DES MOINES — The game plan stayed the same. The result did not.
Zach Renshaw got through tough state quarterfinal and semifinal wrestling bouts Friday with a conservative approach against competition outweighing him by about 30 pounds. During Saturday’s Iowa Class 3-A title match at heavyweight, the strategy left him tied with No. 1 Pedro Gomez of Marshalltown into the final minute.
But then Gomez corralled No. 6 Renshaw for a takedown. He added another as the Council Bluffs Lewis Central senior desperately dove toward him in the last seconds. And just like that, Renshaw fell a single win short of a state championship for a second straight year, losing 5-2.
“I don’t think anything went wrong,” Renshaw said. “I did everything I could do. (He was) just a big kid — a lot stronger than I was — and things happen.
“I made mistakes, but I did the best I could do. He was big; he was athletic. Not much more I could do.”
The final sequence was strikingly similar to Renshaw’s triumph in the semis earlier in the tournament. A scoreless first period, followed by each grappler exchanging escape points.
But Gomez, a senior who entered the season unrated but finished 37-3, got to the Lewis Central standout late. The Marshalltown wrestler didn’t participate at state last year because he was academically ineligible.
“The kid was huge, so whatever shot we did take had to be perfect,” Lewis Central coach Duke Burk said. “(Gomez) took him down with a nice move. But a tough match to lose.”
Renshaw ended with a 48-4 record. He had been vying to become the program’s 38th state champ after Zeb Wahle earned a title last year.
The three-time state qualifier lost in the 220-pound finals last year, getting pinned in the first period.
Though clearly disappointed afterward, Renshaw said he wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.
“It’s been an amazing road,” Renshaw said. “I love the experience and the team aspect of it. I love my coaches, my family and everybody that’s been supporting me. It’s been awesome.”
Among the four other 3-A western Iowa wrestlers competing Saturday, one ended the season with a win in the consolation finals. Lewis Central junior and No. 8 Ethan Ruby finished third at 152 pounds after beating No. 3 Dustin Caldwell of Clinton 13-4.
Sioux City North 170-pound senior Dustin Fuller placed fourth and Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson freshman Colton Clingenpeel and Carroll freshman Justin Kaltved each took sixth.