Courier Staff Writer
It’s not a matter of being at the state tournament or even just making it to the podium anymore.
Megan Black has been there and done that. Now, the Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont senior wants to stand above everyone else on that podium on championship Saturday night at the state wrestling tournament.
The first female state wrestling placewinner might not be alone. The Rockets have high hopes of sending several wrestlers to compete for three, or four, full days of action at Wells Fargo Arena.
The holidays have been a time for cheer so far this high school wrestling season for EBF, who enters the break second in ‘The Predicament’s’ team rankings and third in the first Iowa state dual poll. It’s hard to argue with the results as EBF is unbeaten in seven duals and have taken home two tournament titles thus far.
Just one year after sending the seven wrestlers to state, the most of any area team, EBF is poised to make their presence strongly felt at state again. Five of those state qualifiers are back this year and six Rockets are rated in the top ten of their weight classes.
The highly-rated Rockets are led by top-ranked 132-pound senior Black Marolf, who is unbeaten in 12 matches after a 48-3 junior season that ended with a third-place finish at 113 pounds. EBF also features the only brother-sister rated duo in state with Megan (3-0) rated third at 106 pounds while junior Tucker Black (13-1) is the ninth-ranked 145-pounder in Class 1A.
Two more returning state qualifiers for the Rockets and head coach Brett Little are sophomore Jeren Glosser and senior Jason Crosby, who are both rated fifth in their respective weight classes (120 and 138). EBF’s top contender to make his first trip to state is junior Dillon Pigsley, who is ranked fourth at 182 pounds.
The Rockets should be tested throughout the season by a very competitive South Central Conference. Just 15 miles down the road from EBF, Dave Wenger has seen his Albia wrestlers already have a milestone season with a pair of grapplers entering the 100-win club.
Juniors Shadow and Brett are two of the three Blue Demon grapplers to share success and last names as freshman Bryce rounds of the top-10 trio of Leshens that has lifted Albia to No. 9 in the Class 2A predicament rankings.
Shadow was the closest Albia wrestler to bring home a state title last year, making it all the way to the 2A state 113-pound final before losing a 6-0 decision to Union LaPorte City’s Max Thomsen. This year, the third-ranked 120-pounder has won his first 14 matches with nine pins, tied with fourth-ranked 152-pound junior teammate Griffin Osing for the team lead.
Also rated third in Brett Leshen, who has scored a team-best 117.5 points in action this year while winning 12 matches at 160 pounds in his bid for a return to state. Bryce Leshen, who is 10th-ranked at 132, has won a dozen matches so far in his first year of varsity action with four pins and four major decisions to his credit.
One of Albia’s rare dual setbacks this year came within SCC action as Chariton edged the Blue Demons by a point, 35-34, during action at Moravia. The Chargers lone returning state qualifier, 126-pound sophomore Devin Harberts, has won six matches this season including a pivotal 15-0 tech fall over the Blue Demons’ Bobby Belzer in his second match of the year.
Centerville is building up depth this season, but do have a pair of returning state qualifying seniors leading the charge. Garrett Owens has already topped his entire win total from last year with a 14-4 record at 120 while third-ranked Riley Denny has already scored 17 pins in 23 matches at 220 pounds for the Big Reds after placing eighth at state at 195.
Davis County entered the season without a returning state qualifier after seniors Dillon Newton and Colton Boas made it to Des Moines last year. The Boas name may make a return to the mats of Wells Fargo Arena this February, however, as ninth-ranked 170-pound senior Logan Boas is hoping to make a run of his own to state.
Outside of the SCC, the Fairfield Trojans have a chance to have the most representation of any other area school. Led by fourth-ranked 170-pounder Seth Davisson and seventh-ranked 220-pound grappler Jacob Mineart, Fairfield features four seniors with Ammon Shaner and Alec Stoner all returning after wrestling at state last year.
Oskaloosa also hopes to send their fair share of grapplers to Des Moines, something the Indians have made common place in February throughout the years. The Indians have three rated wrestlers, including eighth-ranked senior Dane Jones who joins seventh-ranked 113-pound sophomore Skyler DeJong and eighth-ranked 170-pound junior Andrew Landgrebe and is looking to improve on his fourth-place 3A finish at 195 last year.
Tri-County/Montezuma is led for the third straight year by Tyler Foubert, who will be looking for his third-straight trip to state this year in Class 1A. The second-ranked 160-pound grappler joined EBF’s Marolf as a third-place finisher last year at state wrestling at 145 pounds.
Two Southeast Iowa Superconference schools have a pair of surprisingly unrated wrestlers looking to return to state in 2013. Ryan Cale is Cardinal’s lone state qualifier from last year and is off to a successful 13-3 start in his junior year at 113 pounds while Pekin senior Thomas Slaney is looking to improve on a 31-win season that got the Panthers’ 182-pounder all the way to Des Moines as a junior.
Two area schools that lost their lone state qualifiers to graduation are Sigourney-Keota and Van Buren, who are looking to send brand new competitors to Des Moines this year. The Savage Cobras are led by 145-pound senior Nathan Yoder, who is 9-0 on the season thus far, while 132-pounder Jacob Heisel has won eight matches so far for the Warriors of Keosauqua.
Moravia, meanwhile, has been successful on the mats while having to deal with a limited roster. Despite a losing dual record, the Mohawks six grapplers are a combined 72-25 with senior heavyweight Dylan Conley (17-2) and 106-pound freshman Briar Cochran (16-3) both putting up stealer seasons thus far.