Knights mount up for state

Union sending four to State Tournament Four wrestlers from the Union Knights wrestling team including Hunter Worthen, Adam Ahrendsen, Stone Schmitz and Lincoln Mehlert will compete at the traditional state wrestling tournament startng Thursday, Feb. 18 at Wells Fargo Arena. The first session will begin Thursday evening at 6 p.m. Allison Graham/North Tama Telegraph

WILLIAMSBURG — Saturday wrestling in February has long been a fruitful endeavor for the Union Knights high school wrestling team.

In 2021 that is something which has remained constant, despite so many routines and traditions altered this past year during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Four Union wrestlers, including Adam Ahrendsen, Lincoln Mehlert, Stone Schmitz and Hunter Worthen, advanced to the Iowa High School State Wrestling Tournament after emerging as champions from the Class 2A district tournament in Williamsburg on Feb. 13.

Ahrendsen, the senior UNI commit and 2020 state champion, cruised through his 182-pound bracket with wins by fall over Kade Pekarek of BCLUW-SH and Austin Roos of Benton Community.

Ahrendsen (19-0) will start the state tournament as the top-seeded wrestler and will take on Ayden Frazer (20-7) of Washington.

Union junior Stone Schmitz (right) earned his 100th high school victory with a win over Logan Aicher of BCLUW-SH at districts on Feb. 13. Allison Graham/North Tama Telegraph

Schmitz will make his third appearance at the state tournament after defeating Logan Aicher of BCLUW-SH by fall and Teegan McEnany of Independence with a 15-0 technical fall Saturday. Schmitz also celebrated his 100th career victory Saturday during his semifinal win over Aicher.

Schmitz will begin his tournament against Zander Ernst (37-3) of Ridge View.

For Mehlert and Worthen, 2021 brings a fresh opportunity to make their mark in Des Moines after district losses shut them out of the tournament last year.

Mehlert, the senior 145-pounder, won his semifinal district match over Dane Thompson of East Marshall/GMG with a pin in the third period and then his championship match with a 6-1 decision over Andres Cantillo of Grinnell.

Although Mehlert (32-5) enters the tournament as a district champion, the bracket seeding dealt him no favors. He’ll begin against No. 7 Logan Peyton (28-10) of West Delaware, who he lost to by a narrow decision at the Jerry Eckenrod Tournament earlier in the season.

At 160 pounds, Worthen started his district bracket with a win by fall over Logan Walton of East Marshall/GMG and a statement victory over No. 6 Landon Kirby of Grinnell by an 11-4 decision.

Worthen recovered from a first-period takedown by Kirby, scoring a two-point reversal and two near-fall back points to end the first period up 4-2.

It was all Worthen the rest of the way, as he scored seven points in the final two periods while holding Kirby to only a third-period reversal. Worthen also celebrated his 100th career victory at the district tournament along with Schmitz.

Third-ranked Worthen (33-4) will face Zander Reed (42-9) of Central Decatur in the opening round at state.

It was a tough day at the office for Union’s 132-pounder Kolten Crawford.

The senior had his sights set on another podium finish at the state tournament after qualifying and finishing fourth last season.

But the district competition in Williamsburg was steep with top-ranked, 2020 state runner-up and Linn-Mar transfer Brandon O’Brien of Independence and 2020 state place-winner, No. 4 Logan Arp of South Tama populating the four-man bracket.

Crawford ended with a 7-5 loss to Arp and did not get a chance for a second-place wrestle-back as O’Brien pinned Arp in the championship round.

Crawford finished third at the district meet with a win by fall over West Marshall’s Caden Vellinga and will finish his season with an overall record of 25-7.

The four Knights wrestlers headed to the state tournament will take the mats at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines on Feb. 18 during the third session of the day that begins at 6 p.m.

Tickets for the state tournament will go on sale to the general public beginning at noon on Feb. 16.