ADEL — For the third consecutive season head coach Mark Weber will be leading a trio of Perry matmen to the big stage of the state tournament after the threesome earned their spots at Saturday’s district tourney.
Senior and second-ranked Kaleb Olejniczak (43-1) easily won the 138-pound bracket to earn a fourth trip to the state tourney. He will be joined by first-time qualifier Jacob Nelson (32-14) after the junior won the 132-pound division, with 106-pound freshman Cole Nelson (34-13) capping his first prep season on the big stage after his runner-up finish.
Riece Graham (17-28 at 113) and Justin Stammer (34-16) had heartbreaking losses in wrestle-back matches deny them a spot in Des Moines, with Jeb Stewart (7-7 at 145), Erick Funez (14-32 at 160) and Cole Snyder (29-18 at 182) also in action for Perry but unable to record a victory.
“It was a good day,” Perry head coach Mark Weber said. “Of course, we wanted it to be a great day, but you can never expect a perfect result.”
“I say it every week, but I do so because it has been true — every one of our guys went out there and fought their butts off,” the coach continued. “Even in matches when we were down we had guys fighting all the way to end. All of them can be satisfied in that they did go out and give it their all, and it is and as a coach you can’t ask for more than that.”
Olejniczak wasted little time in making school history, pinning Ballard’s Alex Bangs (22-26) in 1 minute, 19 seconds in his first match. The win was his 175th, breaking the all-time school record held by 2018 graduate Zach Thompson.
“Zach and I have been training partners since we were little kids, so I get some bragging rights,” Olejniczak quipped. “It is an honor to have the record with all the great wrestlers from Perry, but I am focused on other things right now.”
That would be a state title, which eluded the star senior last year as he finished second (in 3A) at 126 pounds.
His quest to take the final step up the podium was assured after a pin, in 2:48, of North Polk’s Nicholas Bockenstedt.
Jacob Nelson opened with a 5-4 win over Van Meter/Earlham’s Tyler Haynes, then sealed his invitation with an 8-4 decision against Gage Long (36-12) of Ballard.
Cole Nelson scored a two-point move in sudden victory I to knock off VM/E sophomore Riley Harger in their first round meeting, but dropped an 8-4 final to seventh-rated Camrom Phetxoumphone of Webster City in the finals. He advanced on a ‘prior’ when Harger — who he had previously beaten — was the winner of the consolation semifinal.
“Both of the Nelson’s wrestled well today,” Weber said. “They deserve to be at state and I am happy their hard work has paid off.”
Stammer, a senior, opened with a 4-3 decision over Brodrick Schmidt (28-16) of ADM before losing, 5-2, to Carson Johnson (42-7) of Gilbert in the finals. He earned a wrestle-back, but lost by fall to Bryce Cole of VM/E.
“Justin’s transition from last year to this year was incredible,” Weber said. “He was a great leader in the room and he will be missed next year. He is the kind of guy who love to coach.”
Graham lost by fall to sixth-ranked Zane Dodson (34-6) of VM/E but then pinned W-G’s Aidan Honkomp (28-17) in 3:05. A 9-4 loss in his wrestle-back to Roland-Story’s Joe Hovick (33-11) bounced the Perry sophomore.
Stewart dropped a 12-0 major decision to VM/E’s Quinn Corcoran (31-13) before being given an 8-1 loss to Jake Van Houten (20-14) of Saydel to be eliminated.
Funez lost twice by fall in a tough bracket, with Caleb Swalla (32-4) of VM/E, ranked eighth, winning the opener and Webster City’s Sean Godfredsen (22-22) the consolation bout.
Snyder, a junior, suffered a 4-3 loss to Mason Askelsen (23-17) of Ballard and had his season end when he lost by fall to Webster City’s Michael Gilbert (24-20).
“None of our guys who lost today should feel bad, because they all fought hard,” Weber said. “I am proud of the effort of all of our guys and now look forward to getting our qualifiers ready to go.”
Perry starts state competition at the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines at 6 p.m.