Ankeny Centennial and Fort Dodge on their own would make any tournament tough. The two will be at the same Class 3A district on Saturday in Fort Dodge, making it a tough road to get to the state tournament.
Centennial has five ranked wrestlers as does Fort Dodge, according to the latest Predicament rankings. The other six teams have a combined two wrestlers.
So it will be a tough road for East, North, West, Le Mars, Storm Lake and Boone. The top two wrestlers from each weight class earn a trip to the state tournament.
"It's definitely tough. Those are two outstanding teams. But we need to be able to compete with those teams," Le Mars coach Shane Hessenius said. "We are walking in and expecting to win every weight class. Is that overshooting our goals? It might be. Is it going to happen, no, but we tell the kids to shoot high and enjoy the process and be the best you can be."
Hessenius thinks his team's best chances are at the heavier weight classes. Travis Theisen has 30-plus wins for Le Mars this season and wrestles at 220 pounds. At 152 pounds, Jake Francksen-Small got his 100th win for Le Mars but is looking for his first trip to state.
Earlier in the season, Hessenius referred to his team as more of a dual team. But since then, the Bulldogs have improved as a tournament team. Hessenius and his staff changed up how the team prepares for tournaments and warms up and it has paid off.
He hopes that improvement in tournaments carries over to Saturday's district tournament.
"The kids came up with some things and we changed up our pre-meet stuff and how we warmed up and our interaction with them," Hessenius said. "We just have to remind the kids that we have to be ready to go in the first round and they have done a good job with that. That's a big deal because if you don't wrestle well in the first round on Saturday, you aren't going to state. I think all of our kids will be ready to go on Saturday."
East coach Vince Pederson said if his team wrestles well, he can see five to six wrestlers advancing to state. If they don't wrestle well, there could be none.
"The kids have to keep their head in the game. People are battling for it and you have to keep your eye on the prize," Pederson said. "A couple of the weights are pretty loaded. It will be a fun day and we will be disappointed if we don't have two to three state qualifiers. If you get a chance to watch our district, you will see some great matches."
Alex Kleider, East's 152-pounder, is approaching 40 wins on the season. Sean Heeney, East's 120-pounder, had 30 wins on the season and Rafe McClendon, a 126-pounder, is approaching the 30-win mark. All three are seniors.
Pederson is looking for his wrestlers to have a better showing at districts than they did at the Missouri Rivers Athletic Conference tournament. East put a number of wrestlers in the finals but didn't come away with any individual titles.
Pederson is hoping his team learned from that tournament.
"Everybody was flat that day, whether it was in the championship match or for third place," Pederson said. "We have some guys that if they wrestle for six minutes, it will go well. We have guys if they don't perform or don't take what's given to them, it won't go well. We will have a good day."
Storm Lake's Milton Duarte is ranked No. 10 at 120 pounds. Fort Dodge's Carson Taylor is ranked No. 5 at 120.
North's Nick Walters (120 pounds) and E.J. McElmeel (160) are both approving 40 wins and Logan Williams (106) is approaching 30 wins. Ethan Sorenson (138) picked up his 100th win this season.
Also ranked for Fort Dodge is Lane Cowell (No. 8 at 106), Drake Ayala (No. 1 at 113), Brooks Cowell (No. 9 at 126) and Drevon Ross (No. 4 at 138).
For Ankeny Centennial, Ben Monroe (No. 1 at 132), Eric Owens (No. 5 at 145), Logan Neils (No. 2 at 170), Nic Leo (No. 4 at 182) and Ethan Frazier (No. 8 at 195) are all ranked.
Boone's Taner Harvey is ranked No. 6 at 182.