Solon Crowns Six Champions on Its Way to Team Title at Regina Invite

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Photo by Jeff Yoder

Ryan Murken

Your Prep Sports

IOWA CITY – Two weekends into the season Solon was already accustomed to busy Saturday afternoons.

With trips to the Cliff Keen Independence Open and the South Tama Dual Tournament the Spartans often faced a flurry of matches in a short amount of time.

With long waits between matches Saturday’s Regina Invitational last nearly 12 hours and offered a different type of challenge.

The Spartans were more than up to the task.

Solon crowned six champions to run away with the team title at the 16-team Regina Invitational on Saturday in Iowa City.

“It was a long day with only two mats going compared to the first couple of tournaments where we didn’t have nearly as long of breaks between matches but when it was time for them to wrestle I thought our guys wrestled aggressively and stayed on the attack,” Solon coach Blake Williams said. “Good things happen when you do that.”

All five of the ranked wrestlers for Class 2A sixth-ranked Solon earned individual titles on Saturday as the Spartans rolled up 236.5 team points.

Ranked Spartans Hayden Taylor, Zeb Gnida, Zack Bevans, Jax Flynn and Mike Hoyle won titles while unranked senior Andy Brokaw added an individual title at 160 pounds as Solon finished 72 points in front of runner-up Williamsburg.

Mount Pleasant was third with 124.5 points and Peking was fourth with 104.

“It’s a long day so we have to stay together as a team and help each other get ready for every match,” Flynn said. “The team part is really important on a day like this.”

Solon went 6-1 in the championship round with a pair of pins and a major decision.

Seven Solon wrestlers combined for an 11-3 advantage in takedowns in championship matches.  

“We told them don’t just be satisfied go out there and try to build that lead and try to dominate,” Williams said. “Some of them did that in the finals and I think it’s a good confidence boost for some of them.”

Taylor set the tone for the Spartans’ dominating championship round performance with a 9-2 decision over Class 3A ninth-ranked Zach Bitker of Marshalltown in the 126-pound title match.

The freshman posted a pair of pins to reach the finals where he recorded four takedowns while handing Bitker his first loss of the season.

Ranked fourth in Class 2A, Taylor improved to 18-1 on the season.

“He is never satisfied,” Williams said. “He was not happy at the end and that’s great to see because he always wants more. He is relentless and on the attack.”

The win by Taylor started a string of five championship wins for the Spartans.

Gnida followed Taylor with a 3-2 win over third-ranked Jalen Schropp of Williamsburg at 132 pounds.

The senior scored the only takedown of the match with 28 seconds left in the second quarter and added a third-period escape before holding on for a 3-2 lead.

“He’s a great wrestler, I love Jalen there is no love on the mat obviously but we go way back,” Gnida said. “We’ve never competed against each other in tournaments but we’ve been practice partners since way back so I have a lot of respect for him.”

The win was the ninth straight for Gnida (13-5) following a 4-5 start to the season that including three losses at the season-opening Cliff Keen Independence Invitational.

“I’ve been dealing with some mental things towards the beginning of the season but I’ve gotten past those and I feel like I’ve reached a new level with my wrestling,” Gnida said. “I’m looking forward to showing people what I can do this season.”

Third-ranked Bevans (16-3) pinned Regina freshman Aidan Udell at 152 pounds and Brokaw (15-4) won a 12-2 major decision over Williamsburg sophomore Riley Holt at 160.

“I thought Andy Brokaw really wrestled a great tournament form start to finish,” Williams said. “He looked really solid and did a good job for us.”

Flynn (16-3) pinned his way to the 170 pound title, putting Mount Pleasant senior James DeMeyer on his back in the final seconds of the second period in the finals.  

“I started off slow my first match and then got better as the day went on,” Flynn said. “I was happy with how I wrestled in the final.”

The final Solon title came at 220 pounds where Hoyle (17-0) remained unbeaten with a win over Class 3A fifth-ranked Zach Beason of Mount Pleasant.

Solon got a runner-up finish from junior Seamus Poynton at 182 and third-place finishes from Adam Bock at 195 and Caleb Ebert at 145.

Regina Invitational

Team scores – 1. Solon 236.5; 2. Williamsburg 164.5; 3. Mount Pleasant 124.5; 4. Pekin 104; 5. Tipton 101.5; 6. Marshalltown 99.5; 7. Regina 88; 8. Columbus/Winfield-Mount Union 81; 9. North Cedar 61; 10. WACO 55; 11. H-L-V 49.5; 12. Sigourney 47; 13. West Branch 45.5; 14. Davenport West 42.5; 15. Fairfield 26; 16. Lone Tree 25

(Individual champions; Area placewinners)

106 – Bryce Thompson (LT) dec. Travis Hodges (DW) 7-4

113 – Mason Dye (SIG) pinned Kayden Gryp (WIL) 4:23; 4. Quinn Hayden (WB)

120 – John Crowley (TIP) pinned Tyler Siemen (WB) 1:02

126 – Hayden Taylor (SOL) dec. Zach Bitker (MAR) 9-2

132 – Zeb Gnida (SOL) dec. Jalen Schropp (WIL) 3-2

138 – Jarod Kadel (COL) major dec. Zach Hammes (PEK) 11-3; 4. Aidan Dall (SOL)

145 – Garrett Jensen (WIL) dec. Nathan Wallace (MP) 2-0; 3. Caleb Ebert (SOL)

152 – Zack Bevans (SOL) pinned Aidan Udell (ICR) 2:24

160 – Andy Brokaw (SOL) major dec. Riley Holt (WIL) 12-2

170 – Jax Flynn (SOL) pinned James DeMeyer (MP) 3:59; 6. Morgan Hartz (WB)

182 – Nick Milder (ICR) major dec. Seamus Poynton (SOL) 10-0

195 – Rowan Udell (ICR) dec. Tyler Thurston (NC) 8-1; 3. Adam Bock (SOL)

220 – Mike Hoyle (SOL) dec. Zach Beason (MP) 11-4

285 – Jordan Anderson (MAR) pinned Chase Gallagher (NC) :31