Moving on to district competition for Decorah are (l-r) Andy Lillegraven, Philip Ihde, Kyzer Engen and Jackson Rolfs. (Photo courtesy Decorah Wrestling Facebook page)
Moving on to district competition for Decorah are (l-r) Andy Lillegraven, Philip Ihde, Kyzer Engen and Jackson Rolfs. (Photo courtesy Decorah Wrestling Facebook page)

   Four grapplers survived.
   It’s all about the next step and preparation as the postseason continues for four grapplers on the Decorah wrestling team. Class 2A No. 3 Philip Ihde, along with Kyzer Engen, Jackson Rolfs and Andy Lillegraven all punched tickets to the district competition by finishing in the top two of their weight classes at the Class 2A Section 10 meet, held Saturday at the Luther Regents Center in Decorah.
   Those four will put on the singlet and headgear for the district meet Saturday, Feb. 10, in Independence.
“   We are very excited for our four wrestlers advancing to districts,” stated Coach Jeff Freidhof. “We feel very good about our district match-ups and the opportunities they will have Saturday.”
   Finishing third in the team standings with 170 points, Decorah just missed moving on in team dual competition. West Delaware was the champion with 250 points while Crestwood took second with 245.5 points. West Delaware and Crestwood will compete in the team regional tournament today, Tuesday, Feb. 6.

How it works
   There were six teams competing at the Sectional 10 meet. Wrestlers 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 in earlier rounds. This determines the “true” second-place finish.

Advancing
   Sophomore Kyzer Engen was the first Viking to punch his ticket to districts at 113 pounds. He received a bye in the quarterfinals, putting him against Oelwein’s Carsen Jeanes in the semifinals. Engen got the fall in 1:25 over Jeanes to earn a spot in the finals. There he battled Evan Woods of West Delaware to win a 9-4 decision.
   The Viking will take a 29-6 record into districts where he will face Union’s Payton Hellman in the first round Saturday.
   Ranked No. 3 at 126 pounds, Ihde is looking for his third trip to state. The senior grappler earned a quarterfinal bye and needed just 33 seconds to throw Blake Smith of Oelwein in the semifinals. Meeting West Delaware’s Alex Maury on the middle of the mat, Ihde controlled the match early, throwing Maury in 1:17.
   Carrying of 25-0 record into Saturday’s district, Ihde will face No. 10 Carter Weeks of Vinton-Shellsburg in round one.
   Freshman Jackson Rolfs is looking to continue his season after picking up a bye in the 132-pound quarterfinals. In dominating fashion, J. Rolfs earned a 13-0 major decision of Crestwood’s Hunter Bye. The finals pitted the freshman against North Fayette Valley’s Gunner Rodgers, with Rolfs falling short on a 4-1 decision.
   J. Rolfs will take his 29-7 record up against Luke Radeke of Vinton-Shellsburg in the first round of districts as he looks for his inaugural trip to state.
   The final district qualifier for the Vikings was 195-pound Andy Lillegraven. Starting his day with a bye, the senior threw Landon Berns of Waukon in 3:44. On the mat with No. 6 Harrison Goebel of West Delaware, Lilligraven suffered a fall in the finals in 3:31 and had to earn his district spot via wrestle back. Fighting for second place, Lillegraven pinned Crestwood’s Jared Knutson in 3:17 to advance and earning his 100th career match.
   Holding a 26-9 record, the senior will first see Tayten Freidhof of Independence on the mats to start district action Saturday.
   “As with every sectional, we are happy for our qualifiers, but sad for those whose season has come to an end,” acknowledged Freidhof. “It is tough to see wrestlers like Andy Murphy have a pair of tough one-point losses to the two qualifiers. That shows how close he is to that next level. We have several wrestlers in the category and look forward to them working in the off-season and taking it to the next level next season.”

District information
   The district meet is Saturday, Feb. 10, at noon at Independence High School. The top two grapplers at each weight class advance to the state meet, which runs Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 15-17, at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
   The champion from each sectional site battles the runner-up from the 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 grappler who advances to state.
   Last year, Decorah had four wrestlers move on to district competition, with two continuing on to state.
   Ihde is the only grappler with state experience while Lillegraven has district experience from last season.

For the complete story, stats, additional photos, pick up Decorah Newspapers at one of the many convenient locations throughout Decorah and Winneshiek County. Or, for 34 cents an issue, subscribe to Decorah Newspapers by calling (563) 382-4221.