DES MOINES - Midland senior superstar Damon Huston is no stranger to the prestigious podium at the state wrestling tournament.
It’s a place every wrestler in the state of Iowa dreams of being.
Huston has been there two times before placing third as a sophomore at 106-pounds and after reaching the state championship match last year, was second at 120 as a junior.
The goal heading into the 2020-21 campaign was simple, and obvious.
Win a state championship.
“That was my focus all season long,” said Huston, who once again wrestled all three days at the class 1A event at Wells Fargo Arena, closing one of the greatest careers in Eagle wrestling history standing on the podium once again this time after a seventh-place performance Saturday, Feb. 20, in Des Moines, at 126-pounds.
“Of my three years making it to the state tournament, there’s no doubt this was the toughest bracket I have ever faced. I felt there were any of five guys who could legitimately win the state championship this year, and that made things very tough for everyone. If you weren’t wrestling your best, it could all come to an end really quick. Obviously, I was hoping to win it all after making the finals and coming so close last year, but it is what it is.
“I had fun at the state tournament this year, more fun than I’ve had at any tournament all season long. So even though I didn’t reach my goal, and I’m disappointed I wasn’t able to get that done, I was able to have some fun along the way and I’ve still got a lot of wrestling ahead of me to look forward to.”
Huston, ranked sixth in the state, closed his career with a 4:19 pin win over Don Bosco’s Kaiden Knaack in the seventh-place bout Saturday morning in a match, like most in his incredible career, he thoroughly dominated.
“This was my last match and I kind of wanted to savor it a bit,” said Huston, who was going for a school-record for pins in a season, and wanted nothing more than to enjoy the moment, then end it with a fall.
“I was able to do exactly that. Caden Ballou and I were tied for the school-record with 31 pins (the old school-record was 30), and I needed one more to set the record. It was nice to be able to do that and walk off the mat with my dad for the final time.”
Huston’s father Casey, Midland’s head coach, has been with Damon through the entire journey, dating back before high school and into the youth levels.
“I saw my dad once the match was over and that was emotional,” Huston said. “Giving him a hug as we walked off, that was big. He’s done so much for me and made me the wrestler I am today. None of this would have been possible without him.”
Huston record a quick takedown and three-point nearfall in the opening period before doing the same in the second period. After yet another takedown in the third, Huston decided it was time to end the match with the fall.
“Can’t ask for a better way to end my career,” Huston said. “A pin in my final high school match with my dad right there. It doesn’t get much better than that.”
Huston opened his 1A state tournament journey Thursday, Feb. 18, with a 2:25 pin win over Colfax-Mingo’s John McGill.
“I was just trying to come out and fly around and have some fun,” Huston said. “I was trying to get my heartrate up and be ready for my quarter-final match the next day, because I knew it was going to be a tough one.”
Huston was exactly right, as Friday, Feb. 19, in the quarter-final round, the Eagle star was handed a tough 3-0 setback against West Sioux’s fourth-ranked Cameron Clark, ending his state championship dreams.
“This was another one of those kids who was capable of winning it all,” Huston said. “I just wasn’t able to wrestle my match, and it hurt knowing what I had worked so long for wasn’t going to happen.”
Clark scored a first period takedown then added a second period escape for all the scoring in the match.
The loss dropped Huston to the second-round consolation later Friday morning where he quickly rebounded with an impressive 17-2 technical fall over Alburnett’s Brody Neighbor.
“I’ve wrestled this kid before so I knew what I could do, and then just went out there and did it,” Huston said. “This was another fun match just scoring a lot of points and working on some things.”
Huston came back Friday night and in a third-round consolation bout against Central Springs’ second-ranked Clayton McDonough, was handed a bitter 5:38 pin loss.
“This was a slow match with not a lot of action,” Huston said. “He was tall and I thought I could get to his legs, but just couldn’t get anything going or even get my shots in.”
Trailing 1-0 in the third period, McDonough was able to score a takedown then finished off the bout with the fall.
Lisbon’s Cade Siebrecht, who Huston had defeated earlier this season, claimed the class 1A 126-pound state championship while McDonough was third and Clark fourth.
Huston closes his Midland wrestling career with a school all-time best 179-18 overall record and over 100 career pins, including a 40-4 record this winter.