After falling to No. 2 Braden Graff of West Sioux in the opening round, Warrior sophomore Ethan Maldonado (left) picked up a 9-4 decision in the consolation bracket over Ogden’s Kale Munson. (Photo courtesy of the Iowa Newspaper Association)
After falling to No. 2 Braden Graff of West Sioux in the opening round, Warrior sophomore Ethan Maldonado (left) picked up a 9-4 decision in the consolation bracket over Ogden’s Kale Munson. (Photo courtesy of the Iowa Newspaper Association)

Dreams of a state title ended for four Winneshiek County wrestlers last week.

Decorah grappler Jackson Rolfs, along with South Winn trio Ethan Maldonado, Zach Taylor and Damon Meyer, put on singlets at the State Wrestling Tournament in Des Moines Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 20-22.

South Winn junior Damon Meyer earned himself a spot in the top-eight to reach the medal stand, finishing sixth, while Decorah’s Jackson Rolfs finished his junior season in eighth place in Des Moines.

In the team race in Class 2A, Osage, won the team title in the individual competition with 85 points, while Union (La Porte City) took second with 78.

Crowned as the Class 1A champions were Don Bosco with 170 points, with Lisbon taking the runner-up spot with 144.5 points.

Lone Viking

Ranked No. 5 at 145 pounds, Jackson Rolfs took the mat first for the Winneshiek County matmen. In his second trip to Wells Fargo Arena, Rolfs faced Panorama’s Emry Colby (42-8). Rolfs struck first, getting Colby for the takedown midway through the first. Colby managed the escape, leaving the score 2-1 in Rolfs’ favor after the first period. In the offensive position in the second, the Viking grappler picked up two more points on a near-fall to claim a 4-1 advantage. An early third-period takedown for Rolfs put him on top 6-1 and allowed Rolfs to get the win.

That pitted Rolfs against No. 8 Trestin Sales (45-3) of Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont in the quarterfinals Friday morning. Sales made the first move, taking down Rolfs for a 2-0 score that stuck the rest of the first period. In the second, Sales created offense on a reversal and near-fall to lead 5-0 with one period remaining. A neutral stance opened the third period, allowing Rolfs to collect a takedown of his own; however, Sales collected the escape and his own takedown that left Rolfs dropping the match, 10-2.

Moving into the consolation bracket, Rolfs faced Jesup’s Jerret Delagardelle (31-10). Rolfs took control of the match and needed little time to takedown the Jesup junior and roll him to his back for the pin in 1:33. Rolfs then battled No. 6 Jake Nieman of OABCIG for three periods, falling 9-3. The loss put the Viking junior in a battle for seventh place with No. 3 Jake West of Winterset. With both Rolfs and West picking up escapes in regulation, the match entered overtime, which ended whenWest took Rolfs off his feet for a take down.

Rolfs finishes his junior season with an eighth-place finish and a 31-8 record.

For South Winn

For the second time in his career, Ethan Maldonado (113) took the mats at state. The sophomore started his 2020 experience Thursday night against No. 2 Braden Graff of West Sioux (46-1). Graff took control of the match from the whistle, taking the South Winn grappler to the mat eight seconds into the match and pinning Maldonado to the mat in 47 seconds.

That put Maldonado into the consolation bracket against Kale Munson of Ogden (31-9) later Friday evening. Falling behind 2-1 after the first period, the Warrior took the bottom defensive position to start period two. Using that to his advantage, Maldonado picked up the escape and took Munson to the mat to turn the tides in his favor, 4-2. Another takedown and nearfall for Maldonado gave him a big advantage to picking up the 9-4 win.

Friday afternoon, Maldonado had a district final rematch with No. 6 Cael Bridgewater of North Linn (39-5) who ended his quest for a medal by a 10-3 decision in the second round of the consolation bracket. The two-time state qualifier finished his sophomore season with a 36-12 record.

“I’m very proud of how Ethan came back from his opening round loss and was able to get a hard fought win on the backside. We came up short in that match and were not able to reach the podium, but Ethan fought his tail off and that is no different than how he has competed in every match this season. Ethan had a great mindset this year and really showed his mental toughness here in his post season run,” said South Winn Head Coach Jacob Elsbernd.

In his first state tournament experience, junior Zach Taylor was two and done at 160 pounds. Facing Graettinger’s seventh-ranked Spencer Roth (47-5), Taylor couldn’t keep his feet under him and was left trailing 9-2 after the first period. A nearfall by Roth in the second, combined with a takedown and nearfall in the third, handed Roth the 17-2 tech fall in 4:29 over Taylor. In the consolation bracket, Taylor did battle with Teegan Tschampel (36-12) of Hinton. There the SW junior managed a pair of first period escapes to keep the match alive, 4-2. Down 3-2, Taylor continued to wrangle through the match before getting tilted to fall in 2:34.

Taylor concluded his junior year with a 34-11 mark.

“Zach was really nervous for his opening round and didn’t open up enough. I thought his second match was a lot better and he started moving and creating scoring opportunities for himself which is when he is at his best. I think Zach learned a lot this weekend and will be able to build off of this experience,” said SW Coach Elsbernd.

At 195 pounds, Damon Meyer made his inaugural appearance at the state wrestling tournament Thursday, surviving a difficult first-round contest versus Eli Van Ginkel of Western Christian (35-13). It took a reversal in the closing 20 seconds of the match for the SW junior to stay alive in the championship bracket. Meyer grabbed the early 3-2 first period lead and continue to be out front 6-5 after two periods. Disaster nearly struck in the third period, when Van Ginkel got a reversal and nearfall to tie the match, 9-9, with 20 seconds remaining. Meyer managed his own reversal with 17 ticks on the clock to survive for the win.

Continuing on the path to the title, the SW junior faced off with No. 4 Rowan Udell (44-3) of Iowa City Regina in the quarterfinals, falling by an 11-2 decision. Moving into the consolation bracket, Meyer met up with Trevor Thompson of South Hamilton (36-10). There the Warrior grappler created points on a first-period takedown. Thompson tied the score 2-2 in the second period on an escape; however, Meyer remained poised with a reversal and nearfall in the third to take the 7-2 win and remain in the hunt for a medal. 

Needing another win to earn a medal, Meyer picked up a 9-4 decision over No. 7 Gavyn Fischer of AHSTW. The next roadblock was Hinton’s Derek Anderson, ranked No. 8, who took the consolation match semifinal by a 7-3 decision, leaving Meyer to battle Regina’s Udell for the second time at state for fifth place. Meyer struggled from the get-go, eventually succumbing to Udell by fall in 4:23 to finish sixth at 195 pounds. The SW junior finished the season with a 33-16 mark and a sixth-place medal.

“Damon wrestled well in his first match and was able to stay on the front side of the bracket. On Friday Damon had a tough battle and lost to send him to the backside. It is very difficult to lose and then come back and wrestle to stay in the tournament. You could see Damon’s confidence growing each time he was able to get a win. The more he believed in himself, the better he performed. ” concluded Coach Elsbernd.