CORNING — It was pretty much in the bag Friday night.
The foundation for Creston/Orient-Macksburg’s dominating title run at the 58th annual John J. Harris Invitational was laid in the quarterfinal round. Leading Clarinda 35-28 after the first round, the Panthers zoomed ahead with nine wrestlers reaching the semifinal round, including upset victories by Jacob Johnston at 145 pounds and Gavin Leith at 152.
By the end of Friday’s second round, the Panthers had compiled 95.5 points. The next closest was Clarinda with 58.5.
“Everybody took care of business Friday, and that made it easier on us today,” said coach Darrell Frain, after his team defended its 2012 title.
The fourth-ranked Panthers, fueled by three champions and eight wrestlers placing fourth or better, racked up 222.5 points to finish 82.5 ahead of Hawkeye 10 Conference rival Clarinda, and 114 ahead of third-place Chariton.
Creston/O-M sent four wrestlers into the finals, twice as many as the eight teams that each sent two. The Panthers finished strong, going 9-2 in the final placing matches with 11 placewinners overall.
“The team wrestled well,” said 195-pound champion Keaton Hulett. “A lot of kids stepped up.”
“It took a lot of unseeded or lower-seeded kids for us to get nine into the semis,” Frain said. “Guys like Gage Cheers, Gavin Leith, Jacob Johnston, Nate Robinson and Kruz Adamson. We had a big group of guys come through with big wins for us.”
At 145 pounds, the sixth-seeded Johnston pinned No. 3 seed Jaydn Erlandson of Nodaway Valley to reach the semifinals, where he lost to champion Darrian Irlbeck of Tri-Center. Johnston rebounded to place third.
The unseeded Leith ended up fifth at 152 after reaching Saturday’s semifinals. Cheers did the same at 126 pounds. Robinson ended up fourth at heavyweight, losing by fall in the third-place match Mount Ayr’s Joe Ricker.
Cole Tanner took third at 220 pounds in one of the highlight performances, Frain said. He lost a tight 3-2 semifinal match to champion Blake Glenn of Winterset, then won two consolation matches.
Joining the upper-weight success was freshman Seth Maitlen. Although falling short of the semifinals, he fought his way through the consolation bracket to place fifth with a major decision victory in his final match.
“Our freshmen, Seth and Joey Huntington, really competed well here,” Frain said. Huntington came up one victory short of placing at 132.
Adam Baker matched his third seed at 160 pounds after losing a 10-4 semifinal match against Mount Ayr’s Shane Swank. Top-seed Kallan Schmelzer of Corning then edged Swank, 7-5 in overtime, for the title.
It was no surprise for Creston/O-M’s trio of Jake Marlin, Trevor Frain and Keaton Hulett to reach the finals and claim championships. But, Kruz Adamson is a recent spark to the lineup after moving down to 113 from 120 when Wyatt Thompson contracted a skin infection.
Adamson still has to challenge Thompson for the full-time position at 113, but he’s taken advantage of the opportunity with a productive week. In his quarterfinal match he clipped Shenandoah’s Zac McCoy, 4-3, scoring on a late reversal and tilt nearfall.
Adamson upset No. 1 seeded Christian Polley of Tri-Center, 9-4, in Saturday’s semifinals. He got off to a great start in the match with two first-period takedowns.
That set up a championship match against Dusten Reed of Bedford/Lenox. Tied at 2-2 after two periods, Reed got two takedowns in the third period. Adamson’s reversal with 35 seconds left closed it to 6-5, but he was unable to turn Reed in the final seconds.
“It’s easier at 113,” the Panther junior said. “It’s more my weight.”
Frain overcame a midweek bout of the stomach flu to claim the 170-pound title, despite feeling sapped after his first bout Friday night.
“He missed school Wednesday and couldn’t make it through practice Thursday, so I tried to tell him not to wrestle,” coach Frain said. “He didn’t feel well at all Friday night, but he felt better Saturday.”
Frain outpointed Atlantic’s Matt Williamson in the finals, 6-3.
“He’s really strong,” Frain said. “You just have to be quicker than him.”
The all-state linebacker relied on one of his football trademarks for offense.
“I’ve been working on my double (leg), getting of to the side and just burying him, more like a tackle in football,” Frain said.
Marlin and Hulett, both ranked No. 1 in Class 2A, were not challenged, but used their final matches to “tune up” their repertoire.
Despite an aggressive early challenge from Missouri Valley state placewinner Brett Marcum, Marlin put on a clinic on his feet with seven takedowns and a 14-5 lead before winning by fall in the second period.
“Coach Frain said I had to get at least five leg attacks before I pinned him,” said the three-time state champ, improving to 38-1.
Hulett, likewise, won by three falls and a 13-4 major decision, showing improvement in his offense.
“The goal the past two to three weeks has been to get better on my feet,” said Hulett, now 35-1. “The semifinal was a takedown-letup match. I scored on a lot of singles today. The kid in the finals tried to throw me at the beginning, but I countered it and got a few back points.”
Host Corning placed seventh with 79.5 points, led by Schmelzer’s title at 160 and a runner-up finish by Logan Wood at 106.
Mount Ayr was 11th among 22 teams with 67.5 points. Swank and 132-pounder Erik Freed were each second. Freed lost an overtime decision to Shenandoah’s Joseph Heitsusen in the finals.
Reed’s title led Bedford/Lenox to a 12th-place finish with 64 points. Cole Bonde was second at 182.
The tournament began Friday with a moment of silence for Wayne Christensen of Lenox, who died Jan. 13 at age 84. He had several children and grandchildren participate in the John J. Harris Invitational over the years, as wrestlers coaches and officials.
John J. Harris Invitational
Team scoring (champions) — 1. Creston/O-M (3) 222.5; 2. Clarinda (1) 140; 3. Chariton (2) 108.5; 4. Tri-Center (2) 108; 5. Riverside 93.5; 6. Atlantic 92; 7. Corning (1) 79.5; 8. Winterset (1) 76; 9. Shenandoah (1) 72; 10. Red Oak (1) 70; 11. Mount Ayr 67.5; 12. Bedford/Lenox (1) 64; 13. Panorama 63; 14. East Mills (1) 63; 15. Missouri Valley 58; 16. Coon Rapids-Bayard 57.5; 17. Griswold 56.5; 18. Central Decatur 45; 19. Southwest Iowa 42; 20. Nodaway Valley 37; 21. Osceola Clarke 26; 22. Wayne, Corydon 11.
106 — Tanner Mertz (RO) major dec. Logan Wood (Corn), 13-0.
113 — Dusten Reed (B/L) dec. Kruz Adamson (Cr), 6-5.
120 — Blake Luna (Clar) pinned Dillion Cox (Atl), 2:35.
126 — Devin Harberts (Ch) dec. Geoff Sellers (RO), 9-8.
132 — Joseph Heitzhusen (Shen) dec. Erik Freed (MA), 8-6 OT.
138 — Jake Marlin (Cr) pinned Brett Marcum (MV), 2:32.
145 — Darrian Irlbeck (T-C) dec. Luke Strong (Clar), 5-4 OT.
152 — Loren Williams T-C dec. Zach Moss (Wint), 7-1.
160 — Kallan Schmelzer (Corn) dec. Shane Swank (MA), 7-5 OT.
170 — Trevor Frain (Cr) dec. Matt Williamson (Atl), 6-3.
182 — Carter Isley (Ch) dec. Cole Bonde (B/L), 9-4.
195 — Keaton Hulett (Cr) pinned Taylor Hein (Pan), 3:27.
220 — Blake Glenn (Wint) dec. Mark Hall (SWI), 5-4.
285 — David Howell (EM) pinned Garrett Johnston (Pan), 5:38.
106 — 3. Nick Rounds (MV) pinned Britton Gibson (Wint), 1:41; 5. Craig Rice (SWI) injury def. over Micah Hoffman (CR-B).
113 — 3. Zac McCoy (Shen) dec. Christian Polley (T-C), 9-2; 5. Jacob Vogel (Riv) pinned Dakota Petty (RO), 3:56.
120 — 3. Sean Skillern (Shen) pinned Christian Hilgenberg (CR-B),m 5:22; 5. Tucker Bluml (Riv) pinned Nic Ryan (Ch), :50.
126 — Cole Race (Clar) dec. Zach Vance (Gris), 9-2; 5. Gage Cheers (Cr) pinned Jake Johnson (Shen), 4:50.
132 — 3. Tanner Poush (Ch) pinned Reid Nichols (Atl), :38; 5. Clay Harris (Riv) pinned Zach Evans (CR-B), 3:17.
138 — 3. Tyler Nance (Ch) pinned Tanner Potter (Gris), 5:03; 5. Jared Thompson (NV) injury default over Travis Henningsen (Riv).
145 — 3. Jacob Johnston (Cr) pinned Logan Namanny (CR-B), 2:24; 5. Josh Metheny (Gris) major dec. Zach Morris (Riv), 10-1.
152 — 3. Kain Queck (NV) dec. J.J. Clark (Clar), 8-2; 5. Gavin Leith (Cr) dec. Justin Marn (Corn), 4-2.
160 — 3. Adam Baker (Cr) injury def. over Trenton Carson (CD); 5. Dylon French (B/L) dec. Spencer Winnett (CR-B), 10-5.
170 — 3. Jacob Bair (Clk) pinned Payton Housman (Riv), 1:48; 5. Trenton Wells (CD) pinned Christian Lauritsen (Clar), 3:16.
182 — 3. Ben Wellman (T-C) pinned Zach Barton (Corn), :39; 5. Seth Maitlen (Cr) major dec. Dusty Swindler (Clar), 9-1.
195 — 3. Tyler Stork (Atl) dec. Austin Lorenz (Gris), 3-2; 5. Colton Story (EM) pinned Brandon Paulsen (Riv), 1:01.
220 — 3. Cole Tanner (Cr) pinned John Wohlers (MV), 3:31; 5. Tate Vandyne (Way) dec. Tyler Christensen (Atl), 3-1.
285 — 3. Joe Ricker (MA) pinned Nate Robinson (Cr), 1:49; 5. Dakota Calfee (Clar) pinned Jacob Wohlers (T-C), 2:59.