MARION– It’s off to Des Moines for four Solon wrestlers.
Louis Gnida (120 pounds), Kade Steuhm (132), Lance Evans (220) and Logan Linderbaum (285) qualified for the 2014 State Wrestling Tournament Saturday, battling their way through the district meet at Marion.
“We have high hopes and expectations for the kids down in Des Moines,” said head coach Brooks McLaren. “They are all capable of winning matches down there and we hope to see all four of them on the awards stand.”
The state tournament for Class 2A begins at the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines Thursday morning, Feb. 20, with first round matches. The tournament continues Friday with quarterfinals and concludes Saturday with semifinals and finals.
“I was very happy with how well the kids wrestled and competed,” said McLaren. “Districts are tough. Sometimes you run into some tough kids and we did that at a couple weights. The kids that didn’t make it still battled for every second of their matches.”
One of those was senior Danny Whitmore, wrestling up a weight for the postseason at 195 pounds.
After losing by pin in the semifinal round to Jace Hadachek of Union, Whitmore pinned Cameron Ihrig of Tipton in 1:23 in his wrestle back and faced Dalton Vest of South Tama in a second place match.
“Danny Whitmore was the wild card for the day,” McLaren said. “The wrestle back was a wild, high-scoring match.”
Down by four points in the third period, Whitmore tied the score with takedowns to force overtime. “Danny came out shooting but the South Tama kid just overpowered him,” McLaren said. “That last match might have been Danny’s best wrestled match all year. It’s no fun to lose, but he gave it his all. We’re proud of what he accomplished.”
Overtime matches also faced Linderbaum at heavyweight and Steuhm at 132 pounds.
It took four overtimes for Linderbaum to win a semifinal 3-2 match against Quintin Taylor of Benton Community. “Logan took bottom and had to get out to win, but he got out in a few seconds to end the match,” McLaren noted.
He went on to a 6-4 decision over Jake Dye of Williamsburg in the championship match. “He got his feet moving to get a couple take downs to punch his second straight ticket to state,” McLaren added.
Linderbaum, Gnida and Evans all took the championships, while Steuhm placed second.
Steuhm was a second away from elimination, but was able to score points with an escape to force his second place match against Charlie Engelbrecht of Mount Vernon into overtime.
“It was 3-3 going into overtime, with both kids gasping for air,” McLaren reported. “Engelbrecht took a shot, and Kade countered to put him on his back to win 7-3. Too close for comfort, but the win secured Kade’s trip to state.”
It was business as usual for Evans at 220 pounds.
Evans spent just over two minutes on the mat, pinning Keaton Newgren of Union in 42 seconds and than disposing of Josh Cannon of Mount Vernon in the championship match with a fall 1:31 into the first period.
“Lance was on the top of his wrestling abilities again,” McLaren said. “He looks to be in prime shape for Des Moines.”
Gnida also came out on fire, pinning Keaton Sherwood of Benton Community in just over 90 seconds.
“Very impressive considering he lost to him earlier in the season but has since beat him twice,” McLaren said. “He was in command again in his finals match. Louis looked very tough today and ready for state.”
Gnida took an 11-6 decision over Ryder Albertsen of Union in the first place match.
Sophomore Cole Fritz (138) and freshman Trevor Nelson (152) both placed fourth for the Spartans at the 11-team district meet.
Fritz lost by decision in his semifinal and was pinned by Ryan Muller of Mount Vernon in the third place match.
Nelson lost his semifinal by 11-8 decision and then was defeated by Noah Dahlstrom of Mount Vernon in a 3-1 decision in the third place match.
“Trevor had a great season this year, compiling a 33-10 record,” McLaren said. “Many wins and trips to Des Moines are in Trevor’s future.”
Solon as a team placed third at the district meet with 77 points. Union took the team scoring lead with 118, while Mount Vernon finished second with 82.5.