CHAMPIONSHIP BLOODLINE

Ruffridge wins 126-pound titLe for Indians

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla Pocahontas Area’s Shea Ruffridge celebrates a win against Clear Lake’s Eric Faught in the 126 pound championship match. For more photos, visit CU at messengernews.net

DES MOINES — The Ruffridge family will need to clear some more space in the trophy case.

Pocahontas Area senior Shea Ruffridge cemented his legacy at the school with a thrilling 3-2 victory over Clear Lake’s Eric Faught here Saturday night in the Class 2A 126-pound finals at the state wrestling meet.

Ruffridge, who was ousted in the semifinals each of the past two seasons, finally made it to the big stage inside Wells Fargo Arena. And in his final attempt at joining his hero, the late Aaron Wernimont, he delivered.

Following a first period takedown, Ruffridge scored an escape in the third to avenge his only loss this year and deal Faught — ranked No. 1 and the wrestler who topped him in the semis two years ago — his first defeat on the season.

“It was huge getting that first takedown because it set the tone,” said Ruffridge, who has wrestled against Faught since they were little kids. “In the third, I just stayed calm and focused on what I had to do.

“In wrestling, it’s all about finding a way.That’s exactly what I did.”

The win came with the lights shining down on the 126-pound division. In 3A, Fort Dodge’s Brody Teske became a four-time state champion, with Underwood’s Alex Thomsen doing the same in 1A. The two closed the weight class down with a thriller, as Ruffridge fended off a deep takedown attempt in the final seconds.

“I knew it would just be electric when those four-timers won, so I prepared myself for that,” Ruffridge said. “I noticed the crowd start to get to their feet before they won their matches, but I stayed locked in and focused.”

He becomes the fourth state champion from Pocahontas Area joining Aaron Wernimont, Chris Wernimont and Nate Behrendsen.

“It just feels incomparable,” Ruffridge said. “It’s amazing and I’ve never felt anything like it.”

Shea’s sister, current Missouri State University basketball player Elle, led Pocahontas Area to back-to-back state basketball titles and a crown in cross country.

“I watched her win state titles and I wanted to do the same thing,” Ruffridge said. “I know she’s happy for me.”

Ruffridge, who will take record of 181-15 with him to Grand View University in the fall to continue his career, finishes as a three-time placewinner for Pocahontas Area. He is also the school’s leader in victories, with 10 of those coming at state.

“This is a perfect ending to my high school career,” he said. “Now, I’m on to Grand View and bigger things, as I hope to win national titles next.”

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