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Davenport Central's Levon Bellemy keeps a hold of North Scott's Drew Durant during the 170-pound championship bout of the Mississippi Athletic Conference wrestling tournament Saturday at Davenport West.

Andy Abeyta, Quad-City Times

Levon Bellemy won 20 matches two years ago as a freshman and provided a building block for the future of Davenport Central's wrestling program.

Bellemy chose another path last winter.

"I let my friends talk me into playing basketball," Bellemy said.

After a year away from the mat, Bellemy is back this winter and has worked his way to the No. 6 ranking in Class 3A by The Predicament.

Bellemy prevailed in the 170-pound weight class at last Saturday's Mississippi Athletic Conference tournament with a 13-9 win over North Scott's Drew Durant in the championship match.

Coming off a football season in which he earned all-district accolades as a defensive back, Bellemy is 30-3 this season.

"I'm feeling pretty good right now," Bellemy said. "I feel I'm underrated right now, so it feels good to be beating people and having a great record.

"I missed wrestling a lot, and I did very well in football. Wrestling has a big impact on that, so I knew I needed to get back out here."

The biggest adjustment for Bellemy has been working on the top position and getting out from underneath.

"My double (leg) has always been there," Bellemy said. "I feel very confident on my feet."

With the postseason looming, Bellemy has his sights on earning a spot on the podium (top eight) at the state tournament in a couple weeks.

Bellemy lost a close match to Lena-Winslow's Rahveon Valentine in the semifinals of the Bob Lueders Invitational nearly two weeks ago. He also hung tough with Moline's Jayden Terronez at the Muddy Water Duals in late December.

"He's one strong kid," Terronez said after that match.

Bellemy had to lean more on his technique last week to get past Durant, who threw him to his back in the opening seconds of the match.

"I kind of let my technique go and tried to muscle him up," Bellemy said. "That didn't turn out so well."

Knights look to turn it on: It has been a topsy-turvy, somewhat frustrating season for coach Pete Bush and Assumption's wrestling program.

It hasn't won a weekend invitational. It lost two conference dual meets. It has battled an assortment of injuries and illnesses.

The Knights can put that in the rearview mirror when the postseason opens Saturday in their home gymnasium with the Class 2A sectional.

Defending state champions Julien Broderson and Matt Robertson have provided stability. The issue has been getting that consistency from everybody else in the lineup.

"We have a couple kids that are right there, right on the edge," Broderson said. "This week is going to be crucial for every single one of us

"I have a feeling many kids on our team are going to do well and shock a lot of people."

Trenton McDonough (106) won his weight class at the MAC tournament while Joe Deckert (152) and Kole Kreinbring (160) joined Robertson as second-place finishers.

McDonough has been trying to rebuild his confidence since an early season loss to Central DeWitt's Keaton Zeimet.

"That was a huge confidence killer for me," McDonough said. "After that, I've slowly worked my way back up in the room. This point in the season, I'm a lot more calm, working my offense and not being so defensive."

McDonough will have to get through a tough postseason draw to reach the state tournament — No. 1 Jarod Kadel of Columbus and No. 2 Matthew Lewis of Centerville.

Rave review: After Nolan Bell held off Bettendorf's Griffin Liddle in the 285-pound final of the MAC tournament last Saturday, Bell had plenty of praise for Liddle, a freshman who started on the football team and has won more than 30 varsity matches this winter.

"He is a really, really good wrestler, especially for a freshman," Bell said. "I wish I was like that my freshman year. He's got a very bright future."

Bell and Liddle could meet again at the district tournament Saturday, Feb. 10, in Dubuque.

Weekend ahead: Class 1A and 2A wrestling programs in Iowa begin the trek toward Des Moines this weekend.

In 2A, Assumption hosts a sectional that includes Clear Creek Amana, Columbus, Iowa City Liberty, Keokuk and West Burlington/Notre Dame.

Also in 2A, local wrestlers will be in Solon (Central DeWitt, Camanche, Northeast, Tipton) and Anamosa (Maquoketa). West Liberty travels to Washington.

In 1A, Cascade, Lisbon and Mediapolis are the host sites for area teams. Wrestling begins at noon, with the top two finishers at each weight advancing to districts.

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Sports Editor

Prep sports editor, with emphasis on covering the Mississippi Athletic Conference and Iowa area high schools. I've been in sports journalism for 17 years, the last five at the Quad-City Times.