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1A area athletes earn medals

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla: Dane Johnson of Pocahontas Area took fourth at 285 pounds in Des Moines. For more photos, please visit CU.messengernews.net

DES MOINES — Once a title contender is knocked out of the hunt, it’s hard to refocus on the job at hand.

After losing in the semifinals, Pocahontas Area’s Dane Johnson and West Bend-Mallard’s Donavon Hanson faced that difficult task.

Both Johnson (285) and Hanson (113) went 1-1 during Saturday’s medal round, winning their first matches before falling in the third-place round.

“Finishing fourth is obviously not where I was wanting to end up, but I did improve from last year and that is really what matters to me,” Johnson said.

Johnson (37-4), who has only been wrestling for three years, finished his career with two medals, placing fifth a year ago. He has 98 career victories.

“My career obviously is not the typical wrestler’s career, starting as a sophomore and ending up where I am today,” Johnson said. “But when you have the determination to get better, tons of support, and two amazing coaches like I had, I guess anything is possible.”

In the consolation semifinals Johnson pinned Pleasantville’s Matthew Kauffman (33-8) in 2:45. Johnson dropped a 7-5 sudden victory overtime match to third-rated Brant Baltes (35-1) of Lisbon.

The future Grand View University lineman fell by a total of three points in his two losses.

“Being an Indian has meant everything, especially being out on the mat, football field, or even the track,” Johnson said. “I feel like representing the PAC Indians in everything I do in and out of school.

“It’s one of the best things in my life.”

Hanson had the same map as Johnson to his fourth-place medal

“I knew last year I belonged there anyway. I just had to redeem myself and prove I belong up there,” Hanson said. “It wasn’t how I wanted to finish, but fourth isn’t terrible. I just have to rest up a little and get back in the room soon to get ready for college.”

The future University of Dubuque wrestler closes as West Bend-Mallard’s career wins leader with 122 victories.

“Donavon has had a great career earning two medals, unfortunately his sophomore year he had an injury that prevented him from possibly obtaining a third medal and fourth appearance at state,” said WB-M head coach Payton Rice, a former four-time medalist at Manson Northwest Webster. “Donavon has been an awesome leader for a young developing West Bend wrestling program.”

Hanson (41-3), rated third, won his first match on Saturday, earning a 10-0 major decision over Dawson Bergan (44-8) of Edgewood-Colesburg.

The senior had a tough task in the third-place match, losing by fall to No. 4 Dawson Schmit (2:38) of Wapsie Valley. Hanson was eighth a year ago as a junior, and was a qualifier as a freshman at MNW.

“Connor (Fehr, a sixth-place medalist last year) and Donovan opened the door, showing guys in our program they can go out and achieve great things on the mat,” Rice said. “Donavon and his fellow seniors have helped change the culture at West Bend and get the ball rolling toward being a program consistently having state qualifiers and place winners.

“I couldn’t be prouder of how Donavon has represented himself and West Bend on and off the mat during his two year stay.”

Hanson ran the gauntlet of ranked wrestlers in the tournament, beating the fifth- and sixth-ranked wrestlers, while falling to No. 2 and No. 4.

“My career has had a lot of ups and downs throughout, but through it all, I knew the goal and what I had to do to achieve it,”Hanson said. “I wouldn’t give this sport up for the world. I didn’t get what I wanted, but it still wasn’t anything to hang my head about.”

South Central Calhoun junior Jayden Soard (52-10) finished eighth at 220 pounds. Soard lost the seventh place match by fall (4:34) to seventh-ranked Luke Recker (42-4) of East Buchanan.

Soard beat the eighth-ranked competitor, while losing to the fourth-, fifth- and seventh-rated athletes.

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