DES MOINES — Ethan Ruby took the first shot. But the ensuing toss-up scramble went his opponent’s way.
It turned out to be a sign of frustrations to come as Ruby, Council Bluffs Lewis Central’s fourth-rated senior at 152 pounds, never found a rhythm and fell 5-1 in the Class 3-A state wrestling semifinal round Friday night at Wells Fargo Arena.
Instead it was No. 5 Trey Blaha of Cedar Rapids Prairie moving on. The eastern Iowa senior took the 2-0 lead, then rode out Ruby for the entire second period. He added an insurance takedown in the third to keep Lewis Central shut out of Saturday’s championship night for the first time in 17 years.
“When you get behind, then you’re trying to come back and then you force the action,” Lewis Central coach Doug Kjeldgaard said. “Ethan wrestled a decent match — it’s just that 50-50 first takedown makes it tough.”
Ruby had been trying to earn the right to become the school’s 36th state wrestling champ. Instead he will wrestle in the consolation round Saturday and try to equal his third-place showing from last year.
Kjeldgaard said the agonizing part was that almost no one rode Ruby for two full minutes all winter. Ruby declined to talk about the match afterward.
“First of all, he’s a good kid, and I like working with good kids,” Kjeldgaard said. “I’m disappointed for him, but this is wrestling and that stuff happens. I feel sorry for him because he didn’t do anything wrong — he wrestled well — and it just didn’t bounce the right way.”
Western Iowa’s other two semifinalists — both from Sioux City East — also came up short of the title match. No. 5 junior Mitchell Otto (170 pounds) lost 2-1 to No. 3 Corey Abernathy of Waverly-Shell Rock while unrated senior Calvin Buchanan dropped a 15-0 technical fall to No. 2 Izaak Miller of Waverly-Shell Rock.
Like Ruby, both will finish no worse than sixth overall. Otto and Buchanan each went 0-2 at state last year.
The quarterfinal round proved disastrous for western Iowa, with 10 of the 13 contenders dropping to the consolation side. Otto and Buchanan pulled upsets to reach the semis, and Ruby cruised past No. 6 Josh Davis of Des Moines East 7-0, thanks to a second-period near fall.
Otto upended No. 2 Brady Letney of Pleasant Valley 4-2. Buchanan, down 3-2 in the final 10 seconds, bagged a takedown and three-point near fall to complete a 7-3 shocker over No. 3 Josh Allen of Cedar Rapids Jefferson.
Thomas Jefferson’s McGwire Midkiff (106), Colton Clingenpeel (126) and Jason Wallace (145) all fell on tough times after winning their state openers Thursday. Clingenpeel and Wallace, facing higher-rated foes, suffered pins. No. 5 Midkiff, a freshman, dueled with No. 7 Adam Brown of Southeast Polk for four scoreless periods and eventually lost 1-0 on an illegal hold call in the ultimate tiebreaker.
All three Jackets responded with second-round consolation wins and are guaranteed state medals when the final wrestleback rounds start at 10 a.m. Saturday.
Other quarterfinal losers were Glenwood’s Matt Malcom and Josh Clark — both were majored — along with Abraham Lincoln’s Jordan Bywater (285), Lewis Central’s Paxton Whiteaker (106), Denison-Schleswig’s Jorge Partida (113) and Sioux City East’s Johnny Stephens (138) and Josh Schambach (160).
Of those, Bywater and Partida won later in the consolation round to secure a top-eight finish and state medal. North’s Connor Coyle (145) and Deion Clayborne (152) and Carroll’s Israel Dirkx (145) also will end Saturday on the podium.
Western Iowa will have 11 medalists of its 30 qualifiers.