Humboldt wins NCC title
WEBSTER CITY – Humboldt’s first North Central Conference wrestling tournament title since 2002 came in resounding fashion Saturday afternoon.
One individual gold medal and three silvers highlighted action for the Wildcats, who registered 182 points at the 46th annual event. Host Webster City (163.5) settled for second behind four champions and two runner-up efforts. No. 8 (Class 1A) St. Edmond (146) placed sixth with three firsts and a second.
Second-ranked (2A) Reed Dreyer earned the lone crown for Humboldt at 195 pounds, collecting a pair of pins en route to his 31st victory of the season. Kylie Zender (113 pounds), Austen Gargano (120) and Jake Miller (126) each came up short in the finals for the Wildcats, while Thaylan Bowman (138) grabbed bronze. The Wildcats – who captured their seventh NCC title in school history – have now crowned a league record 97 individual champions, including at least one in 26 straight years.
“Our lightweight guys really shined for us and were a nice surprise,” HHS head coach Chad Beaman said. “Even though we were able to come out on top, we went just 2-11 in the our final round matches, which shows how very tough this (North Central Conference) is. We just didn’t wrestle our best at different times throughout the day, either. We had some guys take a step forward and others that took a step backwards.”
Alex Oswald (152), No. 4 (3A) Connor Larson (160), top-ranked Dylan Fielder (182) and No. 10 Landon Johnson (285) all prevailed in their respective weight brackets for the Lynx, who won the two previous NCC tournament titles in 2011 and 2012. Larson became just the 38th three-time league champion after St. Edmond’s fifth-ranked Kaden McClintock (113) achieved the same feat earlier in the day. Johnson also picked up his second straight conference crown in front of the home fans.
“For the most part, I thought we wrestled really well,” said WCHS head coach Ted Larson. “We had some problems in our lower weights where we needed guys to score some points and go above and beyond like Humboldt did. We’re on the right track, but we’re still not where we need to be yet.”
Brandon Patton (170) and Gus Gasca (195) were each downed in the title round for Webster City, while Joey Powers (145) finished third.
Algona, which placed fourth in the team race with 153 points, received championship performances from Korey Kuecker (138) and seventh-ranked Joe Teague (170). Garrett Johnson (182) checked in second for the Bulldogs, while Josh Strohman (132), Weston Shaw (152), Tyler Frideres (160) and Jeff Buchanan (195) were all third.
Defending state qualifiers McClintock, No. 3 Teddie Harvey (145) and top-ranked Vinnie Harvey (220) all remained unbeaten on the season with titles for the Gaels.
McClintock used a fall, technical fall and decision to up his career mark to 106-8.
“(Winning a third straight NCC crown) is a big accomplishment, and it’s pretty cool to be right up there with my uncle Justin (Justin McClintock won three in a row for Eagle Grove from 1998-2000),” McClintock said. “I feel like I’m a lot stronger this year, but my coaches also deserve a lot of credit for helping improve my technique.”
Teddie, who has posted 129 varsity victories, turned in another dominant showing with three pins, including a 2:57 fall time against Clarion-Goldfield’s Matt Odland in the finals.
“This was my first time (of the year) down at (145 pounds), but my legs didn’t bother me,” Teddie said. “I felt really good and was able to control the pace for a full six minutes.”
Vinnie managed two falls and a 5-0 championship decision over Caleb Hanson of Clarion-Goldfield for his 105th career win.
“I felt all day like I was going to win,” said Vinnie. “There were times last year where I didn’t get after it all the time, but my intensity has gotten a lot better.”
Ryan Szalat (106) was also a runner-up for St. Edmond. Placing third for the Gaels were Nick Johnson (126) and Dillon Nelson (182).
“It was a wide-open race all day, and this was a good test for us,” SEHS head coach Tanner Utley said. “If a couple of matches could’ve gone our way, we probably could’ve finished in the top three or four.
“Kaden, Teddie and Vinnie all have tunnel vision and know where they need to be. Dillon Nelson also did a nice job in a real tough weight class (Nelson dropped a hard-fought 3-2 semifinal decision to Fielder and then upset Humboldt’s No. 8 Nikko Wheeler for third).”
Sixth-ranked (1A) Joel Haberman (126) took home his second consecutive NCC crown for Clarion-Goldfield. Odland, No. 5 Jake Haberman (160), Hanson and fourth-ranked Mitch Gambrill (285) were each second for the Cowboys.
Eagle Grove, which holds a NCC best 10 team titles, received sixth-place finishes from Dylan Sporaa (106) and Jas Jamison (132).
Rounding out the list of champions were Clear Lake’s No. 4 (2A) Ryan Schmalen (106), Ryan Faught (120) and second-ranked Andres Gonzalez (132).