by Steve Peterson
It was one good week of accomplishments for Taylor James of Akron-Westfield.
The senior on Feb. 6, National Football Signing Day, signed a letter-of-intent to attend Morningside College and play football for the Mustangs.
There was still work to be done, and James did it by securing the second spot in the Class 1A 182-pound weight class trip to the state wrestling tournament at the West Monona District in Onawa Feb. 9. James beat Zach Klingensmith of Woodbury Central by a 5-3 decision to earn the trip to Des Moines.
James was the lone Westerner to qualify for the Class 1A state meet, which begins Feb. 14. James lost to Jesse Svoboda of Audubon in a pin in 3:18 in the first place match and then beat Ben Wellman of Tri-Center-Neola, by pin in 3:03.
James was confident going into the match against Klingensmith, whom he had defeated last week at sectional.
“I knew I could control him and ride him out,” said James.
“I did not wrestle the way I wanted to in the first-place match. But you have to come back and be ready for the second-place match,” said James.
“I’ll spend two to three days in good practice mode for state. It’s important to win your first match,” said James.
James will take a 33-5 season record to state.
“It’s a great achievement for James. He wrestled a smart match. There will be a lot of teammates helping him prepare in the room for state,” said A-W Head Coach Dustin Meinen.
For James, the Class 1A tournament begins Feb. 14 and hopefully will continue through Feb. 16 at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
James drew Jake Lewis of Council Bluffs-St. Albert in the first round at 9:00 a.m., Feb. 14.
A send-off from A-W was planned for 2:30 p.m., Feb. 12.
Other A-W District Results
As tournament fate would have it, while James won, the A-W 195-pounder Chet Willer, was also going for the second and final qualifying spot at his weight class and a second straight trip to state. He lost to Blake Sappingfield of Lawton-Bronson by a 5-2 decision. Willer had also lost his first place match to Trey Sander of Exira-Elk Horn-Kimballton, a 26-1 record opponent, with a 5-1 decision. Willer, ranked sixth in the state, ended the season with a 37-6 record. Willer had pinned Darin Peterson of Woodbury Central in the first round in 3:23.
Freshman Tommy Toben gained a third-place finish at 120 pounds. Toben, 36-11 final record, beat Christian Hilgenberg of Coon Rapids-Bayard, by a close 2-1 decision. He lost by pin to Gable Verschoor of Woodbury Central in a pin in 2:17. Toben had lost to Verschoor the first time the two met in the tournament’s first round by pin in 1:22.
Senior Daniel Dirks took fourth place at 138 pounds. He lost to Brady Charbonneau of Logan-Magnolia by pin in 0:56 in the third-place match and lost to Chase Petersen of Audubon by pin in 3:48 in the first round.
Cole Oltmanns took home a fourth-place finish at 145 pounds. He lost to Darrian Irlbeck of Tri-Center-Neola, by a close 7-5 decision in the third-place battle. Oltmanns lost a 3-2 decision to Evan Hansen of Exira-Elk Horn-Kimballton in the first round.
“The guys worked so hard and have been through so much,” said Meinen in summing up the district tournament and the season.
A-W finished in a seventh place tie with Maple Valley-Anthon-Oto with 33 points. Woodbury Central of Moville won the team title with 136.5 points.