The Interstate 35 Roadrunners snatched a spot in the Class 1A state team tournament with their intensely-contested 35-33 regional dual team victory over Panorama Tuesday.
The Roadrunners coasted past Southeast Warren-Melcher Dallas 64-7 to get to the final, only yielding points at 132 pounds and 152 pounds.
Against the Panthers, things stayed tight all the way through. Panorama and Interstate 35 traded victories back-and-forth at weights in order from 220 to 138, when Zac Willey’s 13-3 major decision win over the Panthers’ Noah Kirtley brought I-35 to a 20-17 deficit.
The Roadrunners were in a less than desirable spot, according to coach Ryan Snyder due to his lineup juggling.
“Every kid was in a bad spot because the middle of the lineup we had beaten those kids before at sectionals but we hadn’t pinned them,” Snyder said. “Those kids that had already won, they were in a spot where ‘okay I can’t just win, now have to pin this kid.’ Every kid that walked out there had to do better than they had done before.”
At the Class 1A sectionals, Willey had defeated Panorama’s Kirtley by only a 9-7 decision. Ethan Elliott (145) won his match over a Panther wrestler at sectionals by injury default. Jacob Steinlage (160) won his sectional match over a Panther wrestler by major decision.
In the dual, Elliott won by pin, Brayden Egli (152) won by fall and Steinlage won by fall.
That stretch of 24 team
points proved the difference as the Panthers won the next three matches, but earned only 10 points over that span to fall two points short.
Casey Baker, Class 1A’s second-ranked wrestler per The Predicament, even bumped up a weight to get a 15-4 major decision win over Danny Nordquist.
Baker could have coasted Snyder noted, but kept working, cutting Nordquist after takedowns and going back to work.
“He went beyond what he needed to do,” Snyder said.
“They just wrestled above and beyond,” Snyder added, in awe of his team. “Every single kid who went out and wrestled with his back against the wall.”
Interstate 35 is the six seed in the tournament and will face third-seeded Denver Wednesday morning at 9 a.m.
The Roadrunners have unfinished business after falling in the first round of the duals last season.
“If they are what people say they are, we’ll find out,” Snyder said. “We are what people say we are and I think our record proves that. We’re solid from top to bottom, we just don’t have a (106) pounder. We’ll come at you, we don’t have a soft spot, and we’re going to come at them straight up. If they’re that good, we’ll see.”
In the quarterfinals, Top-ranked Don Bosco will face West Sioux, No. 4 Missouri Valley squares off with No. 5 Lake Mills, and No. 2 Lisbon goes head-to-head with Woodbury Central.
Should the Roadrunners defeat Denver, they will face the winner of the 2 vs. 7 matchup in the semifinals at 1 p.m. A loss would drop them to the consolation semis at 11 a.m.
Roadrunners push four to state
Interstate 35 went to Guthrie Center Saturday for the Class 1A Sectional 1 and took on what Snyder called “By far the toughest district in the state.”
Class 1A District 1 included Martensdale-St. Marys, Logan Magnolia and Panorama which are all top 16 state dual teams, like Interstate 35 per the IWCOA. Colfax-Mingo all brought an array of talent to the district.
“There were 29 state qualifiers from last year in one district,” Snyder said. “There were kids who went home from that district (Saturday) who deserved to be in the state tournament.”
The Roadrunners pushed through four wrestlers to the traditional tournament that gets going Thursday morning. Casey Baker (120) and Zac Wiley as district champs while Ethan Elliot and Jacob Steinlage made state as runner-ups.
Each of the four qualified for state a season ago, but none placed.
Cards place two at the Well
Central Decatur wrestlers Wyatt Dale (113) and Logan Jones (160) both won district titles and advance on to state, where Dale is a three-time state qualifier.
The Roadrunners will have competed in the dual tournament by Thursday’s paper. Coverage of the state wrestling tournaments will go in next week’s Sentinel-Tribune.