DES MOINES — It will not be easy. It was not expected to be.
But the chance for glory is at hand, and senior Wyatt Appleseth is one win away from becoming the first wrestle to reign as state champion in Panorama school history.
Appleseth (46-0), ranked second, won both of his matches Friday to reach the championship finals in Class 2A at 160 pounds.
Awaiting the winningest grappler in Panorama history (170-18) will be top-ranked Solon junior Hayden Taylor (38-0), who was state champ at 145 pounds last year. Taylor reached the finals by humbling fifth-ranked junior Allen Catour (21-4) of Assumption with a 20-6 major decision.
Appleseth, who is now a combined 88-1 the past two seasons, has not lost since a semifinal setback to eventual champion Will Esmoil of West Liberty at 152 pounds last February. The Panther standout went on to finish third. He was a state qualifier as a sophomore at 145 and placed eighth at 132 pounds as a freshman.
Friday’s semifinal found Appleseth facing Clarion-Goldfield junior Garrett Seaba (32-3), who is ranked fourth. Appleseth used a late takedown to post a 2-0 lead after one period, then opened a 3-0 lead with a reversal in the second period.
Seaba scored a point in the third to bring the match to 3-1. He had a single-leg on Appleseth in the waning seconds, but the Panther star defended perfectly against the takedown and held on to secure his Saturday evening appointment.
Appleseth was in complete command of his quarterfinal match from the outset. Facing seventh-ranked Ballard sophomore Gabriel Christensen (37-7), Appleseth was not to be stopped, scoring repeatedly while never being threatened.
Though he could not complete a fall, he nearly scored a technical fall, instead settling for a 13-2 major decision to easily advance.