His 150th victory was perhaps the most important of all.
A gritty second round consolation triumph Friday afternoon placed AC/GC’s Blaine Beeler on the medal stand, achieving a life-long goal, while simultaneously placing him among the Charger greats.
The senior was one of three Chargers to earn a victory at the 2019 state wrestling tournament in Des Moines. Fellow classmate Easton Benson joined Beeler on the podium with an eighth-place finish while sophomore Gunnar Larsen did not place but earned a consolation victory at 132 pounds.
Beeler (38-12) came in unranked but secured a trio of triumphs en route to a sixth place finish at 120 pounds. He opened the tournament with a key first round victory over Wapello’s Mitch Moore, pinning the junior just over a minute into the second period.
The early triumph allowed Beeler to ease into the intense atmosphere of Wells Fargo Arena.
“It definitely helps get the nerves out of the way, especially like that,” the senior said. “It shows that you never (can) give up.”
Beeler lost his ensuing match against second-ranked Daniel Kimball of Don Bosco but bounced back with a resounding victory over Tri-Center’s Connor Atkisson in the second round of consolations. The consolation victory not only put Beeler in the medal rounds, but it was also his 150th of his storied career. He rode that success to yet another win Friday evening, a decisive 9-4 victory over Colfax-Mingo’s Cauy Fitch in the consolation third round, securing a spot in the semifinals. Beeler would eventually be bounced to the fifth place match by consolation champ, Trey Lash-brook of Ackley. Moore, Beeler’s first round opponent, captured some bittersweet revenge with a first period pin in the fifth place match.
Despite the loss, Beeler’s perseverance and determination was something head coach Shawn Danker has been hammering home since day one.
“(It) re enforces what we continually preach to our kids – work hard, push each other to be better, believe in themselves and good things will happen for you,” the coach said. “They are appreciative for this opportunity and know that this was an awesome experience, and their teammates have had a part in their success as well. Everyone should feel some part of the glory.”
Benson earned a quarterfinal victory as well at 138 pounds, upsetting eighth-ranked Nate Monahan of Woodbury Central with a 5-3 victory Feb. 13. He was later bounced from the winner’s bracket after getting pinned by University of Iowa commit and eventual state champion Cole Siebrecht of Lisbon, but recovered to secure an intense, 11-7 victory over Brody Hawtrey. Though Benson (30-14) was later knocked to the seventh place match by Lake Mills’ Caiden Jones in a 10-4 defeat, he’d still hold his head high with a spot on the podium.
“For (Beeler and Benson) to earn a medal and be on the podium at the end of the state tournament is fantastic. They both had an exceptional weekend, if someone is going to have a great tournament, this is the time to have it,” Danker said. “They wrestled some great matches and performed at a high level multiple days. These two have been a big staple in our program for the last four years and will be greatly missed.”
Riceville’s Lawson Losee had little trouble with Benson in the seventh place match, securing an 18-3 tech fall, sending the senior to eighth overall.
Larsen lost his first round match at 132 pounds to Cascade’s Nolan
Noonan, but re-grouped for a 7-3 win over East Sac’s Nathan Thomsen in the first round of consolations. Larsen later was pinned by Martensdale St. Mary’s Josh Tibbits, the eventual consolation champion, in the second round. Capturing triumph in his first state trip as a mere sophomore will only do wonders for Larsen’s confidence, Danker said.
“To earn a victory and wrestle for two days is really needed experience for him and his teammates in the upcoming years,” the coach said. “Gunnar had two really good performances down there, one match ended up just a little short on the points, but (he) wrestled well. I am really excited for him the next couple of years.”
West Sioux’s Adam Allard (56-0) captured the 1A 120 pound title while Lisbon’s Cael Happel gave the eastern Iowa school a second championship with a victory in the 132 pound bracket.