DES MOINES — Even as a past champion, Don Bosco of Gilbertville’s Daniel Kimball rarely reflects on it.
The South Dakota State recruit doesn’t look much past the next hour, next day or next opponent.
The focus will be in the present for Kimball as he tries to become Don Bosco’s first wrestler to repeat as a state champion since Cole Welter did it in 2009 and 2010.
“This senior season has gone right by,” Kimball said. “It is crazy that state is already here and I will be done in a week.”
The 42nd state champion in Don Bosco history, Kimball enters Thursday’s traditional state tournament as the second seed at 120 pounds.
“Yeah, you never overlook anybody,” Kimball said. “Not in the first round, second round or semifinals. I’ve got to focus on the guy that I have right in front of me and the rest of the tournament will take care of itself.”
The anecdote is relevant because one of only two wrestlers to have beaten Kimball at the state tournament is the No. 1 seed and on the other side of the 120-pound bracket — Adam Allard of West Sioux.
Sure, Kimball would like another crack at Allard, the two-time defending state champion who has not lost a prep match since his freshman season and is currently riding a win streak of more than 100 matches.
Allard beat Kimball, 3-0, in the 106-pound semifinals in 2017, scoring a takedown and escape for the only points of the match.
Kimball says a potential rematch is the farthest thing from his mind.
“That last match, it seemed like it was over in a blink of an eye,” Kimball said. “It was super close. I got ridden a lot longer than I should’ve. That was a big deciding factor.
“Hopefully I can get to that finals match and he is there, but that is not my focus. I’ve got to take care of business before that.”
There is also a chance Kimball and Allard could meet today in the State Duals. Don Bosco and West Sioux could square off in the 1A semifinals.
“I can’t say we are or we aren’t,” Don Bosco head coach Tom Hogan said when asked whether he’d pit Kimball against Allard if that match presented itself in the State Duals. “We talked about that last night. Are they going to wrestle us? Do we throw Kimball out there and see what they do?
“I don’t know.”
Kimball is an important component for Don Bosco, which will be part of a tightly contested battle in the chase for its 11th traditional title.
Northeast Iowa rival Denver matched the Dons with 10 qualifiers, while Lisbon and West Sioux each have eight and Underwood qualified nine.
Lisbon, Don Bosco and Denver finished 1-2-3 last February, and all three have plenty of firepower.
The Dons have two top-three seeds — No. 2 Kimball at 120 and No. 2 Thomas Even at 182. Additionally, Easton Larson and Cael Frost are seeded fourth at 132 and 138, respectively.
The Cyclones have five top-three seeds — No. 2 Brooks Meyer at 113, No. 3 Gabe Lewis at 132, No. 2 Riley Wright at 138, No. 1 Cael Krueger at 170 and No. 2 Brock Farley at 285.
The Lions have No. 1 Cael Happel at 13 and No. 1 Cobe Siebrecht at 138.
“Overall, I like where we are at,” Hogan said.
Class 2A could be the most wide open of all three tournaments.
West Delaware of Manchester has the most qualifiers with eight, while Sioux City Heelan, PCM of Monroe, Union of La Porte City and Van Meter all have seven.
PCM returns 62 1/2 state tournament points, more than any 2A program.
“It doesn’t matter if you’ve got five, six, seven ... the bottom line is you’ve got to have those guys win,” Crestwood head coach Keith Slifka said.
Slifka’s Cadets are one of five teams with six qualifiers.
“It just takes everyone wanting to win, compete and get the most of this experience,” said Crestwood senior and two-time state placewinner Kaden Anderlik.
In Class 3A, Southeast Polk has won four titles since 2013 and is considered the favorite. Waverly-Shell Rock is one of several teams that would like to make life tough on the Rams.
Bettendorf leads all 3A teams with 12 qualifiers, while SE Polk and W-SR each have 11. Defending champion Fort Dodge qualified nine.
“We are going to do some damage,” W-SR sophomore Bailey Roybal said. “We are feeling pretty dangerous and it is going to be a fun week.”
The Go-Hawks have reason to feel dangerous. They have six top-four seeds — freshman Aiden Riggins is No. 2 at 106, Roybal is No. 4 at 113, Bryson Hervol is No. 4 at 152, Jacob Herrmann No. 2 at 160, Brayden Wolf is No. 2 at 195, and Andrew Snyder is No. 2 at 285.
“We have a lot of different silly mottos this year, but the kids have been enjoying them and having fun with them,” W-SR head coach Eric Whitcome said. “If that is what it is going to take we will ride with it.
“That is going to be the key. We are going to have to feel really dangerous every day if we are going to have a chance to win this title.”
The metro will be represented by seven wrestlers.
Cedar Falls has four, including two-time state placewinner Jakey Penrith at 113. Lincoln Willett at 160, Dakota Southworth at 170 and Collin Bohnenkamp at 220 are all making their state tournament debuts.
Waterloo East’s Chryshaun Taylor made the field at 126, while Waterloo West’s J.J. Boimah at 152 and Brenden Burton at 195 qualified.