SIBLEY, Iowa -- On the mat, Sioux Central's Chris Ferguson is basically untouchable.
It's off the mat where Ferguson has had to improve over the past two seasons and after some struggles, Ferguson thinks he's got his head in the right place.
In two seasons, the Rebel sophomore, who is ranked No. 4 by iawrestle.com at 120 pounds, has yet to lose a match but he's also only been able to wrestle in 41 total matches.
Last season Ferguson went 26-0 but his last match was at a tournament on Jan. 5. Ferguson got in some trouble the day before sectionals and missed the rest of the season, missing out on wrestling in the postseason.
Then to start this season, Ferguson won his first 13 matches but after a tournament on Dec. 13, Ferguson went through a "rough mistake" that made him ineligible for about six weeks. Ferguson declined to go into detail about what the mistakes were the past two seasons.
Ferguson was happy to back on the mat and he showed just how dominant he can be as he won both of his matches by fall in his first-ever sectional appearance.
"Thankfully I was able to wrestle today," Ferguson said. "Now it's just about doing what I know is right and staying on the grind and the goal is to be a state champ. So keep with that. ... It felt really good (being back on the mat). Just to feel the crowd cheering me again."
While missing out on sectionals last season was hard, Ferguson still found himself in a precarious position again this season. If he didn't fix his mindset, he was going to keep finding putting himself in a position where his off the mat issues were going to cause him to miss valuable time on the mat.
He wasn't going to allow himself to miss out on the opportunity to become a state champion so he started to straighten out the things in his life.
"I know that I messed up a few times. I know can be a state champ, I know I am on that level," Ferguson said. "It's just about keeping a clear mindset. ... I had to figure out why I was doing these things, what was causing it. It was really just focusing on me, not what everyone else wants from me. Just staying smart and know what I really want."
After some soul searching, Ferguson feels he's made a good amount of progress off the mat.
"I definitely do (think I've matured)," Ferguson said. "I think there's tons of learning lessons.
Ferguson, who was an AAU champion in eighth grade, only had to spend 3:19 on the mat on Saturday since he won his semifinal by fall in 22 seconds and then won the 120-pound title match by fall in 2:47. Still, that 3:19 took a toll on Ferguson, who hadn't been on the mat in almost two months. Plus he had to manage his weight back down to wrestle at 120 pounds.
Ferguson was still eating healthy and finding times to practice on the mat, which allowed him to make an easier than normal transition to being back on the mat.
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"Weight cut was hard because I got big, obviously," Ferguson said. "It's hard for me to cut weight. I was 134, eating decent meals and still working out. It was about getting my weight down, staying there and adjusting. The final five pounds were tough but they came off and I feel good.
"During this whole time, I had been wrestling in the mornings, obviously, and keeping a clean diet. After school I was working out hard. Energy levels didn't feel too bad."
Ferguson will be the top seed at 120 pounds going into the district tournament this weekend at Sioux Central High School.
Western Christian gets second place
It's been almost a complete turnaround for Western Christian since the 2019 sectional tournament at West Lyon High School.
During last season's sectional tournament, the Wolfpack only had seven wrestlers at West Lyon and of those seven, three of them had winning records. Tristan Mulder and Bryce Van Dyken wound up qualifying for the district tournament but the Wolfpack only scored 76 points to finish in second-to-last place.
While the Wolfpack are still a little short of filling all of the weight classes, they were able to bring 10 wrestlers to Saturday's sectional in Sibley and had completely different showing this season.
Western Christian put four wrestlers in the sectional finals and that helped the Wolfpack score 147 points, good for second place at the Class 1A sectional.
The second-place finish also means the Wolfpack qualified for the regional duals where they will wrestle at West Sioux on Tuesday against the Falcons.
"That's a big jump in school history. They've never done that," Western Christian coach Pete DiPol said. "That's a big deal. These kids bought in. I give a lot of credit my coaches and the wrestlers for sticking to the gameplan. They stepped up. I am really proud of them."
Tristan Mulder (170 pounds), Jace Mulder (138) and Eli Van Ginkel (195) all won sectional titles for the Wolfpack and Levi Vanden Bos was the runner-up at 220 pounds. That's twice the amount than what the Wolfpack had at districts last season.
"We are still young but the program is moving in the right direction," DiPol said. "I think people are starting to realize we are trying to build something special here. It's starting. ... Eli really wrestled well, we are really pleased with him. He listened to what we were telling him. Levi, he did a great job. First-year wrestler and he listened to what we were telling him.
"We are all homegrown kids. Some of them have only been wrestling one year. So to come in here and take second, against established programs, that's a big deal to us."
Freshman Jace Mulder, the younger brother of Tristan, has played a big role. He is 36-2 after his two wins on Saturday and is ranked No. 8 at 138 by iawrestle.com.
"I want to make it to state really, really bad. I think I can make it to state," Jace Mulder said. "Just win my matches, keep my head throughout every match and I will be fine."
Tristan Mulder was the state runner-up at 170 last season and is currently ranked No. 3 at 170 this season. He's 23-1 after dealing with an ankle injury early in the season. His only loss is to Don Bosco's Carson Tenold, the top-ranked wrestler at 170 in 1A.
While Tristan Mulder is only a junior, DiPol has leaned on him to be a leader for the team this season and feels he's done a good job of being one.
"He's a leader on our team. He's had a lot of success and the kids look up to him," DiPol said. "So when he says something, they are going to listen. We are going to talk to him about being a more verbal leader this week because he always leads by example. Kinda tell these guys what to expect, what it's about."