Courier sports writer
The Ottumwa wrestling team sent its seniors out in style Thursday, as the Bulldogs trounced CIML Metro Conference opponent Des Moines Lincoln 54-22 in their last dual of the season at Evans Middle School.
“Overall I was really pleased with everybody, top to bottom,” coach Kevin Cochran said. “And pins were a big factor.”
Indeed they were. A blitz of pins that started with Tad Howard and, appropriately, ended with senior Karsten Van Velsor lifted the Bulldogs to an easy win.
Ottumwa’s final tally, however, also was bolstered by the Bulldogs’ ability to avoid getting pinned themselves. Of the five losses Ottumwa suffered, only one of them was by fall.
The wrestlers, cheerleaders and team managers were honored before the game — the wrestlers sporting matching mohawks — and then the Bulldogs quickly got to work.
A fired-up Isaiah Cox sparked Ottumwa early in the dual, as the Bulldog freshman stuck Ryan Baber in 36 seconds at 170.
“We wanted to do something big tonight,” Cox said, “It was fun.”
Before Cox’s explosive victory, Howard won by fall over Dakota Sanchez at 160, giving Ottumwa it’s first lead of the night at 6-5.
Later on, with Ottumwa clinging to a 12-9 lead, Conner Mier scored a big victory by fall over Chuong Nguyen, as he pinned his opponent with less than a second left in the second round at 195.
But it was Nathan Cary who arguably picked up the biggest win of the night. Less than a week removed from a tough loss to Railsplitter Ty McGhee in a match that was not without controversy, Cary exacted a measure of revenge by pinning McGhee in 2:55 at 113. It was a sweet win for Cary, especially when the way the pin came about is taken into consideration.
Cary and McGhee had really been battling it out on the mat, but the Railsplitter wrester had stayed one step ahead of Cary. The Bulldog wrestler trailed 5-2 going into the second round. Things looked bleak for Cary in the second, as McGhee rolled him up in a cradle. Then, out of nowhere, Cary rolled out of the cradle and onto McGhee for a shocking pin.
“It felt great after I got the pin,” Cary said.
“He did a nice job of just not quitting wrestling,” Cochran said. “In the sport of wrestling, if you try to relax or if you make a mistake, you are going to pay for it with a good wrestler.”
Jeff Cox kept the momentum rolling for Ottumwa, as he won by fall at 120. Later on, Wyatt Schlotter continued to build on the Bulldogs lead by pinning his opponent at 132.
Van Velsor capped off the dual by pinning Lincoln’s Luke Williamson in 3:34 at 145. The senior wrestler was the aggressor from the very beginning, as he seemed determined to win his last home match by pin. He led 17-5 before he finally pinned his opponents shoulders to the mat.
“It was nice to see him rebound (Van Velsor suffered a tough loss Tuesday) and wrestle as aggressive as he did,” Cochran said. “It’s senior night, he’s a senior, he’s been a leader on this team ... I kind of told him ‘man this is it. This is your final match at home in front of the fans in a dual meet.’
“He’s probably the mentally toughest kid on this team.”
For the seniors - Van Velsor, Skylar Genners, Kevin Childs — it was good way to finish their home careers.
Ottumwa wrestles at the Big Red Invitational in Centerville Saturday.
Ottumwa 54, Des Moines Lincoln 22
106 — Tyler Powell (Lincoln) won by fall 2:44 over Collin McConnell, 113 — Nathan Cary (O) won by fall 2:55 over Ty McGhee, 120 — Jeff Cox (O) won by fall 2:51 over Lucas Holliday, 126 — Cole Baber (Lincoln) won by major decision 16-4 over Tyler Reinhard, 132 — Wyatt Schlotter won by fall 2:30 over Marlom Villatoro, 138 — Juan Aldaba (O) won by forfeit, 145 — Karsten Van Velsor (O) won by fall 3:34 over Luke Williamson. 152 — Nate Luna (Lincoln) wins by technical fall 18-2 2:59 over Chase Wood, 160 — Tad Howard (O) won by fall 5:19 over Dakota Sanchez, 170 — Isaiah Cox (O) won by fall 0:36 over Ryan Baber, 182 — Justin Weeks (Lincoln) wins by major decision 18-4 over Skylar Genners, 195 — Conner Mier (Ott) won by fall 4:00 over Chuong Nguyen, 220 — Briles Christenson won by fall 7-4 in sudden death over Lucas Lunsford. HWT — John Wey (O) wins by forfeit.