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Thomsen crowned champ, Union takes fourth in 2A

February 21, 2019
CJ Eilers - Editor (editor@dysartreporter.com) , Dysart Reporter

Union wrestling's season came to a conclusion as seven wrestlers from the program traveled to Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines for the State Wrestling Tournament February 14-16, coming away with a fourth place finish in 2A and a champion under their belt.

"This tournament is the pinnacle for that age," coach Bart Mehlert said. "There aren't many state tournaments that can compare to ours."

All seven wrestlers for Union saw the mat on the first day of the tournament with varied success. Kolten Crawford (113 lbs), Jack Thomsen (138 lbs) and Adam Ahrendsen (152 lbs) each won their first matches in convincing fashion, with Thomsen winning by tech fall while Ahrendsen and Crawford each pinned their opponents to advance to Friday' quarterfinals. The first round wasn't so kind to Lincoln Mehlert (106 lbs), Hunter Worthen (120 lbs), Lake LeBahn (126) and Stone Schmitz (132 lbs) as each lost their matches and were sent to the backside of their respective brackets. Mehlert, Worthen and LeBahn would keep their tournament hopes alive with consolation wins later Thursday night while Schmitz fell in a12-6 decision in his consolation match to Brock Radeke of Vinton-Shellsburg. Only a freshman, Schmitz will return next year with experience of the tournament under his belt.

Article Photos

Adam Ahrendsen (left of top) finished runner-up at 152 lbs in Class 2A. He and six other Union wrestlers at State are expected to return next season for the Knights.

"Take this one match at a time is what I told them," Mehlert said. "We were in these matches and those who went to the backside rebounded and kept going into the second day."

With six wrestlers advancing to Friday, the Knights were in healthy shape as they not only chased individual placings, but a traditional tournament team title as well. The quarterfinals saw both Thomsen and Ahrendsen win their matches (8-2 dec, 7-1 dec respectively) to continue on to the semifinals in the main bracket. A close 2-0 loss sent Crawford to the backside, but not out of the tournament. The second round of consolations saw Mehlert with a 6-2 win and Crawford added a pin to advance in hopes of a third place finish. Worthen saw his tournament run end with a 10-2 loss to Jason Peta of Estherville and LeBahn was eliminated following an 11-3 to Eric Kinkaid of Camanche, leaving Union with four wrestlers entering the semis and third round of consolation matches.

Resuming later on Friday night, both Union wrestlers in the consolation bracket suffered their second loss, sending them to the seventh place match on Saturday. Mehlert lost 17-7 to Camron Phetxoumphone of Webster City while Crawford fell 11-2 to Braden Graff. Both were sent to the seventh place match for one final chance of earning points for their team.

After a rough start to their night, Union looked to Thomsen and Ahrendsen to keep their hopes alive and advance to Saturday night's finals. Neither athlete had advanced that far last season, but both were determined to make the top of the podium this season.

"The only honest thing you can do is prepare for these matches, eat right and sleep right," Thomsen said. "We trained hard for this, and I felt prepared for these big matches.

Undefeated Thomsen matched up Kaleb Olejniczak of Perry (46-2) in what proved to a evenly matched dual. Thomsen's early attempt at a take down resulted in a critical escape for Olejniczak and a point. While Thomsen matched his opponent with an escape of his own, neither wrestler could gain an decisive advantage over the other in three periods. The match entered Sudden Victory and Thomsen made his move swiftly for a match-winning two points to move on to the finals

"I thinking in my head I had to finish the match before we went any further in overtime," Thomsen said. "I was gassed and knew I had to force a shot and thankfully I did."

Shortly following the win, Ahrendsen took to the same mat for his shot at the finals, facing off against Scott Betterton of Vinton-Shellsburg (63-15). Unlike the tense fight which had occurred only a moment ago, Ahrendsen battled for a takedown from the whistle and appeared well in control. The sophomore ended things quickly with a pin in the first period to join Thomsen in the finals.

"I've never wrestled (Betterton) and I live 20 minutes away," Ahrendsen said. "I was able to get done early. I keep my motor running and caught him out of position."

The final day got off to a morning start for Crawford and Mehlert hoping to help their team with seventh place finishings. Mehlert faced Johnathon Burnette of Spirit Lake for a tough match, being edged out 4-3 and putting him in eighth place. After returning to State this year, Crawford found the podium in seventh place a bonus point with a dominant 13-2 win over Johnathon Erp of Red Oak.

"Having Crawford a two-time placewinner is something to build off," Mehlert said. "With Lincoln, he made the podium and next it's about how high he can climb these next two years."

The best was yet to come as all four placewinners were honored in the Grand March before the start of the finals and Thomsen and Ahrendsen's last matches of the season. Thomsen was up first as he faced off against Chase McLaren from Atlantic. From the start, the Union junior seemed to be calm and collected on the mat, allowing his opponent little opportunity for points. Choosing his attacks wisely, Thomsen cruised by with a 10-3 decision to win the match and his weight class in 2A.

"I was really confident going into this match and no nerves whatsoever," Thomsen said. "Everything slowed down for me during the match. It's hard to explain."

Ahrendsen's final match of the season came shortly after as he took on Kyler Rieck of Spirit Lake. Rieck took to the offensive early and often, scoring quick points as Ahrendsen avoided being pinned on two occasions. Despite some tough defense against his opponent, Ahrendsen was unable to catch up points wise and saw his season end as the runner-up at Wells Fargo Arena.

"His goal was to be a state champion and as a sophomore that's a lofty goal," Mehlert said. "He competed a tough weight class and this loss will only fuel his fire. He won some tough matches through the year and we're expecting a lot from him next year."

All four placewinners were recognized during awards between matches as Union finished in fourth place at the tournament with 60.5 points. For Thomsen, the honor of being a state champion was bestowed upon him as Mehlert presented him the medal.

"I was really happy," Thomsen said. "I watched my brothers become state champions. Having Bart, one of my neighbor, present the award made it all real for me."

With no seniors making State this year, Union has the potential to return all seven qualifiers next year as they continue to develop the program and get even more placewinners next year. LeBahn, Schmitz and Worthen will be asked to take the next step in the 2019-20 season as well in hopes of returning to State.

"We had goals of making the State Duals, but we fell short," Mehlert said. "Our seniors contributed a lot over the season, but now our returning guys have to step up. Lake and Jack will be seniors next year and will need to lead by example over the offseason for those younger wrestlers. Most of these guys are in other sports and I understand they need to devote time to them, but when they have free time I expect them to get on the mat."

Photos from the season are available on Flickr with links available on Facebook. Anyone with questions about photos may contact Editor CJ Eilers at editor@dysartreporter.com.

 
 

 

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