Courier sports staff
The Ottumwa wrestling team took fourth Saturday at the Dick Mellinger Invitational in Burlington with 234 points; the best the Bulldogs have finished since Kevin Cochran took over the reins of the program.
Ottumwa’s score was bolstered by the five Bulldogs — Karsten VanVelsor (145), Marcus Luthi (152), Alec Clark (106), Conner Mier (220) and Kevin Childs (285) — who took second at the invite.
“This is the best finish Ottumwa has had at the Burlington Invitational and it’s contributed to every wrestler competing at a high level and scoring bonus points in our victories,” Cochran said. “For our first tournament of the season, we performed very well. We still need to focus on being more aggressive and opening up our offense. I’m very proud of every individual on this wrestling team regardless of their placing.”
Mediapolis snagged first out of the six schools at the invite with 304 points and Burlington grabbed second with 234 points.
Although Cochran was happy with all his guys, he singled out Van Velsor for praise.
“Karsten VanVelsor wrestled a great tournament by beating No. 4 Drew Buster (Class 2A) from Mediapolis,” the coach said.
VanVelsor’s sole loss was a 2-1 defeat to Austin Boyd, who is ranked fifth in Class 3A. Van Velsor was moved from 138 pounds — the weight class he normally wrestles at — to 145 pounds because of the level of competition.
The Bulldogs suffered a decisive 58-12 defeat at Dowling Catholic on Monday.
VanVelsor, once again wrestling above his normal weight class, pinned ninth-ranked Harrison Farrell in 2:31 at 145 pounds. Cochran said he thinks VanVelsor is out to prove something this season and, the coach added, he thinks VanVelsor is succeeding at this task.
Howard won his match at 170 pounds when his opponent Jared Jaeger suffered an injury and couldn’t continue 35 seconds into the match. Jaeger, however wasn’t the only one to suffer an injury during the dual. Bulldog Chase Wood injured his shoulder, which gave Dowling’s Isaiah Patton a forfeit victory at 160, and Luthi dislocated his elbow in his match, which allowed Eli Gaul to score a pinfall 22 seconds into the match.
Fortunately, Cochran said, there was a doctor on hand who popped Luthi’s elbow back in. Cochran, however, said Luthi will still be getting an X-ray to make sure his elbow is OK.
Injuries have already played a substantial role in Ottumwa’s young season. The team already has had to make due without Shawn Foster, who had to be flown to a hospital Nov. 26 after he was unable to get up after a round during double dual at Davis County against the Mustangs and Cardinal. Thankfully, He’s back home and Cochran said he will slowly ease Foster back into the lineup when he’s healthy enough to return.
Cochran noted that injury problems have made his already young team even more youthful: six freshmen wrestled for Ottumwa in the dual Monday.
“Those kids our going to be a big part of the Ottumwa wrestling program,” Cochran said. “Overall I was proud of our kids because I thought everyone fought hard regardless of the result.”
Ottumwa wrestles again Saturday at the Oskaloosa Tournament.
Dowling Catholic 58, Ottumwa 12
106 — Tanner Rohweder (Dowling) won by technical fall over Alec Clark 2:58. 113 — Jonah Eide (Dowling) won by fall over Collin McConnell :32. 120 — Michael Zachery (Dowling) won by 10-3 decision over Nathan Cary. 126 — Merrick Purcell (Dowling) won by technical fall over Chance Courtney 5:52. 132 — Jonathan Eide (Dowling) won by fall over Wyatt Schlotter 3:58. 138 — Eric Hott (Dowling) won by 7-1 decision over Justus Skinner. 145 — Karsten VanVelsor (O) won by fall over Harrison Farrell 2:31. 152 — Eli Gaul (Dowling) won by fall over Marcus Luthi :22. 160 — Isaiah Patton (Dowling) forfeit. 170 — Tad Howard (O) won by injury default over Jared Jaeger :35. 182 — Reed Flood (Dowling) won by fall over Isaiah Cox 3:59. 195 — Joe Brett (Dowling) won by fall 8-1 decision over Adnan Hernandez. 220 — Cole Wymore (Dowling) won by fall over Conner Mier 4:38. HWT — Andy Blackford (Dowling) won by 5-0 decision over Kevin Childs.