Big Red Invite brings big wins

by Kinsey Phipps

Tough competition was ahead of the PCM varsity grapplers as they made their way to Centerville on the morning of Jan. 14 for the Big Red Invitational. The team only brought nine wrestlers, but they still managed to place third out of 14 teams. The Mustangs also crowned three champions, two runner-ups and one third-place medal.

In the 106-pound weight class was freshman Payton Drake, who has made some big strides as a wrestler this season. Drake pinned his way to the finals, winning by fall in both of his pool play matches. In the first round of finals matches, he won by fall against Colby Lillegard of Bondurant-Farrar in 3:01, a tough opponent who beat senior Jakeb Fenton earlier in the season. Winning this match was important for Drake because Bondurant-Farrar will be facing the ‘Stangs in the District qualifying tournament in February. In the final championship match, Drake fell to 2A No. 8-ranked Jared Kadel of Columbus Community in a decision, 7-0.

The next wrestler making headway was senior Xavier Miller in the 145-pound weight class. During pool play, Miller won in two pins and a technical fall, scoring 17-1 in 3:51. The first round of finals for Miller was a 9-2 decision over Joe Hollinrake of Knoxville. The pair met in the finals at the home invitational last week, Jan. 7, where Miller won 5-0.

Miller got the chance for redemption when he faced Mitchell Swank of Creston/Orient-Macksburg in the finals. Earlier in the season, Miller lost to Swank at the Dallas Center-Grimes Invitational in a decision, 5-3. The match was a nail biter, but Miller prevailed winning in a decision, 1-0.

“I just went to the match believing I was going to win no matter what. I wrestled smart and didn’t let him score,” Miller said.

This sealed Miller’s place at the top of the podium. As of the day of competition, Jan. 14, Swank is ranked No. 3 in 2A, whereas Miller is ranked No. 4.

“This prepares me for State by giving me a little more confidence and showing me I still need to get better on some things,” Miller said.

Sophomore Wes Cummings had no problems climbing to the top of the podium in the 152-pound weight class, winning all of his matches either by fall in the first period or technical fall.

Sophomore Lucas Roland had a successful day; he won yet another title. But it was a battle for Roland, as he was wrestling while still getting over illness. In the first round of finals, Roland won in a stressful sudden victory over Joey Mitchell of Ottawa, 6-4. In the finals, Roland won in a close match over Kyle Hefley of Iowa City City High, 4-2.

Sophomore Jarron Trausch was the second runner-up for PCM. Trausch won by fall in all of his matches leading up to the finals match. There, he lost in suspenseful a sudden victory, 3-1, to 2A No. 3 ranked Tucker Morrison of Columbus Community.

Senior Clayton Welch was the last place winner for the Mustangs, earning third in the 220-pound weight class.  Welch won his pool play matches in first period falls. In his finals matches, Welch fell short. He lost to Trenton Hannen of Fairfield in a sudden victory, 3-1. In the last match of the day, 2A No. 2 ranked Kadon Hullet pinned Welch. As a result, Welch sealed third place.

PCM varsity wrestling is preparing to take on CMB and Saydel in Baxter tonight, Jan. 19. The winner of the Saydel versus PCM dual will be crowned HOIAC (Heart of Iowa Conference) champions. Wrestling will begin at 6 p.m.