DESMOINES — After 11 years, the payoff has finally arrived for McGwire Midkiff and Colton Clingenpeel.
The two were part of the first dozen or so Council Bluffs grade-schoolers who signed up to wrestle with Cobra during the club's debut in 2005. They grew up in the program run by Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson coach AugustManz, figuring out the sport along the way.
After enduring past frustrations at the state tournament, both Yellow Jackets are now one match from being Class 3-A state champions.
Second-rated Midkiff (113 pounds) picked up a 12-3 major decision over Cedar Rapids Jefferson's unrated Joseph Sibomana in Friday morning's quarterfinal round, then won a 2-0 decision over Indianola's No. 7 Lance Runyon in the evening semifinals.
No. 1 Clingenpeel (152) notched his toughest win in the quarters against No. 2 Kyle Briggs of Cedar Rapids Jefferson. The senior used an escape and takedown in the second period to triumph 3-0 before routing unrated Solomon Jones of Southeast Polk 12-2 in the semifinals.
"I can't express how happy I am for both those two and what they've done," Manz said. "They really deserve this."
Midkiff scored his only semifinal points with a takedown in the opening two minutes. He couldn't escape Runyon from the bottom position in the second period, then rode him out in the third.
"He rode me out — I wasn't going to give anything up," said Midkiff, who improved to 52-5. "That hurt my pride. He rides me out, so I want to ride him out to get the win.
"I've worked 11 years to get to this moment. I've had a lot of downs, but it just turned around. And this year, to be one step closer to my goals, it's outstanding."
Thomas Jefferson assistant Keith Midkiff has seen firsthand how far his son has come. There was perhaps no lower moment than when McGwire lost in the 106 semifinals 7-4 to Fort Dodge's Brody Teske last year. On Friday, son jumped into father's arms after the match at Wells Fargo Arena to share a tearful embrace.
"People don't know the pain and the knee troubles he's had and the injuries," Keith Midkiff said. "But it doesn't stop him. He works hard every day, and I'm really proud of him."
Top-rated Teske (42-0) will again be the challenge for Midkiff in Saturday's final. The two have already met four times in the last two years, with the Fort Dodge standout coming out ahead by a few points each time.
Clingenpeel is into his first finals after taking third last season at 138. LikeMidkiff, the four-time state placer is looking to become the school's first champion since Bryce Carruthers in 2004. He also celebrated his 200th career win in the quarters.
He had lost in the quarterfinals in his first three state trips.
Clingenpeel draws Cedar Rapids Kennedy's No. 4 Logen Rodriguez (38-7) in the final.
Sioux City North's No. 2 Deion Clayborne (170) became western Iowa's third 3-A wrestler to reach championship night. He broke a 7-7 tie with 23 seconds left in the third period, then got back points before winning 12-8 against Fort Dodge's No. 4 Jonah Egli. Clayborne gets nationally rated and No. 1 Marcus Coleman of Ames next.
Also securing top-eight state medals from the area Friday were Lewis Central's Gabe Kjeldgaard (126) and Carroll's Zach Beyerink (285).