OTTUMWA — One state wrestling tournament made news on Thursday.
Another is set to make history over the next two days.
The Ottumwa wrestling team is assured of being part of one state tournament with four Bulldog grapplers set to participate in the IWOCA Girls State Wrestling Tournament beginning Friday at Xtream Arena in Coralville. The quest to participate in the traditional Iowa High School State Wrestling Tournament continued on Thursday as the Bulldogs moved within one win of tying a school record for single-season dual victories with a Senior Night quadrangular sweep of Centerville, Wayne and CIML Metro conference rival Des Moines North-Hoover.
Ottumwa improved to 17-5 overall in duals, moving to 2-0 in conference with a 58-16 win over North-Hoover. The Bulldogs then beat Centerville, 58-21, highlighted by a second win this week for Trevor Summers over Lucas Henderson before rolling to a 60-24 win over Wayne to close out the night.
"We've got kids that are feeling pretty good right now, but we've got to keep pushing," Ottumwa head wrestling coach Jeremy Frueh said. "These next few weeks before districts are crucial. We've got to keep pushing, take care of our bodies and take care of our minds to put ourselves to do well in the postseason."
The Bulldogs and Big Reds (4-7) took the mat on Thursday at Evans Middle School Gymnasium just hours after the official announcement from the Iowa High School Athletic Association that the format for the 2021 state wrestling tournament will remain unchanged. All three classes will wrestle over three days Feb. 18-20 at Wells Fargo Arena as state officials opted to move forward with the original schedule rather than make changes that could have included each class wrestling in a single day or the total numbers of matches being cut down in response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
"I could have sworn when that news started getting released on social media that they were going to make some changes," Frueh said. "I think that's awesome to keep it as normal as possible. Normalcy is great for everyone in a time like this."
Frueh received the news prior to Thursday's quadrangular from Centerville head wrestling coach Jared Bevins. Two wrestlers Bevins hopes will end the season with state championship wins, Nathaniel Genobana and Matthew Lewis, each scored a fall throughout the night with three combined wins and three combined forfeits leading the Big Reds to a 2-1 night with a 40-12 win over Wayne and a 48-30 win over North-Hoover. The Huskies earned a 42-18 win over Wayne, exiting Evans Gymnasium with an overall dual record of 2-6 including an 0-4 CIML Metro conference mark.
"It will still feel like the state tournament when we're up there," Bevins said. "It's not going to be held in some high school gym. It's not going to be a one-day thing for every school. There may not be as many butts in the seats (the state announced a maximum capacity of 4,000 fans per session), but it's still going to be the Iowa High School State Wrestling Tournament. There's going to be regular wrestling sessions all three days. We're looking forward to it."
Summers hopes to experience the state tournament for the first time this year. Ottumwa's 30-win junior went the distance on Thursday in his third meeting of the season with Henderson, following up a championship pin at Saturday's Mike Halupnick Big Red Invitational with a 9-0 major decision, taking the third match in the 170-pound trilogy between the area grapplers.
"Being able to control the match all the way through for all three periods was big," Summers said. "Not allowing a point was a lot better than getting that quick fall on Saturday."
Zachariah Shoemaker (152), Jay Guerra (220) and John Hardin (285) all scored a pair of pins for the Bulldogs during the quadrangular sweep. Andy Palma, one of three OHS senior wrestlers honored prior to the first round of duals, finished the night pinning Dominic Haug of Wayne (1-18) in just 78 seconds of a 160-pound match.
Jasmine Luedtke, meanwhile, conserved her energy pinning Centerville freshman Adrian Cantu in just 27 seconds at 106 pounds in the Ottumwa freshman's lone match of the night. Luedtke will sophomore teammates join Hannah Ngyuyen (113), Emma Strayer (120) and Elizabeth Batterson (170) in representing Ottumwa at the biggest Iowa girls state wrestling tournament to be held thus far.
"I'm really excited about it," said Luedtke, who has won over 20 matches in her freshman season wrestling for the Ottumwa varsity squad. "I feel like I have a pretty good shot of winning it. I'm ready to go out there and dominate."