DES MOINES — Eli Loyd pulled it off with a headlock. Collin Lewis went to his go-to move.

In front of a packed house, Loyd and Lewis reached the top of the state podium Saturday night with pins in Class 3A championship bouts at Wells Fargo Arena.

Loyd, a Pleasant Valley junior, stuck Colby Schriever of Mason City in 3 minutes, 5 seconds. Lewis, a North Scott senior, used a cradle to pin Ankeny Centennial’s Eric Owens in 3:41.

“I always knew I was one of the elite,” Loyd said, “but I wasn’t all the way to the top of the elite. To take that extra step feels good.”

Bettendorf’s Griffin Liddle saw his championship aspirations fall just short. The 285-pound sophomore lost to Waverly-Shell Rock’s Andrew Snyder 2-1. It was the third time this season Snyder beat Liddle, all by a point.

After Lewis walked off the mat, he shared a lengthy embrace with his parents. Emotions started to pour out.

“My heart was beating,” Lewis said. “My mom got into tears, it almost made me tear up and I don’t cry much. They’ve been waiting the same amount of time I have for this. They might have been more nervous for the match.”

Lewis has been a four-year state qualifier but never a placewinner until this season.

It looked bleak for Lewis in the first period. Owens caught Lewis with a headlock and took him to his back for a five-point move.

“My coaches gave me a slight heads up he had a pretty good lefty headlock, but I was like, ‘Ah, that doesn’t matter,’” Lewis said. “Sure enough, he hits me with it. I’m thinking, I’m not supposed to be on my back in the state finals.”

Lewis rolled behind Owens to get out of it.

Then in the second period, Lewis got a reversal and used his long arms to lock up a cradle and the win.

“It is perfect ending for him,” North Scott coach Drew Kelly said. “He’s pinned a lot of kids, and he’s a hammer on top. He proved it again.”

Lewis executed a cradle in the first round for a fall.

“After that match, I said that might be the last of the cradle because the rest of the kids are learning how to defend it,” Lewis said. “To hit that in the finals, it is pretty cool.”

Lewis admitted the feeling hadn’t sunk in yet.

“I don’t know when it will,” he said.

Kelly called Lewis one of the toughest wrestlers he’s coached.

“He’s a freaking nice kid, too,” Kelly said. “He’s had a lot of adversity, gone through injuries and had state tournaments that didn’t go the way he wanted. He always kept working, kept the right attitude.”

Loyd, runner-up a season ago, became PV’s ninth state champion, the first since Travis Willers at 152 in 2014.

“Our school scores a lot of state champs and state titles for other sports, so to get one for wrestling shows our program is run in a good way,” Loyd said.

Schriever, who came in ranked No. 1, led 4-3 after a period. Loyd escaped to start the second.

Then in a scramble near the edge of the mat by Mason City’s coaches, Loyd executed a whipover to take Schriever to his back and the fall.

“Just constant movement,” Loyd said. “He was listening to his coaches, and his coach kind of pointed him in the wrong way. I took advantage of that.

“I locked his head, squeezed real hard and kind of whipped him over.”

It was a fulfilling finish for Loyd, who had bonus points in each of his four bouts at the state tournament and concluded the year 49-3.

“This was a hump Eli needed to get over and he got over it,” PV coach Jacob Larsen said. “I’m proud of him because he earned it.”

Loyd started the season at 145 pounds and had success. Larsen felt it was in his best interest to move down a weight in the second half of the season.

The decision paid dividends.

“I wrestle where coach wants me to wrestle,” Loyd said. “I feel confident wherever I go.”

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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.