SERGEANT BLUFF | Adam Allard avenged his one; Austin Eilers took down a one.
With out-of-state teams taking the top two spots at the Sergeant Bluff-Luton Invite, it was two impressive individual performances and a great early-season battle that highlighted Siouxland wrestling on the opening Saturday of the season.
Allard, West Sioux's reigning Class 1A state champion after claiming the title at 106 pounds, had just one loss against 47 victories a year ago. That one came to Blake Jackson of Millard South (Neb.) at this tournament.
This time around the Iowa state champion wrestling at 113 pounds who was the aggressor and slapped a cradle on Jackson, Nebraska’s Class A state champ in 2017, to earn the pin in 1:41.
"I knew I had to get to my offense and do what I do best,” said Allard, who saw the crowd erupt in the stands as he posted the victory. “I knew I had to set up my shots more and I didn’t really do that last year.
“I knew he was just sitting back and waiting for me to shoot so I tried throwing in some fakes and I snapped him down and got him to the cradle. It was the only loss last year so I think I am doing good … (last year’s loss) affected me a little bit, but once I was done with the tournament I just had to move on.”
West Sioux Coach Mark Van Oort said Allard called his shot before the start of the tournament.
"We really went to work in the offseason to get Adam bobbing and weaving a little bit more trying to get him in a position where he is throwing more fakes because he is a highly offensive wrestler when he wants to be,” Van Oort said. “We work a lot of cradle drills so if a guy is going to bring his head to his knee like that Allard is a guy that is going to capitalize on it. To beat the only kid that has beat you in your high school career – I think Adam plays it down a little bit – but I think that is a big deal.
“Early on in his career as a freshman before big matches I saw him doubting himself, and you could see in his body language he wasn’t sure if he was going to be able to go out and do it. We saw that gradually dissolve … and today from the second he got on the bus, from the second we showed up at the school at 5:30 this morning, he told me he was going to win this tournament.”
While Allard cemented his standing as one of the state's best, Lawton-Bronson senior Austin Eilers gave notice that he will be in the hunt for his stated goal of a state championship.
Eilers, ranked fourth in Class 1A at 152, gave up an early takedown and then wore down Ballard's Class 2A top-ranked Skyler Noftsger to post a 6-3 victory.
"You just have to go out there and push the pace and good results will come,” said Eilers, who finished fifth at state a year ago. “I knew I had to keep grinding and keep pushing the pace and he would break eventually. He did, he got tired and I knew I had him then.”
Noftsger was a state runner-up last year.
"He took us down right away … but then (Eilers) started pushing the pace and started pouring it on,” Lawton-Bronson Coach Kyle Lewis said. “You could see the confidence starting to brew and he started really taking it to him. Being a good hammer on top.”
The biggest battle of the championship matches came at 145 where West Sioux's second-ranked Kory Van Oort and Woodbury Central's fifth-ranked Wade Mitchell battled through three periods, a one-minute overtime and two 30-second tiebreakers before Van Oort claimed a 3-1 win.
After a scoreless first period, both wrestlers earned an escape point to tie the match at 1-all after three periods. Mitchell proved to be the aggressor getting in a couple of what looked to be sure takedowns, but each time Van Oort fought them off. The Falcon would get the win when he earned a reverse in the first 30-second tiebreaker.
"It wasn’t pretty, but a win is a win,” said Kory Van Oort, a state runner-up a year ago. “It is early and I have a lot of time to improve. My defense was great and got out of some great shots he took.”
Woodbury Central's third-ranked (Class 1A) Beau Klingensmith improved to 8-0 on the season as he won the 106 title with a pin of Millard South's Caleb Coyle in 1:19.
“Me and my coaches knew what we needed to work on and get me set so I worked hard on practice on what I should get done,” Klingensmith said. “I came into this tournament pretty confident about what I can do.”
Bishop Heelan, which finished third in the team race, crowned a champion as junior Dawson Fenton, who earned a 9-0 major decision over Spencer's Drew Thompson for the 195 title.
Storm Lake also had a champion at heavyweight as Jorge Sandoval downed Ballard's Colin Anderson 3-1.
Ballard won the team title with 187.5 points and Millard South was the runner-up with 185.5. The Crusaders had 154 points while Woodbury Central had 153.