In their second to last endeavor through the regular season, the Dallas Center-Grimes wrestling team battled in the annual Little Hawkeye Conference to kick off the month of February Saturday, Feb. 1.
Battling through the seven-team field inside Indianola High School, the Mustangs used a pair of first-place finishes to take third overall as a team, finishing with 173 total team points. Those first-place finishes that highlighted the day for the Mustangs came from Jacob Fistler at 106-pounds and Zach Needham at 170-pounds.
Fistler, Class 3A’s eighth-ranked 106-pound wrestler, came off of his first-round bye and captured victory over Oskaloosa’s Ryllie Siroky by bin fall in two-minutes and thirty seconds. Believe it or not, the easiest match of the day for Fistler came in the title match where he captured his 24th win of the season and a conference title besting 28-win Bowen Downey of Indianola by a 17-4 major decision. His title efforts helped give the team 23 team points.
Zach Needhams strong 2019-20 season continued through the conference tournament. Class 3A’s sixth-ranked 170-pound wrestler began his time by pushing his pinfall win total above double-digits by besting Glake Darnell of Pella in 2:28. Needham tacked on win number 26 in the semi-final round in slick fashion, besting his opponent by an 18-6 major decision. That gave Needham a shot in the title match, the third such time during a major invitational across the season for the senior. That posted him up against 34-win Sean Cunningham of Indianola. Early match points across the first period only grew thanks to quick feet which held off a multitude of attacks. Needham ended up taking the win and the conference title by aa 7-1 decision and capturing his 27th win of the season. Just like with Fistler, Needham’s championship efforts also led to 23 team points on the day.
Coming just shy of a conference title was Luke Fistler at 160 pounds. After excelling in conference action last year, things were looking good for the 2019-20 edition. Following a first-round bye, the Class 3A fifth-ranked 160-pound wrestler picked up one of his top-five quickest victories in a 57-second pinfall win over Newton’s Zane Kohlmeyer. That set up quite the battle and a top-five match-up as Fistler took on Class 3A’s second-ranked 160-pound wrestler in Nick Bonanno of Indianola. Following back-and-forth battling early, Bonanno started edging things out and denied Fistler a conference title by handing the senior an 8-4 decision loss.
Kieran Shawhan at 120-pounds also made his way to the title match. Things began with a first-round bye and continued with a 4-1 decision to make it to the title match. Unfortunately, Shawhan’s bid for a conference title and a 14th win on the season fell short with a 5-1 defeat in the title match to Norwalk’s Donovan Card. Shawhan still picked up 16 team points on the day and brought his overall record t 13-12.
There were several third-place finishers for the Mustangs including Riley Kovaleski at 126-pounds, winning his third-place match by a 5-2 decision. Brayden Broderick at 152-pounds took an early loss in the semifinal round to Class 3A’s seventh-ranked Brennan Meacham but stormed back with two straight wins including a 44-second pinfall win to begin the consolation round while capturing the third-place match with a pinfall win and his seventh victory of the season. Brayden’s efforts earned him 16 team points.
Logan Gard at 113-pounds rounded out the third-place finishers as he avenged a semifinal loss with two straight victories to not only pick up his 18th victory of the season but provide the Mustangs with 18 team points.
Next up for the Mustang grapplers will be a road trip to Ankeny Centennial High School to take part in a five-team tournament on Saturday, Feb. 8. The field will include