DES MOINES | The rivalry has reached the state final.
Earlier this week, Lake Mills' Slade Sifuentes and West Hancock's Hunter Hagen crossed paths.
"The first thing he said to me was, ‘I’ll see you in the finals,'" Sifuentes recalled.
Both lived up to their side of the deal. Sifuentes ran his winning streak to 112 matches Friday by dropping Tyler Anderson of OA-BCIG in 1 minute, 59 seconds.
Hagen became the Eagles' first finalist in 16 years by planting Sibley-Ocheyedan’s third-ranked Hunter Dejong in 1:51.
It sets up an all-Top of Iowa Conference final Saturday night in Class 1A at 195 pounds. It will be the fifth meeting of the season between Sifuentes, ranked No. 1, and Hagen, ranked second. Sifuentes won the previous four.
"Not a lot of people can say they’ve wrestled a nationally-ranked kid, a defending state champ who is undefeated. I have a lot of respect for him,” Hagen said. “I didn’t think I’d get this far. I was 0-2 last year, state finals this year. It’s crazy. I can’t even wrap my head around this right now.”
West Hancock coach Mark Sanger knows all about the school's last finalist and champion.
"He was all right," Sanger joked.
Of course, he was West Hancock's last champion and finalist in 2001.
For Sifuentes, he can tell you when he transitioned from a good wrestler to one who is rewriting the school record book.
His last loss was at the district meet his sophomore season.
He wrestled back to place third that day. Little did he know it was the start of the one greatest runs a Lake Mills wrestler has ever authored.
He won 59 times as a junior and tasted state gold.
This season, he’s stepped on the mat 52 times. He’s won them all.
A win Saturday would mean a sweet repeat for Sifuentes, who is aiming to be Lake Mills’ second two-time state champion. It would also mean his win streak would reach 113 to round out his career.
“That last loss took a toll on me,” Sifuentes said. “I don’t ever want to go home unsatisfied every again.”
At least one TIC wrestler will walk out of Wells Fargo Arena fully satisfied Saturday night.
“He’s a competitor,” Sanger said. “He wants to wrestle the best, and obviously we know who the best is. It’s another opportunity for him. Obviously the goal is to win, and nobody is kidding that. What does he have to lose?”
Bulldogs will have 5 on the podium
Lake Mills’ Cael Boehmer was one of five Bulldogs to secure a place on the podium, and all the sophomore did was pin a 2016 state finalist in his wrestleback to do it.
Boehmer stuck Lisbon’s fifth-ranked Chase McLaughlin at 145 pounds on Friday.
Seventh-ranked Caiden Jones scored a 6-4 decision over No. 8 Jake Nieman to place at 106, and 182-pounder Gabe Irons, ranked eighth, scored at the buzzer to beat No. 7 Sam Gregory of Treynor 9-7.
Tyler Helgeson won a tight match at 113 by a 5-3 margin to secure his spot on the awards stand.
Lake Mills is sixth in the 1A team chase with 46 points.