Mere numbers made it tough for the Midland wrestling team to compete on the mat at a loaded Central DeWitt Invitational Saturday, Dec. 17, but it didn’t stop Eagle individuals who were able to compete from turning in some solid performances.
“We were down to six kids at DeWitt and all in all they competed well,” said Midland boys wrestling coach Casey Huston, as his team placed three on the podium led by fourth-place performances from Jordan Buford and Anthony Harrington.
“We lost some matches on the day that I felt were winnable matches, but some of our younger guys need to learn to finish matches and stay mentally tough throughout.”
Buford fought his way to the semifinals at 170-pounds opening with a 3:16 fall over Northeast’s Sawyer Schmidt before adding a 5-3 decision over Davenport Central’s Charles Ebeling in the quarters. Buford was handed a 1:29 pin loss against Williamsburg’s Conner Parker and in the third-place match dropped a 2:54 bout against Mid-Prairie’s Kaden Meeker.
Harrington went 1-2 on the day at 182 opening with a 5:12 fall over Cedar Rapids Jefferson’s Peyton Galvan before being handed decision losses against Iowa City Liberty’s Eduardo Zepeda (9-6) and Bettendorf JV’s Nehemiah Pemberton (11-6).
Keegan Rushford also earned a spot on the podium for the Eagles at 220 coming through with a 3-2 record during a busy journey on the mat. Rushford opened with a quick 1:19 fall over Iowa City Liberty’s Amir Jalilian-Nosraty before coming up on the short end of a quarterfinal contest against Williamsburg’s Gavin Vesey. Rushford battled to post back-to-back wins in his next two bouts pinning Clinton’s Ben Brown (2:41) and Cedar Rapids Jefferson’s Colin Woods (53-seconds) before finishing with a 16-2 loss against Davenport North’s Joseph Thomas in the fifth-place match.
Brandon Buford (126) and Logan Bicknese (138) also competed at the tournament for the Midland team with Bicknese picking up a pin win on the mat over Northeast’s Keegan Mclane (1:48).
Creston claimed the Central DeWitt tournament team title scoring 258 points while Williamsburg was runner-up totaling 250 points. Midland scored 42 points to place 12th against the 15-team field defeating Camanche (22 points), Northeast (20) and Davenport Central (18).
The Eagles started their week Thursday, Dec. 15, making a long trip to East Buchanan where the team opened with a 42-0 rout over a first-year Springville program.
Only six bouts played out on the mat with Midland wrestlers winning every one as Shayden Hansen (58-seconds), Bicknese (45-seconds), Wyatt Christensen (1:00), Jordan Buford (50-seconds), Harrington (1:52) and Rushford (53-seconds) all winning by fall.
The final two matches against the host Buccaneers as well as class 1A fifth-ranked Alburnett saw the Eagles on the short end of 45-18 and 73-6 scores, respectively.
Rushford posted the lone win on the mat against the hosts pinning Tucker Berns (45-seconds) while Bicknese and Christiansen received forfeits.
Against the mighty Pirates, Rushford’s 42-second fall over Wyatt Kissling was the lone triumph in the dual.
“We were really short-staffed at East Buchanan on Thursday as we’re dealing with injuries and illness so we only had seven kids on the mat,” Huston said. “Keegan keeps making gains going 3-0 on the night. He is really starting to open up his offense. Our younger guys continue to battle for us, too. Once we get everyone down to weight, I think we will continue to make gains on the mat. Duals will be tough to win with all the open weights, but we are focusing on individual success and continuing to improve in the room.”