It has been an up-and-down season for the Davenport Assumption wrestling team but, historically, this is the time of year when the Knights start to put things together.
Assumption showed that again Saturday while hosting a Class 2A sectional meet. The Knights advanced nine individual wrestlers to next week's district meet and captured the team championship as well with 266 points.
With the team title, Assumption moves on to the team duals, which will be held Tuesday. The Knights also Mount Vernon in the semifinal round while Washington opposes Dyersville Beckman in the other match.
Columbus/Winfield-Mount Union took second with 163 points and will wrestle West Liberty in the regional team duals Tuesday.
Assumption coach Pete Bush said this was just the second event of the season where his entire lineup was available. The Knights took second at the Mississippi Athletic Conference meet last week and captured their first tournament title of the season with Saturday's win. Before that, Bush said his team had not placed any higher than fourth this season.
But Bush added he loaded his team's schedule with tough competition to prepare for the postseason. It was not necessarily about the wins and losses but getting mentally tough for a drive toward a team state championship.
"We are in a lot of tournaments and our dual meets, with our conference being in 3A, and a lot of our tournaments have 3A teams so a lot of our guys may not have the best records coming in but it's a different level of competition," Bush said. "We feel like those challenges gives us the best chance to be tournament ready."
Assumption crowned six champions including Julien Broderson, who remained undefeated on the season, with a pin in 41 seconds in the 182-pound title match. Joining Broderson on the top of the awards stand were Noah Gonzalez (120), Noah Weiman (126), Matt Robertson (132), Kole Kreinbring (160) and Seth Adrian (195).
Weiman, especially, was an example of what Bush was talking about with challenges during the season. He came into the tournament with an overall record under .500 but pinned his semifinal and final opponents.
Weiman was actually in trouble early in his title match with Clear-Creek Amana's Jake Neuzil, who got Weiman to took his back with a takedown early in the first period. But the sophomore not only escaped, he managed to reverse the positioning completely and wound up pinning Neuzil in 1:32.
"Noah is a cool customer and a lot of guys would have panicked in that situation," Bush said. "Noah trusted his instincts and his athletic ability basically. It was not a move we ever taught but it was just his instincts. But he didn't panic and that says a lot because he does not have a lot of experience. This is his first year as a varsity wrestler so this had to be a good experience for him."
Trent McDonough finished second for the Knights at 106 after losing the title match, 8-0, to Columbus' Jarod Kadel, who has just one loss this season. McDonough did advance after not having to face a wrestleback match.
TJ Fitzpatrick (113) and Eli McCracken (145) dropped their wrestleback matches for the Knights but Assumption did have two others move on through the wrestlebacks. Henry Martens (220) pinned Keokuk's Michael Glasscock in 3:50 to keep his season alive.
Knights junior Joe Deckert took the longest way around to advance to districts. He lost a tough semifinal match to West Burlington-Notre Dame's Caleb LaLonde, 5-3, to be knocked into the consolation bracket at 152.
But he rebounded to win the next match over Drew Snyder of Iowa City Liberty by technical fall. Deckert then pinned Columbus' Jose Cerezo in 3:03 to capture second place in the wrestleback.
Deckert said the biggest obstacle he's had to overcome this season sometimes has been himself.
"After (Christmas) break, I came back and things just kind of turned on for me. I think it was all mental for me," Deckert said. "I am not doing anything differently (technically) and I just have a lot more confidence in my abilities and confidence I am going to win. I used to look at my competition and say 'Oh, Gosh' and psyche myself out all the time. Now, I feel like I can compete with anybody."
For Columbus, Cam Rice (138) won a championship with a 6-2 win over Matt Wyatt of Keokuk. Tucker Bright (120) advanced to districts with a second-place finish. Juanito Piper, who had 30 wins this season, injured his knee and had to take an injury default in the consolation bracket at 145 for the Wildcats.
"I was happy with second place but I thought we could have placed more kids that could have advanced to districts," Columbus coach Bill Plein said. "We just didn't wrestle well at certain spots. We are young but we did a lot of good things."