Three Highland wrestlers will advance to districts after the class 1A sectionals meet in Mediapolis on Feb. 6. Bryce Thompson and Carlos Valenzuela each won their brackets at 113 and 126 pounds and …
Three Highland wrestlers will advance to districts after the class 1A sectionals meet in Mediapolis on Feb. 6. Bryce Thompson and Carlos Valenzuela each won their brackets at 113 and 126 pounds and Easton Schlabaugh placed second at 106 pounds to advance.
Schlabaugh lost by fall in 3:29 to No. 9 Brody Brisker of Wilton in the first-place match — and it was not the first time. He also lost to Brisker in the finals of the Gary Curtis Invitational in January (15-4 major decision) and the North Cedar Invitational in December (fall 5:09).
Schlabaugh will first face Coy Peterson of Midland at the district tournament on Feb. 13, but chances are good he will face Brisker again in his attempt to advance to the state tournament.
“[Brisker] is not a pin better than us,” head coach Derek Ball said. “We’ve got to
close the gap on him. For some reason he’s in our head — that’s the sport of wrestling, you have to step on the mat and compete with consistency regardless of who you wrestle and how many times he’s beaten you, and we’re not doing that.”
Ball said Schlabaugh is just as good on his feet and on the mat as his rival. The preparation for a possible district matchup will be mental.
“It’s as simple as stepping on the mat and believing you can win,” Ball said. “It’s not more difficult than that.”
Ball had a similar conversation with Valenzuela after his semifinal match, which he won over Matthew Helscher of Wapello by a razor-thin margin.
Valenzuela came out to an early lead with a takedown early in the first, but quickly fell behind Helscher throughout the second and went into the third period losing 6-4. A reversal from Valenzuela evened the score, but Helscher quickly slipped away for an escape to put him up 7-6 late in the match.
With 17 seconds left, Valenzuela took Helscher down to win, 8-7.
“His semifinal match was not good at all,” Ball said of Valenzuela.
“And then we had a good chat with him, got in his head, got him fired up and then he come out for the final and wrestled one of the better matches he’s ever wrestled.”
Valenzuela pinned Trae Hagen of Wilton in 1:26 to win the tournament. He gained control quickly in the first period, throwing Hagen behind him and nearly pinning him at the edge of the mat, Valenzuela hooked around Hagen’s shoulders, who arched his back trying to escape the fall.
“The only thing going through my mind was just squeeze as hard as I can and not let go,” Valenzuela said. “I felt his hip coming up and, as soon as I felt that, I put more pressure with my shoulder into his neck.”
But before the pin could be counted down, the wrestlers barely slipped out of bounds. But once they reset, it only took Valenzuela about 20 more seconds to pin Hagen for the win.
“With Carlos, it’s 100 miles an hour, all the time,” Ball said. “It doesn’t matter what happens, when it happens, what gets called, he’s going to go all in. He only knows one speed.”
Schlabaugh, Thompson and Valenzuela will wrestle at the districts tournament in Wapello on Feb. 13.