WILTON - Knowing the chances were pretty good that he would get both of his state-ranked wrestlers through the class 1A district round in Wilton Saturday, Feb. 15, and on to the state tournament, Midland wrestling coach Casey Huston still took nothing for granted.
He wanted to make sure his two competitors, Damon Huston and Cayden Miller, knew that too.
When it comes to focus, talent and intensity, Huston had nothing to worry about, as his two stars both placed second at the loaded and pressure-filled district event, and will wrestle at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines representing the Eagle program.
Huston (46-3 overall record), ranked third in the state at 120-pounds in class 1A, punched the first state ticket for the Midland team taking second after being handed a 3:54 pin setback against Lisbon’s seventh-ranked Brandon Paez in the 120-pound championship match.
Huston would not need a wrestle-back after opening his tournament with an impressive 1:48 fall over Wapello’s Chase Witte in the semi-final round.
“In the finals against Paez, Damon got in deep on several shots but was just unable to finish,” Huston said. “Paez is a tough match-up stylistically for Damon, so some adjustments need to be made in that match-up.”
Miller (32-6), ranked 10th in the state at 160-pounds, opened with a quick 1:21 pin rout against Louise-Muscatine’s Hayden Cavelage before being handed a 10-5 loss against Iowa City Regina’s Aidan Udell in the championship bout.
The loss forced Miller into a winner-take-all wrestle-back for a state tournament berth, and in a pressure-filled match against Bellevue’s Jacob Waller, posted a thrilling 3:17 pin triumph.
“Cayden stepped up big in his wrestle-back match,” Huston said. “Their match kept the gym on the edge of their seats with both kids having each other on their backs with Cayden coming away with the fall.”
Huston will open his 120-pound class 1A state tournament journey Thursday, Feb. 20, against AHAV sophomore Hayden Fisher (27-24) with a possible quarter-final date looming Friday, Feb. 21, with top-ranked and No. 1 seed Hagen Heistand (34-1) of Logan-Magnolia.
A total of 10 state-ranked wrestlers advanced to the state level in the class 1A 120-pound bracket.
Miller, making his first-ever state tournament appearance, will wrestle Nodaway Valley’s eighth-ranked Austin Wilson (40-1) in the first-round Thursday. A win there would most likely advance Miller to a 160-pound quarter-final match-up with Iowa Valley’s No. 3 ranked Benjamin Smith (46-1) on Friday.
“We need a good week of practice and the boys need to go to Des Moines and battle just like they have most of the year,” Huston said. “At this point of the season, records don’t matter. Show up, trust in your training and good things will come your way.”