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Assumption Wins Team Title, Independence's Straw Wins Outstanding Wrestler at Eckenrod Invitational

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VAN HORNE Independence's Chase Straw can check something off his list of goals.

The top-ranked junior has won his share of tournaments, but now he can add a gold medal from the Bobcat "Jerry Eckenrod" Invitational.

Straw earned Outstanding Wrestler honors, dropping two ranked wrestlers en route to winning the 145-pound title Saturday at Benton Community. Straw posted a 6-2 championship win over fourth-ranked Tristen Finch, of Davenport Assumption, which won the team title with 224 points, 31 ahead of runner-up Cedar Rapids Jefferson.

Straw was impressive, advancing to the final with a third-period fall over Union's No. 6 Trevor McLaughlin.

"I stayed on my offense and never gave anyone a chance to score," said Straw, who improved to 25-0. "Offense wins."

Straw took advantage of his strength on his feet. He opened with a takedown on Finch and added another in the final period. He was joined by teammate Kyle Fank, who claimed the 182-pound title.

Straw plans to build off the victories and looks to peak in February, trying to improve last year's third-place state finish.

"I'll follow the coaches' game plan really," Straw said. "The best part of the year is coming up. I will just keep working hard."

He said he felt he made a statement with the performance. Straw has his sights on a few more titles in the near future.

"I want to win state and go on to this summer and win a national title," Straw said. "I want to follow it up again next year and do it in college somewhere."

Nine teams crowned at least one champion, demonstrating the talent and depth. There were a few first-timers.

Cedar Rapids Washington's Trey Schuler (18-2) matched Straw's feat, winning his first title at this tournament. He was seeded fifth at 132, but he beat Assumption's third-ranked Eric Clarke, 4-1, before pinning West Delaware's Connor Wickman in the championship bout.

Warrior coaches motivated Schuler the night before, telling him it had been almost 10 years since the team had a champion here. He ended the drought.

"I think it was great," Schuler said. "I keep telling myself I'm going to win. It's worked so far."

After an early takedown, Schuler went to a reliable move that put Wickman on his back, ending the finals match in 1:05.

"My favorite move is to reach across the body and get the far elbow," I like to get that. It is my go-to pinning combination."

Benton Community Quintin Taylor gave the home crowd something a reason to cheer. In his last chance, the senior heavyweight won his home tournament, pinning West Delaware's Richard Heveron in 3:30. The crowd chanted "Q" repeatedly as Taylor pinned his way through the bracket.

"This is one of the most important tournaments for me," Taylor said. "It's awesome."

Taylor (19-3) dominated the field, reaching the finals with two third-period pins.

"I just used my strength," Taylor said. "I was just on my 'A' game."

Top-ranked sophomore Brenden Baker powered the J-Hawks with the 106-pound title. He decked Don Bosco's Class 1A Jordan Schmitz for the second time this season. He built a 4-1 lead, ending it in 3:29. Baker also beat Union's sixth-ranked Derek Holschlag, 11-5, in the semifinals.

Baker climbed to 20-0, but was fueled by what he said were recent lackluster performances.

"I worked hard and pushed hard in practice," Baker said. "I wanted to prove that I can take anyone out that I think can."

Baker was seeded first for the first time, despite being undefeated. He has beaten three ranked foes in as many days, reaching a point where titles are the norm.

"We're starting to expect it," Jefferson co-head coach Matt Orton said. "He expects it. He's going out and winning."

Jefferson had finalists in Kyle Briggs (120) and 182-pounder Josh Allen. Jefferson had 13 wrestlers place in the top eight.

"On the day, we wrestled well overall," Orton said. "We have to do a better job finishing as a team and individually."

Allen knocked off Eddyville-Blakesburg's top-seeded and 1A No. 4 Dillon Pigsley, 7-3, in the semifinals. Orton praised Nick Dreckman, who lost his first match to eventual runner-up Joe Argo, of Assumption, and battled back to fifth.

"He did a really nice job," Orton said of Dreckman. "He had a nice step-up performance. Josh Allen had a step-up performance, too."

West Delaware finished fourth as a team, getting titles from top-ranked Pat Woods (113), Jake Voss (160) and 170-pounder Brent Lammers. The Hawks had five finalists, which was the second-most behind Assumption's seven.

Woods was business-like pinning his way to the finals and beating Assumption's Jacob Fenske, 6-0, for the title. Woods is focused on defending his state title by improving every week from now until the postseason.

"He learned last year what it took to win a state title," West Delaware Coach Jeff Voss said. "He's following his blueprint."

Jake Voss, ranked No. 1 in 2A, wrestled well. After needing an escape in the ultimate tiebreaker to edge Union's fourth-ranked Jacob Holschlag, 3-2, in the semifinals, Voss handled Eddyville-Blakesburg's Tyler Foubert, ranked second in 1A.

Lammers shutout Argo, 6-0 in the finals, giving the Hawks a tournament-best three champs.

"They both had tough kids," Jeff Voss said about his back-to-back champions. "Jake needed a bracket like this if he wants to do something at the end of the year. I think all our kids had decent opponents in the finals."

Union's Max Thomsen (20-0) won a battle of top-ranked undefeated wrestlers for the 138-pound title. Thomsen, ranked first in 2A, scored a takedown in each of the first two periods to down Eddyville-Blakesburg's Jeren Glosser, ranked first in 1A.

Waterloo West had two champions. Defending state champion Marcus Harrington, an Iowa State recruit, pinned his way to the 195-pound title. The Wahawks' Kyler Mathews, a state finalist last season, pinned all three opponents for the championship at 220.

Don Bosco's Cole Fox claimed the 126-pound crown with a 2-1 win over Assumption's Kirk Mommsen.

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