MAQUOKETA - As, by far, the smallest school competing at a loaded Zimmerman Invitational in Maquoketa Saturday, Jan. 2, Midland wrestling coach Casey Huston was completely confident his group of Eagles could more than hold their own against the bigger programs.
But even Huston was impressed by what his team was able to accomplish as Midland crowned one champion and had four wrestlers advance to the finals at their respective weight classes.
“With 11 scoring wrestlers competing for us, a second-place finish out of 11 teams against mainly big schools made for a very successful day,” said Huston, as his team scored 122 points and trailed only tournament champion Cedar Rapids Xavier, who tallied 160.5 points.
“We only came away with one champ on the day with Damon Huston winning at 126, but several of our boys had very successful days.”
Huston, ranked second in the state at 126-pounds, was totally dominant opening with a 33-second pin win over Muscatine’s Garrett Head before following that up with a 46-second fall over Marion’s Wes Logan in the semi-final round. In the championship match it was more of the same from Huston who cruised to a 1:57 pin victory over Davenport West’s Tucker Avis.
Shayden Hansen (120), Caden Ballou (160) and Cayden Miller (182) also advanced all the way to the finals for the Eagles.
Hansen posted wins in his first four bouts before being handed a 40-second pin loss at the hands of Davenport West’s class 3A ninth-ranked Travis Hodges in the finals.
Hansen opened with a 3:11 pin win over teammate Logan Bicknese before edging Cedar Rapids Xavier’s Lucas Osterhaus (5-3) in the second round. Hansen followed that up with pins over Marion’s Xander Roney (3:57) and Iowa City Liberty’s Chase Eisenbach (1:59).
Ballou also claimed his first four bouts of the tournament before being handed a 12-3 loss against Cedar Rapids Xavier’s Caelen Shannon in the 160 finals.
Ballou was dominant on his run to the championship bout however pinning Davenport Central’s Gabe Moen (1:13) to get things started before posting a 53-second fall over Riceville’s Watson Fair. After cruising to a 10-0 decision over Muscatine’s Jett Fridley in round-three, Ballou pinned Marion’s Thomas McAllister in 4:28 to advance to the finals.
Miller, ranked seventh in the state at 182 in class 1A, pinned Iowa City Liberty’s Darius Willis in a mere 55-seconds before adding a 37-pin rout over Marion’s Cael Scott in the semi-finals and advanced to the championship bout where he was handed a 1:09 pin loss against Cedar Rapids Xavier’s Ryan Volk.
Jared Crock (145) and Carson Hunter (152) posted third-place finishes at their respective weights.
Crock, after dropping his opening match of the tournament, rallied for back-to-back wins against Maquoketa’s Sam Thines (59-second pin) and Marion’s Dayln Mull (1:25) before claiming an injury default triumph over Maquoketa’s Payton Schueller in the final round.
Hunter got his tournament started with a big 2:52 pin win over Davenport Central’s Zavaan Mueller before Anamosa’s Alex Casey claimed a pin win in the 152-pound semi-final round. Hunter closed his day with 53-second fall over Cedar Rapids Xavier’s Grant Helmle.
Jordan Buford (132) and Keegan Rushford (220) turned in fifth-place performances with Buford coming through with pin wins against Davenport West’s Briar Guenther (1:21) and Davenport Central’s Declan Swanson (1:31). Rushford added a 5-3 decision over Iowa City Liberty’s Caden Yoerger in his final bout of the tournament.
Logan Bicknese (120) and Cael Eganhouse (195) both scored sixth-place efforts for the Eagles as Eganhouse came through with wins against Davenport Central’s Taran Pant (5-4) and Vinton-Shellsburg’s Taylor Anderson (7-6).
Coy Petersen (106) and Lucas Ervin (138) also competed at the tournament for the Midland team, who defeated Marion (106 points), Davenport West (105), Muscatine (97), Anamosa (91), Vinton-Shellsburg (85.5), Maquoketa (78), Riceville (71.5), Iowa City Liberty (45) and Davenport Central (31) in the team standings.
“From a coach’s perspective, the best wins of the day were the two wins from Jordan Buford and Cael Eganhouse,” Huston said. “They both have very little experience and battled really well in all four of those matches. Early in the season they may not have won those. Coy, Logan, Lucas and Keegan had their success not measured by victories, but by how they competed. They won some small battles in a lot of their matches when they were outmatched by experience.”