Making his third straight trip to Wells Fargo Arena competing at the state level Thursday, Feb. 14, Midland’s Ryan Leonard, ranked fifth in the state this season, finished his career as a two-time state place-winner turning in an eighth-place showing in Des Moines.
“I’m not completely satisfied with where I placed this year,” said Leonard, who was seventh at state a year ago. “But being a senior and making it back to the podium, I can be happy with that considering there are a lot of talented wrestlers here who didn’t make it that far.”
Leonard hit the mat first against Cardinal Community’s Dustin Miller, and the Eagle senior had no trouble rolling to an impressive 16-0 technical fall rout.
“I started slow just feeling him out, then once I started attacking I knew this was a match where I could score quite a few points,” Leonard said. “I didn’t know anything about Miller coming in, so I sort of gauged what I could do, and then went and made the moves.”
Leonard tallied three 3-point nearfalls as well as an escape, a two-point nearfall and two takedowns, the second coming 17 seconds into the third period that ended the bout.
The win advanced Leonard to the quarterfinal round Friday, Feb. 15, where the Eagle senior succumbed to a 7-3 setback against Clarksville’s eventual state champion Dalton Ciavarelli.
“I’ve never wrestled anyone quite like him,” Leonard said. “I wish I could have seen Ciavarelli earlier in the season and gotten to know some of his techniques. That would have made a huge difference for me.”
Ciavarelli tallied three takedowns in the match while Leonard scored three escapes.
The loss dropped Leonard to a second-round consolation match with Corning Zach Barton, and win the win or go home bout, the Midland star hammered out a huge 1:27 pin triumph.
“I wasn’t ready for my career to be over quite yet,” Leonard said. “I just went right after him. No feeling this one out.”
Leonard scored a quick takedown then got an arm-bar in and rolled Barton to his back for the fall.
The third match Friday for the Midland senior saw a 5-3 setback against Dike-New Hartford’s No. 3 ranked Terry Mooty in a third-round consolation bout.
“I came out early and tried to get a head-lock and it didn’t work,” Leonard said. “Once he got the lead that made things tough on me too. Mooty is a very good defensive wrestler.”
The loss dropped Leonard to the 7th-8th place match where he was edged in a narrow 4-3 final against Akron-Westfield’s Taylor James.
“Walking off the mat for the final time was weird,” Leonard said. “When you do something for 13 years and all of a sudden it’s over, I’ll miss wrestling.”