FOREST CITY — One week ago, Gabe Irons got a result that lifted his confidence and showed himself that he may be the real deal. The result: a 4-1 win by decision over second-ranked Hunter Hagen of West Hancock.

The Lake Mills senior, who’s ranked fifth at 195 pounds in Class 1A, used that match again on Saturday at the Top of Iowa Conference tournament as he defeated Hagen to win a second straight conference title. His title also helped Lake Mills secure its second conference crown in a row.

“It means we’ve got to build a dynasty,” Irons said of the Bulldogs’ conference dominance. “Next year we can win it by even more.”

The Bulldogs had two title winners on the afternoon — Irons and Kyle Beery — had two runner-up finishers, and two more nabbed third-place finishes.

But it was Irons' match which stood out.

A reversal halfway through the second put Hagen up 2-0 heading to the final period. With his back to the wall, Irons, who started from the down position in the third, got an escape with 48 seconds remaining in the period, and then got the clincher on a takedown with 17 seconds remaining.

There was still plenty of time for Hagen to make a move, though. Irons knew what he had to do.

"Don't let him get up," Irons said. “I looked up and saw 17 and I’m like 'Crap.' But it all worked out in the end."

The end result: a 3-2 win by decision and a load of confidence heading into next week’s sectional tournament.

Beery was dominant throughout his match as he turned a 10-3 lead after the first period into a pin in 3 minutes, 17 seconds vs. Eagle Grove’s Dawson Lalor at 138 pounds.

"He wrestled awesome, and in the finals he wrestled smart because that kid is obviously dangerous," Lake Mills coach Alex Brandenburg said. "He did a good job controlling the match but staying aggressive."

Aside from the two title winners, it was sort of a mixed bag for the Bulldogs.

Tyler Helgeson fell in the 120-pound title match, and Casey Hanson lost in overtime at 132. Caiden Jones, who was ranked second at 113 coming into Saturday, ended up settling for third place in his bracket. Max Johnson added a third-place finish at 220.

"The thing I like is I don't think we wrestled very well today, and we didn’t wrestle well Thursday night against Clear Lake, but it’s nice to know that we can have three starters out and not wrestle well and still win it," Brandenburg said.

North Butler-Clarksville ended up as the TIC East Champion with the help of titles from Bryce Trees (113) and Brandon Trees (170), who was named the East wrestler of the year.

Central Springs (Carter Pals and Zack Santee), Nashua-Plainfield (Brock Dietz and Tristen Brase) and Belmond-Klemme (Tucker Kroeze and Cameron Beminio) each had two title winners as well.

The match of the day came at 182 pounds with Kroeze, ranked eighth, matched up against third-ranked Zach Ryg of Central Springs.

Kroeze got his shot in right away in the first and flipped Ryg to his back for a three-point near fall to go up 5-0 early, but Ryg fought his way back. Ryg got it down to 5-2 after two periods, and then recorded two takedowns in the third, including one with 10 seconds to go, to force overtime, tied 6-6.

Kroeze ended it with a takedown with 10 seconds to go in the first overtime for an 8-6 decision.

"Just mental, and I knew that I could come out with the W so I was trying as hard as I could," Kroeze said.

"We just know each other and we always know it's going to be a close match. It's hard, but I came out with the win."

Newman's Jacob McBride won his second conference title with a 13-1 major decision at 126, and Osage’s lone title came from Zach Williams at 160 pounds in a tight 5-2 win over Rockford’s Cameron Rasing.


Sports Reporter

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