CLINTON — It had been two weeks since Pleasant Valley High School senior Caden McDermott went live in a wrestling tournament.
He was on a football visit to NCAA Division II powerhouse Northwest Missouri State last weekend.
What better way to shake off tourney rust than face Fulton's Zane Pannell, an unbeaten and top-three wrestler in Illinois Class 1A.
"He came out ready to go more than I was," McDermott said.
It didn't matter.
McDermott connected on an inside trip to triumph over Pannell 3-1 in sudden victory to claim his first Bob Lueders Invitational title at 170 pounds Saturday afternoon inside Yourd Gymnasium.
The top-ranked wrestler in Iowa moved to 34-1 on the season and gave the third-ranked Pannell his first setback of the campaign.
People are also reading…
"That was one of the first matches that has tested me this entire year," McDermott said. "I hate losing more than I like winning."
That win, alongside 10 other medalists (top-six finishes), fueled PV to 163.5 points and a third-place finish in the team race behind champion Linn-Mar (213.5) and runner-up Cedar Rapids Prairie (173).
Coach Jacob Larsen's squad pieced together one of its best performances at Lueders. The Spartans were without 220-pounder Rusty VanWetzinga for the second straight weekend as he was on a football visit.
"The guys did a great job," Larsen said.
It has been a highlight senior season for McDermott. He eclipsed 100 career wins within the first month and has followed up a state runner-up finish last year with only one loss.
Yet the job remains unfinished.
McDermott now seeks his first ever Mississippi Athletic Conference championship next weekend and a return trip to Saturday night at Wells Fargo Arena in a month.
"I want my rematch (at MAC against North Scott's Seth Madden)," McDermott said. "I want that one back."
Both Pannell and McDermott were in scrambles several times and had a handful of resets. The only points scored through the six regulation minutes were on escapes.
Midway through sudden victory, McDermott went in on a double, then adjusted to a high single leg. After the first inside trip attempt was thwarted, he went at it again and converted for the victory.
He immediately walked off the mat and sat down in front of the pushed-up bleachers, then walked through the hallway and got some cool air.
A hard-earned win that Larsen feels will pay off down the road.
"That is perseverance in a nutshell," Larsen said. "It was a really, really good match for him. It caused him to score when he was tired."
Davenport Assumption finished fifth with 144.5 points and had the most championships among the nine local teams with two in Derrick Bass (126) and Michael Macias (145).
Bass has won four of his past five matches by decision and needed just a second-period escape and third-period ride-out to clip Cedar Rapids Prairie's Alex Bumba 1-0.
"It has been something I had to adapt to; it has been hard," Bass said. "I've wrestled to score points all my life. It is different to change how I wrestle, but I'm figuring out."
The high-flying turns and pins haven't happened much over the past week. Bass got hit in the midsection and had to have his shoulder pop back into place during his title match.
Still, his record remains unblemished on the season.
"A win is a win," Bass said.
Macias had a pair of takedowns and a third-period reversal to clip Fulton's Ben Fosdick 6-2. Macias was on bottom in the third, and Fosdick tried several times for a turn but couldn't get a second swipe.
Eventually, Macias flipped him and added another win over a ranked opponent to his tally.
"He's always looking to score points," Knights head coach Sonny Alvarez said. "He wrestlers where he's good at. That's the high wrestling IQ."
Central DeWitt's tandem of Royce Butt (132) and Sam Gravert (285) each finished second, and Erie-Prophetstown's Jase Grunder lost by major decision to Linn-Mar's Grant Kress in the 152 finals.
Camanche, Clinton and Davenport North each had at least one wrestler on the medals podium.