DES MOINES — Pete Bush calls the state wrestling tournament a four-step program. He had four individuals handle the opening step with ease.
Matt Robertson (132 pounds), Julien Broderson (160) and Noah Broderson (220) collected pins and Sean Casey (126) crafted together a 4-0 triumph to propel Davenport Assumption on Thursday night inside Wells Fargo Arena at the Class 2A state tournament.
The next step gets much tougher today for a pair of Knights, who are in sixth place after the opening session with 16 points.
Casey faces second-ranked Michael Millage of New Hampton in the quarterfinals and Robertson butts up against second-ranked Brayden Curry of Sergeant Bluff-Luton.
“Even with our draws, which aren’t the best in the world, we’ve got superstars on our team,” Bush said. “I don’t care who they have, they’re going to do fine.
“We can still win this thing.”
Casey, who didn’t allow a point at sectionals or districts, handled Sioux City Heelan’s Joe Vondrak 4-0. Casey used a first-period takedown and second-period reversal.
“I’m pleased that I won, but I’d like to come out with more firepower in the next rounds and attack more,” said Casey, who will look to avenge a 15-5 loss to Millage from Wednesday’s state duals. “I feel like my defense has been really strong so far. I’ve got to focus on attacking.”
Robertson pinned 10th-ranked Alex Hanna of Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont in 5 minutes, 21 seconds. After a slow first period, Robertson opened up with two takedowns in the second and another in the third before the fall.
He takes a 43-1 record into the showdown with Curry, a state runner-up each of the past two seasons.
“I feel like none of the kids in the state are going to match my pace,” Robertson said. “I’ve got make him wrestle my match and don’t wrestle his style.”
Julien Broderson locked up a cradle in his state tournament debut for a fall in 1:58 against Albia’s Kyle Sinnott. Older brother, Noah, needed 2:16 to pin 10th-ranked Dominick Etherington of Algona.
“I’ve wrestled big tournaments like this when I was little,” Julien said. “I came back to how I used to do things — wrestle safe and smart. Then when I saw the opening, I went for the cradle and got the pin."
Assumption’s Brock Timmons split matches in the opening 2A session. Jacob Felderman dropped a pair of decisions to top-five ranked opponents.
West Liberty and Columbus Community each advanced a pair to the quarterfinals.
The Comets’ Joe Kelly (152) stuck seventh-ranked Trae Pecinovsky of Crestwood in 1:45.
Kelly, a state runner-up last season, countered a Pecinovsky shot and used his upper-body strength and quickness to put his opponent on his back.
“I remember what the feeling was like to lose in the state finals last year,” Kelly said. “I don’t ever want to feel it again.”
Bryce Esmoil, third a season ago, pinned third-ranked Karlton Skubal of Washington for the third time this season at 195.
Esmoil built a commanding 11-0 advantage before getting the fall in 5:45.
Columbus’ Jarod Kadel (106) and Tucker Morrison (170) won decisions by 8-1 and 3-1 counts. Morrison scored a takedown off his opponent’s shot in the final 10 seconds for the victory.
“When I was little, I didn’t like to shoot much,” Morrison said. “I was always afraid. I just learned to score off other people’s mistakes and not let people in on my legs. It carried over to high school.”
Camanche’s Nate Thoms (138) and Central DeWitt’s Nick Smith (220) earned first-round wins, too.
Thoms used a reversal and three back points in the second period en route to a 12-8 win over Humboldt’s Joey Busse.
Smith posted a takedown with a low body block and two near fall points in the final seconds for a 6-2 win.
“I was really confident coming in,” Smith said. “My coaches did a good job of preparing me for state.”
Smith, who lost to Noah Broderson in the district final, is Central DeWitt’s lone qualifier.
“It helps me realize if I do well at state,” Smith said, “it helps our community. I’m trying to represent our community well.”