On Saturday, Jan. 28 the Dallas Center-Grimes Mustangs hosted the Little Hawkeye Conference tournament. Including the Mustangs, seven teams competed.
The tournament was very successful for the Mustangs as they placed second overall with 199.5 team points. Indianola, who is new to the Little Hawkeye Conference, placed first with 244.5 points.
"We thought we had an outside chance of pulling the upset if Indianola stumbled a little," said Coach Clint Knoll. "But, they put 10 in the finals and that pretty much put an end to our chances of winning it. They wrestled very well obviously, but we were happy to get second place."
Each of the Mustangs 13 wrestlers placed at the tournament. Five of the 13 wrestlers placed in third or higher.
Ty Chambers was the only Mustang to place third. Chambers wrestled at 182 pounds and earned 14 points for the Mustangs. His first match of the day was a bye, he was then immediately moved on to the semifinal round. In the semifinals, Chambers wrestled Nick Foster of Norwalk. Chambers lost to Foster by a 13-11 decision. In the consolation semifinal round, Chambers won by fall over Trenton Miller (Grinnell ) in 3:59. For the third place match, he took on Chayton Reif from Indianola. Chambers pinned Reif in 5:29.
The Mustangs had three wrestlers to place second during the tournament. These three included Peyton Braunschweig (106), Ayden Kowaleski (113) and Max Tracy (120), each wrestler earn 18 team points.
Braunschweig wrestled Travis McCombs from Norwalk in the semifinal round. He beat McCombs by a 7-4 decision which put him in the first place match. During the first place match, Braunschweig lost to Brock Breck from Grinnell by an 8-0 major decision that put him in second place.
Kovaleski wrestled next. After a bye, he went on to win the semifinal round against Newton's Blake Cockerton by a 4-3 decision. In the first place match, Kovaleski lost to Kobey Pritchard (Indianola) by fall in 1:15.
In the 120 pound semifinal round, Tracy won by a 10-4 decision over Ethan Vetterick from Norwalk. Tracy then lost the first place match by a 2-1 tie breaker to Connor Sexton of Indianola.
The Mustangs also had three wrestlers place first during the meet. At 138 pounds was Bryce Murano who gained 24 points, next was Zane Mulder (152) with 25 points and lastly was Ben Fisher at 160 pounds with 24 points as well.
Murano was the first Mustang to place first at the tournament. In the semifinal round he pinned Wyatt Dillon of Grinnell in 2:34. When put into the first place match, he beat Zach Fisher from Indianola by a 12-6 decision.
Mulder then placed first for the Mustangs at 152 pounds. His first victory of the day was against Brennan Meacham (Indianola) in the semifinal round. Mulder beat Meacham by a 19-4 technical fall in 4:13. In Mulder's first place match, he won by an 18-1 technical fall over Alan Moore of Norwalk. These two victories earned the Mustangs 25 team points. Mulder also has a 35-2 record on the season.
The third Mustang to place first was Fisher. In the semifinal round he pinned Newton's Tristin Langmaid in just 1:10. He then move on to the first place match were he won by an 8-4 decision over Brayden Elbert of Indianola.
"Ben Fisher won the conference title and I was really happy for him," said Knoll. "He is a kid who has had some ups and downs in his wrestling career but continues to work hard and is getting the most out of it."
Of the other seven Mustangs, three placed fourth at the meet, two placed fifth and one placed sixth.
The Mustangs ended up placing second out of the seven teams in the Little Hawkeye Conference with 199.5 points. The Mustangs next meet is the IHSAA 3A District 1 tournament on Feb. 11.
Coach Knoll has a few goals in mind for his team before this next tournament.
"We need to get better on bottom and finishing shots," said Knoll. "If we can improve in both those areas and continue to do the things we are good at, I think our boys will do very well at Districts."
"My main goal is to get our kids to believe they can beat anyone. You have to have that mentality this time of year. Our kids are scrappy and have wrestled the best kids in the state all year, so it won't be hard to get them to believe it."