2A area wrestlers are dreaming big
DES MOINES — Caelan Oakes has been thinking about competing at the state tournament since he was younger.
“It’s been a dream since I was in the seventh grade,” Oakes said. “Making it this year was really exciting for me and my family.”
The Southeast Valley sophomore fought through some hardships this season with COVID-19 and injuries. When Oakes began to realize what he was capable of, though, he was all in.
“Going into this year, I knew I had what it took to get to the Well,” Oakes said. “It was just a matter of getting past COVID-19 and injuries.
“I wanted to get as much mat time as possible this year. I started wrestling seven days a week with some ranked kids all around the state.”
Oakes (37-10), currently rated eighth, will face Independence sophomore Kale Wieland (32-10) in the first round of the Class 2A 113-pound bracket on Thursday.
“I can’t wait for the state tournament this year,” Oakes said. “I’ve worked very hard for this. It was my goal.”
Aaron Graves has already found success on the football field and the basketball court. Now, the future University of Iowa lineman is hitting his stride on the mat.
In his first season, Graves (285) has reached Des Moines. The junior (30-3) will meet Greene County senior Sawyer Schiltz (25-9) in the first round.
Reed Abbas (138) wasn’t happy where he finished last year.
That has been a guiding force for the Clarion-Goldfield/Dows senior this time around.
“Being back at state means a lot to me. It’s another shot and opportunity to compete and have fun in the Wells Fargo atmosphere,” Abbas said. “This past offseason and this year I have been taking wrestling a little more seriously, putting in a lot of work, but also just trying to still have fun with it.”
The fifth-ranked wrestler, who finished seventh a year ago, has 74 wins the past two seasons for the Cowboys.
“Last year I had high expectations — higher than seventh place, that is,” Abbas said. “So it’s been a factor in my training this offseason.
“I’m very humbled to be able to have this one last opportunity to compete in my high school career before taking the next step and being a Viking (at Grand View University).”
Abbas (32-2) will face Decorah’s Austin Wilkins (23-12) in his 138-pound opener.
Fourth-rated district champion Garrett Seaba (31-2) will compete against Dike-New Hartford’s Nick Reinicke (23-8) for C-G/D. Sixth-rated senior Remington Hanson (28-2) will face fourth-ranked Landon Fenton (35-2) of PCM.
Kain Nelson (22-2) squares off with Mid-Prairie’s Josh Wallington (38-3).
“It’s been a crazy year; with COVID and everything, we haven’t had a lot of matches,”Nelson said. “It’s been important to go hard in the practice room and get into shape and be ready for anything.
“I’m just ready to go out there and show everyone what I can do.”
Camron Phetxoumphone (113) went untouched last season in 42 matches to win a state championship, and he’s taken on everyone’s best shot this time around.
“I dealt with that by trying to do everything right and showing everybody that I’m the top dog,” Phetxoumphone said.
Phetxoumphone (31-1) suffered his first loss of 2021 at the district meet. That hasn’t distracted the three-time state qualifier.
“The loss only motivates me as a wrestler to get better every day in the room,” Phetxoumphone said.
Entering the state tournament, Phetxoumphone has a career record of 115-7.
“I feel good going back to state, knowing that I have a really good chance of being a two-timer,” Phetxoumphone.
Third-ranked freshman Carson Doolittle (32-4) will meet North Central Conference foe Jacob Zabka (30-3) of Algona.
Senior Chase Rattenborg (29-7) will meet Reily Dolan (256) of West Delaware.
Fifth-ranked Jase Goodell (31-2) earned some quality experience a year ago at the state tournament.
Now, the Humboldt sophomore is looking to climb the podium.
Goodell, who is 58-15 in his career, will meet Independence’s Carter Straw (31-10) in the 126-pound opener on Thursday.
Humboldt sophomore Jayden Gargano (27-8) takes on 10th-ranked Gavin Jensen (42-4) of Williamsburg in his state debut.
Seventh-rated Matthew Wirtz (28-3) was a state participant last season, and is looking for more in his junior run.
Wirtz faces Mid-Prairie’s Cael Garvey (34-4).
No. 7 Jordan Anderson (28-2) squares off with fifth-rated Treyton Burnikel (22-2) of Crestwood.
Cade Shirk (26-8) will face eighth-ranked Jarrett Roos (40-0) at 160 pounds. Sophomore Ryan Brennan (20-6) faces second-ranked Nathaniel Genobana (42-3) of Centerville.
Sophomore McKinley Robbins (120) took second place last season.
Now the top-ranked 120-pounder is digging for gold.
Robbins (30-0) faces Dawson Townsend (25-3) of Davis County.
Temmates Brady Stauffer (27-5 at 138), Gavin Scheuemann (17-9 at 145) and Sawyer Schiltz (25-9 at 285) will join Robbins in the state field from GC.
Jacob Zabka (30-3) has a familiar opponent in his opener, competing against third-ranked Carson Doolittle of Webster City at 106 pounds.
Doolittle defeated Zabka at the North Central Conference Meet and in the dual.