DES MOINES — They’ve wrestled all season, faced all comers, and now the time has come for the Waverly-Shell Rock men’s wrestling team to potentially defend their Class 3A tag team title at the Wrestling Championships of the state of Iowa.
But everything must now fall perfectly into place like a game of Tetris for the Go-Hawks to win their fourth in a row. They are currently six points behind second-place Waukee Northwest, and just three points ahead of perennial rival Southeast Polk.
The Go-Hawks and Wolves have four finalists, and the Rams have three, but SEP has more third-place contenders than W-SR and Northwest.
This all happens Saturday morning before the championship lights shine on the final four Go-Hawks, four Wolves and three Rams.
Waverly-Shell Rock will be represented on the big stage Saturday by 138-pound Ryder Block, nation’s top 160-pounder Aiden Riggins, state’s No. 1 195-pound heavyweight McCrae Hagarty and No. 1-ranked heavyweight Jake Walker. Block (major decision), Riggins (technical fall) and Hagarty (pin) all topped their opponents in the semis, while Walker earned a late knockdown to make a 2-1 decision over Pleasant Valley’s Luke Vonderhaar.
Walker said being a smart wrestler was key to making it around the championship.
“You just have to take good shots, be selective, know what’s there and what’s not,” Walker said. “If I take bad hits on a kid that big, I know it wouldn’t suit me. Just taking good hits, being able to finish quickly and just fighting.
Walker will then face Ben Reiland of Norwalk for the championship at the end of the evening.
The Go-Hawks semifinal began when Block won a major 19-10 decision over Ankeny Centennial’s Lucas Bruhl at 138 pounds. He continues to wrestle West Des Moines Dowling’s Jacob Frost.
Block felt good after the win.
“I feel like I wrestle well and move a lot on my feet,” Block said after the fight. “I hit my attacks cleanly, finish well and can’t say much else. I have one more, so I have to focus on that one.
“Whenever the weekend is over we’ll look at everything I’ve done well, but right now we’re looking straight at the next one.”
He said he followed assistant coach Brett Wieland’s advice throughout the game.
“He’s always in my ear telling me something,” Block said. “Just listen to my coaching and do what I do best and keep wrestling for those 6 minutes. I’m pretty good if I keep my head in it and wrestle for those 6 minutes. It’s just listen to what he says and this is my third trip to the state semis so nerves and all that – not to say it’s not there – but it’s stupid since i was a freaking freshman on this subject.
Riggins was his usual dominant self, recording a 16-1 technical drop at 160 pounds in 3 minutes and 59 seconds to defeat Cedar Rapids Xavier’s Christian Stanek. The two met at the district meet in Marshalltown six days prior, which Riggins won by major decision, 13-1.
“I felt after that game I could score a few more points if I cleaned up some finishes and didn’t take so long to get my turns,” Riggins said Friday. “I felt like I was getting my shots with a good finish, a clean finish, and on top of that, I was going to work on that tilt and then we worked the other way if I didn’t get it one way. I kind of threatened that and then went back to my certain way.
“Just fixing the little things in the districts and now kind of helped make it a better game. Instead of a 13-1 major, I could get the tech for the team. It’s all good.
Hageman was able to stop North Scott’s AJ Petersen in the 195 fight in 2:58. After taking the lead in the first period, the second period began with both men standing. Hageman then launched a double leg shot and spun Petersen onto his back.
After a few moments of struggle, the referee slapped the mat to award the victory to Hageman. The junior Go-Hawk will face Bettendorf’s Bradley Hill on Saturday night.
Hageman thought he was well prepared for Petersen.
“I got here and got ready, then I got out and wrestled,” Hageman said.
He said on the final takedown, he kept Petersen’s legs and drove him over his shoulder.
“I got my arm bar and just knocked it down,” he continued. “He had a strong neck, so he just stood up for a while. Eventually, (the ref) called the pin.
Meanwhile, five other Go-Hawks are battling for placements Saturday morning. Zane Behrends (113) and Bas Diaz (145) are in the consolation semifinals with a chance at third place, while Braxen Westendorf (120), Carter Fecht (132) and Cayden Langreck (152) will go for seventh place just after noon.
2. Waverly-Shell Rock 127
4. West Des Moines Dowling 77
SESSION SIX RESULTS (W-SR only)
113 – Consolation Round 3: Zane Behrends (WSR) Dec. Steele Diercks (Bet), 6-2.
120 – Consolation Round 3: Nate Bierma (WDM Valley) Dec. Braxten Westendorf (WSR), 9-5.
132 – Consolation Round 3: Ty Solverson (Boone) Dec. Carter Fecht (WSR), 3-2.
138 — Semi-final: Ryder Block (WSR) major Dec. Lucas Bruhl (Ankeny centenarian), 19-10.
145 – Consolation Round 3: Bas Diaz (WSR) pinned Dom Rubino (WNW), 1:30
152 – Consolation Round 3: Braden Blackorby (Johnston) major Dec. Cayden Langreck (WSR), 13-2
160 — Semi-final: technical fall of Aiden Riggins Christian Stanek (CR Xavier), 16-1, 3:59
195 – Semi-final: McCrae Hagarty (WSR) pinned AJ Petersen (North Scott), 2:58
285 — Semi-final: Jake Walker (WSR) Dec. Luke Vonderhaar (Pleasant Valley), 2-1.