DES MOINES — In one hour, Underwood was wrapping up a perfect day at the Iowa state wrestling tournament.
All four Eagles won their opening matches in the Class 1-A meet Thursday morning at Wells Fargo Arena. All advance to Friday's quarterfinal round after exchanging early nerves for early victories.
“That's absolute best-case scenario,” Underwood coach Joe Stephens said. “When you get up here, whether you win by one or 100, just keep going on that front side. It makes the days a lot shorter.”
Western Iowa wrestlers in 1-A went 17-19 in the first round, and nine of the 19 losers rebounded with first-round consolation wins to stay alive.
For Underwood, second-rated Taylor Curtis (106 pounds) got things rolling with an 8-2 triumph over No. 10 Kolby Munson of Ogden. Moments later, No. 9 Riley Klein built an early lead and won 12-6 over unrated Jose Montes of West Sioux. Then, top-rated Andrew Foutch picked up career win 205 with a 16-0 technical fall against unrated Johnny Stephens of Lawton-Bronson.
That left Cody Kingery (145) to complete the sweep. The sophomore led fellow unrated wrestler Colton Stoddard of East Buchanan 5-1 after the second period, but gave up multiple takedowns in the third before holding on for an 8-7 win.
Sporting a bloody lip after taking a late elbow to the face, Kingery wasn't about to be his team's weakest link.
“I was hoping to win my match because everybody else won their first match,” Kingery said. “This means a lot.”
Only Foutch will face a ranked foe Friday morning. He puts his 50-0 record on the line against Carroll Kuemper's third-ranked Jared Eischeid (42-2).
“I honestly won't be completely shocked if we have four guys in the finals, I really won't,” Stephens said. “Cody's good enough to be there, Riley got a great draw and we have Taylor and Andrew. We're in a good spot. It will be a fun weekend, hopefully.”
Council Bluffs St. Albert brothers Wyatt Lewis (160) and Jake Lewis (182) also got off to good starts against unrated opposition. No. 10 Wyatt cruised past Dru Kenny of Ridge View 19-2, while No. 7 Jake rallied for a 3-1 decision against Taylor James of Akron-Westfield.
Jake Lewis notched an early escape point in the third to knot the score at 1. With 22 seconds remaining — and his bleeding forehead wrapped after cracking heads — Lewis wrapped up James for a takedown and rode him out to advance.
“If I didn't win, we wouldn't get to go back to the hotel earlier,” Jake Lewis said. “Then (Wyatt) would probably get a little mad at me. Then there's always that brotherly competition. He won that round.”
Next up for the elder Lewis is unbeaten Andrew Wellik of Emmetsburg. He and Lewis met in postseason football games twice and last year in a 170-pound consolation match, which Wellik won with a second-period pin. Wyatt meets No. 8 Cole Cook of Tipton.
As for St. Albert coach Al Lewis, the proud father survived an emotionally taxing first day himself.
“After the first match, everything's fine,” Lewis said. “I was getting a little crazy and a little nervous there, but they put my nerves at ease.”
The most dramatic western Iowa win Thursday morning may have come from unrated Exira-EHK sophomore Evan Hansen at 145. Hansen (44-1) trailed No. 4 Josh Yoder of Sigourney-Keota 6-0 early, but rallied to tie the match at 7 to force overtime. In the extra session, he moved in quickly for the winning takedown.
“You just can't panic,” Hansen said. “I kept going after it, and I knew he was getting tired so I went faster and harder.”
Late in the second period, he felt he was wearing Yoder down.
He executed multiple takedowns, letting Yoder up so he could stay on the attack. After registering the tying takedown, Hansen felt he had all the momentum entering overtime.
“He started walking back to the center of the mat pretty slowly, so I knew I had to keep going harder,” he said.
Hansen's only loss was 7-6 to No. 7 Jake Mize of Woodbury Central, a match he led at one point. He meets former club teammate Kingery of Underwood (38-4) in Friday's quarterfinals.
Another anticipated match came at 152, where fourth-rated junior Logan Moore of West Monona controlled things throughout in a 6-0 win over No. 5 Brady Bailey of Emmetsburg.
Last year, Moore went 0-2 at state. He said he learned a valuable lesson.
“Not to cut too much weight,” he said. “I went 0-2 because I was just sick and tired of sucking down too much weight.”
At districts, Moore said he lost an 8-2 decision to two-time state champion Loren Williams of Tri-Center.
“It was good to see how I would do against who people think is the best guy in the state,” he said.
Moore (48-2) will meet No. 3 Cody Nelson of North Butler (46-0) in Friday's quarterfinals.
“The sky's the limit,” Moore said.
Audubon followed Underwood with three quarterfinalists: senior Jesse Svoboda (182) and sophomores Kyle Juelsgaard (106) and Brad Kerkhoff (120).
For Exira-EHK, Trey Sander (195) joined Hansen in the quarterfinals.
Four other WI wrestlers advanced to the second round: Jacob Vogel of Riverside (113), Kain Queck of Nodaway Valley (152), Tri-Center's Williams (152), a two-time defending champion, and Mark Hall of Southwest Iowa (220).
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