Knights medal two at state
DES MOINES — For the Union Knights, state wrestling has become a commonplace occurrence. This year, four Knights wrestlers had the opportunity to compete on the state’s biggest stage for a shot at a first place medal.
Two of the four competitors from Union emerged with podium finishes including senior Adam Ahrendsen and junior Hunter Worthen.
It was a week of critical rematches as several of Union’s state wrestlers would find themselves staring across the mat at familiar opponents at crucial junctures in the tournament.
Ahrendsen entered the tournament as the top-seeded wrestler in his 182-pound bracket, coming in undefeated across a short regular season that was interrupted early by injury.
The 2020 state champ cruised through the first three rounds with two wins by fall and a 10-2 major decision win over Benton Community’s Austin Roos, an opponent who Ahrendsen had wrestled three times over the previous three weeks.
In the championship bout on Saturday night, Ahrendsen faced a rematch with second-ranked Spencer Mooberry of Osage. Ahrendsen got the better of Mooberry early in the regular season, winning by a 7-4 decision.
Mooberry got out to a fast start against Ahrendsen, scoring a takedown in the first period of the state championship match. Ahrendsen started from the bottom position in period two and tied the score with a two-point reversal. Mooberry managed a one-point escape to enter the third period up 3-2. In the third, Mooberry scored first with a one-point escape coming out of the bottom position but with 53 seconds remaining Ahrendsen scored two points from a takedown to tie the score at four and send the match into sudden death overtime.
Mooberry would end the match with a takedown scored late in the overtime period, upsetting the top-ranked Ahrendsen on his mission for a second straight state title.
Of the four Union wrestlers at state, Worthen had the busiest schedule as a trip through the consolation side of the 160-pound bracket meant the junior would end up wrestling six matches before the tournament was done.
After a 11-3 major decision win over Zander Reed of Central Decatur in the opening round, Worthen was upended by Garrett Seaba of Clarion-Goldfield-Dows in the quarterfinals by a 5-2 decision.
In the consolation side Worthen won his next two matches, the first by fall and the second a major decision, before taking a consolation semifinal match loss to fifth-ranked Allen Catour of Assumption Catholic by a score of 7-1.
In his final match for fifth place, Worthen prevailed with a 7-1 rematch victory over sixth-ranked Landon Kirby of Grinnell who he had defeated a week prior at the district meet.
The fifth place podium finish was Worthen’s first state medal effort.
For senior Lincoln Mehlert, the tournament was one last chance to return to the state podium after he placed eighth during his sophomore season in the 106-pound weight class.
Mehlert took an opening round loss by fall to West Delaware’s Logan Peyton who had defeated Mehlert earlier in year by a 6-3 decision.
Mehlert survived the blood round Thursday night with rematch major decision victory over Andres Cantillo of Grinnell, the district runner-up Mehlert defeated a week prior.
But the run was cut short on Friday as Mehlert ended his high school wrestling career with a 10-4 loss in the second round of the consolation bracket to Christian Eslick of Roland-Story.
Junior Stone Schmitz has traveled to the state tournament in each of the past two seasons but has been unable to break through to a medal finish.
Like Mehlert, Schmitz took an opening round loss, a close 9-6 decision against Zander Ernst of Ridge View, but bounced back with a consolation round victory over Stephen Conley of Albia.
A loss to fifth-ranked Jadyn Peyton of West Delaware in the second round of consolation play would mark the end of the road for Schmitz at the state tournament.
The Knights graduate three decorated wrestlers off their starting roster this year including Ahrendsen, Mehlert, past state place-winner Kolten Crawford and Brady Hilmer who finished his season at the sectional tournament with a record of 17-6.
Worthen and Schmitz look to highlight the senior class next season along with Dacoda Marvets who finished 12-7 and heavyweight Gabe Hanson who finished his season 8-10.
Freshman Brock Ruzicka, Keegan Ellsworth and Caleb Olson were also key contributors for the Knights varsity squad this year, each finishing well above .500.