IDA GROVE, Iowa | Few if any wrestlers have had a better two weeks than Sergeant Bluff-Luton junior Easton Graff.
A week after knocking off previous Class 3A No. 1 Deville Dentis of Des Moines East, Graff was at it again as he took down Class 1A top-ranked Gable Fox 2-1 in the championship match of the Herb Irgens Invite here Saturday.
Graff, ranked third in Class 2A, used an early takedown before giving up the only point when he let Fox up from bottom in the third period.
"Beat a second No. 1 kid and now I am going for a third," said Graff, who let out a few screams of determination after walking off the mat. "If I am wrestling with confidence I will not lose.
"It is just a matter of me wanting to beat all the No. 1 kids in the state whether it is by one or five or 10. I want to win."
Fox was trailing 2-1 when he went for a throw that sent both wrestlers sprawling to the mat, but Graff was able to continue to square up and avoid the takedown.
"I knew if I got thrown I was going to lose," Graff said. "I know I am best on my feet against anybody in the state, I can take anyone down."
The 138-pounder, who is still looking to qualify for state for the first time, is wrestling with as much confidence as he has had at any point in his career.
Sergeant Bluff-Luton coach Clint Koedam has seen a different wrestler on the mat this season.
"Easton has always been very, very talented but every wrestler has things that hold them back from being where they need to be, and I think the biggest difference between this year and last year is the things that held him back within himself he has gotten control over," Koedam said. "He just has a different level of focus where he worries about the things he can control, he thinks about his goals and those are the things that got him down this path."
The Warriors finished third as a team -- the highest of any Siouxland team behind the Class 1A top-ranked Dons and Solon -- also saw freshman Jack Gaukel earn a title at 120 with with a 6-1 win over eighth-ranked Kurtis Krager of OA-BCIG.
"I have learned not to protect anything because at our home tournament there were times I started to take my foot off the gas pedal," said Gaukel of his adjustments as the season has progressed.
One of the most anticipated finals of the night led off the championship round as Woodbury Central's third-ranked Beau Klingensmith got out to a 5-2 lead on Don Bosco's second-ranked Daniel Kimball after one period. Klingensmith led 6-4 going to the third where he began with a strong ride. Kimball would eventually get out and was close to securing the Wildcats' ankle for a takedown at the buzzer, but it did not come in time as Klingensmith earned the 6-5 win.
"I really knew what he was going to do because I watched film of him at the beginning of the week," Klingensmith said. "At the end he tried ankle picking me and I stumbled a little bit and he got back in on a shot. I got a glimpse of the clock and right when he was going for my leg was when the ref got tapped. I knew I had the match."
Woodbury Central, which finished fourth as a team, also saw sixth-ranked Wade Mitchell defeat Don Bosco's Logan Lutgen's 3-2 in the finals at 145.
"This just feels really good to me," Mitchell said. "I know me and my teammates have been pushing really hard to go for our goals. It is a huge breakthrough moment for me.
"For the team, and myself included, we have grown a tremendous amount going through all these tough tournaments."
Spirit Lake's Kyler Rieck, ranked fifth in Class 2A, was able to control his match with Lawton-Bronson's Austin Eilers, ranked sixth in 1A for the 7-3 win.
"Austin is a great competitor and we roomed together in Fargo so we have become great friends, but we love to compete against each other," Rieck said. "I am just going match to match and focusing on getting ready for the state tournament."
Defending state champion and top-ranked John Henrich of Akron-Westfield remained perfect on the season with a pin of Carroll's Parker Klocke in 5:31 to take the 160 crown.
"Getting that first takedown is big and it sets the tone," Henrich said. "I just want to be able to dominate on my feet so I am working on more setups, just trying to be that three-part wrestler. Feet, top, bottom and not give up any points."
Another undefeated wrestler in Sibley-Ocheyedan's third-ranked Hunter DeJong also won in the finals by pin as he stuck OA-BCIG's eighth-ranked Blake Anderson in 3:58.
"I wrestled his twin brother last year so I guess that gave me an advantage if you want to say," said DeJong. "I am just going to do what I do and stick to my game and that is what I did.
"I learned a valuable lesson last year to not overlook anyone so I come into every tournament or every dual thinking it is a new day and a new kid and anything is possible."
No. 9 Jake Nieman gave the home fans something to cheer about when he used a third-period takedown to defeat SB-L's Nate Curry 4-2 at 113.
"I love bringing people to their feet and showing them what they want to see," Nieman said. "He was very tough on top ... but I am used to having to scramble and fight out of position to put myself in the best position to score points."
Third-ranked Tyler Anderson gave the Falcons a second champion when he pinned Solon's Zach Wegmann in 1:44 at 220 pounds.
Cherokee's Tyler Zeiman downed yet another Don Bosco wrestler in the finals -- the Dons went just 1 of 7 in championship matches -- when he handled No. 10 Thomas Even 14-8.