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West Delaware’s Will Ward stays calm in comeback win for Bobcat Jerry Eckenrod Invitational wrestling title
Hawks finish second to Don Bosco; Dons crown 4 champions; Union Community’s Jace Hedeman wins No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup
VAN HORNE – Will Ward was calm, cool and confident.
Despite falling into a hole early, he didn’t panic, kept working and never wavered. The West Delaware senior reaped the rewards.
Ward capped a thrilling comeback, erasing a five-point deficit after two periods and recording a fall over Vinton-Shellsburg’s Curtis Erickson for the 195-pound title at the Bobcat Jerry Eckenrod Invitational Saturday at Benton Community. The Hawks placed second with 193 points, finishing 33.5 points behind team champion Don Bosco.
Class 2A fourth-ranked Ward scored a takedown early in the third to close the gap. Lightning struck the next time on their feet, Ward came out on top of a scramble to hit a whipover and put Erickson on his back for the fall in 4:56.
“I stuck in it,” Ward said. “I knew I could get in a scramble. Usually, when I get in the scramble I come out on top.”
Ward wasn’t fazed when Erickson scored a takedown and added two nearfall for a 4-0 at the end of the first. That didn’t change when he surrendered another takedown in the second to trail 6-1 after two.
Things started to click in the final frame, getting to his double-underhooks and converting on an inside trip for his first takedown. He was back in the match and had momentum.
Ward recalled a match at state that played out similarly, but has avoided it this year.
“You have to trust yourself,” Ward said. “Kids are going to get tired. You can get into those scrambles when they’re tired.
“I’m wrestling some of the best kids in the state in practice. Coach (Jeff) Voss puts us in those situations in practice, so you know how to handle them.”
Ward, an all-state running back who rushed for 1,249 yards and 17 touchdowns in the fall, is powerful. A skill that makes him dangerous, regardless of the score.
“He’s very explosive,” Voss said. “When opportunities arise, he can use it to his advantage.”
Ward won 41 matches as a junior, placing eighth at state. He improved to 23-0 this season and owns aspirations of another Hawks state team title and an individual gold. Voss said he is capable of making more gains.
“As well as he’s done, he realizes there is room for improvement,” Voss said. “With that mindset, I don’t think we’ve seen the best Will Ward, yet.”
West Delaware had three finalists. Carson Turnis (138) and Logan Peyton (160) were runners-up. Despite falling in the finals, Turnis (19-5) has made a big jump from being a little under .500 last year, beating Don Bosco’s second-seeded Myles McMahon, 9-5, in the semifinals to avenge a loss from a month ago.
“He’s steadily gotten better,” Voss said. “He’s made some big strides because of the hard work he’s put in.”
Union Community crowned two champions. Brayden Bohnsack captured the 106-pound title and teammate Jace Hedeman won at 113. Top-ranked Hedeman faced West Liberty’s Colin Cassady in the finals in a rematch of last year’s state semifinals won by Hedeman on his way to the 106-pound title.
Hedeman was victorious again. He tallied four takedowns and a reversal in a 10-4 decision over No. 2 Cassady, increasing his record to 28-0.
Don Bosco led the tournament with six finalists and four champions. Waukee Northwest went 3-for-3, receiving a title from 120-pounder Koufax Christensen, who was voted as the tournament Outstanding Wrestler.
Williamsburg and North Linn each won a title. The Raiders’ Gable Dayton scored a takedown with 29 seconds left in sudden victory for a 4-2 decision over Don Bosco’s Landon Fernandez.
North Linn’s Cael Bridgewater claimed the 138 championship. He scored five in the first and four in the third for a 10-4 decision over Turnis.
BOBCAT JERRY ECKENROD INVITATIONAL
At Van Horne
Teams – 1. Don Bosco 226.5, 2. West Delaware 193, 3. Waukee Northwest 168, 4. Davenport Assumption 162.5, 5. Dallas Center-Grimes 149.5, 6. Williamsburg 141.5, 7. Independence 105, 8. Vinton-Shellsburg 96, 9. Union Community 92, 10. Benton Community 82, 11. West Liberty 69, 12. North Linn 66.5, 13. Centerville 46.5, 14. Cedar Rapids Jefferson 28, 15. East Marshall/GMG 23.
106 pounds – Brayden Bohnsack (UC) major dec. Lincoln Schropp (Will), 12-4; 113 – Jace Hedeman (UC) dec. Colin Cassady (WL), 10-4; 120 – Koufax Christensen (WNW) tech. fall Gavin Jensen (Will), 21-6; 126 – John King (WNW) won by medical forfeit over Derrick Bass (DA); 132 – Carter Freeman (WNW) major dec. Cadyn Wild (DA), 16-5; 138 – Cael Bridgewater (NL) dec. Carson Turnis (WDel), 10-4 ; 145 – Michael Macias (DA) dec. Kaiden Knaack (DB), 5-3; 152 – Kyler Knaack (DB) dec. Cooper Sanders (VS), 8-4; 160 – Andrew Kimball (DB) dec. Logan Peyton (WDel), 8-4; 170 – Jacob Fistler (DCG) dec. Drake Collins (WL), 6-3; 182 – Gable Dayton (Will) dec. Landon Fernandez (DB), 4-2 SV; 195 – Will Ward (WDel) pinned Curtis Erickson (VS), 4:56; 220 – Jared Thiry (DB) pinned Rhett Schaefer (DA), 2:00; Hwt. – Mack Ortner (DB) dec. Korver Hupke (I), 3-2 UTB.
Outstanding Wrestler: Christensen (WNW)
Most falls in quickest time: Thiry (DB), 4 pins in 8:15
Fastest fall: Cael Winter (WNW) and Trenton Davies (Willi), :11