By Jon Gremmels
Herald Sports Editor
At a tournament that has extra special meaning to him, J.D. Lueders couldn't have been much happier than he was Saturday night.
After watching two of his wrestlers earn individual championships -- the first during his tenure as Clinton High wrestling coach -- he learned that the River Kings had tied Davenport Assumption for second place at the Bob Lueders Invitational, Clinton's annual tournament honoring his late father and long-time CHS coach.
"It was our best performance this year and a good time for it," he said. "It was a good effort by our kids. We had the first two champions since I've been back. It was a good effort by our kids.
"This was always a good (benchmark) for my dad when coached, and it is for us."
Clinton and Assumption each finished with 171 points, 20.5 behind champion Linn-Mar of Marion. Mount Vernon (167) and Wilton (165) rounded out the top five. Central DeWitt finished 11th with 93.5 points, West Carroll tied for 15th with 42 and Morrison placed 17th with 35.5.
Hunter Genco became Clinton's first champion in its home tournament since Byron Tate (2008) when he pinned Wilton's Brady Ruden in 5 minutes, 15 seconds. Not only was Ruden ranked No. 1 in the state in Class 2A at 126 pounds, he beat Genco in the third-place match here a year ago.
"I've always wanted to win this tournament," Genco, a senior who improved to 27-1 with three pins and a major decision against defending champion Damon Griffin of Marion Linn-Mar in the semifinals. "It was amazing to see everyone stand up and cheer."
Genco's dominant day continued in the final, where he was in control almost the entire match.
"He probably expected to win," Genco said of Ruden. "He was 35-0, and he probably thought that intimidated me. Overall, I was dominant against him in every aspect."
Moments later, Chase gave the River Kings another champion. Although he weighed in at 170 pounds -- where he plans to compete this Saturday at the conference meet and beyond -- he wrestled at 182 and had little trouble. He beat Gabriel Rangel of Assumption 8-2 in the final.
After a scoreless first period, Rangel decided to start the second period in the down position, and soon Chase had turned Rangel over for a near fall. Chase was in control after that and didn't let a little chippiness by Rangel, who was penalized twice, bother him.
"Getting that three-point near fall is a great way to get ahead," Chase said. "I can stay on them without being cautious about what I'm doing.
"He got very frustrated, but I kept my composure."
Two other River Kings also reached the finals.
Alex Caldwell lost 5-0 to Assumption's Tristen Finch at 145. Justin Guilliams was pinned in 1:38 by Andrew Holladay of Linn-Mar in the final at 195.
Clinton also got fourths from Dustin Caldwell (152) and Tyler Clark (285), and the Kings had fourth other placewinners: Craig Harlock (seventh at 113), Curtis Ilg (seventh at 138), Damon Dann (eighth at 120), Evan Gerdes (eighth at 220).
Brandon Anderson of West Carroll beat Clark 6-1 in the third-place match.
"I tried to counter everything," Anderson said. "I knew he would lock up with me. Big guys don't usually shoot, and that;s what I do."
Thunder teammate Jeff Casey took fourth at 126, losing to Ruden in the semifinals and Griffin in the third-place match. Devin Saunders took eighth at 160.
Central DeWitt's Jake Kagemann, who took last year off from wrestling, led the Sabers with a runner-up finish at 160. He lost 6-2 to Shea Hartzler of Linn-Mar in the final.
"I think taking the year off was more of a mental break," he said. "It was good to place second at this tournament. I'll see a lot of guys later down the road."
Also for the Sabers, Walker Wegener placed fourth at 132, Drew Schroeder was fifth at 170, Chase Kraklio took fifth at 195, Doug Hayen placed sixth at 285, Bryant Woodford was eighth at 106 and Carter Cahill was eighth at 145,
Austin Shoup placed third for Morrison at 182, pinning Riley Hasken of Dubuque Wahlert in 3:42.
"It was a pretty tough tournament," Shoup said. "It's a good tournament for us to come to; we do this to see where we are for regionals. I feel real good."
Joe Eads of Morrison placed sixth at 106.
Two finals featured a No. 1-ranked wrestler from Illinois against a No. 1-ranked wrestler from Iowa, and in both of them, the man from Lena-Winslow (Ill.) won.
Quincy Kalkbrenner beat Assumption's Danny Bush 4-1 in the final at 152, helped along by a first-period two-point near fall.
The other matchup came at 220, where Ty Harmston won his third Lueders title with a late four-point move to beat Gannon Gremmel of Dubuque Hempstead 10-8.
Other champions were Tristan Birt of Dubuque Wahlert at 106, Chase Lynn of Dubuque Senior at 113, Allijah Jeffery of Linn-Mar at 120, Matt Wempen of Linn-Mar at 132, Alex Chesmore of Milton (Wis.) at 138, Shea Hartzler of Linn-Mar at 160, Trey Ryan of Mount Vernon at 170 and Hunter Nelson of Milton at 285.
Wempen was named the meet's outstanding underclassman, Ryan earned the award for the most falls in the least time and Clinton's Clark had the fastest fall -- 18 seconds.