Tritons claim another district title
Iowa Central wins six individual titles
MASON CITY — The fourth-ranked Iowa Central wrestling team rallied back to secure another district championship here Sunday.
Behind six individual winners, the Tritons moved ahead of Ellsworth late, capturing the Central District title for the fifth consecutive year. Iowa Central will be sending all 10 wrestlers to the NJCAA Championship, which is held March 1-2 in Council Bluffs at the Mid-America Center.
The No. 6 Panthers held the team lead until the final few title matches, settling for second with 154 points — 9.5 behind the Tritons. Host North Iowa Area was third, eighth-ranked Iowa Western fourth and No. 7 Iowa Lakes fifth.
“We knew we had some head-to-heads with Ellsworth coming up and we won all of those and scored bonus points,” ICCC head coach Luke Moffitt said. “That’s a nice thing when you can change the result yourself and not have to rely on hoping another team does it for you. It’s the best way to handle it.”
Kevin Radcliff, Ethan Karsten, Travis Willers, Ashton Eyler, Brian Stanford and Tyree Sutton all put together unbeaten records on the day and claimed titles. Josh Garcia, Fort Dodge Senior High graduate Damond Lockner, Yar Aldiva and Gunner Cash finished fourth each, earning spots into nationals.
“We went 6-for-6 in the finals, but we would have liked to have all 10 win their last match,” Moffitt said. “Now, we’ve got a nice three-week stretch to get better before nationals.”
During the regular season, Iowa Central went 5-1 to claim the ICCAC duals title.
Radcliff scored an injury default victory over Mark Gonzalez of NIACC in the 125-pound finals after picking up a fall vs. Carter Cox of Ellsworth in the semis. He also finished the event with 22 team points scored, which led all wrestlers.
Karsten had a fall and topped Michael Zachary from Iowa Western in the 157-pound championship match, 4-3. The returning medalist also earned the title of Central District Wrestler of the Year.
Zachary, a finalist last year at 149 pounds, is headed to the University of Northern Iowa to play football in the fall.
“Ethan’s weight class was stacked for a regional,” Moffitt said. “Three returning All-Americans and he wrestled great, just as he has all year.”
Willers had a pin and a major decision at 165 pounds, with Eyler scoring two majors to claim the 174-pound bracket. Stanford had a major decision and a close 3-1 decision over Ellsworth’s Jordan Shahrikian at 184, with Sutton picking up a major and a technical fall at 197.
Willers had 21 team points scored and Sutton 20.5, which ranked second and third behind Radcliff. Sutton also had the most individual match points scored with 20 and most match points total with 36.
As a team, the Tritons finished with a tournament-best 188 match points, as Ellsworth was second at 129.
Other champions were Ellsworth’s Hector Candelaria (133 pounds), Zack Donathan (141), Cardeionte Wilson (149) and Charles Griffin (285), as the Panthers and Tritons swept the 10 weight classes.
Mason Carpenter, a graduate of Clarion-Goldfield/Dows, was third at 174 pounds for the Trojans. He went 2-1 on the day, earning a pair of decisions around a loss to Eyler.
At nationals last year, Iowa Central was the highest finishing ICCAC team, coming away in third. Northeastern Oklahoma A&M claimed the title with Clackamas second. The Tritons were national champions in 2017 ahead of Clackamas and Northeastern Oklahoma A&M.