Rockets, Big Reds ring in new year on the mat

Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont junior Clayton Young hooks the shoulder of Centerville sophomore Ryan Messamaker during a 182-pound match between the Rockets and Big Reds on Saturday to close out the Lettington Family Dual Tournament in Eddyville.

EDDYVILLE – Of all the instructions given on Saturday by Scott Williamson, two words rang out multiple times to the Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont wrestlers.

"Long match!"

Williamson continued to remind the Rocket grapplers throughout the Lettington Family Dual tournament there time on the mat was just beginning as several either looked to put away matches quickly or rally from an early deficit. EBF eventually wrestled away fourth place in the tournament from South Central Conference rival Centerville, winning 48-12 in the final dual of the day after dropping decisions to Camanche (40-24), the Waukee junior varsity (52-21) and eventual team champion Atlantic-CAM (60-15) in the first competition of 2021.

"It's one of the biggest thing young kids have to worry about," Williamson said. "They think, if I can beat this guy, can't I just pin him in 40 seconds? Most matches go six minutes. Most matches are 7-5, 8-3 hard-fought decisions. That's a mentality that, if you haven't wrestled a lot on the varsity level, you're not used to experiencing it.

"Even if you're down three or four points or up three or four, both wrestlers are still in that match. Both wrestlers have to be ready to go that long. If you're mentally ready to go six minutes, if it goes short, it's fine. If you go out there thinking you're going to pin the other guy and you get four minutes in, you're exhausted."

Things got progressively better for the Rockets as the day rolled along, even if EBF won just one of the four duals in their home tournament. Tyler Schutt shook off a pair of losses by fall to go the distance for a 10-8 win over Waukee junior Tanner Smith, holding on late after scoring a reversal early in the third period to open a five-point lead.

The Rockets (5-9) strung together consecutive wins in their second dual of the day, nearly erasing a 30-point deficit against Camanche with pins by Caydn Hall (126), Nathan Curry (132) and Alex Garman (145) bringing EBF within 30-24 with two matches left against the tournament's eventual runner-up.

"We know our kids are young. The thing that I'm seeing is that they're improving on things that they're doing," Williamson said. "I'm seeing us get into better penetration shots. I'm seeing us riding better on top. We've got a ways to go, but we're ahead of where we were a month ago. That's the whole thing. It's about progress through the year and preparing to be ready at the end of the year."

Clayton Young led EBF with three pins on the day, pinning Atlantic senior Peyton Fewson in 1:55, Cody Stewart of Waukee in 2:43 and Centerville sophomore Ryan Messamaker in 2:27 at 182 pounds. Young improved to 10-7 on the season.

"I could have wrestled a little better in my second match (a loss by fall to Camanche senior Cade Everson, one of four falls scored by Everson on the day). That kid's ranked pretty high, though. All in all, I thought it was a pretty good day. We practiced all week. We were ready for this," Young said.

Centerville finished fifth, losing all four duals including a 42-21 loss to Camanche, a 66-18 loss to Waukee JV and a 72-6 loss to Atlantic. The results were somewhat deceiving as the Big Reds (1-5) had just seven wrestlers available to compete with three-time state champion Matthew Lewis and one-loss conference championship-winning senior Lucas Henderson out of action.

"When you show up to a dual tournament with just seven wrestlers, you're in for a long day," Centerville head wrestling coach Jared Bevins said. "We had guys on both ends of spectrum effort-wise. Some looked good and some can improve. Will address that next week and keep moving forward."

Nathaniel Genobana proved to be the bright spot for the Big Reds on Saturday. The returning state finalist marched through three pins at 138 pounds after battling for a 3-2 win over Camanche junior Eric Kinkaid at 145.

"The kid was good and bumping up in weight just to get that extra level of competition was good for me," Genobana said. "I found out some things I need to work on during that match. Hopefully, I can build on that. I worked on a lot of things during the holiday break. I need to continue working to be able to attack every single second of those six minutes on the mat."

While Atlantic walked away with the team championship trophy from Eddyville, Rocket wrestlers were able to enjoy a long day of celebration that included both the honoring of Hall and Seth Kargol as senior wrestlers in one of their final meets at home. Kargol joined his younger brothers, and current EBF teammates, in delivering flowers to their mother as part of the annual Parents Day celebration that also took place on Saturday.

"Being able to wrestle on the same team with Mitchell and Harrison is a lot of fun," Seth Kargol said. "It's nice to wrestle with each other and beat on each other without getting in trouble."

— Scott Jackson can be reached at sjackson@ottumwacourier.com. Follow him on Twitter@CourierScott.

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