NCC wrestling meet at Iowa Central
To display just how big the North Central Conference wrestling tournament is this year, look no further than the location of the event.
St. Edmond will welcome the rest of its league rivals to Iowa Central Saturday for the 47th annual meet.
Action begins at 10 a.m., with finals slated to start around 3 p.m.
Joining the ninth-ranked (Class 1A) Gaels will be No. 3 (1A) Clarion-Goldfield, fourth-rated (2A) Clear Lake, No. 7 (2A) Webster City, Algona, Hampton-Dumont, Humboldt and Iowa Falls-Alden.
Last year, the Wildcats unseated the Lynx to claim their seventh team title all-time. Webster City crowned four individual champions, including three-time winner Connor Larson.
Larson and St. Edmond senior Kaden McClintock will be trying to join a select group of wrestlers this afternoon, as both have won three NCC titles. Only five others have done it in the 46-year history of the meet.
“Kaden has an incredible focus and is going to take it one match at a time,” SEHS head coach Tanner Utley said. “We are telling all the kids to do just that, and despite having just five guys ready to go, I like where those five are positioned.”
McClintock, ranked No. 1 at 120 pounds, isn’t the only returning champ for the Gaels, as second-ranked Vinnie Harvey won the 220-pound gold a year ago.
In all, a dozen returning champions are expected to compete, including Lynx teammates Larson, Alex Oswald and Dylan Fielder. Humboldt returns Reed Dreyer, while Clarion-Goldfield boasts Joel Haberman.
Algona has Kory Kuecker and Joe Teague returning after earning top spots on the podium last year.
A total of 24 NCC wrestlers are ranked, including No. 1s McClintock and Mario Pena of Hampton-Dumont, along with seven who are No. 2 in their respective weight classes.
Three rated grapplers call 113 and 170 home, while four are at heavyweight.
Along with Pena, the bracket will feature third-rated Gavin Dinsdale of Webster City, No. 4 Dylan Hendricks from Humboldt and fifth-ranked Mitch Gambrill of Clarion-Goldfield. Gambrill was a runner-up last year, while Pena placed third and Hendricks fourth.
“This really should be quite the team race between Clear Lake, Clarion-Goldfield, Webster City and Humboldt,” Utley said. “It will be a good day of wrestling and a great atmosphere.”
Ryan Szalat, McClintock, Payton Sitzmann, Nick Hindt and Harvey are the only five expected to compete for St. Edmond.
Eagle Grove, which holds the record with 10 team titles, will not compete in what would have been its final conference meet. The Eagles are headed to the North Iowa Conference after this current school year.