Gael wrestlers travel to Clarion

CLARION – Wrestlers will try to reserve their spots for Des Moines at today’s Class 1A, District 2 meet.

Area teams St. Edmond, Clarion-Goldfield, South Central Calhoun, Manson Northwest Webster, Pocahontas Area, Prairie Valley, Eagle Grove and Southeast Webster-Grand will all be represented on the mat. Rounding out the field are Belmond-Klemme, Central Springs, Lake Mills, Mason City Newman, Northwood-Kensett and South Hamilton.

Start time is set for noon inside the Clarion-Goldfield High School gym.

First-and second-place finishers in every weight class advance to individual state competition, which runs from Thursday through Saturday at Wells Fargo Arena.

No. 8 junior Ryan Szalat (113 pounds), top-ranked senior Kaden McClintock (120), sophomore Payton Sitzmann (126), senior Jimmy Averill (182) and No. 2 senior Vinnie Harvey (220) will all compete for the No. 7 Gaels. Szalat, McClintock, Sitzmann and Harvey were each sectional champions a week ago, while Averill advanced as a runner-up.

Szalat, McClintock and Harvey are defending state placewinners. Harvey owns the school record for career wins (151).

“We don’t want to look past anybody and need to stay solid for a full six minutes,” SEHS head coach Tanner Utley said. “All the matches are getting tougher along the way, but our guys just have to respond and battle through some adversity to end up on top.”

Szalat (27-4 overall) will face Marcus McDonough (15-8) of Central Springs in his opening match this afternoon, while McClintock (22-1) squares off against Clarion-Goldfield’s Lucas Lienemann (17-11).

Sitzmann (22-12) clashes with Michael Olsen (32-15) from Lake Mills, Averill (15-7) will take on Clarion-Goldfield’s Ryan Anderson (20-13), and Harvey (31-0) meets Tyler Mary (25-18) of Lake Mills.

“I like our matchups, because we don’t have any real strange opponents,” said Utley. “Our big guys (Szalat, McClintock and Harvey) know the drill. Jimmy is a real seasoned athlete, and Payton is a guy that is coming along very well. At this time of the year, guys are good enough to take you from your feet to your back. It’s important to stay focused and take it one match at a time.”

Eleven wrestlers from state duals qualifier and third-ranked Clarion-Goldfield will be on hand. South Central Calhoun (eight), Manson Northwest Webster (four), Pocahontas Area (three) and Prairie Valley (two) will also have multiple participants. Eagle Grove and Southeast Webster-Grand will both feature one competitor.

A total of 19 rated individuals will be in action at today’s meet, with five of those being either No. 1 or No. 2.