There’s a good amount of adjectives to describe what happened at Bettendorf High School on Saturday afternoon.
Crazy. Eventful. Nail-biting. Tense. Euphoric.
The one that might be most fitting: Dramatic.
From the moment the Class 3A District 1 finals started to the last wrestleback match of the night, there was cheering, booing, tears of joy, seasons ending and journeys continuing.
“That’s districts,” Bettendorf coach Dan Knight said.
The Bulldogs led the way with 12 qualifiers to next week's individual state tournament at Wells Fargo Arena while North Scott sent eight and Muscatine is seeing four walk through Des Moines.
It’s been five years since Bettendorf has had that many wrestlers qualify for state, surpassing its own expectations.
“In the beginning, we didn’t expect a lot,” junior and 113-pounder Jacob Faber said. “We’re not expected to wrestle well, but we always pull through.”
Faber started off a 4-for-4 outing in the wrestlebacks for the Bulldogs by defeating Muscatine’s Tyler Garrison 5-0. He had to forfeit his final against Josh Connor in the third period because of a recurring shoulder injury.
Faber will continue to wrestle before opting for surgery once the season is over.
“Every time my shoulder goes out, I get more adrenaline to wrestle through it,” Faber said.
Logan Adamson at 145 and Bradley Hill at 152 pinned their way to a state bid. Hill, a freshman, used a half-nelson to get past 10th-ranked Kyle Guilliams of Clinton in 3 minutes, 42 seconds.
“I wanted to go out there and dominate,” Hill said. “Once I got on top, I knew I could turn him. Just had to keep my offense going.”
Kane Schmidt upset the River Kings' Ethan Barry, coming back from a 3-2 deficit to win 8-3. He called it a “statement” type of triumph.
Knight knew his 195-pounder had it in him.
“Kane wrestled extremely well,” Knight said. “He went from the lowest of lows, to the highest of highs, in about an hour.”
Dustin Bohren (106), Aiden Evans (120), Rylan Hughbanks (132), Voyen Adamson (160), Alex Blizzard (182) and Griffin Liddle (285) won district crowns. Kohler Ruggles (126) and Will Jefferson (170) placed second.
It was the Muskies who turned heads in the Quad-Cities.
Tim Nimley upset Jefferson 5-4 in the 170 final, Dalton Sell pinned Barry in the 195 championship and Shane Mathias cruised as the top-seed to claim the 220 title.
Nimley, a sophomore who will be making his first appearance at state, escaped Jefferson after giving up a reversal in the third period.
“It’s hard to get out from under him, but I found a way,” Nimley said. “I gained some confidence from my beating my first guy (North Scott’s) Nate Link. If I could get out from under him, I could get out from under Jefferson.”
Sell used a cow-catcher to catch Barry off guard. The senior said he rarely uses that move unless he feels it’s necessary.
“It was something that was there, and I hit it hard,” Sell said. “It’s kind of dangerous. I didn’t think I was going to pin him.”
The most exciting match came at the 182 wrestleback involving the Muskies’ Brennan Broders.
Trailing 11-8, Broders took down PV’s Scott Wendel to make it 11-10 and, after giving up an escape, used a last-second move that tied the bout at 12-all heading into overtime.
Broders converted the match-winning takedown to clinch his spot at state in the first sudden victory.
“I wouldn’t be stopped, there was no way I was going to let myself lose,” Broders said. “Definitely the hardest match I’ve wrestled.”
The Lancers saw district titles won by Connor at 113, Caleb McCabe at 126, Collin Lewis at 145 and Jake Matthaidess at 152. Cael Bredar (120), Trenten Doty (132), Deven Strief (138) and Zachary Campbell (160) placed second.
Doty used an OT takedown to defeated the Spartans’ Hunter Meyrer 6-4. He flexed and screamed after his victory.
“I got to my goal, and it’s time to keep working,” the junior said. “I gave it everything I got. It took a lot and I’m grateful for it.”
PV’s Eli Loyd at 138 won his weight class while Davenport West’s Travis Hodges (106), Clinton’s Hunter Randall (220) and Davenport Central’s Manny McGowan (285) all finished second and made it to state.
North Scott coach Drew Kelly summed up the feeling of districts as the awards were being presented.
“A bittersweet day,” he said. “Excited for the guys, but season is coming to an end, so it’s kind of an emotional day.”