DES MOINES — During a roughly 15-minute span early Friday afternoon, Creston/Orient-Macksburg put together the kind of stretch that wins state championships. Then the program nearly repeated the feat later Friday night.
The Panthers took command of the Class 2-A state tournament’s team race with a quarterfinal round that left coach Darrell Frain exhausted from jumping around in celebration. Five reached the semifinals, and three of those did enough to earn a chance at an individual state title Saturday night at Wells Fargo Arena.
Wyatt Thompson (138 pounds), Chase Shiltz (170) and Seth Maitlen (195) moved into the main event, while teammates Cameron Leith (160) and Kadon Hulett (220) lost in the semis but still secured top-eight state medals.
“We’ve had a run today that’s unreal,” Frain said. “The slip-up at 220 kind of kicks you in the rear there a little bit. But as a whole, wow, our kids got after it today. In defeat they were wrestling hard, and it shows in those wins when we pull them out in the end.”
Creston heads into the last day of the state meet with 81.5 team points, leading a pack that also includes Clarion-Goldfield-Dows (73.5), Albia (60) and Glenwood (58).
One of the biggest upsets of the day came in the quarters at 160, when No. 7 Leith shocked Osage’s No. 1 Tristan Johnson, who had lost just once, with a pin in 3:47. One after another, the Panthers found a way.
In the semis, No. 3 Maitlen provided another highlight when he pulled out a 7-5 overtime thriller against West Liberty’s No. 2 Bryce Esmoil, who entered at 47-0.
“Especially here at Wells Fargo, it’s easy to get caught up in the noise, the pressure,” Maitlen said. “But you try to eliminate all pressure and take it one move at a time. Worry about yourself here in these big tournaments, and at the end it all works out normally.”
The area will be well represented Saturday night. Creston’s trio is joined by Atlantic’s Carter Cox (113), Sergeant Bluff-Luton’s Brayden Curry (126) and Glenwood’s Matt Malcom (152).
Cox, rated No. 7, decisioned New Hampton’s No. 5 Noah Fye 2-1 in the semis, while No. 2 Curry rolled to a 14-3 major against No. 4 Ryan Steffen of Crestwood-Cresco.
“It’s not all soaked in yet that I’m a state finalist,” Cox said. “It hasn’t really hit completely. It’s hard to put into words what it feels like. All the hard work has paid off.”
No. 1 Malcom was locked into a tight semifinal bout with No. 5 Isaac Judge of South Tama. Though the Iowa recruit was unhappy with a series of moves in the second period, the result was a pin in 4:26.
“I’ve had three or four tournaments that are arguably just as hard, if not harder than this one,” Malcom said. “This one is just a little more special.”
The area’s other semifinal participant was Clarinda’s No. 2 J.J. Clark (182). He dropped a 10-7 decision to No. 1 and unbeaten Nick Baumler of North Fayette Valley.
Glenwood adds four more medalists in Trevor Anderson (126), Anthony Sherry (170), Zach Haggstrom (195) and Caleb Sanders (285). Atlantic secures hardware from Kole Hansen (106), Zac Stork (182) and John McConkey (285) in addition to Cox.
SB-L’s Rhyker Sims and Bedford/Lenox’s Jared Hensley also guaranteed themselves medals at 120.
Team scoring leaders: Creston/Orient-Macksburg 81.5, Clarion-Goldfield-Dows 73.5, Albia 60, Glenwood 58, Mediapolis 56.5.
Western Iowa semifinals — 113: Carter Cox, Atlantic, dec. Noah Fye, New Hampton, 2-1. 126: Brayden Curry, Sergeant Bluff-Luton, major dec. Ryan Steffen, Crestwood, 14-3. 138: Wyatt Thompson, Creston/O-M, dec. Kyler Rieck, Spirit Lake Park, 8-1. 152: Matt Malcom, Glenwood, pinned Isaac Judge, South Tama County, 4:26. 160: Zach Johnston, ADM, dec. Cameron Leith, Creston/O-M, 6-3. 170: Chase Shiltz, Creston/O-M, tech. fall Bailey Chyma, South Tama County, 17-1. 182: Nick Baumler, North Fayette Valley, dec. J.J. Clark, Clarinda, 10-7. 195: Seth Maitlen, Creston/O-M, dec. Bryce Esmoil, West Liberty, 7-5 (SV). 220: Levi Duwa, Mid-Prairie, pinned Kadon Hulett, Creston/O-M, 5:57.
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