State Wrestling: State Duals - Finals

By Rob Gray and Josh Christensen, Reporters

Above is Josh Christensen's state wrestling report on the nightcap of the state duals in Des Moines. Below is Rob Gray's written story of how Alburnett won its first ever state duals title.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Conner Shulista's wide-eyed no more.

The Alburnett freshman 132-pounder stormed through the Class 1A state dual tournament Wednesday, pinning all three foes as the top-ranked Pirates sailed to their first championship with wins over No. 8 West Marshall (52-27), fifth-ranked Clarion-Goldfield (56-24), and No. 3 Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont, 60-21, in the finals.

"It's a good environment to get used to," said Shulista, one of three No. 1-ranked wrestlers in Alburnett's lineup who went full-throttle Wednesday while several teams withheld their key athletes. "All this crowd — it's a game-changer."

So were the performances of Shulista, 106-pounder Zach Fowler and 145-pounder Bryce Paul, among others at Wells Fargo Arena.

All three ended their matches with an opponent flattened on his back.

Fowler started a 60-point onslaught in the final with a pin of Anthony Rea.

The Pirates (32-1) scored seven pins in the last 10 matches — and also won by forfeit three times.

"I knew I had to take care of business, turn things around," said Fowler, who also is ranked No. 1 at his weight.

Alburnett's Colton Martin, ranked fourth at 138, missed a chance to wrestle No. 5 Jason Crosby.

Who he faced didn't matter, though — not when he could help his team reach the halfway point of a planned all-gold week.

"They just put someone out in front of me and that's what I went to go do, to go pin," said Martin, who won by fall over Josh Johnson.

"Then it's right back to work."

Some work.

Pirates coach Kane Thompson said part of enjoying the historic ride included competing with a full lineup in the duals.

"I told our guys for sure, 100 percent," said Thompson, whose team has placed third at individual state each of the past three years.

"You don't know when you're going to get this opportunity again. And if you let it pass by, you might be sitting somewhere with some friends and say, 'Gosh, we had this chance and didn't go for it.' Why let it slip by?"
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