Every athlete and coach in most sports refers to the final stretch of the season as a “grind.” But in wrestling, it seems as if that term is exacerbated around this time of year. There’s no doubt that the Glenwood wrestlers are on their late-season grind, making that final effort to finish out their season on a high note.
The month of January was a busy one for the Rams, as they traveled to three weekend tournaments and three duals over the last 25 days. They competed at the Jack Mendenhall Invitational in Ames, the Bobcat Classic in Basehor, Kansas and most recently the Hawkeye Ten Conference Championships in Shenandoah Saturday.
“The team has performed very well as of late,” said Head Coach Brad Asche. “Even with the days off because of weather, they’ve wrestled well at Ames, Bobcat Classic, and now conference we had a good showing.”
The Rams finished fourth as a team at the conference tournament, coming away with two individual champions. Glenwood’s Brett Mower, currently ranked second in the state in Class 3A, was the heavy favorite to take home the gold in the 182-pound weight class, and he lived up to expectations. After receiving a first round bye, the top-seeded senior pinned Mitchell Williamson of Atlantic in the quarterfinals and defeated Clarinda’s Jakob Childs 13-1 in the semis, setting up a highly-anticipated spell with Class 3A No. 8 Ryan Higgins of Lewis Central. Mower dominated the match from start to finish, eventually closing out a 15-5 major decision to claim his first career conference title.
“I just went out there and pushed the pace and tried to dominate every match,” Mower said of his performance Saturday. “It’s an honor to be able to write my name in Glenwood history.”
As for the finals bout, Mower’s approach didn’t change, despite it being a top-ten matchup.
“I had to push the pace and be extremely aggressive,” said Mower. “Credit to Higgins; he’s a good wrestler, and he came out firing as well.”
Glenwood’s second champion of the day came within minutes of its first. Senior 195-pounder Noah Carter capped off a thrilling day with a 2-0 victory over Clarinda’s Crew Howard to seal his first ever conference championship. To get there, Carter pinned Avery Zenk of Denison in just 53 seconds, then upset Class 2A No. 8 Sam Chapman of Creston in a 4-3 nailbiter. What made Carter’s title even more impressive was his lack of time on the mat prior to the conference tournament. Sidelined with a shoulder injury through the first half of the season, Carter had only wrestled 15 matches entering Saturday’s competition.
“I feel like I performed really well after wrestling a limited number of matches on the year, but there’s always room for improvement.” Carter said. “I’m just glad I got the opportunity to finish on top of the podium.”
The Rams will have a week off before heading into the postseason circuit. According to Mower, the break could prove useful for the team as they gear up for the final stint of the season.
“It’s really a constant obsession to get better and better and soak up as much as possible before the state tournament.”
Glenwood will host the district tournament February 9, where the Rams, along with wrestlers from eight other schools will have a chance to punch their ticket to the state tournament in Des Moines. Asche believes his team will be ready for the opportunity at districts, and hopes for a solid turnout from the community.
“The push to state is next on the agenda … it would be nice to have a home advantage and have a big crowd for districts to help us push these guys through to state,” Asche said.
Asche knows that this is the most important time of the season and wants his squad to stay focused and ready to go as the postseason approaches.
“Everyone needs to have tunnel vision towards their goals,” Asche said. “Every match counts, and we just need to take it one match at a time from here on out.”