CRESTON, Iowa — With about 30 seconds remaining, the cheers began to reverberate through the Creston High School gymnasium.
“Let's go Seth! Let's go Seth!”
For Creston/Orient-Macksburg freshman 182-pounder Seth Maitlen, that was all the boost he needed. The unrated youngster added a takedown in the final seconds to beat Atlantic/CAM senior Matt Williamson 7-4. Williamson is rated 10th in 2-A at 170, but was moving up a weight.
It was that kind of night for the Panthers. They opened by blasting Clarinda 77-6 in a Class 2-A regional semifinal before routing Atlantic 60-16 Tuesday for the regional title. Atlantic advanced with a 37-36 semifinal win over ADM.
With the two wins, Creston/O-M advances to the state duals for the fourth straight year and the sixth time in seven seasons. The fifth-seeded, fifth-rated Panthers (15-1) will meet fourth-seeded, fourth-rated Charles City (19-4) in a 2-A state quarterfinal at 9 a.m. on Feb. 13 at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
Maitlen's said he felt the crowd's energy in one of the night's most exciting matches.
“This one was one of my favorite wins,” said the 15-year-old, who notched his 34th victory. “The crowd definitely plays a factor. It helps a lot, going into that third period, where both of us are tired.”
On Dec. 6, Creston/O-M had to work harder for a 37-24 win over Atlantic. With eight pins on Tuesday, the Panthers made quick work of their opponent.
“Tip our hats to Creston,” Atlantic coach Tim Duff said. “It shows how much they've improved. That's a big compliment to that coaching staff. They've got their kids really wrestling at a high level right now.”
In addition to Maitlen's win, two other Creston victories in the finals had its large crowd fully engaged. At 220, senior Cole Tanner took on talented Atlantic/CAM senior Tyler Stork, a sectional champion at 195. Tanner scored a takedown with one second left for the 4-2 win.
“He took a shot, kind of one of those last desperation shots,” Tanner said. “I was able to fall back and just get by him and get my two points.”
At 106, Creston sophomore Stone Hammons pinned William Weppler in 1:17. Hammons has about 10 wins on the season and more than 30 losses.
“That was really cool for Stone,” Creston coach Darrell Frain said. “You know what? He looked like he was going to win the whole time. The crowd knows what he's put in. They know where he's come from and how hard it's been for him.”
Creston/O-M's top wrestlers weren't threatened. No. 1 Jake Marlin (138), No. 5 Trevor Frain (160) and No. 1 Keaton Hulett (195) cruised through the evening. Marlin, seeking a fourth state championship, pinned his second opponent in 10 seconds.
Creston will send 11 wrestlers to Saturday's district meet at Harlan, but this night was about the entire team. It was Creston's ninth regional championship in Darrell Frain's 13 years as head coach.
“If there was anything I put emphasis on when I first started, it was becoming more of a team,” he said. “Because we've had good wrestlers and good teams in the past, but we never got to state duals. We made that a big point.”
Creston beat Charles City last year in the state quarterfinals on its way to a fourth-place dual finish.
“They return a lot of people,” Darrell Frain said. “We'll see.”
Contact the writer:
402-444-1055, email@example.com, twitter.com/KWhiteOWH