West Delaware wrestling coach Jeff Voss knows what he’s going to get every time Christian Nunley takes the mat — relentless effort.
By the time Nunley took that mat at Seedorff Gymnasium, Dec. 10, the Hawks led Solon 44-7, but the best was yet to come. Nunley — ranked No. 7 at 220 pounds by The Predicament — used a big third period to get a late fall over Solon’s sixth-ranked Gage Marty in a battle between two 2020 state place winners.
“What Christian was able to do the last 30 seconds of that match was because of the effort he gave the first two and a half periods,” Voss said. “We tell the kids you’re never out of a match if you stay aggressive.”
“He was strong, but I knew I could get around that,” said Nunley. “I really didn’t know he was ranked. I just wrestled hard like always. On our team, you just try to get better and each time you keep climbing up.”
Nunley’s win over Marty was one of nine pins for the Hawks — with the final six contested matches won by fall — on the way to a 68-7 win over the highly-regarded Spartans.
“These guys feed off each other, and once we get on a roll, the momentum just builds,” said Voss. “Our guys were out there pushing and pulling. We really focused on keeping the pressure on guys this week.”
The night’s first match was at 120 pounds, and Carson Turnis got things going the right direction with a 6-3 decision over Solon’s Lawson Sinnwell.
“It all started with Turnis,” said Voss. “He stayed aggressive the whole match and wore the kid out and it paid off for him.”
The Hawks then picked up three falls in succession to bolt to a 21-0 lead. At 126, No. 9 Blake Engel put on a takedown clinic before pinning Milo Ashbacker in 2:38. Reily Dolan got the fall over Brennen Heesh in 1:07 at 132, and Stavely Maury got the quick pin in 41 seconds over Kaden Lamm at 138.
A pair of ranked wrestlers and returning state qualifiers mixed it up at 145. No. 7 Caleb Ebert of Solon used a late reversal and back points to stun West Delaware’s no. 4-ranked Logan Peyton, 8-7, to make the team score 21-3.
Jadyn Peyton got things back on track for the Hawks at 152 with a 21-6 technical fall over Jakobe Lahr at the 4:20 mark. In a match that was 1-0 heading to the third period, defending state champion Hayden Taylor won a 9-1 major decision over Kyle Cole at 160 to get the Spartans their final win of the night, making the team score 26-7.
At 170, top-ranked Jared Voss got the run of six pins going with a fall over Lucas Kampman in 1:52. Cael Meyer, wrestling up two weight classes this season at 182, put away Lucas TePoel in 1:23, and No.1 ranked Wyatt Voelker took Dade Altman down seven times in the first period before deciding to end things in 2:27 at 195.
Following Nunley’s heroics, No. 1 Carson Petlon had a short night, pinning Nash Altman in 1:27 at 285, freshman Brayden Maury finished things off with a fall over Tyson Wheeler in 1:11 at 106 and Carson Less won by forfeit at 113 in the final match.
“Sometimes people don’t really look at the team aspect of an individual sport like wrestling,” Voss said. “These kids know how hard their teammates work, and they aren’t afraid to get excited when something good happens.”
A snowy drive to Calmar set the scene as West Delaware competed in the South Winneshiek Invitational, Dec. 12.
The Hawks crowned six champions on the day, running away with the team title scoring 275 points. Last year’s 2A traditional team champion Osage was second at 198, with Denver third at 140.
Camanche (130.5), Decorah (119), New Hampton-Turkey Valley (106), South Winneshiek (67), North Fayette Valley (52.5) and Waukon (37) rounded out the nine-team field.
“This is a good tournament for us,” Voss said. “We see some teams we don’t get a chance to wrestle and by the end of the day most of the weight classes have three or four good kids in the bracket.”
West Delaware champions were: Engel at 126, Jadyn Peyton at 152, Cole at 160, Voelker at 195, Nunley at 220 and Petlon at 285.
Brayden Maury was second at 106, Staveley Maury second at 138, and Meyer was runner up at 182. Less (113), Dolan (132), and Logan Peyton (145) were third, while Carson Turnis (120) and Ethan Proper (170) finished fourth.