Bettendorf’s Drew Sass gets twisted up by Carroll’s Sam Kastle in their class 3A, 138 pound match Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015, during the opening round of the State Wrestling Tournament at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
Sometimes it takes a stroke of good fortune to crack a wrestling lineup as powerful as Southeast Polk’s.
Adam Brown’s big break came in December.
He got sick.
“Luckily,” Brown said, “I got mono.”
The luckiest case of mononucleosis in Southeast Polk wrestling history helped the Rams race to the front of the Class 3-A pack on the opening day of the state meet at Wells Fargo Arena.
Southeast Polk advanced 10 wrestlers to Friday morning’s quarterfinal round and kept all 13 of its qualifiers in the tournament. The Rams racked up 39.5 points to finish the day 13 ahead of second-place Bettendorf, which dropped three of its 11 qualifiers.
“We dug ourselves a hole,” said Bettendorf coach Dan Knight, whose team finished the day ahead of Cedar Rapids Prairie (22.5), Fort Dodge (22) and North Scott (17). “Hopefully it’s not too big of a hole (to recover). You want to win the tight matches and we didn’t win some of those, and you want to keep guys alive and we lost three. When you’re at a deficit already and you lose three, that hurts.”
Brown is one of the reasons Southeast Polk entered the tournament as the favorite to wrestle the traditional title away from the Bulldogs. He placed fifth last year as a freshman at 106 pounds but lost the starting job at the start of the season to friend Gauge Perrien.
“He could’ve cashed it in,” Southeast Polk coach Jason Christenson said. “(But we told him), ‘This isn’t the end of the road for you. Whatever happens this year, you’ve got two more years after this.’ I think that kept him with us and kept him fighting.”
Then Brown had the bout with mono. He put on 15 pounds. Teammate Zach Barnes hit a growth spurt and vacated the 120-pound spot in the Southeast Polk lineup.
Suddenly, his season had new life.
“I would’ve stayed down at 106 if I hadn’t gotten (sick),” said Brown, who mowed through Council Bluffs Lewis Central’s Kyle Kuckta for an 18-5 major decision win Thursday at 120.
Southeast Polk scored bonus points in all 10 of its opening-round wins. Perrien, Nolan Hellickson, Deion Mikesell, Ethan Andersen and Jake Marnin registered pins to help the Rams build a cushion.
“(Bettendorf is) going to score a lot of points in this tournament,” Christenson said. “(But) we have an opportunity (Friday) morning to try to break this thing open.”
All nine of the returning champions in the 3-A field advanced, including Johnston’s Henry Pohlmeyer at 132 and Dowling Catholic’s Isaiah Patton at 170.
Top-ranked Josh Davis, bidding to become Des Moines East’s first state champion in 53 years, rolled into the quarterfinals at 152 with a first-period pin against Dowling’s Kaden Sauer. He’ll face 2013 state champ Jacob Woodard of Bettendorf. They split two matches in last year’s tournament.
Woodard was one of six Bulldogs who collected bonus points in the opening round. Bettendorf’s other first-round winner was second-ranked Paul Glynn, who notched four takedowns on his way to an 8-6 victory at 132 against No. 3 Clint Lembeck of Cedar Rapids Xavier.
“I knew he was cutting a lot of weight,” Glynn said. “I saw him running before weigh-ins and he had cotton mouth, his lips were all dry and I knew he’d get tired.
“Maybe he felt good, maybe he didn’t, I don’t really know. But he looked down and it’s like a shark smelling blood. I like to go after it.”