There are various ways to positively take in the new 2020 calendar year. For the Van Meter/Earlham wrestling team, that meant picking up their 10th dual meet win of the season Tuesday, Jan. 7 in a varsity triangular.

The Bulldogs were battling it out with conference foe ACGC and non-conference member East Union inside the confines of ACGC High School in Guthrie Center. While there, the Bulldogs bested the Chargers 70-11 while also taking care of business against East Union 71-9. The pair of wins officially gives the Bulldogs ten dual meet wins on the season with an overall record of ten wins and just two dual meet losses.

Highlighting the night for Van Meter/Earlham was Bryce Cole who officially punched his ticket past the century mark with 100 career wins. One of his two wins on the night came against ACGC’s Griffin Ayers by pinfall (2:42). That was one of seven pinfall wins against the Chargers as the Bulldogs suffered just two losses for the match and Cole was one of 12 individuals to go unblemished on the night. Cole’s other victory came by way of Forfeit and when all was said and done for the night, Cole entered rarified air and took some pressure off of his shoulders as head coach Chas Funaro talked about following the triangular.

“It was a nice accomplishment and for Bryce is a relief now that it’s over and he can focus on getting 125 and beyond,” began Funaro. “An accomplishment like that means a lot to Bryce and his parents as well as this team with the time and commitment he has put in.”

The victories also helped Bryce eclipse the ten win mark currently for the 2019-20 campaign. He now joins three other seniors on the roster that have hit the 100 career wins mark which in the world of Iowa high school wrestling, means joining a very small and talented group.

“When people ask me how we’re going to be this year, being senior heavy helps but we have around four seniors with 100 career wins or more,” started coach Funaro. “That’s rare to see in wrestling statewide. Not a lot of teams have that kind of experience let alone that level of success. It feels good going to a dual and knowing that the guys are comfortable and know what they’re doing out there.”

A similar successful outcome happened for the Bulldogs against East Union where they picked up 12 total victories while suffering just two losses. Among Bryce Cole and many others win undefeated nights, Riley Harger at 120-pounds brought his win total up to over double-digits with a pinfall win against ACGC (3:53) and a victory by forfeit in the East Union match. Harger has been one of many individuals coach Funaro has been pleased with in terms of progression.

“Riley has done a great job this season. Lost an early match this season to Logan Christe of Panorama and it was a match where he was frustrated because he knew he was good enough to win the match,” began Funaro. “He saw him again and came up with a win and then saw him again at conference finals and won again. He’s a guy that’s doing the little things right and it’s been fun to watch him be successful and I anticipate more of that here in the future.”

It certainly was a lineup filled with great wrestling performances not just for the night but for the season. That included Caleb Swalla who after a late start to the season, came surging back to dominance and is seemingly a step ahead of where he was last season as noted by coach Funaro.

“He did start late during the season but we challenged him that now’s the time for him to take things to the next level,” said Funaro. “Last year we felt like he was dominant but this year he’s seemed to answer the challenge and he’s much more aggressive on his feet and he’s pinning guys. In the last couple of years, he hasn’t been a guy that can close out a match the way he’s doing it this year. He’s responded very well and I think he’s already tripled his amount of falls from last season.”

With the triangular finished and Van Meter sent home victoriously, they will now set their sites on another varsity triangular which will take them to Bondurant-Farrar High School on Thursday, Jan. 9. There the Bulldogs will battle it out with host Bondurant-Farrar and Perry. Van Meter will wield three ranked wrestlers while facing off against a Bondurant-Farrar team with four ranked wrestlers and a Perry squad with two in the top ten. The overall triangular will begin at 5:30 p.m.