Make no mistake — this was a big one. With an enthusiastic crowd in-house and KCRG 9.2 on hand, West Delaware won five of the first six matches by fall, and defeated Solon, 51-18, in an early season WaMaC Conference showdown in Manchester, Dec.6.

“I thought we really came out and set the tone early,” said West Delaware coach Jeff Voss. “Solon is a very good dual meet team, but we won several swing matches.”

Setting that tone right off the bat was Jordan Bries, who pinned Solon’s Adam Bock in 3:41.

“I caught him in a shimmy and just held on,” said Bries. “I’ve been working on that with coach (Adam) Reth this week, and it was the perfect place and perfect time. I just hit it.”

Fourth-ranked Mike Hoyle, of Solon, got the Spartans on the board at 220, pinning Ben Petlon in 2:21 to even the match at 6-6, but that didn’t last long, as the Hawks ran off four consecutive pins to take a 30-6 lead.

Carson Petlon barely broke a sweat at 285, flattening Michael Broghammer in 23 seconds, and Blake Engel followed up with a 53-second pin of Collin Ottoson to give the Hawks an 18-6 lead, but there was more to come.

Luke Farmer put Jakobe Lahr away in 1:36 at 113, and Evan Woods made quick work of Lucas Kampman at 120, winning by fall in 40 seconds, and in the blink of an eye it was 30-6.

Solon’s Hayden Taylor won by fall over Evan Woods at 126, to give the Spartans a little life, but West Delaware’s seventh-ranked Ryan Phillips got the Hawks back on track with a gritty 4-3 win over fourth-ranked Zeb Gnida at 132.

“I went out ready to wrestle,” said Phillips. “ I focused at getting after it, and things just fell into place.”

Jaydyn Peyton, moving down to 138, pinned Adam Dall in 1:27, and Cael Meyer won by fall over Caleb Ebert in 1:20 to put things out of reach at 45-12.

In another matchup of ranked wrestlers, No. 5 Zack Bevins of Solon decisioned No. 2 Mitchel Mangold, of West Delaware, 3-2, at 152.

Jared Voss, of West Delaware, won a 4-2 decision over Andy Brokaw at 160, Solon’s Jax Flynn won 5-4 over Hawk freshman Wyatt Voelker, and Jack Neuhaus took a 3-0 win over Seamus Poynton at 182 to finish the evening.

“What we are seeing in meets is what we are seeing in practice every day,” said Jeff Voss. “The wrestlers are really focusing on individual improvement goals and helping each other work toward those goals.”

“Things were good tonight, but we need to keep improving. This team has big goals,” said Phillips. “We won’t be taking it easy.”

The Hawks followed up the big dual win over Solon with their second tournament title in as many weeks, outdistancing Class 1A top-ranked Denver, 254-204, at the South Winneshiek Invitational, crowning three meet champions in the process.

Osage was third at 165.5, followed by GMLOS, Minnesota, and New Hampton-Turkey Valley at 160. Decorah (108), North Fayette-Valley (87.5), South Winneshiek (67), St. Ansgar (20) and Waukon (20) completed the field.

Peyton won at 138, decisioning Gunnar Rodgers of North Fayette, 6-2, Mangold took gold at 152 with an 11-3 win over Max Babcock of New Hampton-Turkey Valley, Neuhaus was first at 182 after a 5-0 verdict over Max Schwickerarth of NH-TV.

Second-place finishers for West Delaware were: Woods (120), Phillips (132), Voelker (170), Bries (195) and Carson Petlon ( 285).

Farmer (113), Meyer (145), Voss (160) and Ben Petlon (220) were third, while Engel (106), and Dolan (126) finished fourth.

“Our team faced our toughest competition to date Saturday. I thought we responded very well,” said Voss. “Placing all 14 wrestlers in the top four of the tournament was a great team accomplishment. Every wrestler had the opportunity to wrestle some of the best kids in the state last week.”

“We still have some things to work on to compete with and beat the top individuals in the state. However, the progress we have made in the last three weeks has been a big positive for this team,” concluded Voss.