Courtesy of the Des Moines Register
GRIMES, Ia. — Southeast Polk had plenty of success Saturday afternoon. The Rams, Class 3A's No. 2 team, had seven champions at the Class 3A District 5 tournament hosted by Dallas Center-Grimes. But the biggest roar from its boisterous cheering section came when 160-pounder Gavin Babcock pinned Waukee's Grant Brown in a wrestle-back match, punching his ticket to next week's state tournament.
Babcock's emphatic finish epitomized the Rams' charge to the finish line. All 14 Southeast Polk wrestlers won their final match of the day, and the Rams erased a late deficit to take a district title, edging No. 3 West Des Moines Valley 247-244.5.
"When you do that, that's a good way to finish a tournament," Southeast Polk coach Jason Christenson said. "That's the thing that I'm most impressed with our guys about. Whether it was a fifth-place match, or the wrestle-back or the championship, all 14 won their last match. That's the story of the day for us."
The Rams and Tigers continued their season-long rivalry, which is certain to make the 19.1-mile trip to downtown Des Moines' Wells Fargo Arena. With nine state qualifiers apiece, Southeast Polk and Valley dominated the field, taking 18 of 28 qualifiers. Waukee finished third with 157.0 points. Waukee and Dallas-Center Grimes had four qualifiers apiece.
Top-ranked Southeast Polk 220-pounder Ethan Andersen fought through lower-back pain and pinned No. 2 Rocky Lombardi of Valley in 3:40 to take the title, but said he didn't love the stacked field that featured 23 ranked wrestlers.
"I don't like it because it took a lot of our guys out of the battle that should have been in it if Valley wasn't here," he said. "I'm worried about Fort Dodge (next week) because they didn't have as tough of a district. That's what Southeast Polk is. It's not all about our stars, it's those sixth-place to third-place guys, that's who really scores our points for us."