DEWITT — It was a long wait for the Camanche Indians to see if they would be sending one or two athletes to Des Moines, but Eric Campie got the job done in wrestle back fashion.
“That was pretty great,” Campie said immediately after grabbing his state berth. “I still don’t know what to think about it.”
The Indians already knew that Baylor Crigger had qualified, but watched some of their other teammates miss out on the championship matches.
“We would always like to have everybody win every match,” Camanche Coach Brent Carstensen said. “The top three kids in a lot of these classes could re-wrestle and have different outcomes every match.”
Campie fell to Jake Recker with a 6-2 decision and had a wrestle back to earn his trip to Wells Fargo Arena. With Crigger and coaches one the sideline and bleachers full of Camanche fans, he did just that.
“I knew he likes to shoot from far away so I kept my distance,” Campie said about his final match against Solon’s Caleb Ebert. “I kept going back to the single leg because it worked last week. I kept doing that.”
Campie would go on to win by major decision 13-5 to take second at 145 pounds to punch his ticket to state.
Crigger did the same thing just a little while before him.
“That felt amazing. I don’t know how to describe it,” Crigger said. Crigger missed out on the state meet last year because of appendicitis. “That was two years of emotion that came out, it overtook me and that was it.
“I’ve been there two years just to go down. It’s life changing and now I get to experience the wrestling part of it. I’m looking forward it.”
Crigger wrestled an athlete he struggled with the week before. He went to overtime with Solon’s Zack Bevans the last time they saw each other on the mat. He still would have made it to Des Moines in second place, but first place gets him a better spot on the bracket.
“Last week, I wore myself down trying to keep him down a lot. I let him up with maybe ten seconds left in the first but I knew I had to be better on top,” Crigger said about his final pin. “I had it locked up and I wasn’t going to let it go.”
Both boys celebrated after the two wins, something you don’t see very often from wrestlers. If you ask either of them, though, they will tell you that the Indians are close as a team and that making the trip with a teammate makes the state tournament even more special.
“We are close,” Campie said. “We push each other and that’s what makes it better.”
The Indians weren’t the only ones who saw athletes advance to the state meet. The Sabers saw two of their athletes move on: Keaton Zeimet at 106 pounds and Nick Smith at 195.
“I’m so excited. It’s high intensity out there and its so packed,” Smith said about his upcoming jaunt to Des Moines. “It’s great being there and seeing all the people and fans we have. It’s just a great time.”
Smith faced off with Mount Vernon’s Camron Woodley in his final matchup of the day. Smith got the fall in 3:19 to take first place in his weight class.
“I had beaten that kid twice earlier in the season but we went overtime once and I just wanted to get that fall,” Smith said. “It feels great to do it.
“I don’t like wrestling people multiple times because they pick up on your tendencies and it gets harder the next time. This was big.”
Smith said his goal is always to get the first takedown, which he succeeded in doing against Woodley. The battle ended in favor of the Saber, and he said that he was mentally preparing for the nerves that come along with a state-qualifying meet all week.
“I get really nervous, so the breathing technique really helps me,” Smith said. “It helps me not to over think and not to overlook any guys.”
Keaton Zeimet was the champion at 106 pounds, taking down Cole Whitehead from Center Point-Urbana with an 8-1 decision.
Ben Vogel finished third at 106 for the Indians and Cade Everson took a third place finish at 132 pounds. Kolby Snodgrass came in fourth at 220 for Camanche.
Robert Howard finished third at 113 for the Sabers.
The Northeast Rebels saw a third place finish for senior Wyatt Schmidt at 16 and Remington Overstake finished fourth at 138.
The Iowa State Wrestling Tournament starts on Thursday, Feb. 15 and runs until Saturday at the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
Larkin, Barry move on for Clinton
The Clinton River Kings had some heartbreak at districts in Western Dubuque on Saturday, but still saw two athletes punch their ticket to Wells Fargo Arena later this week.
“We’re heartbroken,” sophomore Ethan Barry said. Barry was one of the two who qualified, along with Isaac Larkin. “A few of the guys thought too much and didn’t perform like they usually do so their season ended. It’s heartbreaking because we worked so hard all season to get to this point. When something like that happens like that it’s hard to watch.”
Ben Chapman and Jess Chapman both saw third place finishes, just out of reach of a state tournament trip. Kyle Guilliams Clem Butler, Hunter Randall, and Dawson Troxell all picked up fourth place finishes. Darrin Bethard came in fifth and Elijah Robinson came in sixth in their weight classes.
Clinton Coach Eric Lueders said before the district meet that Western Dubuque is a hostile environment to wrestle in, and Barry was certainly feeling that.
“It was exciting and a fun experience. I had fun, but it was a little nervewracking,” Barry said. “There are a lot of fans screaming. When you’re trying to warm up you hear it and you start to get nervous and think a little too much. When you think too much you do things you don’t normally do.”
Still, he focused on the task at hand. That task was No. 1 ranked Tyrell Gordon from Waterloo East.
“I just knew what I had to take care of and worried about what I’ve been working on all season. I tried not to think about what could happen and just wrestled how I have been,” Barry said. “I was preparing myself the last week and a half for that.”
Barry had the top-ranked foe tied 2-2 going into the third period, but Gordon got the pin. Barry still got the second place finish at 195 pounds, and the state berth.
“It was a tough battle,” Barry said. “It was a good experience because matches like those are going to help me. I was hurt at first, but I knew I just needed to work harder. He caught be somewhere I need to improve on.
Barry heads to Des Moines ranked fifth in his weight class.
Isaac Larkin finished districts at the champion at 138 pounds. His final round was a tech fall over Cedar Falls’ Christian Simpson, defeating him 15-0.
Steamers head to Champaign
Fulton is sending three athletes down to Champaign for the Illinois State Wrestling Tournament this week.
Taylor Fleetwood, Eli Pannell, and Tyler Fleetwood all nabbed top four finishes to ensure their seasons continue.
Taylor Fleetwood finished second at 285, losing by a 3-1 decision in the championship match to Lena-Winslow’s Ian Kuehl. Pannell came in third place at 195 and Tyler Fleetwood snuck into fourth place at 132 pounds.
Augustus Linke and Reilly Dolan of Morrison, Mat Garison and Garrett Passmore from Erie, Dallas Krueger, Nolan Throne, and Collin Schmidt from Rockridge also qualified.
The Illinois State Wrestling Tournament takes place at the State Farm Center in Champaign, Ill. Feb. 15-17.