DES MOINES — If you ever wondered if it’s harder to win a state wrestling title or get back to the finals, Wapsie Valley of Fairbank junior Kaleb Krall has your answer.
One year after winning the Class 1A state championship, Krall felt like he’s carried an oversized bulls-eye on his back the last four months.
Krall shook that bulls-eye off Friday when he beat Lisbon’s Kaden Kilburg, 3-0, in a 152-pound semifinal to join teammate Donny Schmit in the finals.
“This season has been tough,” Krall said. “Everybody wants to go out and beat the defending state champion. They want to take me down. People want to fight me a lot harder than they did last year.”
Krall (34-5) put a tough two-minute ride on Kilburg in the second period, escaped six seconds into the third for a 1-0 lead, and then hit a late slide-by for a 3-0 lead that punched his ticket back to the finals. Kilburg and Krall had split two previous meetings this season.
“I just kept focused and calm, wrestled my match,” Krall said of his semifinal victory. “It feels amazing. Getting there the first time was great, feels even better to get back a second time.”
Schmit, who was Wapsie Valley’s first state champion since 1995 two years ago when he won at 106, hammered his way into the 132-pound finals with a 15-7 major decision over Samuel Loyd of New London, using a state finals loss a season ago to fuel him.
“Definitely I’ve kept that (loss to Underwood’s Alex Thomsen) in the back of my mind, never let it go,” Schmit said. “Nobody wants to go out with a loss so I want to finish on top.
“I like it before everything starts they play last year’s state finals on the big Jumbo Tron, and I was up there basically getting beat. That sucked, so I didn’t want that feeling again.”
Don Bosco is in a fight for a 1A team title and if the Dons want to make a weekend sweep of the dual and traditional championships, they are going to need victories from their two finalists.
Junior Daniel Kimball scored off a bad shot with 50 seconds left to defeat Woodbury Central freshman Beau Klingensmith, 6-5, to reach the 106 final.
The victory helped erase the memory of a semifinal loss last February, and avenged one of two losses Kimball suffered this season.
“It feels amazing. I came up short last year and didn’t get what I wanted to get so tomorrow night is redemption time. It is time to get mine,” Kimball said.
Three times Don Bosco senior Gable Fox has wrestled on the big stage, including back-to-back third-place finishes. The senior gets a shot at his first state title after a 16-1 technical fall over Spencer Griffin of Emmetsburg in a 138 semifinal.
“I’ve worked my whole life to win a state title down here,” Fox said. “I’m on my way to doing it and it feels great, especially with my best friend by my side, Dan Kimball.”
Four other Dons fell in the semifinals. Cael Frost was pinned by defending 113-pound champion Cael Happel of Lisbon at 120, while Easton Larson lost by technical fall to Alex Thomsen, who will be gunning for his fourth state title Saturday. Austin Hellman at 160 and Thomas Even at 170 also lost in the semifinals.
Don Bosco trails Lisbon, 106-89, heading into Saturday’s placing matches and finals. The Lions have four finalists.
Denver will have the most medalists of any 1A team with eight — Brooks Meyer at 106, Jacob Moore at 113, Gabe Lewis at 132, Riley Wright at 138, Caleb Wilson at 152, John Ebaugh at 160, Cael Kueger at 170 and Brock Farley at 285. The Cyclones are third with 63 points and Wapsie Valley is fourth with 52 1/2.
Three other area wrestlers will gun for gold medals.
Hudson’s Cam Fulcher used an early takedown and rode that to a 3-2 victory over Zack Santee of Central Springs in a 220 semifinal.
“It is amazing,” Fulcher said. “Everything I’ve ever worked for is paying off. It is so great to see that.”
A pair of heavyweights who not only squared off at a sectional in Dike and a district at Jesup will meet again in the 285-pound final.
In fact, Brian Sadler of Jesup and Chase Arends of Dike-New Hartford may have been each other’s first foes when they began wrestling.
“I’m pretty sure my first ever match in kindergarten was against Brian,” exclaimed Arends after his last-minute, 5-3, win over Northwest Webster’s Erique Maravilla. “I’ve never felt this elated in my entire life.”
Sadler won both the sectional and district matches. Last year’s fourth-place finisher recorded his third pin of the tournament, decking Belmond-Klemme’s Cameron Beminio in 3 minutes, 24 seconds, to reach his first championship match.
Other area medalists:
- Brock Dietz of Nashua-Plainfield at 106
- Trey Lashbrook of AGWSR at 113
- Jakob Whitinger of Nashua-Plainfield at 113
- Colin Schrader of Wapsie Valley at 145
- Ethan Fulcher of Hudson at 160
- Brandon Trees of North Butler-Clarksville at 170
- Manning Kuboushek of South Winneshiek at 182
- Wes Geisler of Hudson at 195
- Brock Meyer of Sumner-Fredericksburg at 195
- Marquise Paino of Tripoli at 220
- Jackson Lukes of South Winneshiek at 285