Courtesy of the Des Moines Register
Rams wrestlers reassert dominance, storm to CIML title
PLEASANT HILL, Ia. — A week ago, Southeast Polk coach Jason Christenson was asked what his Rams needed to work on after losing the Ed Winger Classic team title by a single point to West Des Moines Valley.
"Everything," Christenson replied.
Everything was working for the Rams at Friday night's CIML Tournament. Inside its own gym, Southeast Polk reasserted its dominance over its local rival entering the postseason. The Rams built an early lead and coasted to a championship, rolling up 233.5 points.
Valley finished second with 196.5 points, while Fort Dodge was third with 192.5. Johnston finished fourth with 133.5 points, and Indianola was fifth with 111.5. Waukee finished sixth with 109.5 points.
"We're wrestling like a state championship team," said Southeast Polk 120-pound junior Adam Brown, who held on for a 4-3 win over Johnston's Zach Price. "And I think we have it."
Although the Winger results were disappointing for the Rams, they knew the season was far from over and more important tournaments were ahead.
"I don't think so," Brown said when asked if last week's results served as motivation. "Let them have it, let them get their experience, and then we'll crush them at state."
The evening set up as a three-team battle between Fort Dodge, Southeast Polk and West Des Moines Valley, the top three teams in Class 3A. Fort Dodge entered No. 1, Valley No. 2, and Southeast Polk No. 3, although the Rams held a slight edge in Intermat's Fab 50 national rankings, checking in at No. 30 ahead of the Tigers (No. 31) and Dodgers (No. 33).
Southeast Polk used a strong early-round effort to build a 19-point lead over Valley entering the semifinals.
One of the finals' best matches was the opener, a 106-pound standoff between top-ranked Waukee freshman Cade DeVos and No. 2 Drew Bennett, a Fort Dodge sophomore. The match went to overtime tied 2-all, and after neither scored in the first overtime, each wrestler successfully rode the other for 30 seconds.
That meant DeVos had to keep Bennett down to win, and he did that, in his words, getting his mind right and "fight through it."
"I just keep working hard and good things happen," he said. "I'm not really scared of anyone coming in, even though I'm a freshman, but I know I'm just as good as everyone else out here."
At 145 pounds, Dowling Catholic senior Michael Zachary appears to be in perfect shape to repeat his 2015 state-title effort. Zachary was never challenged, improving to 31-0 with a 15-7 major decision over Valley's Joel Shapiro.
"To come back and win this, it's refreshing and a motivational boost again," he said. "Just another step toward a state title."
Zachary feels like he's peaking at the right time.
"Last year was kind of a struggle going into this whole month of districts and state," he said. "This year, my weight's under control. My mentality couldn't be any better."
At 113 pounds, top-ranked Brody Teske of Fort Dodge won a 1-2 battle, surviving Waukee's Kyle Biscoglia 13-9. Fellow top-ranked Dodger Tristan Lara did Teske one better, pinning Southeast Polk's Nathan Lendt in 4:30 in another 1-2 matchup.
At 132 pounds, Valley's Grant Stotts beat Johnston's Ethan Ksiazek 6-0 for the Tigers' first title of the evening.
At 160 pounds, Valley's Jack Koethe survived Mason City's Jacob Carlson 2-1 in overtime, bouncing back from his only loss of the season to Glenwood's Matt Malcom in last week's Winger Classic finals.