Tony Greve gives Central’s Sean Wilwert a tight squeeze in the 152-pound semifinal to advance at Saturday’s sectional tournament. The sophomore punched his ticket to districts with a gold finish. (Photo courtesy of Marie Conway)
Tony Greve gives Central’s Sean Wilwert a tight squeeze in the 152-pound semifinal to advance at Saturday’s sectional tournament. The sophomore punched his ticket to districts with a gold finish. (Photo courtesy of Marie Conway)

Eight Warriors are one step closer to earning a spot at the state wrestling meet.

At Saturday’s Class 1A Sectional 12 meet in Monona, eight matmen from South Winn finished in the top-two of their weight class to move on to the district meet Saturday, Feb. 15, at Starmont.

In addition, the Warriors were crowned as the sectional champions with 226 points, ahead of Wapsie Valley’s 185.5. 

Both squads advance to the regional team tournament today, Tuesday, Feb. 11, at Lake Mills beginning at 6 p.m. versus Lake Mills and West Hancock. South Winn will face off with West Hancock and should the Warriors win will battle the winner of the Wapsie Valley and Lake Mills contest.

“I felt pretty good leading up to this weekend, we have been wrestling well and seemed to be pretty focused. We have had a lot of sickness going through the room, so that was a concern as well as some guys getting banged up this time of year,” said Coach Jacob Elsbernd. “We wrestled pretty well overall, all 12 of our guys made the semifinals so that was a pretty big accomplishment. By doing that, all of our guys placed top four. When we got to the finals, we lost a few close matches and finished with only four Champions. I am very proud of how the guys responded though. We had six wrestle backs which is pretty crazy and hard for kids to mentally get ready for. We won four of the six wrestle backs which helped us maintain the team lead and win the sectional team title.”

How it works

There were eight teams at the Sectional 12 meet. Grapplers needed to finish in the top-two of their weight bracket in order to advance to districts. Unlike other meets, wrestle backs are utilized beginning with the sectional round. Wrestle backs are used when the grapplers who finished second and third didn’t face each other. This determines the “true” second-place finisher.

Elite Eight

At 113 pounds, Ethan Maldonado was the first Warrior to punch his second straight ticket to districts. He started with a bye in the quarterfinal. He then went up against Caleb Nordheim of MFL MarMac, winning 13-0 in the semifinals. That put him in the finals against Ed-Co’s Dawson Bergan. The South Winn sophomore put an exclamation point on the day, defeating Bergan 10-4 to be crowned the sectional champ. With a 34-9 season record, Maldonado will face Myles McMahon (22-11) of Don Bosco in the first round Saturday.

A year after taking second at sectionals, Philip French won his first sectional title Saturday at 120 poumds. Following a bye, French took on Riley Rankin of Postville, putting him on his back in 1:23 to advance to the final. Going up against MFL MarMac’s Kaston Mathis, French picked up another fall, throwing Mathis in 3:09. So far, French is 37-4 this year. He will do battle with Cade Cook of North Linn (33-10) at districts.

At 152 pounds, Tony Greve had a bye in the quarterfinals, advancing to take on Sean Wilwert of Central Elkader in the semifinal. The sophomore threw the Central opponent in 3:35, putting him in the finals versus Tylen Hirsch of Wapsie Valley. It was a battle in the finals; however, Greve managed to secure the 9-6 decision. Greve is 22-17 heading into districts and will face Class 1A No. 4 Tate Entriken of Hudson (20-1).

Zach Taylor followed up a quarterfinal bye with a pair of falls at 160 pounds to advance to districts. In the 160-pound semifinal, the SW junior threw Austin Nikolai of MFL MarMac in 1:49 to move into the finals. There Taylor pinned Ed-Co’s Bo Struble in 1:06. This season Taylor is 32-8 and looks to battle with Tate Fults of East Buchanan (14-15) at districts Saturday.

It was a wrestle back victory for Damon Meyer at 195 pounds, allowing him to finish second. Following a bye, Meyer took on Josh Hertenstein of Clayton Ridge, winning by fall in 1:55. Next on the list was Class 1A No. 9 Zach Howe of MFL MarMac, with Howe winning 7-2. Luckily for Meyer he got a second chance with a wrestle back. Facing Wapsie Valley’s Keegon Brown, Meyer picked up a fall in 2:38 to advance. At 29-12 this year, Meyer will have to face Cedric Yoder of Don Bosco (21-8) in the first round of action Saturday.

Taking second were Lane Quandahl (138 lbs., 30-15, won by wrestle back); Logan Hageman (170 lbs., 34-12, won by wrestle back); Damon Meyer (195 lbs., 29-12, won by wrestle back); and Ethan Timp (220 lbs., 18-12, won by wrestleback).

Thoughts from Elsbernd

“Obviously, it is hard to see the kids who have worked all year long not make it and attain their goals, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort. I am very excited for the opportunities in front of us in the next few weeks. We will head to Lake Mills on Tuesday and will fight hard to get this team down to Des Moines for the State Dual Tournament. This will be a great experience for our young team and will only help us build on a great season so far,” said Coach Elsbernd. “It was a great team effort this weekend and we had a lot of kids step up in various ways to win the sectional title.”

District information

The district meet is Saturday, Feb. 15, at noon at Starmont. Champions and runners-up from the MFL MarMac and East Buchanan sectional sites do battle at districts. The top-two grapplers at each weight class advance to the state meet, which runs Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 20-22, at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.

The champion from each sectional site battles the runner-up from each opposing sectional location in the first round of district action. There will be two rounds, followed by a possible wrestle back. Wrestle backs occur if the second and third place finishers did not face each other in the first round. This determines the true second-place winner and the grapplers who advance to state.