State wrestling: Spurgeon claims title; McCabe finishes second

Feb. 19—DES MOINES — One down.

Three more to go?

Gage Spurgeon closed out his freshman season on the mat for Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont on Saturday night with an impressive 6-0 win over West Lyon sophomore Ryan Bahnson. Spurgeon controlled the match from start to finish, scoring a takedown just 39 seconds into the 120-pound Class 2A state title match, riding out Bahnson throughout the remaining of the period before doubling the lead with a reversal early in the second period.

Spurgeon added one final takedown late in the final period, riding out Bahnson over the final 38 seconds to clinch the state championship. The win brings to a close a 38-1 inaugural campaign on the mats, setting up Spurgeon to potentially join the elite group of high school wrestlers in the state of Iowa that have won four consecutive state championships should he reach the top of the podium over each of the next three seasons.

"I studied on what (Bhanson) did during his previous matches and just focused on keeping myself in a good position throughout the match," Spurgeon said. "I've been through it a lot, but I was still pretty nervous. I just had to treat it like another match.

"I've worked hard in the wrestling room. I expected to be a state champion. It would mean a lot to me to be able to win four state titles. It means a lot right now just to win this one. I can't wait to get to next season and get better."

Fairfield sophomore Cael McCabe fell one win short in his first bid at a state championship on Saturday night. McCabe finished second in Class 2A at 106 pounds, falling 7-1 in the title match to top-ranked Mount Vernon senior Klayten Perreault.

"Hats off to (Perreault). He's a tremendous wrestler. I don't Cael feels like he wrestled his best match. Once you get past the first day at the state tournament, there are no easy matches left," Fairfield head wrestling coach Steve Williams said. "If you make a mistake at this point, it can get magnified. Cael still fought hard against a damn good wrestler."

Perreault was able to finally work his way to a 2-0 lead late in the first period by scoring a takedown with 29 seconds left after McCabe (32-5) was able to hold off the unbeaten senior's multiple attacks. After escaping early in the second period, Perreault scored a second takedown to build a 5-0 lead before securing one final takedown with 53 seconds left countering McCabe's late attempt at catching Perreault and claiming the title in the final minute.

"He just got me in some positions I couldn't get out of," McCabe said. "I feel like I could have put up a better fight. I was trying not to tie up and hoped he'd run out of stamina. Once he got a hold of me, I couldn't get away from it.

"The goal going into the tournament was to make the top three. I had faith in myself, I just didn't wrestle my match in the finals. It's going to fuel me a lot. I feel like I'll be the big dog in the bracket next year. I'm going to try to hunt it down."

Spurgeon and McCabe were two of the eight area wrestlers to place at this year's state tournament. Albia senior Paul Ballard closed out his high school career with a third-place finish in the heavyweight division of Class 2A, scoring falls on Saturday over Mount Vernon junior Ethan Wood and Hampton-Dumont-CAL senior Carter Heilskov bouncing back after a tough 3-1 loss to Columbus/WMU senior Russel Coil in Friday's state semifinals before heading up into the stands to celebrate with family, friends and teammates for the second straight year at Wells Fargo Arena.

"Everyone up there means so much to me. I'm so thankful that I have people like that in my life," Ballard said. "You can't go through an entire wrestling season by yourself. It's just not possible. You have to have people there that love and support you to make you the best in anything you do."

Davis County junior Emmitt Newton moved up the podium, placing a career-high third for the Mustangs in Class 2A at 120 pounds. After suffering a tough 6-4 loss to Spurgeon on Friday in the state semifinals, Newton (46-5) scored a third-period fall against West Delaware senior Brayden Maury and a 3-2 win over Creston senior Christian Ahrens placing at state for the third consecutive year.

Spurgeon's sophomore teammate, Landen Davis, closed out a 39-2 sophomore season by finishing third in Class 2A at 126 pounds. Davis went the distance to score a pair of consolation-round decisions on Saturday, taking down Sergeant Bluff-Luton senior Ethan Skoglund (7-1) and Burlington-Notre Dame junior C.J. Davis (3-0) closing out a 39-2 season.

Cason Miller finished fourth, joining McCabe in securing a state medal for Fairfield on Saturday. The Trojan junior earned a 2-1 win over NH/TV senior Karson Kolbet with a late escape in the consolation semifinals before falling in the third-place match to Hampton-Dumont-CAL junior Taylor Mahler, 3-0, finishing the season with a record of 19-3 after battling back from an ankle injury suffered during football season that kept Miller from competing prior to the holiday break.

Ottumwa teammates Ashton Grace and Braylon Griffiths both wrapped up their seasons for the Bulldogs finishing sixth in their respective weight classes at the Class 3A state tournament. Grace (39-6) lost by fall to Ankeny Centennial sophomore Cale Vandermark by fall in 4:23 in the consolation semifinals and 14-2 to Ankeny freshman Isaac Wignall in the fifth-place match at 113 pounds while Griffiths (45-4) fell by tech fall (17-1) in 3:48 to Bondurant-Farrar sophomore Nolan Fellers before being pinned in the third period by Iowa City West junior Justin Avila in the 150-pound fifth-place match.

"It's not by chance that Ashton and Braylon are back up there on the podium. They're probably the two hardest workers on the team," Ottumwa head wrestling coach Jeremy Frueh said. "You always hurt for the guys that didn't make it to state, but to bring up three guys and have two of them place is pretty sweet."

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