A short-handed South Tama County wrestling team finished 8th with 101 points in their first trip to the 13-team NICL conference tournament in Le Grand. Erik Lux was the lone Trojan champion at 160 pounds.
Denver-Tripoli won the meet for the sixth consecutive year. The top-ranked 2A Titans scored 212 points to finish ahead of Union (194) and West Marshall (142). Host East Marshall/GMG was fourth with 120.5 points.
Head coach Nate Van Dyke knew it was a competitive conference coming in.
Taking charge in the championship match at 160 pounds is sixth-ranked Erik Lux. Lux scored a takedown and three-point near fall with this move against eighth-ranked Chase Shedenhelm of Denver-Tripoli. Lux won, 7-3, and was South Tama's only champion. The team finished 8th overall Jan. 28 at the NICL wrestling tournament in Le Grand.
"Kind of a rough day overall. But you can't take anything away from the individual performances. Coming out of the seeding meeting we had a lot of four and five seeds. That means it's going to be tough getting through to the semi's."
The Trojans were only able to get two wrestlers through to the semifinals. Eventual champion Lux advanced with a fall (3:18) against Cam Neuendorf of Hudson, and Miguel Guzman (220) pinned (0:47) Dirk Theising of Gladbrook-Reinbeck/North Tama/Grundy Center.
South Tama was already down some wrestlers and it did not get better. Tyler Walz is out with illness, but expected to return to the lineup the week of sectionals. Joe Shope remains injured (arm) and his younger brother, Lucas, was injured in his third match of the day.
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"(Lucas) Shope got injured in the second round of a match he was winning. He scores a lot of points just because he's a pinner. He'll get a lot of points for us," said Van Dyke.
Van Dyke took note of Kolton Smith's wrestling after returning to the lineup.
"He had a couple quality wins. The AGWSR kid that he beat has over 20 wins. He's showing that he can wrestle. He wrestled a one-point match with a guy on Thursday who was in the finals today."
Erik Lux (2A no. 5) found himself facing one of seven Denver-Tripoli Titans to make it to the finals. Chase Shedenhelm (2A no. 8) was leading 3-2 in the third period when Lux threw Shedenhelm for a takedown and three-point near fall. Lux rode out Shedenhelm for the 7-3 win.
Van Dyke was generally pleased with the wrestlers' performances.
"We took some lumps that second round. We came back on the backside. We wrestled well, for the most part, and got guys into the third, fourth, fifth place matches. Really, we kind of wrestled up to our seeds."
In a strange twist, Levi Kaufman was scheduled to wrestle in the 138 pound third place match. However, because he wrestled back through the backside of the bracket to get there, he had already wrestled four times, the limit for a wrestler in one day. Kaufman and Ryan Hall of Jesup were each awarded a third-place tie and split the points.
Kyle Llewellyn (182) was impacted by the same rule. He had to share a tie for fifth place with Elliot Lamb of Hudson.
Several matches for all places below first and second ended up in ties because of the extra round needed to accommodate thirteen teams and wrestle backs.
Also placing for the Trojans were Ben Packer (5th-106), Jake Thiessen (5th-113), Kolton Smith (6th-170), and Miguel Guzman (6th-220).
The Trojans were back in action at home Jan. 31 for senior night against Valley of Elgin and Cedar Rapids Washington. South Tama hosts a sectional this Saturday, Feb. 4, beginning at noon.