WINTERSET — Tyler Schutt’s freshman season was about to come to an end.
At least he had the chance to go out with his hand raised in victory.
The Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont 106-pound grappler not only won his final match of his first season as a high school varsity wrestler, but did so impressively. Schutt controled Harlan freshman Sammy Schmitz early and never let up, even scoring a near fall in the closing seconds that allowed Schutt to earn a 13-4 major decision, earning his 23rd win in a 51-28 Class 2A regional dual semifinal loss to the Cyclones.
“It feels to good to go out on top,” Schutt said. “It’s been a fun season. Hopefully, next year, I’ll be able to make it all the way to state.”
Schutt was one of five freshmen that had to take the mat for the Rockets. Head coach T.J. Stuart was forced to make several changes to his dual lineup as illness and the inability to make weight put much more inexperienced EBF wrestling team on the mat Tuesday.
“It was the culmination of a lot of effort in general that comes with the sport of wrestling,” Stuart said. “You have to bring it every night, especially at this time of year. It’s a bad night to have some let downs, but it’s part of wrestling. It’s a very humbling sport.”
The effort was there from the younger Rockets. Freshman Blake Hughes opened the dual jumping out to a 5-1 lead after one period at 120 pounds against Harlan sophomore Luke Musich.
Musich turned things around in the second period, working his way to a fall at 2:52. It would be the first of four straight pins for the Cyclones to open the dual with three Rocket freshmen suffering losses, including Levi Vandonsler who jumped out aggressively to a 4-1 lead in the opening period at 138 pounds before Harlan senior Wyatt Obrecht took control, scoring a fall at 2:28 to put Harlan up 24-0.
“Part of that process is not just keeping the guys at the right weights, but keeping your health throughout the season,” Stuart said. “I’m happy with the effort overall. There were a lot of guys without a lot of varsity experience in the lineup, and we only lost 51-28.”
Freshman Kyler Ricard pinned Sam Bladt in 56 seconds while junior Trestin Sales scored a fall at 1:05 over Mason Griffith at 152. Sales is one of six EBF wrestlers that will be competing in Knoxville on Saturday in the Class 2A, District 5 tournament looking to secure a trip to the Iowa High School State Wrestling Tournament.
“We’ve just got to put a lot of hard work in this week before districts and hopefully get everybody to state,” Sales said. “From there, we’ll work on getting prepared for state. Hopefully, if we can win district titles, we’ll get decent draws at state.”
The Rocket wrestling team matched Albia with six district qualifiers on Saturday at the Class 2A, Sectional 16 tournament with four sectional champions. EBF (22-4 final dual record) scored 218 points, easily winning the sectional team title with 33.5 more points than runner-up Knoxville, advancing to compete in the regional dual tournament on Tuesday night at seventh-ranked Winterset.
No wrestler on Saturday, however, spent less time on the mat in a championship performance than top-ranked senior Sage Walker. The state runner-up at 170 pounds last season need just over a minute to improve to 42-0 on his senior season, pinning Knoxville senior Wyatt Darnell in 32 seconds and Central Decatur junior Dakota Boswell in 35 seconds. Walker has won 89 of his last 90 matches with the lone loss coming in last year’s 170-pound state final, a 4-2 decision against Mount Vernon’s Paul Ryan.
“It’s always nice to get the match done early,” Walker said. “I could have let the guys up and kept working on my conditioning, but at this point of the season, I want to get things done as soon as possible. There’s less chance of injury that way and you don’t want to give anyone an extra chance to catch you on your back.
“Hopefully, it will go like this Saturday as well.”
Joining Walker in Knoxville next Saturday are EBF teammates Cadyn Hill (113), Sales (145), Hunter McFadden (152), Alan Angle (160) and Connor Reed (195). Hill, Sales and Angle all won sectional titles for the Rockets while McFadden and Reed qualified as district runner-ups, avoiding wrestlebacks after tough championship match losses. McFadden lost a 15-0 tech fall in 2:22 to Centerville junior Lucas Henderson while Reed was edged in the final seconds, 12-11, by Central Decatur sophomore Tegan Carson.
“We’ve got a legitimate chance of sending all six guys to state,” Stuart said. “We’re going to have to wrestle with our hearts on our sleeves. We have to wrestle as hard and as smart as we can. If we do that, I could very easily see all six guys qualifying.”
Winterset earned the trip to the Class 2A state duals, which will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 19, at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. The Huskies beat Knoxville, 64-14, and Harlan in the regional championship match 44-35.