DES MOINES — Losing in Friday's quarterfinals definitely took an emotional toll on Clinton wrestlers Hunter Genco and Alex Caldwell.
But, you would never know it by the way they responded at the Iowa Class 3A state tournament at Wells Fargo Arena.
Both Clinton seniors rebounded from losses in the morning's quarterfinals with dominating performances in the wrestlebacks. Both guaranteed themselves top-six finishes and will compete in the consolation semifinals this morning with the opportunity to place as high as third this afternoon.
"It's a nice feeling to be on the awards stand; you want to get the highest place you can," said Caldwell, who placed sixth at 138 pounds in 2012.
It's not always an easy thing to do when you're coming off a loss, however.
"I had to prove myself and come back after a devastating loss," Genco said.
"That was heartache when Hunter lost," Clinton coach J.D. Lueders said. "He showed a lot of character. That's hard to do."
For the second year in a row, Genco lost to Indianola's John Gioffredi. Last year, Gioffredi rallied late to beat Genco. In the rematch, he scored all his points in the first period and won 4-2 in the quarterfinals at 126 pounds.
"Last year, I thought (Genco) left something on the mat; this year was different," Lueders said.
Gioffredi used a snap-down and go-behind for a takedown with 42 seconds left in the first period, then added a two-point near fall 16 seconds later.
"The two back points were definitely my mistake," Genco said. "I settled for a couple of seconds. Those were the two points that changed the outcome."
Genco escaped before the period, rode Gioffredi for the entire second period and scored a third-period escape but was unable to score any offensive points.
Moments later, Caldwell suffered an 8-1 loss to Waverly-Shell Rock's Bryce Steiert in the quarterfinals at 145 pounds. Steiert scored with a first-period takedown, a second-period reversal and a takedown and two-point near fall in the third.
"I thought I wrestled him pretty well," Caldwell said.
Wrestling again about an hour later, neither Genco nor Caldwell showed lasting effects of the losses.
"The motivation level is a lot different (being a senior)," Caldwell said. "As a senior, it's my time to go. After I lost that first match, I didn't want it to be my last match."
Caldwell came back strong, pinning freshman Marcus Coleman of Ames in 4:27 and beating Carroll's Israel Dirkx 12-3. He stopped Coleman's numerous attempts for throws and turned two into four-point moves before putting Coleman on his back for good on the final one.
"I went in on shots and he tried throws," Caldwell said. "I could feel it coming. It was just reaction."
Against Dirkx, Caldwell built a 10-0 lead in the first period on a takedown and three near falls.
Genco met up with another nemesis in the wrestlebacks, beating Spencer Nevills of Pleasant Valley 11-4. Nevills had beaten Genco in last year's district meet and also handed him his only regular-season loss this year, which Genco avenged at the Mississippi Athletic Conference meet.
This time, Genco got an early takedown and near fall for a 5-0 lead and added another takedown and near fall in the period to build a 9-1 lead.
"He's one whose always given me problems," Genco said. "I had to prove I have will power."
Genco started the same way in the consolation quarterfinals against Jack Koethe of West Des Moines Dowling. Genco used an outside single to score a takedown and a cradle for a near fall to build a 5-0 lead in the first 1:10 of the match.
"When you get the first takedown and all, it's what determines the rest of the match," Genco said.
A quick reversal in the second period pushed the lead to 7-0, then it was just a matter of staying away from Koethe's cradle attempts. Koethe did turn Genco for a three-point near fall in the third period, but Genco held on for the 7-4 win.
"It gets really frustrating," Genco said of building a big lead and knowing all he had to do to win was avoid a big move. "In your mind you want to push yourself so hard, but your mind is telling you you're out of energy. You don't know to push past the wall or stay behind it."
Both Clinton wrestlers kept pushing Friday and will be rewarded with a spot on the awards stand tonight.