DES MOINES — Woodward-Granger senior Race Brant and junior Tanner Vermaas accomplished what only 15 other matmen in their weight divisions in Class 2A were able to achieve: earn a spot at the state tournament.
Unfortunately, both knocked from the tourney after each suffered a pair of losses in Thursday’s first day of the tourney.
Brant (50-9) drew fourth-ranked Blake Lawless (35-3) of Albia in the first round at 152 pounds.
Lawless was in control throughout the match and used his greater length and arm span to effectively blunt repeated attacks from Brant, who fought gamely put could not fend off his opponent and suffered a 14-3 loss by major decision.
That sent the senior into a do-or-die consolation match against third-ranked Brock Jennings (42-8) of Osage, who had been upset, 3-1, in his first round bout. Jennings quickly put Brant in peril and twice scored near-fall points, as Brant spent most of the first period trying desperately to avoid being pinned. Unfortunately, Jennings got just the right amount of leverage and scored the fall with one second left in the opening frame.
Brant finishes his career with 118 victories, second-best in W-G history and just six behind the school mark. He appeared in three state tournament for the Hawks.
Vermaas (50-8) had the unenviable task of facing undefeated and third-rated Daniel Sommerlot (47-0) of Pocahontas Area in his opening match. Sommerlot scored several take downs, but Vermaas was simply too strong to be turned and the unbeaten senior had to settle for an 8-0 major decision.
Sam Mathis (44-5) of Roland-Story awaited Vermaas in the consolation round. Vermaas was by far the more aggressive wrestler and while dominating the action could only post a 4-3 lead as Mathis went totally defensive. The tactic paid off, as the Norseman senior managed an escape with eight seconds left to stun the Hawk junior, 5-4.
Vermaas will enter his senior season just 14 wins shy of Jack Manning’s school mark of 124 career wins, and, barring misfortune, is likely to soar past the 150-victory plateau.