It can be unusual for an athlete to end their season at the sport’s highest level and not be pleased with the way the season turned out.
That may the case for Highland junior wrestler Bryce Thompson who ended his season Friday in the 106-pound weight class at the Class 1A Iowa State Wrestling Championships at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
The frustrating part for Thompson this season was having to sit out the first half of the campaign after transferring from Lone Tree High School. Because of that, he had far less matches under his belt coming into Des Moines than the other wrestlers in his class.
“I think its been a frustrating season for (Bryce) just because of having to be patient,” said Highland head coach Derick Ball. “Now that he’s able to compete, he’s up here with lots less matches than some of these guys have wrestled. He’s starting to understand our program and buy into what we’re doing. Good things will continue to happen.”
Thompson brought in a 17-3 overall record to Des Moines which included a championship in the 106-pound weight class in the district tournament in North English a week ago that qualified him for the state championships. For Thompson, despite the lack of a full season, he was grateful to be wrestling on Iowa’s biggest stage.
“Last year I was a takedown away from coming here,” said Thompson. “It feels good to get here; it feels great to be here wrestling in front of these big crowds.”
Thompson’s opening-round bout Thursday night was against Brody Neighbor of Alburnett. The junior got off to a great start leading 3-0 after the first period thanks in part to a takedown. Another takedown late in the second period gave Thompson a 5-1 lead going into the final period. Neighbor though fought back to tie the match with a takedown and two-point nearfall to tie the match at 5 and send it to overtime. Nineteen seconds into overtime, Thompson secured a takedown and take the 7-5 sudden victory into Friday’s action.
“We had to gut it out,” said Ball following the victory. “When you know you’re not at your best and you’re hurting and you can still get a win it feels good.”
Thompson took his win into a second-round match against Garret Rinken of Nashua-Plainfield who brought in a 54-3 record this season. Thompson scored a first-period escape but still trailed 2-1 after two minutes. He trailed 6-1 after two periods. A takedown early in the third period cut his deficit to 6-3, but Rinken closed the match with an escape and a takedown to take the 9-3 decision win.
Thompson fought later in the day against Kale Petersen of West Fork-Sheffield. He trailed 4-1 after the first period. He used a pair of escapes and a reversal to stay within reach at 8-5 after the second period, but Petersen tallied seven points in the third to claim the 15-5 major decision.
Thompson ends his junior season with a 18-5 record. He will look to get a full season under his belt next season in hopes of returning to Des Moines.