Pirates Take a Step Toward Their Mission
By KJ Pilcher, Reporter
WINTHROP — One team. One family. One mission.
The saying sprawled on the back of Alburnett wrestling sweatshirts provides a blunt message of the Pirates goal to be No. 1 in the state.
Alburnett took its first step in trying to improve two straight third-place finishes in Des Moines, winning the Class 1A sectional tournament Saturday at East Buchanan High School. The Pirates tallied 234 points and topped runner-up Maquoketa Valley by 38.
The Pirates’ message was loud and clear Saturday.
“We don’t want to hide it or be shy about it,” Alburnett Coach Kane Thompson said state title aspirations. “If you’re shy about it and can’t openly come out and say we want to win a state title then I don’t think you ultimately believe it.”
Fifth-ranked Alburnett crowned six champions with seven district qualifiers. The Pirates’ Jacob Koch provided plenty of excitement to the final round. He won a seesaw 13-12 contest against top-seeded Jared Coyle of Maquoketa Valley in the 120-pound championship.
Koch scored a takedown in the first and third, but his takedown and two nearfall points in the second period were the decisive moves. He said he won the match on guts, fending off the late charge by Coyle.
“I wrestled the toughest I’ve had all season,” Koch said. “To win by one point, it was a good match. It was exciting.”
Koch advances to district for the first time, soothing the sting of last year’s bad sectional showing. He had not beaten Coyle until this year and now owns a 2-1 advantage over the Wildcat.
“I just started picking up skill and gaining on him,” Koch said. “I think it was a good time to beat him again was at sectionals.”
Alburnett’s Grant Henderson earned the 145-pound championship, handling Starmont’s Alan Hayes, 9-0. Henderson improved to 34-3, opening with a fall, but knows he can perform better.
“There’s a lot more I could do,” Henderson said. “I need to improve before state. I have to get there, but there’s a lot I need to work on.”
The fourth-ranked junior reached last year’s district but his bid for state was stopped short. He has been on his own mission to make it to state and contribute to the Pirates’ success.
“That day has been in my head since it happened,” said Henderson, pointing out Feb. 12, 2011. “It’s pushing me to work harder in the (practice) room.”
Top-ranked Hunter Washburn (103) remained undefeated for the Pirates, recording two falls without allowing an offensive point. Thompson called the 38-0 freshman a perfectionist, and he almost was Saturday.
“He was pretty close,” Thompson said. “Nobody took him down, nobody rode him and when he wanted to pin somebody he pinned him. That’s pretty darn good.”
Two-time state champion and top-ranked Tyler Shulista (126), Colton Martin (132) and 160-pounder Dylan Winfield added titles for Alburnett. The Pirates were expecting a few more to continue their mission.
“They have had goals of sending more than this to the state tournament and we’re not going to quite get that many to districts,” Thompson said. “It feels good to have a nice group going, but we’d like a few more.”
Maquoketa Valley was impressive, matching Alburnett’s seven district qualifiers. The Wildcats had three champs led by strong upper weights. The four heaviest weights reached the finals and Troy Hunt (182), freshman Ryan Parmely (195) and sophomore heavyweight Tyler Yonkovic claimed titles.
Parmely remained undefeated with a 10-5 championship win over Alburnett’s Sam Bowers. Hunt improved to 35-1 with a 7-2 victory over North-Linn’s Taylor Michael in the finals.
“We have good experience in our upper weights,” Maquoketa Valley Coach Tim Andrews said. “The sky’s the limit for all those guys.”
North-Linn crowned four champions to place third and advanced six to the district tournament. The Lynx received titles from second-ranked Zach Welter (113), top-ranked Logan Mulnix (138) and Brendan Schott (170) and John Pint at 152.
Welter faced third-ranked Sawyer Amling of Edgewood-Colesburg in the finals at 113, which was a rematch of last weekend’s Tri-Rivers Conference final won by Welter in overtime. Welter broke open a scoreless match in the second, reversing Amling to his back for a five-point move en route to a 7-1 decision.
“It feels better winning by a larger margin,” Welter said. “I’ve had a couple close matches with him. It’s nice to widen that gap.”
Mulnix and Schott were dominant. Mulnix posted a 15-6 major decision over Maquoketa Valley’s seventh-ranked Carter Funke, scoring four takedowns in the final period. He also had a :27 fall to reach the championship bout.
Schott barely broke a sweat, wrestling a combined :50 in two matches. He opened with a :30 fall before decking Clayton Ridge’s Kris Ihde in :20 for the title.
East Buchanan’s Tyler Hoffman gave the home crowd something to cheer for, winning the 220-pound title. He defeated Maquoketa Valley’s Adam Steger, 7-1, in the finals. The Bucs advanced four to district next weekend in Sumner.
Alburnett and Maquoketa advanced to regional dual competition Tuesday at Alburnett.
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