) provided falls for Marion. Boucher built a 10-3 lead before decking Caden Mulnix in 5:23.
The dual was competed in front of 40 masked fans, sitting in groups of four or fewer and spread throughout the bleachers across from the teams. Coaches, table workers and cheerleaders were masked and wrestlers wore masks while warming up.
“We got this one in,” Cleary said. “We’re going three places Saturday, so we’ll try to go compete.
“Everyone is practicing hard. They want to go compete. That’s how high school sports are supposed to be. We’ll do so as safely as possible and have fun.”
Western Dubuque 58, Marion 18
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182 pounds — Evan Surface (WD) won by forfeit; 195 — Sawyer Nauman (WD) dec. Abe Duval, 5-3 (2-0); 220 — Mitchell Ashline (WD) won by forfeit; Hwt. — Emerson Lux-Morales (WD) pinned Austin Johnson, :32 (1,0); 106 — Maddox Bries (WD) pinned Chase Paulson, 4:16 (1,0); 113 — Rafael Boucher (M) pinned Caden Mulnix, 5:23 (5,0); 120 — Roden Fetter (M) won by forfeit; 126 — Wes Logan (M) pinned Zain Heiderscheit, 1:59 (1,0); 132 — Elijah Strief (WD) won by forfeit; 138 — Nathan Casey (WD) dec. Hunter Horak, 7-2 (3,0); 145 — Kyle Schirmer (WD) pinned Lance Wood, 3:33 (3,0); 152 — Trent Busch (WD) pinned Stijn DeLang, 5:59 (1,0); 160 — Dakota Lau (WD) major dec. Dylan Mull, 12-2 (3,1); 170 — Greyson Gardner (WD) won by forfeit.
Takedowns — Western Dubuque 14, Marion 7. Reversals — Western Dubuque 3, Marion 1. Escapes — Western Dubuque 8, Marion 5. Nearfall points — Western Dubuque 14, Marion 2. Penalty points (awarded) — Western Dubuque 0, Marion 1. Total match points — Western Dubuque 56, Marion 24.
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