DES MOINES — If you come to the state wrestling tournament for the emotion, you’re in luck if Central Springs is in the field.
In Friday’s Class 1A quarterfinals, Zack Santee and Zach Ryg each had a wild celebration of their own, and each made it into the semifinal round with a victory apiece. Even coach Jay McDonough got in on the mix.
Santee’s match was one he’ll never forget. He trailed 3-1 vs. second-ranked Kaleb Reeves of Sigourney-Keota with less than 10 seconds remaining and it looked like all hope was lost for Santee to advance. And just like that, the match turned with a stalling call on Reeves for a point and then a takedown on a high crotch at the buzzer to lock up a 4-3 victory.
McDonough flew out of his chair, fists clenched and arms raised toward the ceiling of Wells Fargo Arena. Santee bounced to his feet as well and flexed in celebration, and then turned to the Central Springs crowd on the south side of the arena to show them some love as well. It was a win for the ages for Santee.
“Just keep shooting, keep shooting, keep shooting and stuff will work out and he’ll tire out,” Santee said. “Jay just said keep on going, keep on going. Got the stall call and just kept on going with it.
“It was awesome. This is once-in-a-lifetime opportunity right here.”
Ryg enjoyed a celebration of his own after he pinned fourth-ranked Derek Venteicher of Bedford/Lenox in 3 minutes, 19 seconds.
It was a move former Central Springs state champion and current Minnesota State Southwest wrestler Keegan Fingalsen taught the team that was a difference maker for Santee.
“One of our college guys, Keegan Fingalsen, came in and tough us the power half, and that’s what got me the pin,” Ryg said.
For the drilling partners, making it to the semifinals was perfection.
“Day-to-day beating each other up, we come down here at the same time and it’s just great,” Santee added.
Lake Mills pushed two of its own through to Friday night’s semifinals. Gabe Irons continued his dominance with a pin at 195 and Tyler Helgeson kept himself alive with a tight victory.
In Helgeson’s match vs. Seth Thompson of English Valley, an escape in the second period was the only point scored in a 1-0 victory. He knew it was going to be a grinder from the first whistle, and by the time it was over, he was proud of the work he did to stay on top.
“This is awesome,” he said. “This is really good just to win this second match and keep working my way up the podium and do the best I can the rest of this tournament.”
For the second time in two matches, Irons and his frame were impossible to handle as he rolled to a pin in 1 minute, 24 seconds vs. Woodbine’s Joey Wolf.
Speaking of the 195 bracket, West Hancock's Hunter Hagen did his part to work for the rematch vs. Irons on his half of the bracket. Hagen scored a pin as well, this one coming in 2:57 vs. Sumner-Fredericksburg’s Brock Meyer.
For Hagen, it’s a good start to getting back to where he wants to be – the title match.
“They just kind of boost my confidence, you know?” Hagen said of his first two matches. “I’m back in the swing of things getting different competition instead of having Lake Mills four or five times in a row.”
At 106 pounds, Nashua-Plainfield’s Brock Dietz kept his title chances alive with a pin vs. Martensdale-St. Marys’ Cael Cassady.
“Coach told me to start shooting and you’ll get in, take him down and you’ll win no matter what,” Dietz said.
Belmond-Klemme senior Cameron Beminio crossed one of his goals off Friday by winning his quarterfinal match to guarantee placement. A third-period escape helped him to a 3-2 victory over South Winneshiek’s Jackson Lukes.
The semifinals will begin at 8:45 Friday night.