SIBLEY, Iowa -- East Sac County’s Garret Bruce became a bit of a folk hero on Saturday at the Class 1A district tournament on Saturday.
Bruce, a senior, was looking for his first-ever trip to the state tournament and he earned a spot in the 170-pound title match against Western Christian’s Tristan Mulder.
Bruce is having a good season with a 37-6 record going into the championship match but he was unranked and Mulder only had one loss on the season. Mulder is also ranked No. 7 at 170 pounds.
Both wrestlers had tough semifinal matches with Bruce winning by an 8-4 decision over Kingsley-Pierson’s Alex Hanner and Mulder barely getting past Woodbury Central’s Jim Moss.
Bruce wasn’t about to fall back to the wrestlebacks without giving Mulder all he had, either, even with Mulder only having one loss.
Mulder got an early takedown but Bruce didn’t let that throw him off.
“I was just looking for the next points to score,” Bruce said.
The East Sac senior kept the rest of the match close and late in the third period, he almost pinned Mulder, giving him enough back points to take a 7-6 lead.
Bruce went on to win by that score and the crowd erupted when Bruce’s had was raised as the district champion.
“It felt good. That was a good match. Just kept the pressure on him even though I am tired, I had to put the pressure on him,” Bruce said. “I’ve been putting in some extra work in practices and I didn’t come here for second. I came here to finish it. Once I was in on that shot and felt him sag, I knew I had it, if not the fall then the points. It gave me a little bit more confidence to push a little more and to finish it.”
This was the fourth time Bruce qualified for the district tournament but it’s the first time he qualified for state. A win over seventh-ranked Mulder, who did finish as the runner-up, shows Bruce he can make a good run at the state tournament.
“This feels amazing. I’ve been putting in a lot of work toward this and it feels good to finally get the reward for it,” Bruce said. “I know we are not done yet. I am looking for top four, that’s what I am hoping for.”
CONFIDENCE IS THE KEY FOR BRIGGS: It’s a different Jader Briggs this season and it showed during the sophomore’s 106-pound district title win against West Sioux’s Drayven Kraft.
With the match tied at 1-1 late in the first period, Briggs was able to get a late takedown on the talented freshman and didn’t let him up for the 3-1 decision to earn a trip to state for the first time.
With the match tied, Briggs was confident he could get the takedown.
“I was pretty confident. I’ve worked on what I’ve needed to do in the room and I’ve worked it over and over,” said the Akron-Westfield sophomore. “I’ve wrestled him a couple of times, I know his style and I knew what I needed to do so I went in there confident.”
The confidence Briggs had in that title match is what was missing for him as a freshman. Last year he didn’t even make it to the district tournament. Now he’s a first-time state qualifier.
“This means so much. I’ve improved immensely from my first year wrestling. All of the work I’ve put in is starting to show,” said Briggs, who is 34-5 this season. “A lot of confidence. I now feel like I can wrestle with the best and I’ve been wrestling like I can. I feel like I can place at state. My confidence levels are through the roof right now and I know what I am doing.”
A-A SOPHOMORE DE ROSS HAS DOMINANT SHOWING: Alta-Aurelia’s Alex De Roos is only a sophomore. However, he’s built like an upperclassman and wrestles at 182 pounds. He’s been wrestling like an upperclassman this season, too.
Coming into the district tournament, De Roos had a 37-5 record and he added two more wins to his resume on Saturday.
He won by fall in the semifinal in 1:53 and his finals match didn’t even get out of the first minute as De Ross got a quick takedown and turn for the pin in 30 seconds over West Sioux’s Trevor Schuller.
It’s the first trip to state for the talented 182-pound sophomore.
“It as a great time. This feels great. I haven’t had this much fun or this great of an experience since I was at AAU state when I was younger,” De Roos said. “Two quick matches and onto state. I am hoping I have as good of luck at state. I can’t wait for state. My whole plan was to get to state so whatever happens from here is a plus.”
WESTWOOD'S DIRKS PINS HIS WAY TO TITLE: Westwood 285-pounder Trenton Dirks had exactly the kind of day he wanted to before the state tournament.
Dirks, a senior who is ranked No. 10 in 1A at 285, won his semifinal by fall in 2:33. It didn’t take him long to get the turn and the pin in the finals match, either, pinning East Sac County’s Kipp Corbin in 1:08 to earn his second trip to the state tournament.
“It feels pretty good. Going into the day I knew I had a good shot because I’ve beaten them all before,” Dirks said. “I felt like I was pretty good today. This year is going a lot better than last year because I came off knee surgery last year. I don’t think they are (ready) for me. I feel like there’s nobody at state I can’t beat.”