Breaking Down the Class 2A State Wrestling Meet


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Ryan Murken

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The Wrestlers

Area Qualifiers/Opening Round Opponents

120 – No. 7 Zeb Gnida (40-9) Soph. Solon vs. Ryan Munoz (36-20) Sr. Woodward-Granger

138 – Andy Brokaw (31-21) Jr. Solon vs. No. 1 Michael Blockhus (53-0) Sr. New Hampton

145 – Andrew Rohret (37-13) Jr. Clear Creek Amana vs. No. 9 Joey Busse (41-4) Jr. Humboldt

152 – No. 10 Zack Bevans (31-10) Jr. Solon vs. No. 3 Joe Kelly (48-5) Sr. West Liberty

182 – No. 5 Mike Hoyle (41-7) Jr. Solon vs. No. 10 Conner Huss (39-6) Sr. MOC-Floyd Valley

285 – No. 3 Tyler Linderbaum (34-0) Sr. Solon vs. Carson Petlon (17-18) Fr. West Delaware

Returning State Champions

Current Weight/Wrestler/2017 Championship Weight

113 – Grayson Kesterson Sr., Williamsburg (106)

120 – Aden Reeves Jr. Albia (113)

138 – Michael Blockhus, Sr., New Hampton (126)

132 – Matt Robertson Sr., Davenport Assumption (132)

152 – Isaac Judge Sr., South Tama (152)

182 – Julien Broderson Jr., Davenport Assumption (182)

195 – Bryce Esmoil Sr., West Liberty (195)

220 – Jordan Baumler Sr., North Fayette Valley (220)

Undefeated Wrestlers

120 – Aden Reeves (46-0) Jr., Albia

126 – Eric Faught (48-0) Jr., Clear Lake

126 – Phillip Ihde (27-0) Sr., Decorah

138 – Michael Blockhus (53-0) Sr., New Hampton

138 – Tanner Probasco (26-0) Sr., South Tama

182 – Julien Broderson (32-0) Jr., Davenport Assumption

195 – Bryce Esmoil (49-0) Sr., West Liberty

285 – Cooper Lawson (43-0) Sr., Webster City

285 – Tyler Linderbaum (34-0) Sr., Solon

Who to Watch

In his district final last week Solon sophomore Zeb Gnida avenged a pair of regular season losses with a 6-4 sudden victory decision over fifth-ranked Caleb Fuessley of Center Point-Urbana.

If Gnida can win his state meet debut he would likely give himself a chance at avenge another of his losses from the regular season.

Seventh-ranked Gnida (40-9) could face No. 6 Sergeant Bluff-Luton freshman Jack Gaukel in the 120-pound quarterfinals if both pick up wins in Thursday’s opening round.

Gaukel won a 6-1 decision over Gnida in the semifinals of the Herb Irgens Invitational last month.


Weight Class to Watch

Heavyweight is one of three weight classes in Class 2A to feature a pair of undefeated wrestlers.

Throw in the number 10 ranked wrestler in the country according to Intermat alongside those two unbeaten seniors and you have the makings of a loaded bracket.

Third-ranked Solon senior Tyler Linderbaum (34-0) and top-ranked Cooper Lawson of Webster City both enter unbeaten on the season.

No. 2 John McConkey of Atlantic has one loss, and enters ranked as the tenth best 285-pounder in the country by Intermat.

The lone loss for McConkey came to Glenwood senior and Class 3A top-ranked Caleb Sanders, a loss he avenged twice during the regular season.

McConkey and Lawson are set to meet in the quarterfinals while Linderbaum could get a state tournament rematch with No. 5 Spencer Trenary of Clarion-Goldfield-Dows in the semifinals.  

Don’t Miss This

New Hampton senior Michael Blockhus is seeking the third state title of his career after edging Solon’s Drew West for the 126-pound title a year ago.

Ranked the ninth best 138 pounder nationally by Intermat, Blockhus is 53-0 this season and 77-1 over the past two seasons.

He won a 106-pound title as a freshman at Crestwood in 2015.

The Teams

District Champions (State Qualifiers)

New Hampton (9); Solon (5); West Liberty (8); Atlantic (4); West Delaware (6); PCM (6); Sioux City Heelan (5); Clarion-Goldfield-Dows (6)

2017 Top 5 Team Finishers

1. Solon 96.5; 2. New Hampton 96; 3. Davenport Assumption 83; 4. Creston/Orient-Macksburg 79.5; 5. West Liberty 66.5.

Last 5 team Champs

2017 – Solon

2016 – Creston/Orient-Macksburg

2015 – Mediapolis

2014 – Davenport Assumption

2013 – West Delaware

What to watch in the Team Race

Another 2017 runner-up with hopes to slide into the top spot, New Hampton enters as the favorite in Class 2A.

The Chikasaws joins Fort Dodge in Class 3A and Don Bosco in 1A as defending runners-up capable of making the move to No. 1.

Top-ranked New Hampton has a Class 2A-best nine qualifiers and seven of those are ranked including a pair of top-ranked wrestlers in Michael Blockus (138) and Noah Fye (145).

The top challengers West Liberty and Dubuque Wahlert have differentiating strengths.

West Liberty has eight qualifiers with defending 195-pound champ Bryce Esmoil and top-ranked 132-pound sophomore Will Esmoil headlining a group of four top-five ranked wrestlers.

Dubuque Wahlert has only four qualifiers but three of those are top-ranked.

Josh Ramirez (160), Kolton Bartow (170) and Boone McDermott (220) all enter the state tournament ranked No. 1.