Demon wrestlers focused on individual goals
Wrestling is a unique sport in that it is an individual sport where a team score is kept.
So even though Washington would like to finish in the top two spots in the team race at this Saturday’s Class 2A sectional tournament in Mediapolis, which would qualify the squad for the regional dual tournament, the Demons are more focused on getting individual wrestlers qualified for the following weekend’s district tournament.
“We’re more focused right now on getting everybody through [to districts],” Washington junior 152-pounder Tanner Knupp said. “If your individuals do well then the team will be fine.”
Knupp is one of several Demons who seem poised to reach the district tournament. Knupp is 27-5, and his main competition at this weekend’s sectional is Mediapolis sophomore Bradley Conley, who won the Southeast Iowa Super Conference title at 152 pounds this past weekend.
“I’d say it’s between me and a kid from Mepo,” Knupp said.
Senior 138-pounder Mitchell Hora, junior 113-pounder Fletcher Green, junior 120-pounder Tristan Pohren and sophomore 170-pounder Brad Skubal were all sectional champions last year and are looking to repeat. Green is ranked fifth in Class 2A, and Pohren is ranked 10th.
“Those guys have pretty good records, and I would guess they stand a pretty good chance [of advancing to districts],” Washington head coach Brent Van Weelden said.
Skubal’s road to districts appears to be the rockiest. Second-ranked Adam Drain of Mediapolis and sixth-ranked Seth Davisson of Fairfield stand in his way.
“Brad has the No. 2-ranked kid in the state, the Drain kid from Mediapolis, and he also has the fourth-ranked kid, Davisson, in his bracket on Saturday, so he’s going to have to have to come ready to wrestle,” Van Weelden said. “I think if he can get through this weekend, the next weekend should be a possibility as well.”
Along with Hora, seniors Aaron Kempf and Matt Grote will be wrestling for what could be their final time this weekend.
“Matt is a senior and Aaron is a senior, so this is their last big hurrah,” Van Weelden said. “Hopefully they come motivated and ready to wrestle.”
Sophomore 106-pounder Michael Witt closed the season with a flourish, taking third place at Saturday’s Southern Iowa Classic in Fairfield. He is seeming to hit his stride at the right time.
“Michael is wrestling tough right now,” Van Weelden said.
Van Weelden added that he wouldn’t be surprised if any of the 13 wrestlers he’s taking to Mediapolis on Saturday advance to districts.
“We’ve got a lot of guys wrestling well,” he said. “I wouldn’t count anybody out come Saturday.”
And if all of the Demons wrestle well on Saturday, a return trip to the regional duals isn’t out of the question.
“It’s obviously something that we want to do,” said Van Weelden, whose teams have qualified for regional duals twice in the last three years. “We’ve gone twice before. It’s a nice accomplishment to make the regional duals.”