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Panthers capture fourth consecutive Harris team title

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CORNING, Iowa — Darrell Frain insists it isn’t easy to win the John J. Harris tournament.

Still, Creston-Orient/Macksburg makes it seem that way.

Creston’s coach watched his wrestlers pull away from the 23-team field for a fourth straight time Saturday afternoon inside the sweltering gymnasium at Southwest Valley High School. Five Panthers won individual championships and six more medaled with top-six finishes.

“We’re on a pretty good run the last few years,” Frain said. “Everybody else looks at just the guys that are winning, and I look at the guys that lose a close one. As a coaching staff you sometimes get frustrated, but the end result is exciting that our kids keep doing the job for us.”

Creston collected 237 points, well ahead of runner-up New Hampton (170.5) and Clarinda (166). Atlantic (138) and Winterset (122.5) were the only other schools that reached triple digits in the 60th edition of the event.

Creston’s champs won in a variety of ways Saturday. Iowa Class 2-A No. 10 Spencer Wray (138 pounds) took a Harris title for a second straight year, holding off Ryan Gorman of New Hampton 13-10. Joey Huntington (145) and 2-A No. 1 Chase Shiltz (160) won by final scores of 5-2 and 13-4, respectively. Shiltz improved to 20-0 on the season.

Workout partners Seth Maitlen (195) and Kadon Hulett (220) each avenged earlier losses to Clarinda opponents en route to claiming their brackets. Class 2-A No. 8 Maitlen went to overtime with 2-A No. 7 Christian Lauritzen before scoring a takedown 27 seconds into overtime. Hulett, rated No. 9 in 2-A, followed with a pin of Brook Stephens in 3:18.

“It’s always a tough tournament and always a tough bracket,” Maitlen said. “But just the way we practice, we’re able to get through it. Mentally it helps a lot with the way we practice.”

Clarinda still got two wrestlers to the top of the podium in J.J. Clark (rated No. 6 in 2-A at 170) and Trey Stickler (182). Both won going away: Stickler majored Clarke’s Nathan Bair 13-3 after Clark pinned Creston’s Tayler Pettit.

Clarinda coach Josh Porter said the event marked the beginning of a lot of mat time with Creston. The two Hawkeye Ten schools will meet at the conference tournament next week in Glenwood, as well as the following two Saturdays at sectionals and districts.

Catching the Panthers is “something we continue to work on,” Porter said.

“Creston’s obviously got a good team,” he said. “I thought we let a couple matches slip away from us there at the end, and that probably would have been the difference in us taking second today.”

New Hampton landed three champs in Noah Fye (106), Connor Cleveland (113) and Keaton Geerts (120). Other titles went to Tri-Center’s Christian Polley (126), Bedford/Lenox’s Dusten Reed (132), East Mills’ Josh Hopkins (152) and Mount Ayr’s Joe Ricker (285).

Reed (36-0) and Hopkins (37-0) remained undefeated. Polley (30-2) continued his assault on weekend tournaments with three pins, capped by a 7-6 decision over Missouri Valley’s Nick Rounds in the finals.

“As long as I just keep my feet moving the whole time, I can stay out of bad situations and wrestle my game,” Polley said. “This sets a pretty big goal for state. The next big step is going to be (a state title), definitely.”

Cleveland, Wray, Shiltz and Ricker each repeated as Harris title winners.

Creston’s Frain said the tournament always kicks off the final frenzied month of the season that includes conference and postseason action. With the team as healthy as can be expected, now is when Creston ramps up its daily workouts.

“We just want to make sure when they leave the practice room that being on the mat (at tournaments) is the fun part,” Frain said.

Team scoring: Creston-Orient/Macksburg 237, New Hampton 170.5, Clarinda 166, Atlantic 138, Winterset 122.5, Riverside 71, Chariton 67, Bedford/Lenox 66.5, East Mills 66.5, Tri-Center 66, Mount Ayr 59.5, Missouri Valley 53, Southwest Iowa 522, Red Oak 42, Central Decatur 39, Panorama 36, Nodaway Valley 32, Coon Rapids-Bayard 28, Shenandoah 27, Clarke 24, Griswold 23, Wayne 16.

Championship round: 106 pounds: Noah Fye, New Hampton, tech. fall Tatem Bluml, Riverside, 18-2. 113: Connor Cleveland, New Hampton, major dec. Jared Hensley, Bedford/Lenox, 10-2. 120: Keaton Geerts, New Hampton, pinned Hadley Ogg, Griswold, 3:07. 126: Christian Polley, Tri-Center, dec. Nick Rounds, Missouri Valley, 7-6. 132: Dusten Reed, Bedford/Lenox, pinned Tucker Bluml, Riverside, :55. 138: Spencer Wray, Creston, dec. Ryan Gorman, New Hampton, 13-10. 145: Joey Huntington, Creston, dec. Reid Nichols, Atlantic, 5-2. 152: Josh Hopkins, East Mills, dec. Luke Strong, Clarinda, 8-3. 160: Chase Shiltz, Creston, major dec. Colton Ranney, Central Decatur, 13-4. 170: JJ Clark, Clarinda, pinned Tayler Pettit, Creston, :53. 182: Trey Stickler, Clarinda, major dec. Nathan Bair, Clarke, 13-3. 195: Seth Maitlen, Creston, dec. Christian Lauritsen, Clarinda, 3-1 (OT). 220: Kadon Hulett, Creston, pinned Brook Stephens, Clarinda, 3:18. 285: Joe Ricker, Mount Ayr, pinned Skyler Svoboda, Atlantic, 1:53.

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