DES MOINES — Just one year ago, Sage Walker walked off the mat at Wells Fargo Arena after coming up two points short of completing a perfect season with a state championship win.
One year later, Walker was right back on the mat competing for a state title. The Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont senior wasn’t about to let his last chance at glory slip away.
Walker scored an early take down and held on in the third period for a thrilling 3-2 win over Creston junior Jackson Kinsella, winning the 182-pound title in Class 2A at the Iowa High School State Wrestling Tournament. After snapping a 2-2 tie with an escape early in the final period, Walker was able to hold off two shots by Kinsella (53-2) at securing a go-ahead take down, coming out on top after falling 4-2 to Mount Vernon senior Paul Ryan in last year’s 170-pound final.
“There’s been ups and downs. I went from beating the previous 182-pound state champion in 2A to tearing my ACL in the very next hour,” Walker said. “From all the rehab all summer to working hard all season to get back here, I wouldn’t trade any of it for anything. I got what I wanted, a state title.”
EBF finished tied for ninth in team points with Winterset in Class 2A, racking up 48.5 points with Walker’s win pushing the Rockets into the top 10. Walker placed in all three state tournament appearances over four years wrestling for the Rockets, finishing his senior season with a perfect 48-0 record.
“I think Sage learned a lot from last year. It played a huge role in this year,” EBF wrestling coach TJ Stuart said. “He got hit with a stalling call in this year’s championship match once, he knew it and he knew he had to present himself, keep his feet moving and keep his butt in the middle of the mat. He did a really good job with all of it. He felt something during that match we couldn’t see as coaches. With a kid like Sage, you trust in him in that moment. His judgement was right.”
Trestin Sales could not secure a state title of his own for EBF earlier on Saturday night at Wells Fargo Arena, falling to unbeaten Solon sophomore Hayden Taylor in the 145-pound final. Sales fell 5-2 in the championship match, finishing his junior season with a record of 45-3.
“I was pretty nervous at first, but I knew I had to shake that off and put everything I had into that match,” Sales said. “I wrestled (Taylor) last year. He beat me 13-3. I tried my best. I’ll get him next time.”
Sigourney-Keota senior Mason Dye (32-5) placed seventh on Saturday, winning his final high school match 7-3 over Mediapolis sophomore Quinten Aney. It was the third postseason meeting between the two this year. Dye won 11-7 in the sectional finals over Aney two weeks ago and pinned Aney in the second period to secure a district championship last weekend.
Dye (32-5) was hoping for a fifth and final state tournament match with Woodbury Central junior Beau Klingensmith after losing the fourth state tournament meeting in the past three years on Friday in the state quarterfinals. After pinning Wayne junior Jakson Cobb in just 47 seconds, clinching a place on a podium at state for the third straight year, Dye dropped a 6-4 heartbreaker in overtime to Logan-Magnolia freshman Wyatt Lensz, ending the hopes of facing Klingensmith one more time.
“He’s a really good wrestler. He stays focused,” Dye said of Klingensmith. “When a lot of kids get put on their back, they do dumb stuff. Beau doesn’t do that. He’s calm and he fights. All good wrestlers do that. He’s a good, solid opponent.”
Albia sophomore Carter Anderson and Sigourney-Keota freshman Jack Clarahan both fell one win short of earning a place on the podium. Anderson lost to Bondurant-Farrar sophomore Chase Fiser for the second time this postseason, dropping a 6-0 decision in the second round of 2A consolation action at 106 pounds while Clarahan lost 11-1 to Woodbury Central senior Nate Monahan in the ‘blood round’ of Class 1A at 152 pounds.
“It’s disappointing. You want to end the season on the medal stand,” Albia head wrestling coach Dave Wenger said. “It’s a tough sport. You just need to go back, understand what you need to get better at and implement those things before next season.
“It’s consistent reflection. We need to figure out where we go from here. When you figure it out, you just need to put it in to action.”