Wheeler pulls off upset
Nikko Wheeler admitted Saturday that Connor Larson used to get the better of him on the wrestling mat.
That changed with one swift reversal inside Hodges Fieldhouse at the North Central Conference meet, as the Humboldt senior claimed a 2-1 victory over Larson in the 170-pound final.
The Wildcats placed fourth overall, as Reed Dreyer also won a conference title.
Larson, a Webster City senior, was attempting to become just the seventh NCC wrestler all-time to win four league titles.
“Honestly, I didn’t know (he was going for four),” said Wheeler, who improved to 33-3 on the year. “We’ve been battling since middle school, and he got the better of me early on in high school.
“But I feel I’ve grown as a wrestler (over the years).”
Larson got on the board with an escape in the second, and appeared on his way to achieving history before Wheeler found an opening.
“I was just pushing and pushing, and felt him get high on me,” he said. “I gave it everything I had because I knew there wasn’t a lot of time left.
“It definitely feels great, but I am going to see him again soon and I’m sure it will be another tough match.”
Wheeler – ranked fifth in Class 2A – and the Wildcats will be competing against Webster City Feb. 8 at sectionals.
Dreyer earned his second straight NCC crown with a 7-5 decision over Webster City’s Dylan Fielder at 195.
Dreyer, ranked fourth, picked up his 30th win of the year with a thrilling scoring move in the final moments over Fielder, who is ranked second.
Austin Gargano was a runner-up at 126, falling to Joel Haberman of Clarion-Goldfield in the finals. Jake Miller placed third at 132, as did Thaylan Bowman at 152.
Led by three individual champions, the Cowboys scored runner-up honors.
Josh Portillo, Joel Haberman and Mitch Gambrill all claimed league gold, while Justin Portillo, Calen Rosenbaum, Taylor Lehman and Brady Brott finished second.
Gambrill came out on top at heavyweight, which featured four wrestlers in the Top-5. In the finals, he defeated Class 2A No. 1 Mario Pena of Hampton-Dumont, 6-5.
After receiving a bye, Gambrill, rated fifth in 1A, downed No. 4 (2A) Dylan Hendricks from Humboldt, 7-4.
Portillo, ranked second at 113 pounds, earned two falls before claiming an overtime win vs. No. 4 Ryan Leisure of Clear Lake in the finals.
Haberman picked up his second straight NCC title with a 10-2 victory in the finals over Humboldt’s Austin Gargano.
Joe Teague and Kory Kuecker scored NCC titles for the Bulldogs, who placed fifth overall.
Teague, ranked second at 182 pounds, improved to 33-0 on the year with a major decision over Brandon Patton of Webster City in the finals.
Prior to that, Teague picked up falls in the first two rounds.
Kuecker had a similar path, scoring a pin, a technical fall and a decision over Tanner Hild from Webster City in the title round.
Josh Strohman was a runner-up, while Austin Long, Tyler Frideres and Jeff Buchanan each placed third.