DES MOINES — Sean Casey was in the fourth grade the last time Davenport Assumption did not make it to the championship dual at the state wrestling tournament.
But in a season filled with obstacles, Casey and five other Assumption senior starters had no complaints about raising the Class 2A third-place trophy Wednesday night at Wells Fargo Arena.
“We had to fight through a lot this year,” Casey said following the Knights’ 40-25 triumph over Washington in the consolation final, “and it’s pretty rewarding to still get third.”
Assumption, with a state-record nine dual titles, missed the finals for the first time since 2009 after stumbling to top-ranked and eventual champion New Hampton in the semifinals, 46-24.
After winning its quarterfinal dual against Creston/Orient-Macksburg in the final bout, a 4-0 win for Trenton McDonough at 106 pounds, Assumption was overmatched by New Hampton.
The Chickasaws, with 10 state-ranked wrestlers in their lineup, notched five pins and won five of the first six bouts to build a 25-6 margin.
“They are solid, up and down the lineup,” Assumption’s Matt Robertson said, “and the kids that aren’t so good get better throughout the season because they have such good partners in the room all the time.”
New Hampton’s Max Babcock beat Jacob Felderman 2-0 in the opening match, an important swing match for Assumption.
“We never got the momentum going at the start,” Assumption coach Pete Bush said. “The first match was extremely key for that to happen.”
Assumption had four falls in the dual — Robertson (132 pounds), Julien Broderson (160), Noah Broderson (220) and Nolan Melchert (285).
In December, New Hampton clobbered Assumption at the Battle of Waterloo, 51-19.
“Even though we lost by more than 20 points again, we are significantly better than what we were then,” Noah Broderson said. “We had some kids face top-three people and showed a lot of fight and heart. That wasn’t really there in December.”
Assumption has had two open weights for most of the season because of injuries. It also had several projected starters decide not go out for the team.
Still, the Knights won 17 duals, were the conference runner-up to North Scott and made their 10th consecutive appearance here.
“I know our team goal last summer and fall was to win state, but we had almost seven spots in our lineup different than what we anticipated then,” Bush said. “We did a good job to fill those openings.
"Our kids competed today, and it really showed the determination and resilience of these kids.”
Bush huddled his team before the consolation final and explained the importance of winning its final dual of the season.
“Some coaches have the Ricky Bobby thought, ‘If you’re not first, you’re last,’” Bush said. “I told our guys we haven’t been in this position the last seven years so we’ll see what kind of character we have. Also, there is a championship to be had, a consolation championship.”
Washington clipped Assumption on the opening night of the season. The Knights reversed that outcome with eight contested wins and a forfeit victory.
At 195, Assumption’s Seth Adrian won by disqualification after Washington’s third-ranked Karlton Skubal was called for an illegal slam. Those six points turned the dual in the Knights’ favor.
“It took a lot of the wind out of Washington’s sail at that point,” Bush said.
The Knights have six qualifiers in the individual tournament starting Thursday night, including three ranked among the top three at their weight in Robertson and the Broderson brothers.
“It is hard not making it to the finals, but we knew we had to get some momentum for the individual tournament,” Casey said. “We wanted to prove we’re still a great team.”