Big week for SV’s Graves
DES MOINES — Aaron Graves loves to compete, whether it’s on the basketball court or wrestling mat.
The Southeast Valley junior wrestled until his freshman season, when he chose basketball. As he reached his junior year, though, the future University of Iowa lineman decided to add more to his busy schedule and rejoin the wrestling program.
Graves was able to quickly adapt to the sport and started making a name for himself on the mat almost instantly. In his first season, the first team all-state lineman finished fourth in the Class 1A 285 pound field this past week.
“My goal going into the state tournament was to get on the podium and place as high as I could,” Graves said. “I wanted to get first, second or third, but I’m pretty happy with finishing fourth.”
The 6-foot-5, 260-pounder blanked fifth-ranked Chase Crooks (28-6) of Charles City, 5-0, in a consolation semifinal.
Graves (34-5) suffered a 6-3 loss in a tight match to No. 4 Jordan Ver Meer (43-3) of West Lyon for third.
“When we were walking down the tunnel, I said that in my 28 years of coaching, I’ve never seen anyone wrestle and play basketball and do the things that he has done,” said SV head coach Jeff Miller. “The ability to take fourth place in his first season is unreal.
“He is just a sponge when it comes to learning things. Our staff was literally coaching him during matches, and he absorbed it all.”
Graves defeated the second-, fifth- and eighth-rated wrestlers. He lost to No. 1 and No. 4 by a total of six points.
Graves dropped his quarterfinal match to top-ranked Carson Petlon of West Delaware (38-0), who will be a lineman at Northern Iowa next season.
Petlon is a four-time qualifier and three-time medalist. Petlon beat Steveson in the finals.
“With basketball being his main sport, he was only with us probably 25 percent of the time,” Miller said. “He just has a competitive spirit.
“We’ve had something pretty special over the years with Kyler Fisher, and now you can add Aaron to that. Caelan Oakes (sophomore) making it as well is a positive for the future.”
All five of Graves’ losses in 2021 were to medalists. He lost to Pocahontas Area’s fourth-place finisher — Dane Johnson — twice, Ver Meer (third), and this year’s state finalists, Petlon and Grinnell’s Kamrin Steveson.
“It was a lot to schedule it all out (for basketball and wrestling),” Graves said. “I credit a lot to our great coaching staff. My mom and dad definitely helped me a lot, too. They were there for everything I needed.”
Freshman Carson Doolittle (36-5) made a splash in his first season. The third-ranked 106-pounder knocked off the second-ranked wrestler twice, defeating Carter Anderson (46-3) of Albia 2-1 in the quarterfinals and 1-0 in the third-place match.
“I wrestled pretty well and aggressively,” Doolittle said. “After that semifinal match, I knew I had to keep battling back and get third.
“This season was fun. I had good teammates and partners to work out with.”
Doolittle also defeated ninth-ranked Jacob Zabka of Algona. He lost to No. 4 Kade Blume of Roland-Story in the semifinals.
“He has wrestled Blume four times,” said Webster City head coach Chad Hisler. “His only losses are to Dru Ayala (Fort Dodge), Blume (three times) and Dowling’s Kyler Carstarphen. They were all top-five finishers.
“Carson has wrestled a lot of solid kids, and gotten better each time.”
No. 4 Garrett Seaba (160), fifth-ranked Reed Abbas (138) and Kain Nelson (220) all brought home medals for the Cowboys.
Seaba (34-4) took fourth, Abbas (35-4) fifth, and Nelson (24-5) eighth.
Seaba defeated Grinnell’s sixth-ranked Landon Kirby (29-7) in the consolation semifinals, then dropped a 6-0 decision match to No. 5 Allen Catour (23-4) of Davenport Assumption for third.
Seaba knocked off No. 3 Hunter Worthen (37-6) of Union in the quarterfinals.
Abbas, who has 77 wins the last two seasons, was fifth a year ago as well. The fifth-ranked Cowboy lost in the consolation semifinals, 7-5, to No. 4 Chase Thomas of Crestwood.
Abbas ended the tourney with a fall in 1:15 over ninth-ranked Brady Ortner (37-12) of Vinton-Shellsburg in the fifth-place match. Abbas beat third-rated Kain Luensman (41-3) of Monticello in the quarters.
Nelson lost to No. 9 Easton Fleshman (30-8) of West Lyon 13-2 in the seventh-place match.
In his second state trip, Emmetsburg junior Matthew Wirz (32-5) joined the medal round for the first time.
The seventh-rated 195-pounder took fifth for the E-Hawks.
In Saturday’s consolation semifinals, Wirtz lost 14-2 to second-rated Jackson Kinsella (51-2) of Creston. He earned seventh with a 7-6 decision over Brayden Smith of South Tama.
Nelson, rated seventh, lost his first match of the tournament, but roared back with three straight victories, earning wins over the sixth- and fifth-ranked wrestlers.
Jacob Zabka (33-5) got a feel for the state tournament and grabbed fifth for the Bulldogs.
The sophomore lost a 6-4 decision to Independence’s Kaden Kremer on Saturday in the 106-pound match.
Zabka pinned West Delaware’s Brayden Maury in 5:39 for the fifth-place medal.
The Bulldog lost to bronze medalist Carson Doolittle of Webster City in the first round, but bounced back with two wins, including a fall over fifth-rated Vincent Mayberry (40-3) of Glenwood.