—by Todd Thorson
The State Wrestling Tournament started off well for Roland-Story’s Parker Witthuhn (126 lbs.), as he won his opening round match in the 2A morning session last Thursday (Feb. 20) at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. It only took 17 seconds for Parker to advance to Friday’s quarterfinals, pinning Dylan Beaver of Benton Community in easy fashion. Beaver was very aggressive at the start of the match, shooting a single leg on Parker within the first couple of seconds. Parker, however, defended well, and countered with a "spladle", which put Beaver on his back.
"I don’t think Parker’s opponent even knew it was coming," said Coach Leland Schwartz of Parker’s quick move.
On Friday, Parker lost a hard-fought battle to Sam Phillips of West Delaware, 5-2, sending the Norse wrestler to the consolation round.
"We knew this would be a tough match, as Phillips is a very good wrestler," commented Schwartz.
The two wrestlers fought hard in the first period, with Phillips recording a take down for a 2-0 lead on Parker. The second period was scoreless, as Parker hung tough. Phillips scored another take down in the third to take a 4-0 lead. But Parker managed a reversal to cut the lead to 4-2. With time running out, Parker allowed Phillips to escape in hopes of recording a take down, but the clock expired with Parker on the short end of a 5-2 score. Phillips would go on to place fourth overall in Class 2A.
In Parker’s 2A consolation round later in the day Friday, Parker ran into Mason Miller, whom he had faced earlier in the Jim Kinyon Invitational. Miller won the previous match 12-6, and also had Parker’s number this time around too. Miller posted a 7-1 defeat on Parker to end the Norseman’s season. Miller had also defeated Parker last year in the state tournament by a 6-4 score in over time.
Miller scored a couple of take downs, and controlled the match throughout. Parker struggled to get on the offensive, and was also nursing a nagging shoulder injury during the tournament.
"It even popped out more than once during his last two matches, "said Schwartz. "He dealt with the pain and was able to fight through it. I don’t think it affected the outcome of the matches, but it was certainly painful for Parker to deal with."
Coach Schwartz also noted that the tournament is not seeded, which he says can be a good thing as well as a bad thing. "It’s great because it puts good wrestlers against each other in every round. That was the case with Miller, as he faced top ranked Shadlow Leshen of Albia in the first round. This was the reason Parker ended up wrestling this very good wrestler when he did."
Miller ended up placing fifth overall in Class 2A. Parker ended his season with a fine 31-9 record. Darrian Schwenke of Atlantic won the 2A 126 lb. title.