WEBSTER CITY — Woodward-Granger wrestlers Ty Turner, Race Brant and Tanner Vermaas all know one thing is certain entering Saturday’s Class 2A District Tournament: The opportunity they have been working for all season will be right before them.
The format at the district tourney is a simple one. The 14 weight classes will feature semifinals pitting the Perry Sectional champion against the Garner-Hayfield-Ventura Sectional runner-up, with the GHV titleist to battle the Perry runner-up.
Winners advance, with the winner of the finals advancing to state. The loser of the finals also advances, but only if the wrestler he defeated in the semis wins in the consolation bracket. If the consolation winner and finals loser have not yet met, a wrestle-back match is held, with that winner declared the district runner-up and also advancing to the state tourney.
“Right now they are as prepared physically as they can be,” W-G head coach Dave Smeltzer said. “Now it is about mental toughness. Once you get this far, you start to see guys who are physically close to each other and many times mental toughness will make the difference.
“You can just about forget the records now, because once you get to districts you know everyone is capable of a big win and it is much harder test,” he added. “If it was easy, everyone would do it.”
Turner and Brant have the extra motivation of being seniors and knowing “this is it” for the prep careers, while talented junior Vermaas is dead-set on not letting the chance to reach the state meet this year pass him by.
Turner (38-13) will begin his quest in the 113-pound bracket by facing top-ranked Webster City freshman Drake Doolittle (36-4), with second-rated CGD senior Justin Portillo (31-2) facing Greene County sophomore Kane Borgeson (17-10) in the other half of the bracket.
Originally from Winterset, Turner moved with his family to Wyoming, where, as a junior, he finished sixth at the state tourney at 113 pounds. The family moved back to Iowa this year, and if Turner is to appear in his second state tourney in two states he will have to beat long odds.
“If he wrestles like he did last weekend he has a good chance to go,” Smeltzer said. “No one is unbeatable.
“I wish I had Ty on the team for all four years,” he added. “He has tremendous heart and dedication and is willing to listen and learn. I wish I had 20 more guys like him.”
At 152 pounds one semifinal will feature Brant (48-6) against CGD junior Dakota Hennigar (29-17) while sophomore Zane Williams (28-16) of Webster City will battle senior and second-ranked Tommy Bradshaw (37-1) of Greene County in the other semifinal match.
Bradshaw was undefeated until Brant pinned him in the sectional finals last Saturday, giving Brant wins this season over wrestlers ranked second, third, sixth and 10th at the time of their meeting. Brant will be seeking his third appearance at the state tourney and his first win on the big stage after qualifying as a sophomore and a junior but leaving without a victory in Des Moines.
“Race knows he can beat anybody, that his conditioning is better than anyone else,” Smeltzer stated. “If he wrestles like he did at sectionals — the way he has since Christmas, really — I can see him not only making state but placing pretty high. He has shown he can beat the best, now he just needs to go out and do it.”
Vermaas, 49-5 at 182, has drawn Humboldt senior Nate Kollmorgen (10-15) in one semifinal. The other semifinal pits sixth-ranked GHV senior Cade Baker (37-2) against Perry junior Adan Medina (24-24).
“Tanner is really wrestling smart right now and has become way more aggressive on his feet than he was last year,” Smeltzer said. “We know every opponent is to be taken seriously, so there will be no let up. There are some good kids (in his bracket) but Tanner is in incredible condition and is very motivated. He is on a mission, I would not want to be in his way.”
Smeltzer said he expects his trio to perform well.
“Somebody is going to have to beat us, because these three guys are not going to do anything to beat themselves,” he concluded. “They just need to go out and go hard, just like they have been. Go out and go hard and we will see what happens.”