The Scott West Wrestling Team opened up “The All-American Dream” 2018-19 season in front of a big crowd at home in Belle Plaine on Thursday night, Nov. 29, as the fifth rated Panthers rolled to a 44-21 win over their local rival and AAA #11 rated New Prague.  

Following the big Thursday night win over the Trojans, the Panthers went across the border into Iowa where Scott West made their second appearance at the 33-team Cliff Keen Independence Invitational. When wrestling there, it is all about winning the horseshoe and the bigger the shoe the better, as the top eight place winners are awarded a horseshoe for their wrestling efforts and the higher you place, the bigger the horseshoe.  

The Scott West Panthers won seven horseshoes as they wrestled their way to a second place finish in the tournament  amassing 271.5 team points, which was 28.5 behind the 299 team points of the team champions Christian Brothers College from Missouri.  

“I think that as a team we had a really good overall weekend of wrestling,” stated Scott West Wrestling Coach Darren Ripley.  “We wrestled pretty solid in the win over New Prague on Thursday night, and there were some encouraging performances at the Independence Tournament that may help in answering some of the question marks coming into the season.”

Team Panther’s solid win over New Prague on Thursday night was led off by an exciting match between a pair of good young lightweights as New Prague’s Joey Novak out dueled Scott West freshman Zach Tracy with a 9-5 win.  However, the match was much closer than the final score as Tracy rallied back after an opening period take down by Novak giving the Trojan wrestler a 2-0 lead.  Tracy used a pair of reversals and some good, hard riding to take a 4-2 lead late into the second period. As he went to tilt the New Prague wrestler to his back, Novak was able to roll through it and score a match tying reversal. With the score tied at 4-4 after two periods, Novak won the third period and the match as he scored a reversal and caught Tracy with a match securing, three point cradle.  

New Prague’s Colby Dunkel scored a lot of points in the second match of the night as the Trojan wrestler scored a 12-0 major decision over Panther sophomore Tory Pumper.  

The Trojans took a 13-0 team lead into the next match as returning State Runner-up Nick Novak scored a first period pin over Scott West freshman Ashton Holbrook.  

The Panthers responded to the 13-0 team deficit with eight straight wins, led and capped by two Scott West returning state qualifiers, Colton Bahr at 126 and Jon Huss at 182. Bahr used four take downs as the junior won a 9-1 decision over New Prague’s Luke Dorweiler.  Huss was up 7-3 in the third period when the senior sent Trojan wrestler Jake Trachte flying to his back in a match ending headlock.

After the Bahr major decision win, Scott West won back to back pins at 132 and 138 by their senior captains, as Justin Stauffacher used a tight second period arm bar to drive Trojan wrestler Simon Kajer to his back for a pin at 3:32. Tyler Shackle followed with a second period pin of his own as he first built a 13-3 period one lead on New Prague wrestler Ryan Wagner before getting the official Glen Hinz pin fall call at 2:30.  

Thanks to the back to back pins, the Scott West team had a 16-13 team lead over the Trojans and Scott West sophomore Luke Fogarty worked his way to an 11-0 major decision over New Prague wrestler Jacob Vaughan at 145. Fogarty used a take down in each of the three periods to get the win.  

There was no need for three periods in the next match as Panther junior Colton Kerkow turned into a tilting machine after getting the opening take down on the Trojans’ Jeff Bisek.  The Panther wrestler scored four sets of back points at three points each to take a 13-0 first period lead, before ending the match with a 15-0 technical fall early in the second period.  

Scott West junior Jace Demmers was all over the Trojans’ Ethan Gregory in their match at 160.  Demmers used a pair of take downs and back points in each of the first two periods as he built a 9-0 lead.  Demmers won the third period with a reversal and a take down, while Gregory’s lone point in the 13-1 match came on an intentional release for an escape.  

Scott West senior Jeffery Kasper came up with a big match win at 170 as he defeated New Prague Trojan Jay Skogerboe 4-2.  After losing the opening take down, Kasper used a pair of reversals and some good, hard riding to get the win under the spot light on the big Kevin Slack Scott West Wrestling mat.

Scott West held a commanding 38-13 team lead over the Trojans following the Huss headlock pin at 182, as New Prague stopped the Panther eight match winning streak at 195 with Will Busch winning a hard fought 5-2 decision over Panther junior Trent Rasmussen. The Busch win was followed by New Prague returning state qualifier Brennan Rutt’s third period pin over Hunter Struffert.  The Trojans forfeited to the Panthers’ heavyweight Calvin Menke making the final team score Scott West 44 and New Prague 21.

INVITATIONAL IN IOWA

For their road trip into Iowa, the Panthers wrestled their way to a second place finish at the 33-team Cliff Keen Independence Invitational by having seven wrestlers win horseshoe awards with a top eight finish. The Scott West performance was led by Jace Demmers as the junior 160 pounder wrestled his way into the championship match where he lost a hard fought 5-4 match to Osage wrestler Zack Williams. Demmers made the championship match with an exciting 4-2 overtime win over Christian Brother’s Will Edgar as the Panther wrestler converted a nice leg attack into a match winning take down.

While he did not make the championship  match in Independence, Scott West senior heavyweight Calvin Menke wrestled a very good tournament as the Panther finished in third place after placing 7th there a year ago. Menke’s only loss for the weekend was a 6-1 decision to Clarion-Goldfield’s nationally #5 rated Spencer Trenary. After that loss, Menke came back with two solid match wins to close out the tournament. The first of those wins came over Christian Brothers College Harrison Diffley where Menke dominated the match action in a 7-1 decision to move him into the match for third place. In that match for third place, Menke flashed back to his days of old as he hit his Independence opponent Drew Evans with a powerful fireman’s carry that put him to his back for the ensuing pin fall call at 59 seconds.  

The Panthers had three wrestlers turn in fourth place performances as returning Independence place winners, seniors Tyler Shackle (138) and Jon Huss (182), each won their second horseshoe, while junior Hunter Struffert had a breakthrough performance at 220.  After placing 2nd in last year’s tournament, Shackle lost a hard fought 3-2 decision to Lisbon, Iowa’s two-time State Runner-up Cobe Siebrecht and then missed on an opportunity at a Panther Payback as he lost an 11-6 decision to Graham Gambrall in his match for third place.  After dominating his first day of competition with two pins and a 12-3 major decision, Huss lost his opening match on Saturday but came back with two solid wins before dropping a tough 4-2 third place match against Christian Brothers’ Jack Darrah. Struffert’s breakthrough performance was highlighted by three pins on the first day as the Panther wrestler secured his horseshoe with a second period pin of New Hampton’s Carter Reicks and that came after Struffert had lost the opening take down and a stall call.  However, the Panther wrestler responded with two reversals and the second one led to a powerful half-nelson that took the Chickasaw wrestler to his back for the ensuing second period pin fall call by the mat official and Coach Ripley.

After dominating his pool bracket on the first day of wrestling with two pins and a tech fall, Stauffacher lost his first match of the day to Marian Catholic Illinois nationally ranked and eventual tournament champion, Travis Ford-Melton, by technical fall 22-6.  However, the Panther wrestler  bounced back and finished the tournament with his second horseshoe and one spot higher, as he overpowered Cedar Rapids Prairie wrestler Conrad Braswell for a third period pin and fifth place.  

A second Scott West wrestler that made his way to the fifth place match was freshman 106 pounder Zach Tracy who had a breakthrough tournament, winning his first four matches of the tournament before dropping his final three. Tracy secured his top eight finish and horseshoe with a second period reversal and some hard riding as he downed Iowa City West wrestler Grant O’Dell 2-0. Tracy moved to the semi-finals of the tournament and ensured a top six placing as he used a couple nice take downs and some more hard riding to beat Linn-Mar’s Brandon O’Brien 9-4. Tracy finished in 6th place as he lost a 5-2 fifth place match to Lane Cowell of Fort Dodge.

The wrestling season continues for Scott West this week as the Panthers hosts Forest Lake on Friday night, Dec. 7, in the Jordan High School gym, followed by the McNamara MN/USA Youth Tournament on Saturday, Dec. 8, at the same location.

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