Courier sports staff
MOUNT PLEASANT —
Karsten Van Velsor and Kevin Childs both advanced to the state tournament at the IHSAA Class 3A District 6 tournament Saturday.
Velsor and Childs, two examples of success in the face of adversity, both took second at districts. Van Velsor, the only Ottumwa wrestler who went into districts ranked higher than third — he was ranked second — in his weight division — went 3-1 in the 138-pound class. He pinned his first two opponents in under two minutes before, despite an adversity-defying comeback, he fell to 12-9 in the finals. After he got behind 8-0, Van Velsor mounted a big rally to make the match respectable. The senior wrestler bounced back and won his next match 10-3 to take second, thereby punching his ticket to the state tournament.
“He’s wrestling really well,” coach Kevin Cochran said. “I feel if he wrestles to his full capabilities he’s as tough as anyone in the state at that weight class.”
Van Velsor’s state berth is made all the more sweeter because of the obstacle-riddled road that senior wrestler has taken on his way back to the state tournament. He qualified for state his freshman year, but he spent his sophomore year and much of his junior season hindered or recovering from a right foot injury — he has undergone multiple surgeries on the foot, which he injured while a car he was passenger in tipped over in the summer before his sophomore year — Van Velsor has put together a terrific season that has set him up to make a run at the state title.
Childs pinned his first opponent and slipped by his second in a 2-1 decision at 285. After being pinned in the finals, he rebounded to defeat his next opponent by fall in 5:34 to take second place.
“He’s a true success story to the sport of wrestling,” Cochran said. “His story is a coach’s dream come true.”
Indeed, Childs has made an astounding turnaround since his junior season. The senior wrestler went from only winning two matches his junior season to winning 30-plus matches this season counting his regional victories.
For Oskaloosa, Nate Caves finished first at 120. He stuck his first opponent in 49 seconds, won a 10-0 major decision and picked a up a win by a 2-0 decision in the finals. Indian Cody Jones also took first place at 160. He pinned his first opponent in 0.32 and eked by his next opponent 5-4. His victory in the finals came by injury-default. Andrew Landgrebe also took first for Oskaloosa at 170 and Dane Jones snared second at 195.
For Ottumwa, Conner Mier was one match away from a state berth in the 195 pound class. Mier pinned his first opponent before being pinned in his second match. He bounced back to win his next match by pin before his final match by fall.
“The two kids that advanced in his weight class are two very, very good kids and I expect both of them to be on the stand [at state],” Cochran said. “They are truly high-ranked wrestlers and they were just the better wrestlers Saturday.”
As for Cochran, he said he was glad to have two wrestlers going to state, but he wishes more of his wrestlers had been able to extend their seasons.
“Everyone performed as well as they can perform, and they just fell short of the state tournament.”
The Class 3A State Wrestling Tournament will run from Thursday through Saturday at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.