Le Mars Wrestling Invite

Nick Walters (Sioux City North) wrestles Adam Allard (West Sioux) at 113 during wrestling action at the Le Mars Invite in Le Mars, Iowa, Saturday, January 13, 2018. (Jim Lee, Sioux City Journal)

Jim Lee, Sioux City Journal

HAWARDEN, Iowa | It is a good time to be a Falcon.

West Sioux, fresh off its first state football championship in the fall, is now set to make its debut at the State Dual Team Wrestling Tournament in Des Moines Wednesday.

“All I can say is apparently they want to rewrite the record book,” Falcons Coach Mark Van Oort said. “They continue to do things we have never done before. An awesome situation, a program-building moment.

“We are young as a program and in our development. We have talented kids but we are the new kids on the block and this is exciting. Anytime we can have program-developing moments we are going to take full advantage of them.”

The Falcons (15-2) will get the full brunt of state duals as soon as the whistle blows as eighth-seeded West Sioux will face top-seeded Don Bosco. The Dons will be making their state-leading 23rd appearance at the team event having won eight titles.

“That No. 1 seed I don’t even know if it is the No. 1 seed, it is just Don Bosco’s spot,” Van Oort said. “As we try to build who we are in the state of Iowa and what our program is, it is going to be inevitable that we will wrestle some of these guys.

“Going in against a team like Don Bosco I don’t think our guys are going to be ‘Oh, gosh it’s Don Bosco.’ I think they are going to relish the opportunity to wrestle good competition.”

The Falcons have a wrestling team with just two seniors which sets West Sioux up for success not only in Des Moines but for future seasons to come.

The Falcons had to fight their way into the state bracket at the regional duals beginning with a tense 34-33 victory over Graettinger-Terril/Ruthven-Ayrshire in the semifinals. West Sioux had a 22-9 lead when GTRA reeled off 18 straight points to take the 27-22 lead. Falcons senior Wyatt Johnson stopped the momentum with a pin over Cade Steelman at 220, and fellow senior Darlyn Marquez put the dual away with another pin at heavyweight.

“For Wyatt to step up to break that momentum, get that pin, that is a huge deal, and not only did he do it this year against Graettinger-Terril he did it last year against Graettinger-Terril,” Van Oort said. “That is a big deal, that is a signature win for a senior that has done a lot of great things for our program.”

West Sioux downed Emmetsburg 42-33 to reach the state tournament and his team’s demeanor wrestling the E-Hawks gives Van Oort confidence going forward.

“Emmetsburg is not that far separated from Don Bosco in terms of what they have done,” he said. “Going into their house you walk past their trophy cases and the first thing you see is about 35 state championship trophies. I kind of watched the faces of our kids as we walked in and it didn’t faze them. I had never seen our kids walk to the mat with such laser-like focus.”

The Dons have eight ranked wrestlers in their lineup while West Sioux boasts defending state champion and top-ranked Adam Allard at 113 pounds, returning state finalist Kory Van Oort is ranked second at 145 and Marquez is ranked seventh.

Coach Van Oort said he always believed his team was capable of reaching the state duals even as injury and illness made for some predictable ups and downs.

“For me it was just a matter of we had to get there and it took an entire season to get our kids healthy, took an entire season to get our kids where they needed to be,” he said. “When we got there we are going to be pretty dang tough.”

Every wrestling team wants to make the state duals, not every team is excited when it gets there because of the fact it is so close to the start of the individual tournament. That is not the case for these Falcons.

“When we look at our program we look at it like it is a work in progress,” Coach Van Oort said. “There is never any moment when we are wrestling when we say it is for right now. Everything we do we are working for tomorrow.

“We want to build a program that has long-term sustainability … but we are going out there and compete hard. Don Bosco is a signature program but we are planning to go out there and wrestle hard.”

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