Hoeft Survives Brief Opening-round Scare to Return to Class 3A Quarterfinals


Photo by Jeff Yoder

Ryan Murken

Your Prep Sports

DES MOINES – Will Hoeft is a 4.0, Harvard wresting recruit that is one of the brightest young men you’ll ever meet.

For at least a few seconds on Thursday, Hoeft says he was an idiot.

That was the thought running through the mind of the West High senior after he ended up on his back in his opening-round match at the Class 3A state wrestling tournament on Thursday at Wells Fargo Arena.

“I just thought, ‘o.k. idiot stop doing that’,” Hoeft said. “I just had a short memory after that and it was back to doing what I wanted to do.”

Second-ranked Hoeft survived his brief opening round scare to advance to the 182-pound quarterfinals for the second straight season as West High sent four wrestlers to the quarterfinals and kept six of seven qualifiers alive into day two.

Hoeft (20-1) outscored Caleb Watson 14-1 over the final three minutes to secure a 21-8 win over the Indianola senior that wasn’t with a little tension.

“He didn’t panic but it goes to show you that anything can happen at this tournament and you have to continue to wrestle,” West High coach Nate Moore said. “You have to wrestle for six minutes.”

Hoeft scored a pair of first quarter takedowns and led Watson 7-2 after an escape to start the second period.

That’s when things got a little tense for Hoeft.

Watson locked a headlock and dropped Hoeft to his back, tying the score at 7-7 with the what end up being a takedown and three-point near fall.  

“Obviously you don’t want to be in that situation but I know going into it that I’m going to end up in a few bad positions and it’s really just how I deal with it that determines how you do,” Hoeft said. “It’s how you deal with those situations that counts.”

Hoeft fought off his back and quickly scored a reversal for a 9-7 lead.

Then the senior went to work, twice turning Watson for three near fall points.

Hoeft outscored Watson 6-1 in the final period with two more takedowns and two near fall points.  

“I think a lot of guys have a picture-perfect image of how their state tournament is going to go, we are all guilty of that thinking you are just going to tech your way through it,” Hoeft said. “It’s inevitable that something bad at some point is going to happen and you have to respond.”

Wrestling with a torn ACL Hoeft placed sixth last season after dropping a 7-5 decision in sudden victory in the quarters.

Hoeft will go after this first semifinal on Friday morning when he faces fifth-ranked Destin Schroder (27-2) of Newton.

Joining Hoeft in the quarters are a trio of ranked West High wrestlers.

Top-ranked 132-pound sophomore Hunter Garvin (30-3) returned to the quarterfinals for the second straight season while Grant O’Dell and Graham Gambrall each won a state meet opener for the first time on Thursday.

A two-time medalist, Gambrall has had to battle through the back of the bracket each of the past two seasons following an opening round loss.

On Thursday he snapped his two-match opening round losing streak with a third-period pin of Peter Erickson of Johnston his opener at 145 pounds.

“It really tests your mental capacity and your will to battle back after the first round or anytime at this tournament,” Gambrall said. “When your dreams are crushed and you have to go back out there you have to get your big boy pants on and go fight. I learned a lot from that the past two years and it helped make me better.”

Fifth-ranked Gambrall (33-5) will face No. 4 Ben Monroe (36-2) of Ankeny Centennial in the quarterfinals.  

“Graham is night and day different than last year as far as maturity level and he goes out and takes care of business,” Moore said. “He approaches his practices the same way and you can see the correlation from practice to here. That said anything can happen at this tournament and we have to be ready to go against Monroe tomorrow.”

O’Dell (26-6) moved into the quarterfinals at 106 pounds with a 12-2 major decision over Cedar Rapids Prairie freshman Blake Gioimo.

Fourth-ranked O’Dell will get another Mississippi Valley Conference opponent in the quarterfinals when he faces third-ranked Brandon O’Brien (19-1) of Linn-Mar.

A state runner-up a year ago, Garvin began his quest to return to the state finals with an impressive 20-1 tech fall of Samuel Gisaya of Linn-Mar.

Garvin will face seventh-ranked Trevon Wells (24-4) of Dallas Center-Grimes in the quarters.

“I try not to think about (last year),” Garvin said. “You can’t dwell on the past what’s done is done. Only I can control the future, only I can control what happens with me and how I perform.”

Class 3A State Meet

At Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines

Team scores (Top 10; area teams) – 1. Waverly-Shell Rock 33; 2. Southeast Polk 32; 3. Fort Dodge 27; 4. Linn-Mar 23.5; 5. Johnston 22; 6. Bettendorf 21; 7. North Scott 19.5; 8. Norwalk 19; 9. West High 17.5; 10. Cedar Rapids Kennedy 17; 16. City High 11; 27. Clear Creek Amana 5

Opening Round (West High Wrestlers Only)

106 – Grant O’Dell (West High) major dec. Blake Gioimo (CR Prairie) 12-2

120 – Peyton Westlin (North Scott) pinned Parker McBride (West High) 3:56

132 – Hunter Garvin (West High) tech. fall Samuel Gisaya (Linn-Mar) 20-1

145 – Graham Gambrall (West High) pinned Peter Erickson (Johnston) 4:46

170 – Deveyon Montgomery (Southeast Polk) pinned Ashton Barker (West High) 2:33

182 – Will Hoeft (West High) major dec. Caleb Watson (Indianola) 21-8

195 – Miles Berg (Indianola) major dec. Anu Dokun (West High) 10-1  

First Round Consolation

120 – Parker McBride (West High) dec. Kaleb German (Urbandale) 7-0

170 – Ashton Barker (West High) pinned Kole Wiegert (Storm Lake) 2:32

195 – Colton Dreith (Storm Lake) pinned Anu Dokun (West High) 2:33

Friday’s Quarterfinal Matches

106 – No. 4 Grant O’Dell (26-6) Soph., West High vs. No. 3 Brandon O’Brien (19-1) Jr., Linn-Mar

132 – No. 1 Hunter Garvin (30-3) Soph., West High vs. No. 7 Trevon Wells (24-4) Sr., Dallas Center-Grimes

145 – No. 5 Graham Gambrall (33-5) Jr., West High vs. No. 4 Ben Monroe (36-2) Sr., Ankeny Centennial

182 – No. 2 Will Hoeft (20-1) Sr., West High vs. No. 5 Destin Schroder (27-2) Sr., Newton

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