1A: Alburnett’s Washburn gets aggressive in hunt for third title
DES MOINES – The popular adage is “Third time’s a charm.”
For Alburnett’s Hunter Washburn, he certainly hopes it proves true.
The Pirate junior is trying to win his third state title, joining the hallowed group of four-time champions, but to do it he has to earn his first win in three tries over another aspiring four-timer.
Washburn opened with a technical fall win over Don Bosco’s Nick Mangrich, 15-0, at 132 pounds in the first round of the Iowa High School Athletic Association Class 1A state wrestling tournament Thursday night at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. He was one of seven Pirates to win, placing Alburnett atop the team standings with 31 points.
Second-ranked Washburn (35-5) faces Lisbon’s top-ranked Carter Happel (50-0) in Friday’s quarterfinal.
“I’ve been thinking about this for a while,” Washburn said. “Ever since I looked at the draw.
“You just have to look at it as another match.”
He advanced with an aggressive performance, tallying two takedowns, a reversal and nine nearfall to end it in 5:13. Washburn said he wanted to improve his previous first-round wins that weren’t to his standards.
“I’m looking back at all these years of me just holding back that little bit,” Washburn said. “I’m thinking I’ve come this far and I wrestled this good why not be better and not hold myself back.”
Much more is on the line than any other win-and-advance contest. Happel, a sophomore who won the 1A title at 120 last year, is also contending to be a four-time champion. Washburn put it in perspective of the annual hyped state tournament clashes.
“Sure, there’s a lot at stake, but when I look back when I’m 20 (or) 30 years old nobody’s going to remember this match,” Washburn said. “They’re going to be thinking about the next big match that has two rivals going at it at the state tournament.”
Happel has won both previous matches, posting a 7-3 win the opening week of the season and a 3-0 win at the Tri-Rivers Conference tournament. Washburn said expectations rest on Happel’s shoulders.
“In the end, you’re just ranked second, the underdog,” Washburn said. “It doesn’t mean anything. It just means I have nothing to lose. He has everything to lose. The pressure is on him.”
Happel was impressive with a second-period fall over Coon Rapids-Bayard’s Brett Carstens. He calmly dismissed the attention on the match. It is another step toward his goal.
“Both are going for it,” Happel said about the state crown. “I’m not thinking about being a four-timer. I’m going for my second.”
Past wins over Washburn provides a boost to Happel. He has already topped a wrestler multiple times for a title, beating Wilton’s Brady Ruden for the fourth time in the state finals last year.
“He’s confident,” Lisbon Coach Brad Smith said. “He doesn’t show fear at all.”
Washburn was one of seven Pirates quarterfinalists, leading second-place Wilton by eight. Alburnett rolled through the opening day, moving nine of 10 qualifiers to day 2. They combined for a 9-4 record, tallying five pins, two technical falls and two major decisions.
“Whenever you can get bonus points is nice,” Alburnett Coach Kane Thompson said. “It doesn’t matter when they come.”
The Pirates rebounded after having their hopes of a title sweep repeat thwarted by a third-place finish at State Duals on Wednesday.
An early practice Thursday created a spirited conversation. Thompson said he knew they were in the right frame of mind.
“They said, ‘Coach, you want to go after a gold trophy?’” Thompson said. “We’re going to work hard to do it.”
Lisbon was in seventh place with 12 ½ points, going 4-1 with all four wrestlers alive. Nick Williams (120) and Matt Montgomery (195) both won. Montgomery faces top-ranked Tyler Hoffman, of East Buchanan, in the second round after getting his first state victory in two appearances.
“We got over the hump there,” Smith said. “We have a tough one next round. Anything can happen.”
Highland and West Branch both posted perfect 3-0 records Thursday. The Huskies received falls from top-ranked freshmen twin brothers, Drew and Bryce West, at 106 and 113, and Travis Cole at 138. Highland was tied for eighth with 12 points.
Drew West (47-0) pinned Mason City Newman’s No. 4 Jeremiah Colon in 3:17. Drew West held a 6-5 lead when he dropped Colon to his back, countering an outside carry.
“It didn’t work out in the first,” Drew West said. “I ended up getting it in the second. Just got him.”
The Wests have been focused on becoming one of the rare twin duos to win titles in the same year joining pairs Tom and Terry Brands (1986), of Sheldon, Decorah’s Randy and Ryan Fulsaas (1999) and Travis and Trent Paulson, who did it in 2001 and 2002 for Council Bluffs Lewis Central.
“It would be great to accomplish the goal,” Drew West said. “Always dreamed of being a state champ in high school. Just have to keep working.”
The Bears’ Carter Carew notched a 55-second pin at 126, and Tyler Donovan added a technical fall at 152. West Branch’s third-ranked Casey Pence (33-0) remained unbeaten with a 6-5 victory over AHST’s Austin Fink at 160.
“He was very strong,” Pence said about the hard-fought win. “He didn’t get out of position.”
Pence was a medalist a year ago and admits striving for a perfect season increases anxiety.
“It adds a little pressure,” Pence said. “It makes it even harder.”
Maquoketa Valley’s Jared Coyle (126), top-ranked Ryan Parmely (220) and No. 6 heavyweight Tyler Yonkovic moved into the quarterfinals. Yonkovic improved to 50-0 with a 4-1 victory over Graettinger-Terril/Ruthven-Ayshire’s Cody Thompson.
“It feels great,” Yonkovic said. “After not making it for three years, finally making it, coming down and getting the win feels amazing.”
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