By Jon Gremmels
Herald Sports Editor
There were all sorts of reasons Clinton's wrestlers could have just come out and gone through the motions Thursday night.
The River Kings were facing Davenport North and Davenport Central, two of the not-so-good teams in the Mississippi Athletic Conference. North had five open weights, Central six, so Clinton, which fields a full lineup, would receive six points for each of those wins. The double dual already had been postponed twice because of the weather conditions. Finally, the MAC conference meet was just two days away, and the Kings couldn't be blamed for looking ahead to Saturday.
They didn't let any of those factors get in the way of a pair of dominating wins.
Wrestling for the final time in Yourd Gymnasium, senior twins Alex and Dustin Caldwell set the tone early in each match, leading Clinton to a 66-6 win against North and a 64-9 victory against Central.
"There was not really too much (distraction)," Alex Caldwell said. "We've been going Thursday-Saturday all year. Going Tuesday (the first rescheduled date) would have been tougher."
Both Caldwells followed an opening forfeit at 138 pounds with pins to give the Kings a solid start against North.
"For sure, that was a good way to start," said Dustin Caldwell, who was honored as he came off the mat for winning his 100th career match last week. "There was no momentum after Curt (Ilg) got the forfeit. We had to get a little momentum going."
After that, it was hard to stop the Kings.
They lost just a pair of decisions against North, ones that Clinton coach J.D. Lueders said could have been avoided. North's Ryan Gomez beat Evan Gerdes 3-2 at 220 pounds, and Devon Ramirez scored a takedown in the final seconds to beat Tyler Clark 3-1 at 285.
"I was a little disappointed they didn't have a sense of urgency," Lueders said. "Then they didn't have mat awareness.
"Overall, though, it was a good night."
Sam Cruthis (106 pounds), Craig Harlock (113) and Riley Chapman (132) added pins against North.
Alex Caldwell was first up against Central, and he opened the meet with a 10-5 decision against Jacob Houghton at 145 pounds. Dustin Caldwell followed at 152 with another pin, this time sticking Chance Skiles in 2:55. Brendan Stoller (160) and Ilg (138) added pins later in the dual, and again, Clinton lost just two matches.
Ilg, like the Caldwells, Chapman (pin, forfeit win), Gerdes (decision vs. Central), Darean Witt (forfeit win, decision) and Hunter Genco (two forfeits), was wrestling at Yourd for the final time.
"It was the seniors' last time at Yourd, and I was hoping all of them could get a match," Lueders said, saying that was motivation to get the duals in, even if it was two days before conference. "They're going to have 48 or 49 wins (in four years)."
Between duals, Dustin Caldwell said: "It's bittersweet. The end is coming, and I'm going to miss it. I'll try to soak it up for the rest of the night."
Alex Caldwell added, "It's weird knowing you're not going to be coming back next year."
But, both are looking for big finishes. That starts with the conference meet that starts at 9 a.m. Saturday at Davenport Assumption, and each is hoping it ends by standing on the awards stand at the state tournament for a second time.
The River Kings enter the MAC meet ranked 10th in Iowa in Class 3A, but Bettendorf (No. 2), Pleasant Valley (No. 5) and North Scott (No. 6) are ranked ahead of them, and Assumption is ranked third in Class 2A.
"The frontrunners are Assumption and Bettendorf, but with our individuals it will be interesting to see where we end up," Lueders said. "It probably will be the best MAC we've seen in a long time."
The Caldwells are evidence of that. Although each is ranked in the state — Alex fifth at 145, Dustin seventh at 152 — neither will likely be seeded higher than third.
"It will be a battle," Dustin Caldwell said. "This will be a good measure for us. I look forward to it."
Alex Caldwell added. "We're underdogs. We have nothing to lose. We're going (there) to prove people wrong."
CLINTON 66, DAVENPORT NORTH 6
138 — Curtis Ilg (C) wbf; 145 — Alex Caldwell (C) pinned Selbie McNair 1:12; 152 — Dustin Caldwell (C) pinned Charles Cook 1:18; 160 — Brendan Stoller (C) wbf; 170 — Dillion Chase (C) wbf; 182 — Darean Witt (C) wbf; 195 — Justin Guilliams (C) dec. Jordan Trowers 11-5; 220 — Ryan Gomez (DN) dec. Evan Gerdes 3-2; 285 — Devon Ramirez (DN) dec. Tyler Clark 3-1; 106 — Sam Cruthis (C) pinned Dalton Kelley 1:33; 113 — Craig Harlock (C) pinned Brendon Mash 1:19; 120 — Damon Dann (C) dec. Dylan Swinney 13-9; 126 — Hunter Genco (C) wbf; 132 — Riley Chapman (C) pinned Nathan Armstrong 2:25.
CLINTON 64, DAVENPORT CENTRAL 9
145 — A. Caldwell (C) dec. Jacob Houghton 10-5; 152 — D. Caldwell (C) pinned Chance Skiles 2:55; 160 — Stoller (C) pinned Mike Harrington 5:19; 170 — Chase (C) m. dec. Jacob Behrendt 10-2; 182 — Witt (C) dec. Sam Serrano 9-5; 195 — Guilliams (C) wbf; 220 — Gerdes (C) wbf; 285 — Clark (C) wbf; 106 — Cruthis (C) wbf; 113 — Jacob Lamentia (DC) pinned Harlock 2:52; 120 — Josue Dansou (DC) dec. Dann 9-4; 126 — Genco (C) wbf; 132 — Chapman (C) wbf; 138 — Ilg (C) pinned Berny Ruiz 2:46.