COUNCIL BLUFFS — Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson finally got the best of C.B. Lewis Central on a wrestling mat. Now the Jackets hold city bragging rights for the first time in a generation.
T.J. denied Lewis Central 39-32 to cap off a 3-0 outing at the Council Bluffs Duals on Tuesday. Six Jackets also earned individual champion status on a night that marked another big step for a program on the rise.
“This is something we’ve been wanting for a long time; it’s been a long time coming,” T.J. coach August Manz said. “These guys have been working very hard and this is one of those things that’s a motivator.”
Lewis Central had won every edition of the all-city dual event, which is in its sixth year. Before that, the C.B. Invitational was an annual individual meet consisting of about eight teams from the area. Abraham Lincoln had been the last city school other than L.C. to win it — in 1989.
Thomas Jefferson ended a drought in which it hadn’t won any version of its hometown tournament since the 1985-86 season.
“I would say this is probably the biggest thing we’ve had in a while at T.J.,” junior Steven Ruby said. “Usually people think that Lewis Central is the powerhouse. Today we went out there and showed them that T.J. is coming back in wrestling, ready to come back and be the new powerhouse.”
Ruby (132 pounds) won his third individual city title and teammates Jason Wallace (138) and Charles Weaver (145) claimed their second. Also earning plaques for winners were Colton Downing (106), Colton Clingenpeel (113) and Kenny Rhodd (195).
The Jackets boosted their dual record to 18-5 on a night it also beat St. Albert 57-24 and Abraham Lincoln 45-21. But the finale against the reigning champions was in doubt down the stretch.
Tied at 18, the Jackets got pins from Ruby and Wallace before Weaver pulled out a 6-3 decision. Lewis Central’s Ethan Ruby countered with a pin of his own, and Ryan Nightser added an 18-5 major decision to cut T.J.’s cushion to 33-28.
Wrestling at 170 and in his first match of the night, the Jackets’ Jamin Walters stuck Matt Muschenheim with 6 seconds left in the first period to seal the win, setting off an orange hugging frenzy. The Titans won the final weight 9-1.
While each side earned seven wins, the Jackets got five pins and another by forfeit to account for the difference.
“My freshman year, we didn’t really even compete with Lewis Central,” Steven Ruby said. “Now to beat Lewis Central, it’s a huge thing. Guys are pumped up.”
The Titans celebrated three city champs in Ethan Ruby (152 pounds), Nightser (160) and Zach Renshaw (285). Renshaw, a senior, earned his fourth title and Ruby and Nightser each notched their second.
Lewis Central, with a 6-16 dual mark, is grinding through a season where youth and injuries have conspired against the area’s traditional grappling kings.
“It obviously stinks to be the year that you lost, but for our kids it’s about how we can do at the end of the year,” L.C. coach Duke Burk said. “Clearly, along the way, you want to win things like this so we’ll be disappointed for a couple days. But in all actuality, our goals still haven’t changed.”
The Titans beat St. Albert 58-21 and Abraham Lincoln 55-12. A.L. downed shorthanded St. Albert 40-29 in the other dual.
Also walking away as top wrestlers at their weights were Abraham Lincoln’s Robbie Finch (120) and Wesley Eledge (220) along with St. Albert’s Martin Shudak (126), Wyatt Lewis (170) and Jake Lewis (180).
The annual event was anything but routine for the Jackets. Manz said it could be the boost of confidence his group needs to take an even bigger step during next month’s postseason.
“Our guys are starting to not just be guys out for the team, but wrestlers,” Manz said. “A few years ago we were still learning. This year they’re young but coming in with a lot of wrestling experience. They can start to see the top of the mountain they’re climbing right now.”
Individual champions: 106 pounds: Colton Downing, TJ. 113: Colton Clingenpeel, TJ. 120: Robbie Finch, AL. 126: Martin Shudak, SA. 132: Steven Ruby, TJ. 138: Jason Wallace, TJ. 145: Charles Weaver, TJ. 152: Ethan Ruby, LC. 160: Ryan Nightser, LC. 170: Wyatt Lewis, SA. 182: Jake Lewis, SA. 195: Kenny Rhodd, TJ. 220: Wesley Eledge, AL. 285: Zach Renshaw, LC.