The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

February 24, 2014

Kings claim pair of 4ths

By Jon Gremmels
Herald Sports Editor

DES MOINES — Losing doesn't sit well with Hunter Genco. But even he couldn't help but force a chuckle after coming out on the short end in the final match of his high school career.

Genco and fellow Clinton High senior Alex Caldwell each came away with a fourth-place finish Saturday at the Iowa Class 3A wrestling state tournament at Wells Fargo Arena.

"It's a tough week," Clinton coach J.D. Lueders said. "Your heart goes out to them."

After winning in consolation semifinals 12-6 over Damon Griffin of Marion Linn-Mar to become the winningest wrestler in Clinton history, Genco exited with a 26-10 technical-fall loss in 5 minutes, 41 seconds to Chris Walters of Iowa City West in the third-place match at 126 pounds.

"I was trying to tell myself, 'I've got six minutes left, I've got six minutes left,' but I really only had about one minute left in the tank and then I gave up," said Genco, who finished the season with a 41-3 record. "I couldn't do it. That's when I broke down. I took my last glance over at the arena and accepted the fact that it was over. Unfortunately, the only time I ever get tech-falled had to be last match."

Lueders said he told Genco not to fret about ending it that way.

"I told him, 'This is not going to tell the last four years, this last match,' " he said. "(Genco) was completely exhausted. Honestly, he had nothing left to give. He barely could stand up."

Genco scored the first takedown against Walters and led 2-1 after one period. But Walters went ahead with two takedowns in the second period, then went on a takedown-and-release spree in the third, scoring so fast that the official had to stop the match and go over the scoring with the scorekeeper for several minutes before declaring the match over.

"I don't know what to say about it," Genco said. "I'm still happy with the way I wrestled. I don't know if I'd call it disappointed. Everyone in the arena could probably tell I was still dreading over my first loss. That first loss I'll probably never let go. It's been my dream for 12 years to be a state champ, and it just gets taken away from me."

That loss came in Friday's quarterfinals, when Indianola's John Gioffredi won a hard-fought match 4-2.

Caldwell moved into the third-place match by avenging a loss he suffered at the Linn-Mar Duals. He beat Nick Drahozal of Cedar Rapids Xavier 6-4 after building a 6-0 lead through two periods in the consolation semifinals at 145. Drahozal won the earlier matchup 5-0.

Caldwell gave himself a chance for a final win when he scored a takedown with 25 seconds left to pull within 4-2 against Landon BeLieu of Indianola, but he was unable to add to the total.

"I didn't really want to go out on a losing note, but he took me down right away," Caldwell said of BeLieu, who also scored on a reversal in the second period. "In the third period he started to coast a little bit and I tried to pick it up. I tried a little bit of desperation and got a takedown. The ref called a quick stalemate, which was good on my part. I tried to set something up to take him over for some back points, but he fought it pretty good, and that's how it ended up.

"It's kind of hard losing, but I wrestled pretty good. To come out with fourth in one of the best states for wrestling, I feel pretty good."

Caldwell ended the season with a 35-10 record and had more than 100 wins for his career.

"Alex wrestled light's out," Lueders said. "I was so glad to see that because he struggled toward the end of last season. He got out here last season and came out here and got hurt. This was the Alex I'll remember. He's a heck of a wrestler and a great competitor."

As is Genco, who besides becoming Clinton's all-time winningest wrestler Saturday also became the second four-time state placewinner in Clinton High history. Four-time state champion Dan Knight was the other.

"It was disappointing," Genco said of the way his career ended, "but if I look over the four years of my accomplishments, they're phenomenal. Everything I've done is great. Breaking record after record. I'll go down into the 150-win club here, which is pretty awesome."

Knight added another championship to his resume Saturday. The team he coaches, Clinton's Mississippi Athletic Conference rival Bettendorf, crowned four champions and won the 3A team title with 162 points. Southeast Polk was second with 158, while Waverly-Shell Rock took third with 151. Another of Clinton's MAC rivals, Davenport Assumption won the 2A title.

In all, eight MAC wrestlers were crowned state champions: Bettendorf's Jack Wagner (106 pounds), Jacob Schwarm (113), Fredy Stroker (132) and Logan Ryan (138); Assumption's Eric Clarke (132) and Danny Bush (152); Travis Willers (152) of Pleasant Valley; and North Scott's Mitch Bowman (182). North Scott (sixth) and Pleasant Valley (eighth) also had top-10 team finishes.