Three Bluejays stand tall on state tournament podium

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Perry's Gisaveri Niyibizi advnaced to the semifinals at 126 pounds in the Class 2A state tournament with a 5-3 win over Glenwood's Trevor Anderson. Niyibizi scored this take down with eight seconds remaining to seal the win. He finished the tournament in third place.

DES MOINES — Two Perry seniors will end their prep wrestling careers tonight by stepping onto the medal stand at the Class 2A State Tournament. They will be joined in receiving statewide recognition by a sophomore teammate who will stand on the podium for the second time in as many seasons.

Senior Gisaveri Niyibizi will climb to the third-place perch at 126 pounds after another pair of impressive wins Saturday. Niyibizi wasted little time in dominating Tanner Probasco (43-5, So.) of South Tama County in their consolation semifinal match. The Bluejay standout was in control from the opening whistle to score an 8-2 decision.

He met fourth-ranked Ryan Steffen (38-8, So.) of Crestwood in the third-place match, but it was the 10th-rated Niyibizi who prevailed, winning 4-2.

Zach Thompson and Jon Hellman tangle at 120 pounds Friday. Thompson finished sixth at the tournament for the second consecutive year.
Zach Thompson and Jon Hellman tangle at 120 pounds Friday. Thompson finished sixth at the tournament for the second consecutive year.

Sophomore Zach Thompson (31-7) was one point from competing for the state championship Friday night, but on Saturday could not take the mat due to worries over a head injury sustained in his semifinal match. Thompson forfeited both matches by injury default and will finish sixth at 120 pounds, one season after placing sixth at 106.

Senior Kade VanKirk (30-6) went out a winner after scoring a 7-0 victory against South Tama County sophomore Colton Vest (32-7). VanKirk entered the tourney having lost six consecutive matches in three years of qualifying for the big stage. An opening round loss risked an 0-8 record, but the senior rebounded for two consecutive wins to earn a medal spot.

Kade VanKirk tries for an advantage against Austin Gutknecht in their 132-pound bout Friday.
Kade VanKirk tries for an advantage against Austin Gutknecht in their 132-pound bout Friday. VanKirk won to assure a spot on the medal stand — further action earned the Bluejay senior seventh place.

A loss forced a battle for seventh place, but VanKirk refused to go out with a loss and dominated Vest from start to finish to achieve what he on Thursday had called a “goal I have had since I can remember” of standing on the medal platform.

ThePerryNews.com will have more from the state tournament Monday.

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