By Jon Gremmels
Herald Sports Editor
Clinton's first finalist of the afternoon, Hunter Genco, didn't sport the broad grin of a champion after winning the Mississippi Athletic Conference title at 120 pounds Saturday.
The reaction was emblematic of the day for the River Kings.
They entered the tournament believing that on a good day they could have nine or 10 placewinners, including five or six finalists, and earn a top-four team finish. Even though they reached their goals, putting five in the finals, having nine placewinners and taking fourth in the team race, they were far from ecstatic.
"We could have done better, but it definitely was a good day for us," Cinton's Justin Guilliams said.
Deep down, coach J.D. Lueders might have been smiling because of that.
"Success would be great today, but that's what keeps us hungry," Lueders said. "It's kind of what we expected because we've really worked the kids hard."
He no doubt would like to see the River Kings go into the district meet in two weeks feeling they have something to prove with bids in the state tournament on the line.
As it turned out, Genco's title was the only one the River Kings got — Alex Caldwell (145 pounds), Dustin Caldwell (152), Guilliams (195) and Jake Oldaker (285) all took second — but performances in the third- and fifth-place matches gave Clinton the margin it needed to edge Pleasant Valley 159-157.5 in the team standings for fourth place.
"It's not all about the guys in the finals," Genco said. "It's the ones who did lose and were on the other side of the bracket. They fought their butts off and racked up points."
Davenport Assumption claimed the team title with 255.5 points, 12.5 more than Bettendorf. Assumption went 5-4 in the finals, while Bettendorf was 4-2.
North Scott placed third with 222 points and champions at four of the five heaviest weights.
After scoring bonus points in his first two matches, Genco certainly found himself in a battle against Assumption's Jacob Fenske in the final at 120 pounds.
Fenske used a first-period takedown to grab the lead. Genco rode Fenske for the entire second period, then tied the score on a reversal early in the third. But he couldn't keep Fenske down the rest of the way again, and Fenske reclaimed the lead on an escape with 29 seconds left.
Needing a takedown to win, Genco made his move, but Fenske countered and they wound up in a scramble, each trying to gain control. Genco was close to scoring but needed to clear his head to earn the points, and Fenske did a good job not allowing that.
"The last 10 seconds, as my head was in between his arms, I got a glimpse of the clock and knew I had time," said Genco, who managed to clear his head for the winning takedown with 3 seconds left. "I'm still disappointed with the match. ... I think I let him get carried away with what he thought he could do."
Oldaker, Clinton's only champion a year ago, fell short in his bid to become a two-time champion. He lost 5-1 to North Scott's Cegan Long, son of former Clinton coach Clint Long. The key points came when Long caught Oldaker off-balance for a takedown with 6 seconds left in the first period. Leading 3-1 late in the match, Long added a clinching takedown when Oldaker was desperate to make something happen for a tying takedown.
Guilliams ran into North Scott coach Eugene Kreiter's son Colin in the final at 195 and was pinned with 2 seconds left in the second period.
"I felt like it went pretty well," Guilliams said of his day overall, and he believes his first year as a high school wrestler has gone well, too. "I wasn't expected to do so well, but the work ethic helped a lot."
Lueders, for one, has been impressed with Guilliams.
"For a freshman at that weight to have that kind of composure sparks the team," he said after Guilliams gutted out a 4-3 win over Bettendorf senior AJ Dougherty in the semifinals.
Clinton also got back-to-back seconds from the Caldwell twins.
Alex, who survived an overtime match with Assumption's Tionte Parks in the semifinals at 145, had no success against Bettendorf's Bubba Hernandez, who won his third MAC title. Hernandez recorded seven takedowns and a reversal in a 16-6 win.
Dustin Caldwell fared a little better in the final at 152 but still dropped a 5-2 decision to Assumption's Danny Bush as the Knights flip-flopped Bush and top-ranked Nick Georgean in their lineup, with Georgean winning the title at 160, his third MAC crown.
"He beat Dillion (Chase) earlier in the dual meet," Caldwell said of Bush, who scored a first-period takedown against Caldwell and added a three-point near fall in the third. "He had a nice move there, and that took me out of the match.
"It's a tough one to swallow, but I didn't place (in the MAC) last year, so it's a step in the right direction."
The River Kings also got a third-place finish from Josiah Molina at 182 pounds, a fourth from Amani Larson at 106 and fifths from Curtis Ilg (126) and Chase (160). All of the points they earned were crucial, especially bonus points for pins in the placing matches by Ilg and Molina since the Kings were able to maintain the 1.5 margin they had over Pleasant Valley entering the matches for first, third and fifth places.
"We got some good points from those guys," Lueders said. "Curtis did a great job, Josiah did a great job, Amani lost (4-3) to a kid (Travis Pulse of Davenport West) who beat him big (19-1) last time just a few weeks ago and Chase came back with a good attitude (after losing 6-5 to Georgean in the semifinals and 9-0 to Pleasant Valley's Grant Rosenboom in the consolation semifinals)."
Not everything went well for the River Kings. Senior Rafael Ramirez, a likely placewinner at 220, was sick all week and unable to wrestle. On the mat, there were a couple of matches that slipped away and prevented the Kings from having a couple more placewinners.
"Those are the frustrating ones as a coach," Lueders said.
But, he was quick to point out that there's still plenty of time to improve before the district meet rolls around.
MISSISSIPPI ATHLETIC CONFERENCE
1. Davenport Assumption 255.5; 2. Bettendorf 243; 3. North Scott 222; 4. Clinton 159; 5. Pleasant Valley 157.5; 6. Burlington 89.5; 7. Davenport West 71; 8. Davenport Central 56; 9. Davenport North 33; 10. Muscatine 27.
(Placing matches, Clinton results)
Championship — Jacob Schwarm (Bet) m. dec. Darien Collins (DA) 9-1. Third — Travis Pulse (DW) dec. Amani Larson (Cli) 4-3. Fifth — Logan White (Bur) pinned Jake Schmidt (NS) 4:35. Larson pinned Schmidt :51; was pinned by Schwarm 3:27; pinned White 2:41.
Championship — Brendan Gould (DA) dec. Paul Glynn (Bet) 2-0. Third — Ryan Renken (NS) pinned Jacob Lamantia (DC) 3:22. Fifth — Zach Blizzard (DW) m. dec. Scott Kraft (PV) 17-8. Craig Harlock (Cli) had a bye, was pinned by Gould 1:08, lost to Kraft 10-6.
Championship — Hunter Genco (Cli) dec. Jacob Fenske (DA) 4-3. Third — Austin Claussen (DN) pinned Connor Allchin (NS) 5:00. Fifth — Jackson Gallagher (Bet) m. dec. Gabriel Groom (DW) 11-3. Genco had a bye, pinned Gallagher 1:40, m. dec. Claussen 13-4.
Championship — Fredy Stroker (Bet) pinned Tony Devriese (DA) 1:31. Third — Travis Willers (PV) pinned Dallas Terry (Bur) 3:57. Fifth — Curtis Ilg (Cli) pinned Tyler Yates (Mus) 3:12. Ilg had a bye, lost to Terry 12-0, pinned Tyler Renken (NS) 2:48, lost 13-2 to Willers.
Championship — Kyle Springer (DA) dec. Logan Ryan (Bet) 1-0. Third — Jacob Ridgeway (NS) pinned Garrett Grimshaw (Bur) 4:30. Fifth — Tim Chapman (DC) wbf over Christian Foote (PV). Riley Chapman (Cli) had a bye, lost 5-3 to Foote, lost 10-6 to T. Chapman.
Championship — Jacob Woodard (Bet) m. dec. Eric Clarke (DA) 12-4. Third — Randy McPhee (PV) pinned Colton Paustian (DW) 2:58. Fifth — Kohl Nylin (NS) dec. Jacob Houghton (DC) 5-2. Dillion Gonyier (Cli) had a bye, was pinned by Woodard :31, lost 15-5 to Houghton.
Championship — Bubba Hernandez (Bet) m. dec. Alex Caldwell (Cli) 16-6. Third — Austin Boyd (Bur) pinned Tionte Parks (DA) 5:56. Fifth — Jakubb Fahrenkrug (NS) dec. Zayne Helsley (Mus) 3-1. Caldwell had a bye, m. dec. Matt Nowak (PV) 23-3, dec. Parks 4-2 tb1.
Championship — Danny Bush (DA) dec. Dustin Caldwell 5-2. Third — Joe Pancratz (NS) m. dec. Jay Huettman 9-1. Fifth — Khamani McQueen (DW) pinned Malique Hudson (Bet) 2:41. Caldwell had a by, pinned Kellen Kemp (Bur) 1:21, dec. Pancratz 6-0.
Championship — Nick Georgean (DA) dec. Dalton Witte (Bur) 9-7. Third — Grant Rosenboom (PV) pinned Eli Preisser (Bet) 3:00. Fifth — Dillion Chase (Cli) dec. Derek Golinghorst (NS) 6-0. Chase had a bye, m. dec. Golinghorst 14-0, lost to Georgean 6-5, lost to Rosenboom 9-0.
Championship — Mitch Bowman (NS) dec. Brady Letney (PV) 3-2. Third — Austin Snow (Bet) pinned Jorge Alba (Mus) 1:21. Fifth — Clint Harland (DA) dec. Nick Ramey (DW) 3-0. Nick Hatheway (Cli) had a bye, lost to Ramey 4-3, was pinned by Snow 3:33.
Championship — Justin Kreiter (NS) m. dec. Seth Skahill (PV) 16-5. Third — Josiah Molina (Cli) pinned Cassin Wolfe (Bet) 1:29. Fifth — Gabriel Rangel (DA) pinned Colby Claussen (Mus) :49. Molina had a bye, dec. Rangel 9-5, lost to Kreiter 9-0, pinned Claussen :56.
Championship — Colin Kreiter (NS) pinned Justin Guilliams 3:58. Third — Zach Adrian (DA) pinned Joe Picchiotti (PV) 4:26. Fifth — AJ Dougherty (Bet) dec. Jordan Trowers (DN) 9-5. Guillams had a bye, m. dec. Talon Burke (Mus) 14-2, dec. Dougherty 4-3.
Champioship — Sean Easler (DA) pinned Cordell Eaton (NS) 3:11. Third — Logan Burke (DC) dec. Connor Moroney (PV) 7-3. Fifth — Blake Crutcher (Bet) pinned Devon Clark (DN) :47. Tristan Steward (Cli) had a bye, was pinned by Burke 1:06, was pinned by Crutcher 1:09.
Championship — Cegan Long (NS) dec. Jake Oldaker (Cli) 5-1. Third — Landon Carney (PV) dec. Ian Burkhard (Bet) 1-1 ult tb (rideout). Fifth — Vincent Clark (Bur) pinned Austin Lamar (DC) 1:58. Oldaker had a bye, pinned Nate Van Pelt-Dunham (DA) 3:04, pinned Carney 3:36.