District wrestling: Area grapplers earn state berths

Feb. 12—WILLIAMSBURG — The Albia Blue Demons continued to haul in the hardware on Saturday.

The reigning South Central Conference champions claimed the team championship at Dan Breen Gymnasium in Fairfield, racking up 191.5 points with 12 of Albia's 13 wrestlers placing in the top four bringing home the fourth district championship in program history. Albia matched Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont and Fairfield in sending five wrestlers to the Iowa High School State Wrestling Tournament with Carter Folkerts, Lance Helm and Paul Ballard claiming individual district championships.

"I really don't have the words to properly describe what this team was able to accomplish," Albia head wrestling coach Dave Wenger said. "It was awesome to have five state qualifiers, but to think that we had 12 of our 13 kids score fourth-place points is beyond phenomenal.

"This time of the year it is pretty easy to shut it down when you lose and go to the backside of the bracket, but every single one of our kids fought their tails off to earn additional team points to nail the district team title. We were pretty pumped up about it. The kids know our history pretty well and they all knew that we've only previously won three district titles prior to this one, so they undoubtedly will be regarded as one of our greatest teams of all time."

The Ottumwa Bulldogs will send four wrestlers to the Class 3A portion of the state tournament, which gets underway on Wednesday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. Ashton Grace clinched his third straight trip to state after finishing as the runner-up at 113 pounds in the 3A, District 3 tournament in Carlisle, improving to 35-3 with a 45-second fall against Dallas Center-Grimes sophomore Logan Renshaw and a 9-4 win over Waukee Northwest freshman Joey Cahill before falling 5-3 in the district championship match to Carlisle junior Aiden Serrano.

Braylon Griffiths won his second straight district title on Saturday in Carlisle. The Ottumwa senior improved to 42-1 on the season, pinning Des Moines Roosevelt senior Jaxson Holec in 1:08 before scoring a 4-0 win over West Des Moines Valley senior Owen Walker in the 150-pound semifinals. Griffiths secured a return to state with a 13-2 major decision in the finals over Waukee Northwest junior Lincoln Hutt.

Joining Grace and Griffiths at state for the Bulldogs are first-time qualifers Logan Hubbell and John Hardin. Hubbell (24-10) finished third at 106 pounds, wrestling his way into the district finals with a 7-2 win over Des Moines Valley sophomore George-Gra Mavromatis while Hardin (26-18) secured his first state berth by finishing third at 215 pounds shutting out Des Moines Roosevelt senior Sam Norris (3-0) and Dallas Center-Grimes junior Clark Johnson (4-0) to advance into the district championship match.

Ballard will carry the area's only perfect record into the state wrestling tournament as the Albia senior improved to 37-0, winning the 2A, District 3 heavyweight title pinning Davenport Assumption senior Jordyn Allen in just 26 seconds to clinch the championship for the Blue Demons. Helm pinned Mediapolis sophomore Kyler Crow in the final minute of the 165-pound district championship, improving to 33-5 on the season, while Folkerts improved to 32-5 pinning Assumption senior Peyton Pilgrim in the 144-pound district final.

Fairfield finished fourth on their home mats on Saturday at the 2A, District 3 tournament with 138.5 points. Cael McCabe (106) and Dain Burkhart (175) claimed individual district titles for the Trojans while Cason Miller (157), Carter Moore (190) and Dre Smithburg (215) advanced as district runner-ups.

Centerville finished sixth with 76.5 points at Fairfield, sending three wrestlers to state including reigning SCC 190-pound champion Brian Snyder who improved to 38-10 with a fall in the district finals over Mediapolis sophomore Parker Lange. Matt Genobana (113) and Triton Thomas (120) joined Snyder as Big Red state qualifiers with Thomas pinning Albia senior Sebastian Shaw in a true second-place match for his state berth.

EBF placed fourth at the Class 2A, District 12 tournament in Williamsburg, scoring 114 points while crowning four individual district champions. Garrett Pumphrey rallied from a seven-point deficit to score a fall with two seconds left in the 106-pound title match for the Rockets while Gage Spurgeon (120), Landen Davis (126) and Blake Jager (190) went the distance to score district-winning and state-clinching decisions for the Rockets.

Stryker Lettington became EBF's fifth state wrestling qualifer on Saturday, finishing second at 215 pounds improving to 31-6 on the season. Davis County will send a trio of district runner-ups to state including two-time state medalist Emmitt Newton, who fell in a 2-1 overtime battle with Spurgeon in the 120-pound district final, along with Tucker Ball (106) and Deken Sorenson (138) who each bounced back from losses to wrestle back to earn their state tournament berths.

In the Class 1A, District 3 tournament, Isaac Cox clinched a return to state as the Cardinal senior finished as the runner-up at heavyweight leading the Comets to a sixth-place finish in team points. Moravia finished in a tie for seventh with Wayne at 71 points, nine behind Cardinal, with Isaac Messamaker (150) and Cameron Nicoletto (190) earning state berths for the Mohawks.

Reed Lauderman will represent the Pekin Panthers in the 1A state wrestling tournament, which gets underway on Wednesday night at 6 p.m. Lauderman finished second at 106 pounds, leading the Panthers to a 10th-place finish at the 1A, District 8 tournament in Pleasantville.

Sigourney-Keota finished seventh on Saturday with 62 points scored at the 1A, District 8 tournament with Brady Clark (138), Jake Moore (157) and Ashton Schwab (165) finishing third. Van Buren County finished ninth with 41 points with Korbin Camp (126) and Elijah Westercamp (190) placing third individually for the Warriors at Pleasantville.

— Scott Jackson can be reached at Follow him on Twitter@CourierScott.