2 on the stand
Nick Baumler (left) and Tyler Johansen smile as they wear their medals after finishing seventh and fifth, respectively, at the State Wrestling Tournament in Des Moines over the weekend. Johansen, a junior, tied Blake Suckow’s record for wins in a season with 41; however, Baumler won 42 this year to become the new record holder. (Kris Van Sickle photo)
2 on the stand
By Jerry Wadian
The North Fayette Valley wrestling squad celebrated its first season on the mat with two of its own ascending the awards stand as top eight wrestlers in the state at The State Wrestling Tournament at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines Saturday, Feb. 22.
It was a great opening round Thursday for Nick Baumler (160), Tyler Johansen (220) and Dalton Lape (Hwt.) as all three TigerHawks won their respective matches. However, dreams of state championships were shattered in the first round on Friday when all three lost.
Lape lost a third-round match later in the day to end the tourney at 1-2. However, Baumler and Johansen battled back to earn places on the victory stand, placing seventh and fifth, respectively.
Baumler (3-2) won Thursday using a pair of takedowns in the first period to build an early lead on the way to a 12-5 decision over Williamsburg’s Vic Malloy (41-13). Friday morning, Baumler faced top-ranked Drew Foster (51-2) of Mediapolis. Foster, who finished as the runner-up, had a take-down, near-fall and reversal points in the first period for a 6-2 lead and went on for an 11-3 major decision over the TigerHawk sophomore.
Baumler came back to win a 6-1 decision over Nashua-Plainfield’s Landon Schuessler (19-6) in the second round on Friday. However, the NFV sophomore was caught early in the second period by Jake Voss (44-6) and thrown at the 2:35 mark of round three.
Saturday, Baumler claimed seventh, winning his match against Assumption’s Trace Timmons (30-18), 4-3, using a take-down in the first minute and the final seconds of the first period and holding on for the win.
Johansen (3-2) used a pair of take-downs in the final seconds of the third-period to win his opening-round match, 7-3, over Alex Silberstein (36-16) of Ballard.
Friday, the NFV junior faced first seed Lance Evans of Solon. The two fought to a 0-0 draw in the opening period, but Evans, the eventual champion, used the top position to roll Johansen onto his back, throwing him in 3:25.
The TigerHawk grappler came right back to post a 3-2 decision over Chase Bonner (45-7) and a 4-0 shutout of Anthony Clayton (41-18). In the battle for fourth, the NFV junior lost a 7-3 decision to Tyler Christensen (48-9).
Undeterred by the gut-wrenching loss, Johansen beat Harlan’s Dallon Bendorf for fifth. The TigerHawk used an escape and a take-down in the second period to fashion a 3-1 lead going into the final two minutes of his state tournament appearance. Johansen allowed an early escape in the third period, but a take-down with 30 seconds left, assured the junior a 5-3 win.
Lape started strong with a 3-0 advantage in the third period before pinning Dylan VanDusen in 4:51 of their first-round match.
However, in round two, the NFV senior allowed five third-period points to fall, 7-4, to Solon’s Logan Linderbaum. In round three, Lape fell to Bobby Heilman (44-15) as the I-35 heavyweight got a throw in 1:33.
Lape finished the season at 32-10. He is second in the 100-win club with 118 victories; Justin Heins is first with 124 wins. Lape also has the most career pins (85) in school history.
Baumler and Johansen also set some wrestling records. Johansen’s win for fifth tied him with Blake Suckow for most wins in a season with 41. However, Baumler’s win for seventh at State gave him 42 for the year and the new school record.
Valley career wins record holder is Lincoln Monroe (159), with Joe Koehn (149) and Ben McCready (145) close behind.
Afterwards head coach Jacob Pedersen stated, “I feel pretty good. You always want more for the kids, but I’m happy. We wrestled great against some really tough opposition. It was a shame Baumler and Johansen lost in the second round, but they responded with some big wins after that.
“All in all, this trip was a big step forward for the program,” Pedersen explained.
The TH head man also noted how tough of a District NFV had to endure since all but one weight at State had at least one wrestler from its District. TigerHawk Zach Bruns did not advance out of the District, but the wrestlers who beat him placed third and seventh in the State Tournament.
Perhaps the best news from Des Moines is that both award-winners will be back in the NFV fold next year.
“We’ll expect big things from them next year,” admitted Pedersen.
And they won’t be the only ones, since NFV has a full wrestling room bulging with kids who are good and want to be better.
According to Pedersen, “We have good kids returning and some talent moving up from middle school, so we could be pretty good next year,”
Of course, one of the oldest sayings in sports is “Champions are made in the off-season.”
To that end, Pedersen noted that wrestlers are already approaching him for how to get ready for next year.
“We’ll give them a week off, then give them a regimen to try and follow in the off-season. Knowing this group of athletes, I think they will get it done.
“As for me, I’m already looking forward to good things next year,” he closed.