by Steve Peterson
Taylor James became the latest of Akron-Westfield place winners at the state individual wrestling tournament with a seventh-place finish in Des Moines last week. Included in the prior place winners is Taylor’s dad, Brent James, who placed second at heavyweight in 1988.
James beat Ryan Leonard of Midland-Wyoming by a 4-3 decision to finish seventh and end his career as a senior on the podium. James had a 36-7 record when the tournament ended Feb. 16.
“Coming from the backside (consolation draw) is always tough. You have to come back in an hour and stay competitive. At state, James saw five different wrestling styles and it’s tough to scout your opponent,” said A-W Head Coach Dustin Meinen.
James built an early lead in the seventh place battle and held on.
“He kept moving forward and was not defensive. He led the entire match,” said Meinen of the win over Leonard.
James lost a heartbreaker, 3-1 decision, to Jake Lewis of St. Albert Council Bluffs in the first round of the state individual Class 1A wrestling tournament Feb. 14.
James faced Seth Kerr of English Valleys, North English in the consolation round and won by a 17-0 technical fall. The technical fall happened in the second period.
In the consolation round action on Friday, James beat Taylor Michael of North-Linn-Troy Mills by pin in 3:14.
“The technical fall and the win by pin kept him rolling,” said Meinen.
James lost to Dillon Nelson of St. Edmond, Fort Dodge, by an 8-5 decision.
“James was ahead for most of it,” said Menein.
James went for seventh place on Saturday and beat Ryan Leonard of Midland, Wyoming, by a 4-3 decision. James, had five matches at state and was 3-2 record, earning 7.5 points for the Westerners’ team total.
Meinen praised the character James showed in coming back to earn the seventh place spot. Jesse Svoboda of Audubon, whom James faced at the district meet last week and lost, finished runner-up at the weight class won by Dalton Ciavarelli of Clarksville.
“It’s an almost indescribable atmosphere at state,” said Meinen, in his rookie year guiding the Westerners.
Area officials Tom Huls of Akron and Al Van Wyhe of Ireton worked at the state tournament matches including the finals.
A-W had a huge turnout of fans in Des Moines, said Meinen.
Final District Standings
The Westerners final district qualifiers records were: Tommy Toben, 36-11 record at 120 pounds; Daniel Dirks was 34-10 record at 138 pounds; Cole Oltmanns had a 33-15 record at 145 pounds; and Chet Willer was 37-6 record at 195 pounds. District qualifiers participated in a pre-state meet “send-off” for James at A-W.
As far as off-season plans go, some Westerners may sign up for freestyle tournaments this spring. November and a start of another season will be here before one knows it.
Just before the state individual wrestling began, it was announced by the International Olympics Committee (IOC) that wrestling may be dropped as an Olympic sport in 2020.
Meinen said that was a hot topic in Des Moines and there is hope it is a decision that can be changed.