The Ottumwa Courier

Sports

February 14, 2011

Ottumwa’s Black becomes one of two female wrestlers to qualify for Iowa State Tourney

MOUNT PLEASANT — Megan Black had a dream to make history by becoming the first-ever female competitor to qualify for the Iowa High School State Wrestling Meet.

After one long day that ended with one long match, Black made her dream a reality. The Ottumwa sophomore will be one of two of the first females to qualify for the state meet on Saturday, winning the 112-pound wrestleback final 12-9 over Fort Madison sophomore Christian Dunn at Mount Pleasant High School.

“It feels great,” Black said. “This is what I’ve been working for since the day I started to wrestling. It’s great that it has finally come true.”

Black is joined by fellow 112-pound female state qualifier Cassy Herkelman. The Cedar Falls freshman qualified just 15 minutes before Black at the 3A district meet in Waverly-Shell Rock.

With both Black and Herkelman in the same weight class, the first two girls to ever wrestle at the state tournament could make more history this week at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. A potential match-up between the two would be the first ever all-female match in state wrestling history.

Right now, Black is just happy to be making the trip.

“It’s always been my goal to make it to state. For it to finally come true is great,” Black said. “It feels awesome.”

“It was a pretty memorable moment,” Ottumwa head wrestling coach Kevin Cochran added. “For Megan, knowing how much she’s done and how hard she always works, I can’t think of anyone that deserves this more.”

After missing out on a state berth by one win last year, the fourth-seeded Black opened Saturday’s action by pinning Mount Pleasant’s Alex Lanphier in 3:17. However, Black would find herself fighting uphill after being pinned in the semifinals by top-seed Ernest Willis of Iowa City West at 5:28.

Black found herself matched up with Keokuk’s Tyler Hatfield, who had pinned Black earlier in the year. However, an injury forced Hatfield to forfeit the match, leaving Black hoping Willis would win the 112-pound final against Dunn.

It didn’t look good early as Dunn stormed out to a 4-1, first-period lead. Willis, however, rallied in a wild final for a 9-7 decision that put Black back within a win of state.

“There were a lot of things going through my mind as all that was going on,” Black said.

“It was one of those days were things went right to put Megan in that position,” Cochran added. “Once there, she still had to take advantage of the opportunity.”

Black seized the opportunity early, nearly scoring a pin on Dunn. The nearfall helped Black take a 10-5 lead win into the final minute of the match.

“She definitely had him in the position to get the pin,” Cochran said. “(Dunn) was in a very defensive mode for much of the early part of the match. It was big to put her in the position.“

Dunn rallied in the final minute, scoring a couple of takedowns to cut the deficit down to three. In the final seconds, Dunn looked to try for at least a nearfall to extend the match, but Black held off the attempt as the clock expired as Cochrane, Megan’s father Matt and several fans erupted in celebration of history.

“It was probably the longest six minute match of my life,” Cochran said. “There were a couple times late in that match I thought he had to position to get a nearfall. It was really electric. The crowd was really into it.”

Black, who has been training to wrestle since she five years old, described the moment that the dream of achieving a state berth became reality.

“All throughout the match, I was just thinking and praying to win,” Black said. “I had to win. I thank God for helping me achieve this dream.”

Black was not the only Bulldog wrestler to make it to state on Saturday. Tenth-ranked 130-pound senior Angelo Kelly wrestled his way to Des Moines, earning the runner-up berth behind Iowa City West junior Dakota Bauer.

“Since I’ve been in Ottumwa, he’s probably been the hardest-working kid I’ve seen come through,” Cochran said of Kelly, who take a stellar 34-8 record to ‘The Well.’ “Considering he didn’t start wrestling until he was a freshman, didn’t win one match that first year, he’s a great example of how it’s never too late to succeed in this sport. I’m truly happy to see him make it.”

Shawn Foster nearly gave Ottumwa three state qualifiers, falling in a wrestleback to Keokuk’s Chase Helenthal to decide a state berth. The Bulldogs finished seventh in the eight-team field with 94 points on the day.

Oskaloosa finished just ahead of Ottumwa in sixth with 113 points and will be represented by three wrestlers at state.

Senior Ryan Smithart kept his prep career alive, finishing runner-up at 145 pounds. Two underclassmen, sophomore 189-pounder Dane Jones and freshman 140-pounder Andrew Landgrebe, also qualified for the Indians.

Iowa City West finished as the top team at the meet, scoring 282 points on the day. The Regals crowned nine district champs among their 11 state qualifiers. Included in that group is former Pekin wrestler Phillip Laux who is Class 3A’s top-ranked 103-pound grappler and is now 39-2 on his junior season

 Class 3A District Meet

At Mount Pleasant

TEAM SCORES – 1. Iowa City West 282, 2. Burlington 148.5, 3. Fort Madison 147, 4. Mount Pleasant 140, 5. Keokuk 135, 6. Oskaloosa 113, 7. Ottumwa 94, 8. Pella 27.

State Qualifiers (Top Two)

103 — 1. Phillip Laux (Iowa City West), 2. Bryce Miller (Fort Madison). 112 — 1. Ernest Willis (ICW), 2. Megan Black (Ottumwa). 119 — 1. Kegan Wakefield (ICW), 2. Chase Helenthal (Keokuk). 125 — 1. Dakota Gray (FM), 2. Jake Hathaway (ICW). 130 — 1. Dakota Bauer (ICW), 2. Angelo Kelly (OTT). 135 — 1. Clayton Hocker (FM), 2. Sam Chalkley (ICW). 140 — 1. Elijah Sullivan (ICW), 2. Andrew Landgrebe (Oskaloosa). 145 — 1. Garrett Hathaway (ICW), 2. Ryan Smithart (Osky). 152 — 1. Britt Thompson (ICW), 2. Derek Rose (K). 160 — 1. Justin Koethe (ICW), 2. Ryan Maxwell (K). 171 — 1. Matt Seabold (Burlington), 2. Justin Dilks (Mount Pleasant). 189 — 1. Justin Boyd (B), 2. Dane Jones (Osky). 215 — 1. Mickey Pelfrey (ICW), Clinton Richers (FM). HWT — 1. Skylar Bruggemeyer (MP), 2. Alex Gross (K).

Other Ottumwa Placings

119 — 3. Shawn Foster. 125 — 5. Tucker Black. 135 — 4. Carston VanVelsor. 140 — 5. Sky Holmgren. 145 — 6. Tad Howard. 171 — 5. Ronald Forney. HWT — 6. Kevin Gonzalez.

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