116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MARION — Gavin Jensen has an added appreciation for the sweat, pain and the rewards it renders on the wrestling mat.
The lesson was a tough one to learn when the 2021 state finalist had last season finish abruptly a win shy of a return to the awards stand in Des Moines.
“Last year made me realize I don’t have a lot of time left in my high school (career),” said Jensen, who was a Class 2A state runner-up as a sophomore and had to injury default out of the state meet a year ago. “It really motivated me to do my best, going to practice every day when I was healthy.”
Jensen continued his strong senior campaign, posting a second-period pin over Wilton’s Gabriel Brisker for the 120-pound title Saturday at the Loyd Shaffer Marion Invitational at Marion High School. He helped the Raiders to a runner-up team finish with 174 1/2 points, 67 1/2 back of team champion Wilton.
“He knows it is his senior year,” Williamsburg Coach Grant Eckenrod said of Jensen. The big thing this year is he is healthy.“
Eckenrod noted that Jensen suffered a torn meniscus in his knee that locked up four or five times last season. The final time came in the state quarterfinals, ending his bid for another medal and improvement to his past placing.
“It was heartbreaking,” Jensen said. “Win or lose, either way, it didn’t really matter. It was just the fact that I couldn’t finish after the match I had to medical forfeit.
“I wanted to go back out there but I couldn’t do anything about it.”
Jensen stayed to support his teammates, watching Kam Royster and Jack Geels compete. He was sidelined for 6 1/2 months, so he could heal. No freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling in the spring and summer. No baseball.
The injury didn’t hinder his leadership and his impact in the Raiders wrestling room. He attended regular workouts, offering his knowledge and encouragement to others.
“He’s a captain and a leader of our team,” Eckenrod said. “He was in our room at least twice a week. It says a lot about him as a leader and how selfless he was, being supportive.”
Sights are set on a state title in February. One of the ways to get to the top of the awards stand is by maintaining his aggressive approach. An aspect he was dedicated to improve from a year ago.
“I really focused on being more aggressive,” Jensen said. “I’ve been going 100 percent the whole match.
“I need to keep doing my best, going all out in practice to get my condition to the best that it can be in order for me to do well at the state tournament.”
Jensen, ranked second in 2A, pinned his way through the bracket, amassing 28 team points for the Raiders. He opened with two first-period falls before decking 1A No. 3 Brisker in 2:27. Jensen (26-4) scored a takedown and three nearfall and exchanged reversals with Brisker for a 7-2 lead at the end of one.
Brisker chose down and couldn’t hold off Jensen’s final turn.
“I know I’m good with a half on top,” Jensen said. “I stick to what I’m good at. I get it done.
“I performed to the best of my abilities. It went great overall.”
He was joined in the finals by runners-up Lincoln Schropp (106) and 182-pounder Gable Dayton.
In a battle of highly-ranked wrestlers, North Linn’s 1A top-ranked Cael Bridgewater faced Keokuk’s 2A No. 2 Tate O’Shea. The score wasn’t as close as the rankings.
Bridgewater beat his third highly-ranked opponent since Thursday night. He tallied eight nearfall and two takedowns for a 12-0 major decision for the 138 crown.
Cedar Rapids Kennedy had two finalists. The Cougars’ Colin Falck won gold at 160, starting the day seeded fifth. Falck dominated the bracket with a quarterfinal pin, a 17-2 technical fall over top-seeded Barrett Waller, of Overland Park-Blue Valley Northwest (Kan.) and an 11-2 major decision over North Linn’s 1A No. 7 Jarin Peyton.
Falck led Peyton throughout, scoring five takedowns with three in the final period.
Benton Community had three in the finals, receiving a title from 152-pounder Brenden Heying. He used a first-period takedown and reversals in the final two periods for a 6-2 decision over Cedar Rapids Xavier’s Ronan Thomas in the final.
Monticello crowned a champion in 145-pounder Kale Hansen. He improved to 31-0 this season, pinning Benton’s Blayke Heying in 3:58. Hansen had three pins and a technical fall Saturday.
LOYD SHAFFER-MARION INVITATIONAL
Teams – 1. Wilton 242, 2. Williamsburg 174.5, 3. Atlantic 163, 4. Benton Community 147.5, 5. C.R. Kennedy 124, 6. C.R. Xavier 117.5, 7. Grinnell 102, 8. Monticello 101.5, 9. Louisa-Muscatine 85, 10. North Linn 81, 11. Marion 80.5, 12. Keokuk 62.5, 13. North Butler-Clarksville 47, 14. Maquoketa 42, 15. Overland Park-Blue Valley Northwest (Kan.) 34.
106 pounds – Mason Shirk (Wilt) dec. Lincoln Schropp (Wburg), 8-2; 113 – Aiden Smith (A) major dec. Austin Etzel, 18-4; 120 – Gavin Jensen (Wburg) pinned Gabriel Shirk (Wilt), 2:27; 126 – Brody Brisker (Wlit) dec. Logan McDonald (G), 9-4; 132 – Tanner Arjes (NBC) tech. fall Jordan Dusenberry (Wilt), 19-4; 138 – Cael Bridgewater (NL) major dec. Tate O’Shea (K), 12-0; 145 – Kale Hansen (Mon) pinned Blayke Heying (BC), 3:58; 152 – Brenden Heying (BC) dec. Ronan Thomas (CRX), 6-2; 160 – Colin Falck (CRK) major dec. Jarin Peyton (NL), 11-2; 170 – Kendal Pugh (L-M) pinned Will Hacke (CRX), 4:37; 182 – Kaden Shirk (Wilt) won by medical forfeit over Gable Dayton (Wburg); 195 – Oliver Louden (G) pinned Troy Kupka (BC), 1:29; 220 – Spencer Kessel (L-M) pinned Asher Smith (CRK), 1:13; Hwt. - Gene Blalock (G) dec. Alexander Kaufmann (Wilt), 5-2.