Tyler Hebl had to wait an entire year to erase the sting of falling one win short of the state tournament.
Hebl made sure the wait was worth it on Saturday.
The West High senior secured his first ever trip to the state tournament with a title at 145 pounds as the Trojans qualified nine wrestlers for the state tournament at the Class 3A district tournament.
“Getting third at districts last year was one of the worst feelings ever,” Hebl said. “It’s great to get there my senior year when I felt like I should have been there last year.”
Hebl was one of four district champions for West High on Saturday, helping the Trojans to a runner-up finish in the team standings with 226½ points.
Mississippi Valley Conference foe Cedar Rapids Prairie crowned five champions and qualified six wrestlers for the state tournament on its way to the district team title with 251½ points.
West got district titles from junior Tanner Rohweder at 113, senior Chris Walters at 126, Hebl at 145, and senior 285-pounder Aydan Wynos.
Junior Jakeb Bakken (132), sophomore Nathan Kelsay (152), junior John Milani (160), sophomore Donovan Doyle (182) and senior Micah Kelsay (220) all finished second to qualify for the state tournament that gets underway Thursday at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
“We got nine guys going, and when you come in with seven guys seeded first or second, that is a pretty good day,” West coach Mark Reiland said. “We had a lot of guys that were right there and I think everybody gave it their best effort.”
Walters, Rohweder and Wynos all entered the district meet ranked in the top six in their respective weight classes and were impressive in earning district gold.
It was Hebl that provided the surprise.
The senior 145-pounder won a 6-5 decision over the top seed, Prairie’s Taylor Mehmen in the semifinals, and needed just 1:24 to pin Wyatt Schlotter of Ottumwa in the title match.
Hebl improved to 30-21 on the season with his 3-0 performance, atoning for last year’s near miss.
“To go out there and get the fall was really exciting,” Hebl said. “I was just on a mission today.”
Rohweder entered ranked fourth at 113 pounds and looked the part as he pinned Prairie’s Dylan Kleinschmidt in 1:21 in the semifinals and won a 5-0 decision over Hunter Versteegh in the finals.
Rohweder is making this third straight state tournament appearance after placing fifth each of the last two years at West Des Moines Dowling.
The junior became eligible at West in January and has gone 20-5 since entering the Trojans’ lineup.
“It’s a good feeling getting back,” Rohweder said. “I didn’t finish how I wanted to finish last year and I had a little bit of a setback sitting out for that long, and I feel like I’m getting back in my grove one match at a time.”
The second-ranked 126-pounder in 3A, Walters improved to 51-3 with his district title.
Walters notched a 24-9 technical fall of Prairie’s Zach Fiser in the semifinals and won a 13-5 major decision over Chase Petty of Pella in the finals.
“It feels really good,” Walters said. “At the end of the year, you get that little itch that you are right there.”
Wynos won both his matches by fall Saturday, including a second-period pin of Ottumwa’s Conner Mier in the title match as he improved to 35-8.
West went 4-4 in finals as Bakken, Milani, Doyle and Kelsay all dropped their title matches.
Bakken was pinned by 10th ranked Levi Azinger of Pella, Doyle lost by fall to fourth-ranked Mason Wisse of Oskaloosa, Kelsay was pinned by Newton’s Joey Wright, and Milani lost a 10-4 decision to No. 3 Skyler St. John of Prairie.
“I just like getting a lot of take downs,” Walters said. “I just want to get used to a six minute match.”
“Obviously, we lost some matches in the final that we didn’t expect to lose,” Reiland said. “We just need to regroup and get ready to go.”
Sophomore Micah Kelsay fell to fifth-ranked Trey Blaha of Prairie in the semifinals, but won two straight consolation matches to finish second and qualify for state for the first time.
Kelsay (23-27) won an 8-5 decision over Pella’s Jake Speltz and then won a 5-3 decision over Peyton Williams of Marshalltown to qualify for state.
“When nine guys get through you feel good about nine, and five guys don’t and you feel bad for them,” Reiland said. “I don’t think it was a lack of effort, and that is the most important thing.”
City High didn’t have a wrestler qualify for state and was led by Sophomore Nic Jarvis (145), junior Will Ortiz (120), and senior Seth Schwarting (113) who all finished fourth.
Team scores – 1. Cedar Rapids Prairie 251½; 2. West High 226½; 3. Oskaloosa 141; 4. Newton 139; 5. Marshalltown 110½; 6. Ottumwa 88; 7. City High 73; 8. Pella 72.
Qualifiers, area place-winners:
106 – 1. Koby Hull (NEW); 2. Drew Sams (OSK); 5. Alex Aguirre (ICW).
113 – 1. Tanner Rohweder (ICW); 2. Hunter Versteegh (NEW); 4. Seth Schwarting (ICH).
120 – 1. Sam Uthoff (CRP); 2. Skyler DeJong (OSK); 3. Carter Rohweder (ICW); 4. Will Ortiz (ICH).
126 – 1. Chris Walters (ICW); 2. Chase Petty (PEL); 5. Colton Chalupa (ICH).
132 – 1. Levi Azinger (PEL); 2. Jakeb Bakken (ICW).
138 – 1. Josh Wenger (CRP); 2. Dakota Dawson (NEW); 3. Jared Ford (ICW); 5. Ethan Vermace (ICH).
145 – 1. Tyler Hebl (ICW); 2. Taylor Mehmen (CRP); 4. Nic Jarvis (ICH).
152 – 1. Trey Blaha (CRP); 2. Nathan Kelsay (ICW); 6. Ali Omar (ICH).
160 – 1. Skyler St. John (CRP); 2. John Milani (ICW); 5. Dillon Africa (ICH).
170 – 1. Jeffrey Thongvanh (NEW); 2. Derek Man (MAR); 6. Jackson Voigt (ICW).
182 – 1. Mason Wisse (OSK); 2. Donovan Doyle (ICW); 5. Harrison Whitlow (ICH).
195 – 1. Ray Schroder (NEW); 2. Drea Lamb (OSK); 4. Mitch Yoerger (ICW).
220 – 1. Joey Wright (NEW); 2. Micah Kelsay (ICW).
285 – 1. Aydan Wynos (ICW); 2. Conner Mier (OTT).