DES MOINES — Before he ran out onto the Wells Fargo Arena floor Thursday, Daniel Kimball’s Don Bosco teammates had one thing to say to him.
“They circle him and say, ‘Come on, get us going Dan,’” Don Bosco head coach Tom Hogan said. “He’s our spark plug.”
Kimball, the junior 106-pounder, absolutely loves that role.
And like he has all season long for the top-ranked Dons, Kimball delivered with a first-round technical fall over Jack Ramaker of Lake Mills, 19-4.
That start ignited the Don Bosco during the opening round of the Class 1A traditional state wrestling tournament as the Dons registered four pins, two technical falls and a major decision for 12 bonus points.
With eight wrestlers still alive, seven on the front side, Don Bosco sits atop the standings with 27 points, four ahead of Lisbon and nine ahead of Denver.
Both the Lions (7-1) and Cyclones (4-4) also have eight wrestlers alive.
“It is very important to get off to fast starts,” Kimball said. “I love getting this team going, scoring points, putting bonus up on the board right away.”
Don Bosco got pins from Cael Frost at 120, Easton Larson at 126 and Thomas Even in the first round. Max Wettengel added a fall in the consolation bracket.
Austin Hellman produced another technical fall and top-ranked Gable Fox scored a major decision at 138. Logan Lutgen at 152 was the Dons’ other first round winner.
“It’s a good day to build off,” Hogan said. “But there are still two days of this thing left and a lot can happen. We have to keep hammering away.”
NOT ALL IS BAD: Denver head coach Chris Krueger said the rough opening round was sort of anticipated, but was pleased with how his Cyclones responded.
Denver lost four first round matches to opponents ranked top four in their weight class, but three of those four guys came back to win wrestlebacks. No. 2-ranked Caleb Wilson also shook off a first-round loss also to win a consolation match.
With 18 points, Krueger says the Cyclones are still in a strong position to be a contender on Saturday.
“We kind of saw it coming. We didn’t get a lot of draws in our favor,” Krueger said. “We have some work to do, but we are going to chip away and see what happens.
“If you are going to trophy this week, you got to do work on the backside and we can do that.”
Denver’s first-round winners were Jacob Moore at 113, Riley Wright at 138, Cael Krueger at 170 and heavyweight Brock Farley pinned Grant Battreall of Montezuma in 1 minute and 54 seconds.
IT’S BIGGER: Tripoli’s Marquise Paino’s story has been told many times.
Less than a year after being declared homeless by the state of Illinois, and landing in the Northeast Iowa community of 1,300, Paino starred on the football gridiron. Now he hopes to make some noise on the wrestling mat.
Last winter, Paino finished sixth in Class 1A at 195 in the state of Illinois. He qualified for the re-formed Tripoli wrestling squad at 220, and opened his Iowa debut with a pin in 4:47 over Chance Strough of Bedford-Lenox.
“This is a bigger tournament than Illinois,” Paino said. “Today, the only thing in my head was getting past this first round. It’s definitely a weight taken off my back, but I still have two long days left in front of me.
WAPSIE CHAMPS WIN: Wapsie Valley brought four qualifiers and two of them are past state champs, including defending 138-pound champion Kaleb Krall, now at 152.
Krall won 7-5 over Auastin Eilers of Lawton-Bronson in his opening match.
Donny Schmit — who became the Warriors first state champ since 1995 when he won at 106 in 2016 — opened with a 18-5 major decision over Wyatt Appleseth of Panorama at 132.
“You got to score points, wrestle your own match, stay calm and really ... take it one match at a time,” said Schmit, who lost in last year’s 126 final to Underwood’s Alex Thomsen. “This is my last year, I want to go out with a bang.”
1A FIRST ROUND WINNERS: Other first-round winners from Northeast Iowa were Brock Dietz of Nashua-Plainfield at 106, defending 132-pound champ Chance Throndson of Riceville at 145, Braydon Nunemaker of East Buchanan at 145, Ethan and Cam Fulcher of Hudson at 160 and 220, respectively, Brock Meyer of Sumner-Fredericksburg at 195, Chase Arends of Dike-New Hartford at 285, Jackson Lutes of South Winneshiek at 285 and Brian Sadler of Jesup at 285.