Dramatic finishes sent two area seniors out with victories Saturday at the Iowa wrestling state tournament at Wells Fargo Arena.
Their wins made Hunter Genco’s victory look like it came with plenty of time to spare.
Sandwiched around Genco’s 6-5 win against Dubuque Senior’s Chase Lynn for seventh place at 103 pounds in Class 3A, Central DeWitt’s Tom McClimon captured fifth place in Class 2A at 215 pounds with an escape in the final tiebreaker, and Clinton’s Ronald Genco III captured seventh in 3A at 119 with a defensive pin.
“To finish up with a win is huge,” Clinton coach J.D. Lueders said of the wins by the Genco brothers. “Both had been beaten by those guys (earlier in the season).”
Lueders was coaching RG Genco while Hunter was finishing his match against Lynn (who had won a matchup between them last month at the Bob Lueders Invitational).
“I saw Hunter take the kid down in the last 20 seconds, and that was awesome,” Lueders said. He then turned his attention against Indianola’s Jacob Howard, who was controlling the match and had beaten Genco on Jan. 29 at the Ames dual tournament. There was something the Clinton staff noticed there, though, that came back to haunt Howard.
“He had the same position in Ames, and the kid was pretty comfortable being on his back (when trying to record near-fall points),” Lueders said. “We went over it in detail.”
Genco almost had a defensive pin earlier in the second period, then got it with 11 seconds left in the period when Howard was trying to turn him for back points.
“I think it caught the referee off guard the first time, and the second time he saw it,” Lueders said. “This time, the kid was flat.”
McClimon also pulled out a dramatic win and finished as the top placewinner from the area.
He and Micah Hoogendoorn of Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley traded escapes and entered overtime of their fifth-place match at 215 tied 1-1. After a scoreless minute of overtime, Hoogendoorn chose down to start the first 30-second period. McClimon held down Hoogendoorn but was penalized one point with 14 seconds left for using a full-nelson, an illegal hold. He rode out the rest of the period, then escaped in the final seconds of the second 30-second period to pull even at 2-2.
“As soon as I got hit with it (the full-nelson call) I got kind of angry because I was stupid, ‘Why did I do that?’ ” McClimon said. “Then I had to refocus and keep him down. I knew I could keep him down because he was kind of gassing. I think it showed in overtime that I was in better shape.”
The match then went to a 30-second tiebreaker, and McClimon had the choice for position. He chose down and escaped for the winning point.
It was a fitting end for McClimon, who finished the season with a 36-11 record and was 7-2 in matches decided by one point (including 6-1 in matches that ended in a 3-2 score) and 5-1 in two-point matches.
“I guess I prepared for close matches the whole year, so coming out here, why should it be any different?” McClimon said. “It seems like I can never dominate anybody; it has to be one point or two points. It felt good, it felt good.”
The fifth-place finish also exceeded the expectations he had early in the year.
“I wanted to get out here; that was my goal at the beginning of the year,” he said. “Everything else was just bonus. Casey Kreiter (a former state qualifier for the Sabers) came in at the beginning of the year and said ... I had to reset my goals.
“That’s exactly what I did. I knew I could get out here. I got that accomplished. Then my goal was to be a placewinner. So I knew I had to win two matches to be a placewinner. I did that and I kept rolling. I’m happy with what I accomplished here.”
McClimon’s teammate, junior Creighton Fox, said he, too, set his goals too low. But that will change next year after he came away with an eighth-place finish at 285 pounds. He was pinned in 3:18 by Independence’s Adam Ownby, a wrestler he had beaten 9-4 in the WaMaC Conference tournament semifinals.
“I’ll set the bar even higher from this year,” said Fox, who had just one other junior placewinner at his weight. “I set the bar lower than I got; I didn’t think I’d get this far, but I’m going to set it even higher. I’m probably going to set it at being a state champ next year; that’s probably what my goal will be, and I’m going to do everything I can to get there. It will be a lot of hard work, but hopefully it pays off.”
While none of the four area wrestlers got the ultimate payoff of a state championship this season, there was little to complain about.