Boys wrestling: Milestone moments highlight marathon day at Ottumwa Invite

Jan. 8—OTTUMWA — It took awhile for Daltin Doud to claim his third and final championship at the Ottumwa Invitational.

Doud scored one fall in the morning, one fall around lunchtime, clinched a 15-6 major decision over Iowa City Liberty freshman Pryor Reiners in the middle of the afternoon and clinched a 21-5 tech fall over Cardinal freshman Zach Luedtke in the third period of a 132-pound semifinal match shortly before supper time.

Then, of course, came one of the 14 primetime title matches at Evans Middle School Gymnasium. Doud snapped a 2-2 tie in the final minute of the championship match with Creston senior Lincoln Keeler before securing a final fall with 20 seconds left, securing his 20th win of the season and seventh straight win at home in the 430th of 439 matches wrestled over 11-plus hours on Saturday.

"It took a lot. There were times where I'd be laying back in the locker room just dozing off a little bit, then I'd have to get up and work myself back up to wrestle another match," Doud said. "I had to get a little bit of a workout in before going back out to take care of business.

"This is the most fun tournament of the year. You've got your friends from nearby schools like Fairfield, Albia, Cardinal. You've got buddies that you've wrestled with growing up. Plus, you've got the hometown crowd coming down to watch you in the finals. It feels great to have a great community behind you. That's a big part of it."

While the Ottumwa girls invitational featured a busy night with 10 teams in attendance, 21 schools arrived at Evans Gym on Saturday for the biggest Ottumwa Invitational boys tournament yet. Despite the depth of the competition, the Bulldogs stayed in the hunt to claim their own tournament title ultimately winding up in third place with 433.5 points, finishing just 15 points behind runner-up North Scott and 62.5 points behind tournament champion Creston.

"It's turned into a really big event," Ottumwa head boys wrestling coach Jeremy Frueh said. "We're looking at adding three more teams to make it a 24-team tournament, but the plan next year is to turn this into a two-day tournament next season and move the girls tournament to another weekend."

Doud wasn't the only Ottumwa wrestler to celebrate an achievement on Saturday. Ashton Grace joined Doud and Braylon Griffiths as active Bulldog wrestlers to achieve 100 career wins, earning the milestone victory in the 113-pound quarterfinals pinning Burlington sophomore Lathan Hand in 51 seconds.

"I just remember as a kid watching other guys go out there and get their 100th win. Now I'm here and I just want to do better and keep on doing it," Grace said. "In the moment, I was getting ready for my next match. It would have been a good idea to sit there and reflect on it. I feel like 100 wins is something that's cool, but I just have to keep moving forward."

Grace joined Doud in the championship round on Saturday, securing his 101st career win with a 21-6 tech fall in 3:37 over Kirksville freshman Ethan Hale. Iowa City West sophomore Alexander Pierce prevented Grace from capturing an Ottumwa Invitational title, winning 7-2 in the 113-pound finals handing Grace just his second loss in 25 matches this season.

"I just have to be more aggressive," Grace said. "If I was more aggressive, I would have had a way better shot at the championship. That's exactly what I'm going to need moving forward."

After 500 matches were finally complete, the 14 championship matches that took center stage on Saturday night at Evans Gym did not disappoint. Nine matches went into the third period with eight going the distance, five of which were decided by two points or less and four championships decided by a single point.

Several area wrestlers were right in the thick of the primetime drama. Fairfield sophomore Cael McCabe wrestled his way into the 106-pound finals before falling to Burlington junior Braxton Hutchinson, 1-0, in a showdown of Southeast Conference standouts while Davis County's two-time state medalist Emmitt Newton carried a 27-1 record into the 120-pound finals before dropping a 3-2 decision to 23-3 Creston senior Christian Ahrens in a battle of state championship hopefuls.

Mustang teammate Deken Sorenson, however, came out on the right side of a close decision on Saturday night right after Doud's late pin secured the 132-pound title. Wrestling for the 138-pound crown, Sorenson was able to edge Kirksville sophomore Austyn Hunter 3-2 after being awarded an escape with 18 seconds left earning his 30th win in 32 matches this season.

"I felt like we could have gone to overtime, but I feel like I could have found a way to come out on top," Sorenson said. "This day will really test you with the amount of hours we were here. It definitely puts some pressure on you. It really adds to the awesomeness of winning it.

"I was ready to put everything out there. I was okay with getting hurt just to try to win it."

The long day of wrestling came to a thrilling finish in the heavyweight championship match on Saturday. Albia senior Paul Ballard maintained his perfect record, improving to 28-0 by riding out Creston senior Max Chapman over the final period after getting a tiebreaking escape in the second, earning a 3-2 win in the 439th and final match shortly after 9 p.m.

"Max is a great opponent and a tough wrestler," Ballard said. "I had to work really hard and kind of want it more. If I'm going to work my way to a state title, I need to get used to these tough matches. You're not going to pin everybody. It was a good match and I'm grateful that I had it.

"It was a long, but fairly productive day," Albia head wrestling coach Dave Wenger added. "In a few instances, getting that many matches in one day is a good thing, but it also presents a few challenges in regards to keeping our guys healthy and putting them in a position to be successful as the postseason draws closer. It's obviously something that we are just going to have to get used to, as I see more and more weekend tournaments picking up on this concept."

Fairfield finished sixth in the 21-team field with 302 points, highlighted by McCabe's run to the 106-pound final, while Ballard's title lifted Albia to a seventh-place finish with 281.5 points edging Kirksville by 12. Davis County finished ninth with 265 points while Moravia, led by a third-place finish at 132 pounds from Aiden Kelley, took 15th place from Cardinal with 190 points, leaving the Comets in 16th just 9.5 points back with Bradly Snook earning third-place honors at 126.

Sigourney-Keota finished 18th overall with 160 points in the tournament with Jake Moore scoring 38 on the way to a third-place finish at 165 pounds. Van Buren County was 20th with 55 points with Korbin Camp placing eighth for the Warriors at 132.

Weather permitting, the Ottumwa wrestling boys and girls are scheduled to be back on the mat at Evans Middle School Gym on Thursday hosting Waterloo West in an Iowa Alliance dual starting at 6:30 p.m. The busiest stretch of wrestling in Ottumwa came to a close on Sunday as several coaches and Bulldog grapplers were back at Evans Gym to host a busy youth tournament that featured 304 wrestlers competing in 575 matches, closing out nearly 30 hours of wrestling over four straight days of action that saw over 600 wrestlers competing in over 1,100 matches.

"We went from leaving on Saturday at 10 p.m. to getting back over here on Sunday at 8 a.m.," Frueh said. "I joked with a couple of coaches we might as well have pulled out some cots and stayed overnight."

— Scott Jackson can be reached at Follow him on Twitter@CourierScott.