ELDRIDGE — Collin Lewis has two broken bones in his right hand.
Sidelined for the past couple weeks of competition, including the Mississippi Athletic Conference tournament, the North Scott junior was determined to be in the lineup Wednesday night for a Class 3A regional wrestling dual final.
“If he wouldn’t have wrestled tonight, he would have killed me,” North Scott coach Drew Kelly said. “He was just itching to go.”
Even with a heavily bandaged right hand, the 145-pounder recorded a 12-4 major decision, one of nine wins for North Scott in its 45-24 victory over Cedar Rapids Kennedy at The Pit.
North Scott (23-3) will wrestle second-ranked West Des Moines Valley in a Class 3A state quarterfinal at 9 a.m. next Wednesday at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
After graduating two state finalists — Jacob Schipper and Wyatt Wriedt — and coming into the season with several unknowns, from first-year varsity wrestlers to freshmen in the lineup, the Lancers turned a potential rebuild into a reload.
“Most people might not have been as confident as we were,” Lewis said, “but we’re getting after it. This means a lot to our team, to come together and win this.”
Lewis broke the third and fourth metacarpals during a match at the Ed Winger Classic in Urbandale on Jan. 20.
Doctors put a cast on it and told him surgery would be needed after the wrestling season.
Lewis was hoping to compete last Thursday in a dual against Mount Pleasant, but the coaching staff elected to hold him out an additional week.
The coaches talked with Lewis’ parents Monday, and he was given the OK to return. He said it was paramount to get a match under his belt before Saturday’s district meet.
“It hurts, but you can’t think about it,” he said. “Something like this can’t stop me. This is the postseason — nothing is stopping me.”
Lewis built a 4-0 lead after the opening period and extended the margin with back points in the second and third periods.
“Workouts in the room help a lot, but there is nothing like a live match in The Pit,” Lewis said.
North Scott pulled out the majority of swing matches.
Cole Ernst (285) used a takedown in overtime to squeak past 10th-ranked Josh Vis, 3-1. Cael Bredar (113) built an early 5-0 cushion and held on 6-5.
Josh Connor (106) and Caleb McCabe (126) had falls to give the Lancers a 17-4 advantage.
After a Kennedy win at 132, North Scott followed with bonus points in the next four bouts — freshman Deven Strief (138), Lewis, senior Austin Clark (152) and sophomore Jake Matthaidess (160) — to secure the dual.
“It just shows how much energy we have in the room and how hard we compete,” said Matthaidess, who pinned Kale Crawford in the second period.
Kennedy coach Dennis Hynek felt his team was flat-footed.
“Even in some of the matches we won, I don’t think we looked particularly good,” Hynek said. “They moved faster than us and were more aggressive than us. We just weren’t mentally ready like I thought we would be, but give credit to North Scott. They came at us.”
North Scott will be at the state duals for the third time in the last four years and seventh overall.
“It means a lot for this group, for our program,” Kelly said. “We want to be in the position to do this every single year. We’re building that consistency in our program, so this is huge.”