CLARION - With state wrestling bids on the line, third-ranked Clarion-Goldfield put on quite a show here Saturday.
Competing inside the comforts of their own gym, the Cowboys earned a Class 1A, District 2 title behind four champions and three runner-up efforts.
Kurt Morgan's C-G squad, which also recently qualified for state duals, registered 138 points. No. 7 St. Edmond (73.5) and Lake Mills (72) were second and third, advancing three and four individuals, respectively.
Photo by Tracy Runneberg, for The Messenger
Vinnie Harvey of St. Edmond works his way to a pin on Saturday against Cody Schoop from South Central Calhoun during a Class 1A district wrestling meet in Clarion.
Second-ranked Justin Portillo (106 pounds), No. 2 Josh Portillo (113), fifth-ranked Joel Haberman (126) and No. 5 Taylor Lehman (138) all secured crowns for the Cowboys, while Logan Nelson (152), Ryan Anderson (182) and fourth-ranked Mitch Gambrill (285) each settled for second.
"I thought we came out of the gates wrestling real well," Morgan said. "We had a couple of guys (Nelson and Anderson) that maybe weren't favored make it through, and Gambrill took care of business in his wrestleback to move on (Gambrill used a late takedown to escape with a 10-8 victory over Belmond-Klemme's Luke Worden in his wrestleback).
"I think our team peaked at sectionals, regionals and even at districts. Our guys are sitting in a good position now to go down (to Des Moines) and bring home some gold or silver."
Justin Portillo improved to 22-2 on the season with a 10-5 championship decision over Mason City Newman's No. 4 Jeremiah Colon. Twin brother Josh Portillo (24-0 overall) remained unbeaten with a 15-0 finals technical fall against eighth-ranked Ryan Szalat of St. Edmond in the finals.
Haberman (32-7) notched an 8-2 triumph over Lake Mills' Michael Olsen in the title round, while Lehman (32-5) claimed a spot atop the podium by downing Coleby Bratrud from Northwood-Kensett, 9-4.
"We've been tough on the road this year, but it always helps when you can wrestle in front of your home fans," said Morgan. "It was definitely nice to have all that support behind us (yesterday)."
Gambrill will be making his fourth consecutive state appearance for the Cowboys. Haberman and Lehman are also making return trips to Wells Fargo Arena.
Brady Brott (145), Jordan Lee (170) and Caleb Hanson (220) all checked in third, while Lucas Lienemann (120) was fourth.
For the Gaels, top-ranked senior Kaden McClintock (120) and No. 2 senior Vinnie Harvey (220) are headed to Des Moines for a third straight year after both grabbed district gold.
In his championship bout, McClintock (24-1) needed just 1:27 to pin Belmond-Klemme's Zach Andrews. McClintock previously won by fall in 1:28 over Lienemann in the semifinals. McClintock, a four-time North Central Conference champion, owns a 131-13 career mark.
"I didn't feel a lot of nerves this year, which was a big change from the previous years," McClintock said. "I just tried to go out (on the mat), stay sharp and keep my head on straight. I'm real comfortable right now, so hopefully I can have a good outcome at state."
Keeping his perfect season firmly intact, Harvey (33-0) followed up a 44 second semifinal pin of Lake Mills' Tyler Mary with a 1:14 fall against fifth-ranked Cody Schoop from South Central Calhoun. Harvey is the school's all-time wins leader (153), who placed fourth at state in 2013.
"If I win the big one, that's when I'll celebrate," said Harvey. "I think I let one get away from me last year, and I can't let it happen again. It's pretty much (state) title or nothing."
Szalat (29-5) rebounded from his championship setback with a 7-5 wrestleback decision over Pocahontas Area's Mitch Brinkman. Szalat, who sports a varsity record of 95-21, finished seventh on the big stage at 106 last winter.
"I obviously would've liked to get down (to Des Moines) as a district champion, but I can't be too mad," Szalat said. "I was able to hold off (Brinkman) after I died off a little at the end, but I guess a win is a win."
Sophomore Payton Sitzmann (126) and senior Jimmy Averill (182) were each third for St. Edmond.
"We were hoping to get all five guys through, but wrestling in the postseason is always tough," SEHS head coach Tanner Utley said. "You need to be ready to go out of the gate at districts, and have to be able to fight off all kinds of moves."
South Central Calhoun
Aside from Schoop's runner-up performance, No. 9 Tyler Kutz (170) and eighth-ranked Rylan Richardson (195) were each champions for the Titans. Kutz (49-5) pinned Pocahontas Area's Tyler Hubrich in the title round in a time of 2:40. Richardson (40-6) bested ninth-ranked Andrew Olsen from Lake Mills in the finals, 4-2.
Colin Corey (120) and Logan Peed (152) were each third for South Central Calhoun. Cody Smith (106), MJ Sittig (126), and Aron King (285) were all fourth.
Manson Northwest Webster
Fourth-ranked Payton Rice (145), Lucas Dolder (182) and Tim Butcher (285) all won titles for the Cougars, while No. 9 Caleb Simacek (132) was a runner-up.
Rice (48-1) easily topped Lake Mills' Brady Schmidt for gold. Dolder (5-0) picked up an 11-3 championship major decision against Anderson, and Butcher (43-6) followed up a 5-3 semifinal upset of Gambrill with a 9-7 victory against Worden.
Rice - head coach Stacey Rice's son - will be making his fourth trip in a row to state. Rice, who has compiled 175 career victories, previously finished sixth, second and fifth in Des Moines.
Hubrich (170) was the lone Indian to advance, placing second. In his wrestleback, Hubrich (38-11) pinned Lee in 4:30.
Brinkman ended up third for Pocahontas Area, and 10th-ranked Danny Sommerlot (160) was fourth.
Runner-up Spencer Fluckiger (160) will represent the Eagles at state after pinning Lake Mills' Slade Sifuentes in 3:15 in the wrestleback round.
Spencer Johnson (106) finished third for the Warriors, while Grant Bockoven (195) checked in fourth.
Dylan Huse (138) placed third for the Eagles.
Traditional state competition in 1A starts on Thursday at 7 p.m.