All three Gaels win opening matches

DES MOINES – All three St. Edmond wrestlers took care of business Thursday night in the opening session of Class 1A state action.

No. 8 junior Ryan Szalat (113), top-ranked senior Kaden McClintock (120) and No. 2 senior Vinnie Harvey (220) each kept their gold medal hopes intact for the seventh-ranked Gaels.

Szalat (30-5) posted a 7-2 decision over Dike-New Hartford’s Kody Kugel. Up next for Szalat is No. 4 Jack Walker (23-8) of Wapello. Szalat, who sports a career mark of 96-21 placed seventh at 106 last year.

“I expected (the win) to be a little bigger margin, but you can’t underestimate anybody down (at state),” Szalat said. “You’re always going to have to beat someone good to reach that next level.

“Hopefully, (today) I can start jumping in front of some other guys and working my way up the podium.”

McClintock (25-1) turned in another dominant effort, pinning Colfax-Mingo’s Brett Stevens in just 1:14. McClintock, a three-time state participant and four-time North Central Conference champion, finished sixth here at 113 as a junior.

The Wartburg College recruit owns a career record of 132-13.

“I wanted to go out and get (the win) right away,” said McClintock. “I was strong, confident and ready to go. I feel a alot better than last year (at 113), which has helped me focus more on wrestling and less on weight cutting.

“I’ve got tunnel vision right now. I just have to go out and wrestle the same match every time.”

Awaiting McClintock in the quarterfinals is Underwood’s third-ranked Riley Klein (47-4).

Staying unbeaten on the year, Harvey (34-0) delivered a 4:40 fall against Marcus Boldy of Panorama. Harvey, a three-time state qualifier, was fourth on the big stage last winter. Harvey is the school’s all-time wins leader (154).

“He was kind of slippery,” Harvey said of Boldy. “You can’t expect to dominate everybody. You have to wrestle the same way whether the guy is 50-0 or 0-50.”

No. 10 Matt Fett (45-8) of Audubon will be Harvey’s quarterfinal opponent.

Entering day two, the Gaels (10 points) are tied for 11th in the 1A team race with Ogden, Central Lyon and West Marshall. Top-ranked Alburnett (31) is the frontrunner.

“Our guys have been focused all week long,” said SEHS head coach Tanner Utley. “It’s always good to get that first one under your belt. Now, we’re looking forward to (today).”

Quarterfinals in 1A will begin at 3:30 p.m. this afternoon. Semifinals are set for 9:35 p.m. tonight.