State wrestling: Brands survives thrilling semifinal; area top dogs rise and fall
DES MOINES, Ia. — A last-second somersault Friday nearly spoiled the 2017 wrestling state meet for top-ranked 152-pounder Nelson Brands. But the clock was on his side.
The Iowa City West junior led No. 2 Austin Yant of Waverly-Shell Rock, 8-6, as the seconds in the third period trickled below 10 in their Class 3A semifinal. That’s when Yant suddenly dove to the mat in front of Brands, rolled over in a full somersault, barely grabbed Nelson’s right leg and started to force him off balance near the boundary circle.
By the time the clock flashed zero, Yant had Brands on his way down.
On his way down.
Not down, according to the referee making the call. Waverly-Shell Rock fans and their chorus of boos believed otherwise. A second referee mouthed "good call" to his partner that didn’t award Yant the match-tying takedown.
Brands advanced to Saturday’s final, where he’ll face No. 4 Cayd Lara of Fort Dodge.
"I was pissed at how I was wrestling," said Brands, who controlled the match until the third period. "Wasn’t wrestling how I needed to at all. Still got the job done but I am not happy at all. Got to get ready for the finals. He’d roll off all my shots and that was a problem, but I got my takedowns that I needed and kind of fell apart there at the end."
He advanced to the semifinal by pinning No. 10 Shawn Brown of Des Moines Lincoln midway through the second period of their quarterfinal match. Brands weakened Brown with a flurry of takedowns at the end of the first and kept the pressure mounting until he easily pinned him at 3:18.
"When he was bringing his hand to his knee and just coming up really slow," Brands said, “(I decided) I’m not going to torture this kid anymore."
Brands’ teammate, No. 7 160-pounder Carter Rohweder, lost, 7-0, to top-ranked Joel Shapiro of Valley in the semifinals. Rohweder will face No. 5 Zach Wagenhoffer of Waverly-Shell Rock in the consolation bracket semifinal Saturday.
Confident Brinkman advances
Top-ranked 285-pounder Jared Brinkman advanced to the Class 1A finals with a sudden-death takedown win over No. 5 Matt Naig of Sydney-Ocheyedan. They took a 1-1 draw into overtime, but Brinkman had nearly taken down Naig out beyond the boundary circle several times. He had the momentum.
"I knew I could take him down," he said. "I had a couple that were out of bounds and really close so I just had to keep going, keep pushing it and at that end I was just fortunate enough to get it.
"I’m not taking anyone lightly. I’m going to go out there and I’m going to try to punish them."
Brinkman will face No. 2 Kyler Schott of North Linn in the championship match Saturday.
Top-ranked Kelly upset in quarterfinals; Bryce Esmoil to finals
You’ve got to wonder why the state brackets a No. 1 and 2 seed on a quarterfinal collision course.
That’s what happened to West Liberty’s Joe Kelly, Class 2A’s No. 1 man at 152 pounds and the state runner-up last year. He lost, 10-2, to No. 2 Isaac Judge of South Tama and missed out on a chance to avenge last year's finals loss.
"I didn’t go into the match wrestling how I usually wrestle," Kelly said. "I wasn’t as aggressive and it cost me. (It’s) disappointing, not what I wanted. But I’ll do my best to come out strong and muscle back for third."
Kelly pinned unranked Logan Koedam of MOC-Floyd Valley in his first consolation match and he'll wrestle against No. 9 Cael Krueger of Denver in that bracket's semifinal Saturday.
The Comets’ second top-ranked wrestler, 195-pounder Bryce Esmoil, pinned No. 5 Zac Stork of Atlantic at 2:20 after trailing, 5-0. It was an immediate, storming comeback — one of the more impressive takedown wins of the day.
"I knew I was going to beat him," Esmoil said. "I had it in the back of my mind the whole time; just keep going.
"Whatever had to be done."
He'll face unranked Cody Fisher of Woodward-Granger in the finals.
It's good to be a West brother
Solon's twin brothers — Bryce and Drew West — both advanced to the finals Friday night. And they did it right next to each other on the adjacent mats five and six.
Drew West, 2A's No. 2 126-pounder, pinned No. 3 Riley Wright of Denver. Bryce West, the top-ranked 120-pounder, beat No. 5 Zach Thompson of Perry, 8-3.
Buckland and Esmoil bounce back
No City High Little Hawk advanced past the quarterfinals. But after losing to top-ranked 220-pounder Wyatt Wriedt, 5-1, in a chippy quarterfinal, No. 5 Jordain Buckland racked up two pins in 1:33 of total wrestling time to advance to the consolation bracket semifinal Saturday morning. He'll face No. 7 Sam Gerst of Waterloo West.
Will Esmoil, West Liberty's No. 3 106-pounder in 2A, lost an overtime heartbreaker on day one. But he won two matches in the consolation bracket and will wrestle in that bracket's semifinal Saturday. He'll face No. 5 Carter Weeks of Vinton Shellsburg.
Earlier this season he said his goal was to reach the top three at state. That's still a very realistic goal after a disappointing first day.