South Tama brought three wrestlers to districts Feb. 11, and two made it through to qualify for this week's state tournament in Des Moines. Tyler Walz (152) and Erik Lux (160) will be representing South Tama at "The Well" this afternoon. As a team, South Tama scored 44 points to finish seventh out of twelve teams.
For coach Nate Van Dyk, it was a bitter-sweet experience. He was looking to get all three through.
"I'm happy for the two boys that made it. But in total, I'm disappointed because I wanted very much for all three of the guys to go and I thought they all deserved it. I'm not feeling the best right now."
Erik Lux (L) and Tyler Walz will be representing South Tama at the State Wrestling Tournament in Des Moines this afternoon. Lux qualified as a district champion at 160 and Walz advanced as the runner-up at 152 at the district meet Feb. 11 at PCM. News-Herald/Jeff Barker
What Van Dyk was referring to was the tough afternoon for Levi Kaufman (138). Kaufman's season came to an end Saturday after all three wrestlers advanced to the finals. A great first round pin (1:21) over Tyler Walker of Centerville set the stage for a rematch with Bryce Wignall of Prairie City Monroe.
A second period reversal was the difference as Wignall held on in front of the home crowd to win, 2-0. Kaufman came up short in the wrestle back to Caleb White of Albia, losing again by two points, 4-2, ending up third and out of the money.
South Tama's lone champion, Erik Lux (41-3), ended up shortening the match with both of his opponents, but the second one was particularly tough.
After advancing with a technical fall 17-2 (5:11), he met up with a nemesis who has given him problems in the past, Brett Leshen (44-1) of Albia.
It was scoreless going into the second period. Lux started down and got an escape. Leshen scored a takedown, and heading into the final period, he led Lux, 2-1.
Leshen chose to start the period down and escaped to make it 3-1. About midway through the final period, Lux got a takedown near the edge of the mat and put Leshen on his back to win by a fall (5:12) and punch his ticket to Des Moines.
If Van Dyk is right, keep an eye on him at state.
"He's not wrestling his best yet. That first round, (he) kinda had some nerves, but wrestled well in the finals, beating a kid with 40 wins."
Lux knew he had a tough one coming into the finals. He learned from his previous match with Leshen.
"He beat me earlier in the yearI didn't wrestle good, just kind of overestimated my ability. I just came back and wrestled my match. I've got a little more to give."
Tyler Walz (34-3) had to take a more circuitous route to get there, having to face a wrestle back because of a narrow loss in the finals.
In the finals against Blake Meling of EM/GMG it was all tied up after three periods and they went into overtime. With less than 10 seconds left in the OT, Meling scored a takedown to win, 4-2.
In the wrestle back against Griffin Osing of Albia, Walz started out a little slow but took control of the match and ensured himself a spot at the state tournament with a 9-2 decision.
Van Dyk had a lot of respect of the quality of the opponent and how Walz handled the wrestle back.
"It's tough to wrestle back like that. The kid was good. The kid was a qualifier last year, 36-4, so he was no slouch. Kind of took us a period to get it going, but he (Walz) came out on top and that's all that matters."
Walz may have been a little unsure about the opponents, but in the end it worked out, as he explained.
"I was nervous about the first match. I didn't know him. I just wanted to get out there and get it done."
The overtime loss was also instructive.
"I didn't control the match the way I needed to. I let him get his ties and control me more and he took me down."
Wrestle backs are hard for any wrestler losing in the finals because his opponent just won to get there. But the senior's experience paid off.
"That's a hard match to come back to after losing a big match. Always hard to bounce back. I could tell first period he was really pumped up and stuff, but he wore down. I saw him break, slam the mat and stuff, so I knew it was my match then. Pushing the pace and keeping the pressure on."
The two qualifiers for South Tama will begin wrestling today through Saturday at the State Tournament.
Team Placings (Qualifiers)
282PCM, Monroe (4)
471East Marshall/GMG (4)
654Davis County (2)
744South Tama County (2)
1013Central Decator (1)