WYOMING - Everything was already set for it to be a special afternoon in Wyoming Saturday, Jan. 25.
Then the Midland wrestling team went out and made it extra special with a phenomenal performance at their own John Byers tournament.
Not only did the Eagles advance five wrestlers to the finals, claiming four overall champions on the day, but the high school also announced its inaugural Hall of Fame class, with Betty Anderson and Byers (who passed away in 2016) being the first to enter.
A special ceremony was held right before the start of the tournament championship round, and it was one Midland fans will remember for quite some time as Shayden Hansen, Damon Huston, Jared Crock and Cayden Miller all claimed crowns for the hosts.
“The boys showed up to compete,” said Eagle wrestling coach Casey Huston, as his team also scored 140.5 points at the tournament to place third against a talented 10-team field.
“Finishing third out of 10 teams was great, and the freshmen really showed up big for us. We had five kids in the finals coming away with four champs. Freshmen Shayden and Jared battled through injuries all day with both winning titles. Shayden is really learning how to battle through tough situations and went 4-0 on the day. The highlight though was Jared pinning returning state qualifier Chris Ewart, from Wapello, to win the 138-pound title.”
Hansen was dominant opening with a 7-1 decision over Southeast Polk’s Jackson Dietzenbach before pinning Dubuque Senior’s Tyler Smith (1:11) and Durant’s Noah Gage (4:44) to advance to the 113-pound title match.
On the big stage, Hansen would have no troubles there either crushing Wapello’s Garrett Dickey after taking a 17-1 technical fall rout.
Huston was his normal dominant self, cruising to the 120-pound crown after wins over Bellevue’s Dustyn Talbot (18-1), Southeast Polk’s Drew Wolfe (1:38 pin) and in the finals Wapello’s Chase Witte (17-1).
Crock posted two decision triumphs at 138-pounds against Dubuque Senior’s Luke Busch (6-0) and Bellevue’s TyQuan Strowder (14-2) to open his tournament before coming through with the 3:30 pin win over Ewart that sent the huge home crowd into a frenzy.
Miller cruised his way to the final at 160, pinning Durant’s Brady Meincke (33-seconds) and Wapello’s Caleb Ealey (46-seconds) before coming through with a workmanlike 8-4 decision over Iowa City Regina’s Aidan Udell to claim another championship for the home team.
Caden Ballou also advanced to the finals for the Midland team, but was handed a 4:27 pin setback against Wapello’s third-ranked Daniel Meeker. Ballou opened his tournament with falls over Durant’s Kenny Salemi (3:39) and Southeast Polk’s Dominic Burriola (4:36).
Carson Hunter posted two wins on the day and placed fifth at 152 as did Logan Bicknese at 106 while Kaiden Braswell (126) and Kaleb Westphal (170) also scored the team fifth-place points.
Also competing at the tournament for the Eagles were Lucas Ervin (132) and Cael Eganhouse (heavyweight).
Southeast Polk topped the team in the team standings taking the John Byers title scoring 200.5 points while Wapello was runner-up totaling 161 points.
Midland defeated Maquoketa (112 points), Bellevue (70), Northeast (60.5), Iowa City Regina (57), Clayton Ridge (55.5), Dubuque Senior (48) and Durant (28).
Just 48 hours earlier the Eagles hosted a four-team meet as Central Elkader, Alburnett and North Linn all came to town, with Midland tallying a 2-1 dual record Thursday, Jan. 23.
The Eagles opened with a lopsided 54-6 rout against a Central Elkader team that boasted a mere three wrestlers, with the hosts winning two as Hunter (2:42) and Eganhouse (12-seconds) rolled to pin routs.
The highlight match came next against Alburnett, as Midland held on for a thrilling 39-36 victory.
Trailing 12-9 early in the match, the Eagles rolled off five straight pin wins (Crock, Ballou, Hunter, Miller and Westphal) to take control and held off a late charge by the Pirates.
Hansen and Huston added wins in the match as well for the hosts.
The night ended with a tough 42-33 loss against North Linn as 18 of the Eagles’ 33 points came via the forfeit, though Ballou, Hunter and Miller were able to score wins on the mat for the hosts.
Midland’s extremely busy week opened Monday, Jan. 20, with a sixth-place finish at the Cascade Invitational.
Huston, ranked third in class 1A, scored the lone championship on the night for the Eagle team pinning his way to the 120-pound finals before defeating Union’s class 2A third-ranked Kolten Crawford with a 5-2 decision.
“This tournament was definitely a step-up in competition, but I felt our young team responded well,” Huston said. “There were a lot of state-ranked kids in the field. We talk about winning small battled, and the big battles will follow and that is what the kids did.”
Miller added a third-place showing at the loaded tournament going 3-1 overall that included a 34-second pin win over Dubuque Wahlert’s Gabe Anstoetter in the third-place match.
Hansen placed fourth at 113 opening with a 1:19 pin win while Bicknese (106) and Ballou (145) also made it onto the medal stand for the Eagles each turning in fifth-place performances.
Braswell, Ervin, Crock, Hunter, Westphal, Trevor Fitzpatrick and Eganhouse also competed at the event for the Midland team.
The Eagles finished with 75 team points and topped Dubuque Senior (71), Iowa City Regina (62), Dubuque Wahlert (62), Bellevue (36), Maquoketa Valley (36), Northeast (32) and Central City (13). Western Dubuque claimed the Cascade tournament team title scoring 227 points while Union-LaPorte City was runner-up totaling 190 points.