DES MOINES — Michael Doyle is like most other wrestling dads.
He squirms. He fidgets. He tries to manipulate his body hoping somehow his movements will help his son win on the mat.
“I wish I could see it,” long-time Independence assistant coach Keith Donnelly says of his head coach. “I hear stories, but I’m in the corner so I don’t get to see what he is doing.”
Dads coaching their sons is nothing new to the Iowa state wrestling championships. What makes this story unique is Michael won’t sit in his son Matthew’s corner during this week’s Class 2A state tournament at Wells Fargo Arena.
Thursday morning, during Matthew’s 138-pound match against Colby Tool of Prairie City-Monroe, Michael was 50-yards away by the head table, squirming and fidgeting.
The body English worked.
An escape with six seconds left in regulation allowed Matthew, the middle of three Doyle children, to pull out a 4-3 victory.
“I feel like I coach him a lot during the freestyle and Greco season,” Michael said. “Coach Donnelly and Coach (Tyler) Endres did a great job with him throughout the year. I really think during folkstyle it would be a little better to be more dad than coach. It has been working for us.”
Matthew — a sophomore who was fourth in districts last year after finishing behind eventual 126-pound state champion Michael Blockhus and third-place Riley Wright of Denver-Tripoli — agrees the current coaching corner alignment has worked.
“I love my coaches to death. They push me to be the best that I can be,” Matthew said. “It is awesome to have my dad as my coach. He pushes me, gives me everything I need.
“In the end it doesn’t matter who the coach is in my corner, I got to go out and get it done.”
WEDDINGS AND FUNERALS: When you have nine qualifiers, the first round of the state tournament can be full of emotional highs and lows.
New Hampton-Turkey Valley head coach Nick Hemann went through a bunch of those Thursday with the day ending on a high as the Chickasaws saw eight of their nine qualifiers advance to day two and NHTV holding a 4 1/2 point lead (23 to 18.5) over Webster City in the 2A team race.
“Weddings and funerals,” Hemann said. “Coach (Heath) Grimm at Upper Iowa and I always talk about that as being our saying. You got to embrace the weddings and fight through the funerals. That is kind of what we did today.”
Five Chickasaws won first-round matches — Blockhus at 138, Noah Fye at 145, Cale Reicks at 160, Evan Rosonke at 182 and Areon Day at 220. Four of those wrestlers — Blockhus, Fye, Reicks and Day recorded falls, while Noah Glaser overcame an upset loss in the first round to record a pin in his 170-pound consolation match giving the Chickasaws’ 10 first-day bonus points.
“We didn’t have a bad round,” Hemann said. “Obviously having Glaser on the back side was kind of unexpected, but it is what it is. He has to make hay on the backside. It’s only going to get tougher, and we just have to keep getting tougher, too.”
Mason Cleveland at 126 and Max Babcock at 132 are also alive for NHTV.
SPEAKING OF CHICKASAWS: A year ago, Cale Reicks was Turkey Valley’s top wrestler and ranked among the top wrestlers in 1A at 152. Unfortunately, in his sectional he was whistled for a slam and disqualified, bringing a premature end to that postseason run.
The senior, now part of the NHTV team, is making the most of his first trip to state. He sealed NHTV’s dual team championship Wednesday, and opened 2A action Thursday with a 1 minute, 47 pin over Austin Beaver of West Liberty at 160.
“He had a pretty deep fireman’s on me, and most people would’ve bailed, but I wrestled through it and got the pin,” Reicks said. “I’m just trying to tone that out. Last year was tough for me. It is awesome to be here and I’m going to enjoy it.”
TARGET ON HIS BACK: Another Northeast Iowa first round 2A winner was North Fayette-Valley’s Jordan Baumler — the defending 220-pound state champion. Baumler opened defense of his crown with a pin of Isaac Maser of Williamsburg in 2:21.
“I’m not just another guy this year,” Baumler said. “Just because I won last year doesn’t mean I will win this year. You’re not better than anyone else right now. You have to go out and earn it again.”
OTHER AREA FIRST ROUND WINNERS: Kolten Crawford of Union at 106, Joe Sullivan of Osage at 113, Kaden Anderlik of Crestwood at 120, Jack Thomsen of Union at 120, Philip Ihde of Decorah at 126, Ryan Steffen of Crestwood at 145, Dylan Koresh of Charles City at 152, Peyton Pelke of Union at 160, Zach Williams of Osage at 160, Colter Bye of Crestwood at 160, Dalton Chipp of Hampton-Dumont at 195, Hunter Crawford of Independence at 220 and Ryne Fuller of South Hardin at 285.