JEWELL - Only one more hurdle remains for wrestlers looking to punch their individual state tickets.
Messenger-area teams St. Edmond, Clarion-Goldfield, Eagle Grove and Prairie Valley will all be represented on the mat at today's Class 1A, District 4 meet. Rounding out the rest of the field are Belmond-Klemme, Lake Mills, Mason City Newman, Ogden, host South Hamilton, West Marshall and West Hancock.
Action begins at noon inside the South Hamilton High School gym.
First- and second-place finishers in every weight class advance to traditional state competition, which starts Thursday.
"We feel pretty good with where we're at right now, but we know nothing is going to come easy at this time of the year," SEHS head coach Tanner Utley said. "Our guys need to make sure they're ready both mentally and physically."
No. 8 Ryan Szalat (106 pounds), fourth-ranked Kaden McClintock (113), Nick Johnson (126), No. 1 Teddie Harvey (145), Dillon Nelson (182) and top-ranked Vinnie Harvey (220) will each compete for the No. 4 Gaels. McClintock, Johnson, Teddie Harvey, Nelson and Vinnie Harvey were all sectional champions last Saturday in Ogden, while Szalat turned in a runner-up performance.
" (Defending state qualifiers) Teddie, Vinnie and Kaden are all battle-tested and know what it takes," said Utley. "Those three guys have tunnel-vision and don't just want to settle for another district title."
Szalat (39-4 overall) faces Clarion-Goldfield's Evan Ulven (20-13) in his opening match this afternoon, while McClintock (38-0) battles Zach Andrews (31-11) of Belmond-Klemme.
Johnson (33-9) will clash with Clarion-Goldfield's fifth-ranked Joel Haberman (30-6), Teddie Harvey (39-0) is pitted against West Hancock's Klayton Lamereux (22-21), and Nelson (34-8) takes on Ben Irons (32-11) from Lake Mills. Vinnie Harvey (39-0) will also square off with Belmond-Klemme's Luke Worden (26-15).
"We've put the Aplington loss behind us (the Gaels suffered a 41-31 setback to the Falcons in a 1A regional semifinal dual on Tuesday), and our guys are focused on their ultimate goal of making the (traditional) state tournament," Utley said. "Taking that next step is what we've been working hard for all year long."
Aside from Ulven and Joel Haberman, Joey Helgeson (113), Calen Rosenbaum (120), ninth-ranked Taylor Lehman (132), No. 6 Matt Odland (138), Parry Starling (145), Logan Nelson (152), fourth-ranked Jake Haberman (160) and No. 8 Mitch Gambrill (285) comprise the lineup for ninth-ranked Clarion-Goldfield, which recently qualified for state duals on the heels of a sectional crown last weekend in Lake Mills.
Eagle Grove's Dylan Sporaa (106) and Cole Beecher (152) will each be on hand, along with Prairie Valley's Logan Klingson (132), Brandon Ure (138), Taylor Clough (152), No. 9 Matt Streit (195) and Grant Bockoven (220).