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Panthers headed back to state duals

Jan. 30—After going down 15-0 after three bouts, the Panthers made a 45-21 comeback victory against Carroll in the regional duals Tuesday night in Creston.

In order to get to the Panthers, Carroll took down Winterset in a close 37-28 dual.

In the nights' final dual between Creston and Carroll, the bouts started at 150, a benefit for the Tigers as their 150, 157 and 165 lbs wrestlers are all state-ranked.

Creston coach Cody Downing said starting at 150 was two-fold because the momentum starts in their direction, but the dual ends with star wrestler Austin Evans.

Sophomore Jackson Pettegrew began the wrestling for the Panthers, going up against Cooper Ludwig, a senior from Carroll ranked eighth in the state at 150.

Pettegrew was down 12-0 when Ludwig stuck him, only 17 seconds remaining in the bout.

"I thought Jackson was so close to just giving up a major there," Downing said. "He was fighting. I thought our effort was just outstanding."

Ranked No. 5 at 157, Carroll junior Owen Klocke took on Panther senior Milo Staver. Staver scored three points in the final period, but fell in a 9-3 decision, putting the Tigers up 9-0.

Creston senior Will Bolinger, ranked ninth at 165, moved to 175 for Tuesday's dual. Sophomore Kal Barber stepped in at 165, facing Chase Ragaller, a No. 12 ranked wrestler. Barber was pinned in the first period, giving the Tigers a 15-0 lead.

The Tigers' bench and crowd was loud as Bolinger took the mat for the 175 bout with Kieran Polking, but Downing said the team had prepared for this. "We talked about it all week. We knew there could be a run for them, a run for us," he said. "We can't get too high; can't get too low. We really preach that."

Bolinger got a takedown in the first period for a 2-0 lead going into the second. There, he went to work — escaping, taking Polking down and earning back points for a 7-0 lead going into the final period. Another Panthers takedown gave Bolinger a 9-0 major decision, making the score 15-4.

Senior Jagger Luther, recently returned to the lineup after a high ankle sprain, made a late comeback against Quinten Polking, outscoring his opponent 5-3 in the final period, but was unable to overcome the 7-1 defecit he had going into the period.

Five bouts into the dual, things weren't looking good for the Panthers as they trailed 18-4. But the fans knew it wasn't over yet.

Senior Quinten Fuller said he was ready to go when he came out for the 215 match against Gavin Holt. "I watched [Jaydn] Cooper pin him, so I knew I could," Fuller said. Fuller did just that, falling Holt in the first period to thunderous cheers from the Panthers fans as the energy began to shift.

Senior Quinten Fuller works a single-leg takedown on sophomore Gavin Holt. Fuller pinned him in the first page.

"I learned don't let it bother you," Fuller said of the back-and-forth energy. "We've got a lot of wrestlers, a lot of matches to wrestle."

Senior Max Chapman, ranked No. 6 at 285, came out with high energy for his bout against Jeisson Avilez De Leon. Within the first 10 seconds, Chapman had his opponent on the mat. Avilez De Leon found an escape, but in under a minute, Chapman had him pinned, the Panthers now only down two points.

Sophomore Kylen Parsons wasn't about to let the momentum shift back to the Tigers' side. Following Chapmans' footsteps, Parsons immediately took down his 106 opponent, Jake Kinkade, before pinning him in the first period.

The three consecutive pins by the Panthers gave the team a 22-18 lead, and they didn't look back from there.

Sophomore Lane Travis faced off with Carson Tedrow at 113 where he put up major points in the second period. With three 3-point near falls, Travis won with a 17-2 technical fall will more than a minute left in the second period.

Sophomore Lane Travis gets back points on freshman Jake Kinkade. Travis won in a 17-2 tech fall in the second period.

The Panthers were happy to see senior Christian Ahrens back on the mat after missing the Hawkeye 10 tournament with an elbow injury. "Coming back today, I was just full of excitement," Ahrens said. "I wanted to get the job done with my guys, have a good night tonight and celebrate."

Ahrens wasn't on the mat for long, the No. 2 ranked 120-pounder in the state pinning Treyvin Childress in only 16 seconds.

Sophomore Brodrick Phelps wrestled the full six minutes with Beckett Hagen, getting a takedown and two near falls in the first period to go up 6-0. Hagen made a comeback, getting two points in the second period and then taking a 7-6 lead in the third after a reversal and a near fall.

Phelps was able to get a reversal back on Hagen and score his own back points, winning in an 11-7 decision. At this point, with a 36-18 lead, Downing said he felt they had clinched the dual.

Senior Lincoln Keeler went three periods with Levi Dirkx, taking a narrow 5-3 victory after the bout was tied at 3 at the end of two.

The Tigers found their first win in seven bouts with Cael Nelson, a senior ranked ninth at 138. Nelson took on Panthers' senior Brandon Briley, who scored the first points of the bout and lead 2-1 at the end of the first period. Briley fell in an 8-4 decision.

Rounding out the evening was Evans, a senior who recently made the switch from 150 to 144. "It's helped me a lot," Evans said. "With the kids I wrestle, I feel stronger at 144." Rankings place Evans No. 5 at 144.

In the second period against Thaddaeus Dirkx, Evans put a bow on the evening with a pin to take down Carroll 45-21.

The Panthers return to the State Duals Saturday at the Xtreme Arena in Coralville where they hope to top their fifth-place finish from last year.

"I think we learned our lesson last year," Downing said. "I think last year it was just 'oh, we're happy to be here.' We got kind of lit up first round. We're going to stretch and take care of our bodies tomorrow and then have a couple hard practices and be ready to go."