DES MOINES – Emotions that seemed so fabulous early Thursday afternoon after wins by seniors Hunter Genco and Alex Caldwell came crashing down just as fast, and dropped even further for the Clinton High wrestling team.
Five pins in a row – all of them with River Kings’ shoulders on the mat – and an 8-2 loss in the final match of the day took a lot of cheer out of the team and left Clinton’s other three state qualifiers heartbroken at the Iowa Class 3A state tournament in Wells Fargo Arena.
“We’re pretty well deflated,” coach J.D. Lueders said moments before leaving the arena for the team’s hotel. “You’ve got to be happy for the first two kids, but that felt like a long time ago.”
Returning state qualifiers Dustin Caldwell (152 pounds) and Dillion Chase (170) both were pinned twice, and freshman Tyler Clark was pinned in the first round and lost by decision in the team’s final wrestleback of the day.
Despite the ending disappointment, Lueders couldn’t have been more pleased by the performances from Genco and Alex Caldwell.
“Hunter came here on a mission,” Lueders said. “Alex wrestled a very smart match.”
Genco, a three-time state placewinner, made it look easy again, improving to 38-1 with his 27th pin of the season. He needed just 44 seconds to flatten Logen Rodriguez of Cedar Rapids Kennedy in the first round at 126 pounds.
“I just expect to win,” Genco said of the approach he is taking into matches.
The win put Genco, ranked third in the state, into a quarterfinals matchup today against Indianola’s John Gioffredi, the No. 4-ranked wrestler who handed Genco a loss in last year’s first round that served as a turning point in Genco’s career.
Gioffredi went on to finish second in the state last year at 120 pounds, but Genco won five straight in the wrestlebacks to finish third and has lost just once since then.