Gael Harvey takes title at 220

Vinnie Harvey understands the importance of seeing high-level competition as he prepares for a run at a state wrestling title.

Harvey, and the rest of St. Edmond, saw that first-hand Saturday at the Don Miller Invitational.

The No. 2 (Class 1A) ranked 220-pounder earned another invite title, helping the seventh-rated Gaels to seventh in the 16-team field.

After placing fourth at state last year as a junior, Harvey hasn’t been put to the test much this season. He earned two falls in a total of just under three minutes before being taken the distance in the finals.

“It feels good to test out the lungs,” Harvey said, after earning a 7-2 decision over Blue Springs South’s (Mo.) Christian Boyles in the finals. “I haven’t had a lot of guys push me the full six minutes, but he did.”

Both of Harvey’s falls in the quarters and semis came against 3A wrestlers, as he described the invite as a “mini-Des Moines,” referring to the state meet.

“There are a lot of bigger schools here, and wrestlers we don’t get to see a lot, if ever,” explained Harvey. “It was a lot of fun competing in front of a home crowd.”

Second-year St. Edmond head coach Tanner Utley made the decision to inquire about competing here last year – and he was glad he did.

“We learned so much (Saturday) in terms of finding out what we need to work to get to where we want to be,” Utley said. “We competed against many bigger schools, some with incredible tradition, and we competed well.”

Ryan Szalat, ranked fourth, placed second after falling to Fort Dodge’s Erik Birnbaum in the finals at 113 pounds, 10-2. He earned a technical fall and decision in earlier rounds.

Kaden McClintock bounced back from a tough decision defeat in the semifinals to Blue Springs South’s Dalton Kenig to claim third. Colin Birzer placed fifth at 106 pounds, while Jimmy Averill and Nick Hindt finished sixth at 182 and 195.

Payton Sitzmann earned seventh (126) and Hank Crimmins was eighth (170).

St. Edmond returns to action Jan. 7 at Algona.