DES MOINES -- Sergeant Bluff-Luton came into the Class 2A state dual tournament looking to make some noise.
The Warriors were seeded eighth and SB-L coach Clint Koedam knew knocking off top-seeded West Delaware was going to be a tough task but if the Warriors lost, he was hoping for a good run on the back side if SB-L ended up there.
Which is where the Warriors ended up after West Delaware won the first-round dual 58-20, setting up a dual against Davenport Assumption in the consolation round.
The Warriors took an early 14-3 lead on Assumption until the Knights won six of the next seven matches for a sizable lead. SB-L won the next three matches but fell just short of wrestling for fifth place with a 36-32 loss.
The Warriors bounced back with a 70-12 win over PCM, which sat most of its varsity wrestlers, for a seventh-place finish in 2A at the Wells Fargo Arena on Wednesday.
“We came into this knowing the first round was going to be really tough but we were really looking at making some hay on the backside,” Koedam said. “When you get down here, I don’t care what sport it is, it boils down to match-ups and I thought we matched up well with Assumption on paper. But there were a couple of matches that I felt we should’ve gotten wins out of and instead, we came up short and in one case we came up short by fall. That makes it hard to win matches like that but that’s the way it goes.”
Koedam isn’t disappointed by the seventh-place finish by any means, though. Once the Warriors hit the backside, he was looking for things that could motivate the team and different individual wrestlers next season so SB-L can end up back at Wells Fargo Arena.
This was the third trip in the past four seasons for the Warriors to the state dual tournament and Koedam is hoping for a fourth trip in the last five seasons next winter.
Even in the loss to Assumption, Koedam saw some positive things out of his wrestlers going forward.
“There was a big win for Noah Parmelee at 126. Dustin Stowe, he’s a senior and had a nice win against Assumption,” Koedam said. “I know (PCM) didn’t have their varsity guys in but for the kids to experience the cheering, the excitement, the success regardless of who they are wrestling because it wasn’t our choice that (PCM) did what they did.
“Every moment down here is a moment to learn and to grow, have fun as a team, bond as a team. There are going to be young guys that fill the shoes of these seniors and it was an opportunity to grow and have a great day at the tournament.”
Against PCM, Isaac Bryan (138), Easton Graff (152), Blake Liebe (160), Tristan Navrkal (182), Gabe Warren (195), A.J. Ellington (285), Nate Curry (120), Parmelee and Jack Gaukel (132) all won by fall. Cory Bates (145) won by major decision.
In the loss to Assumption, Bryan, Stowe and Braden Graff all won by fall and Easton Graff won by tech fall. Gaukel, Curry and Parmelee all won by decision.
Against West Delaware, Easton Graff and Braden Graff each won by fall, Curry won by tech fall and Ellington won by decision.
Braden Graff, Curry, Gaukel, Bryan, Easton Graff and Blake Liebe all wrestle at the 2A traditional tournament that starts on Thursday.
Koedam said this was a good day of prep for those six before the traditional tournament.
“There are a lot of folks that complain about state duals being the day before the tournament. But the way I look at it, if we aren’t here, we are working out at home practicing,” Koedam said. “They get an opportunity to wrestle some kids and more so than anything, they get a chance to wrestle in this facility and then come back tomorrow and it’s another day at the office rather than the first day at the office.”
Curry’s match against Assumption’s T.J. Fitzpatrick was a good example of that. Curry trailed late in the match but turned Fitzpatrick and almost got the pin. That tied the match, sending it to overtime and Curry won 13-11 in sudden victory.
“Most of the guys took care of business but Nate battled back in his Assumption match and that’s a great thing for him to mentally work through,” Koedam said. “To be able to come up with the guts to not lose, it’s almost like what happens today is practice for what we want tomorrow.”