After the dust settled at the Class 3A District Tournament at Western Dubuque, Feb. 9, five Bobcat wrestlers earned the right to compete at state, at Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines Feb. 14-16.
First time qualifier Dawson Biermann kicked off the qualifications at 113 pounds, followed by Elijah Demmer at 152, Ryker Kurimski at 160, Jake Hosch at 170 and Devin Ludwig at 182.
“Usually we have somebody who has a Cinderella story and surprises, but we didn’t get one of those this year. I expected all five of those guys to go. My number, what we wanted, was eight. But there was some great competition and it didn’t go our way in that regard,” Bobcat head coach Paul Cleary said.
Biermann scored 22 team points en route to securing a 3:44 fall to claim his first district championship over Adler Kramer, of Hempstead, in the final round. One year prior, the senior was on the outside looking in. He received a first-round bye and defeated Dakota Tatro, of Cedar Rapids Jefferson, 7-0.
“I was going after it as hard as I could, but I came up a bit short (last year),” Biermann said.
“This time I just took it one match at a time. I thought about it every day, and I knew I could do it.”
Kurimski took just under three minutes of total match time to earn three falls en route to securing his third state qualification. He earned a fall in 1:20 over Hempstead’s Trever Maiers to lock up his bid. He led off the day with a 23-second win over Romen Young, of Cedar Rapids Washington, and pinned Marion’s Ben Gibson in 1:07.
Demmer marched his way to the finals at 152 off two commanding falls of his own. He pinned Arnold Agut, of Cedar Rapids Jefferson, in 45 seconds, before earning a fall over Divion Ocheltree, of Cedar Rapids Kennedy. He suffered a 3-2 loss to Linn-Mar’s Abass Kemokai, in the finals while still securing his own ticket to the big dance for the third time in his career with a win by rule over Ocheltree.
Hosch kept his hot streak going as he tactfully dismantled Hempstead’s Kent Kragenbrink in the final round, winning by a 9-7 margin for his second qualification. After a first-round bye, he earned a 12-7 win over Jay Oostendorp, of Cedar Rapids Kennedy.
Ludwig led off the day with a win by fall over Wesley Baclich, of Dubuque Senior, in 42 seconds and followed that with a 21-second win over Cael Knox, of Cedar Rapids Kennedy. Ludwig, ranked second at 182, suffered his second loss of the season in the finals to No. 1 ranked Jacob Wempen, of Linn-Mar, 14-4. He advanced by rule with a prior win over Knox.
“I think the more I wrestle (Wempen), the better the match is going to be,” Ludwig said. “This time, I slipped up one too many times, so I just have to weather the storm a little better. Get that first barrage, wrestle like I want to wrestle and it could be a different outcome. It’s wrestling, doesn’t matter what the score is, you can always win in two seconds.”
Close calls came from junior Jared Cordes, who placed third at 138, as well as senior Jason Simon-Ressler’s third-place finish at 220 and senior Parker Schmitt’s fourth place finish at 285.
“There’s highs and there’s lows, and everyone works really hard so you really hurt along with those guys who didn’t make it. Cordes, Simon-Ressler and Schmitt have given their hearts to our program. The latter two are seniors, they did everything we’ve ever asked of them. They came up short. It stinks, but you’re also excited for your guys who did make it through,” Cleary said.
Cedar Rapids Kennedy won the tournament with 247 points. WD was second (191), Linn-Mar third (188.5), Hempstead fourth (177), Dubuque Senior fifth (110.5), Cedar Rapids Jefferson sixth (91.5), Marion seventh (77) and Cedar Rapids Washington eighth (61).