The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Sports

December 17, 2012

Kings win Saber title

DEWITT — One week after fearing they might have lost two-time state placewinner Hunter Genco for the season, the Clinton River Kings were watching their junior standout wrestle as if he didn't have a care in the world.

But the Clinton wrestlers, coaches and fans had a lot more to enjoy than just that Saturday as they won the team title at the Saber Invitational.

View and purchase photos from the Saber Invitational.

The River Kings won four of their six championship matches, added two thirds and totaled 206 points to outdistance the host school by 10.5 points in team scoring.

"I'm glad we won because we don't win a lot of them (team titles), but we're starting to get that attitude," Clinton coach J.D. Lueders said. "I don't think we wrestled our best, but we showed guts to win the title."

One of the guttiest performances came from Genco at 120 pounds.

Frustrated after a lopsided loss last Saturday in the finals of a tournament in Sterling, Ill., Genco took out his anger, and his hand paid the price. Initially, the staff feared the damage was bad enough that it would threaten Genco's season. It turned out the injury wasn't as bad as feared, and Genco was ready to go Saturday, albeit with his hand in a pad.

"I really knew I was going to wrestle no matter what,” said Genco, who beat Northeast’s Tyler Schoon 12-3 for the title. “I didn't really care what was going to happen. I wasn't going to give up wrestling.”

One week also made a big difference for Raf Ramirez, Clinton’s 220-pounder. He avenged a loss in last week’s final to Cameron Donovan by beating him in the semifinals Saturday.

“He beat me by one last week, and I just wanted to settle it,” Ramirez said. “It was a good win. This week we focused a lot on getting one, scoring one and working the hands while I'm down. So that played a big part.”

Ramirez beat Riverdale’s Logan Sherman 1-0 in the final, scoring the lone point on a second-period escape.

“It's even better (when the team wins),” Ramirez said after winning the first individual title of his career. “Not only did I get first, but we won the team championship. We're going to go home happy today. It's the second championship we've won and we expect to win more.”

Clinton also got titles from Dustin Caldwell and Dillon Chase for the second week in a row. Caldwell beat Blake Dierks of Northeast 11-1 at 152 pounds, while Chase defeated Central DeWitt’s Grey-son Doolittle in a repeat of last week, 6-2, at 160.

The host Sabers came away with four runners-up. One of them, Walker Wegener, lost 9-6 to Northeast’s Connor Soenksen at 132.

“I'm pretty happy,” said Soenksen, a senior who is a returning state qualifier. “It's been awhile since I've won a tournament. I think my freshman year.

“I could have done better. In my finals match I stayed in good position and was a smart wrestler, not an aggressive one. That was my goal: to stay in position and be smart. I could have pushed it a little harder, maybe, but decided not to, I guess."

Maquoketa placed third in the team standings with 127 and had one champion, freshman Jacob Kloft, who beat Dax Dills of Cedar Rapids Washington 9-4 at 138.

The only other area champion was another freshman, Brice Everson of Camanche. He pinned all three of his opponents, including Louis Gnida of Solon in the final.

Everson trailed Gnida 3-2 after one period but finished the match in 3:38 after electing to start the second period on his feet.

"I knew my sweep single was quick and knew that was what was going to get me (points),” Everson said. “I had the leg up and I was going to finish it for a double, but I saw he was hanging his head, so I took my arm, came across, cradled him on his feet and after that I had him on his back and I told myself he wasn’t getting out of this period."

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