DES MOINES — Calm, cool and collected. That’s been Eric Faught’s demeanor throughout this year’s Class 2A state wrestling tournament.
Faught, the top-ranked wrestler at 126 pounds, stayed within himself early Friday in his semifinal match to pick up an 8-1 win by decision over Decorah’s third-ranked Phillip Ihde. The win moves Faught one step closer to accomplishing his mission of his first state title.
“It feels amazing,” Faught said of getting back to the title match. “I made a thing with one of my old coaches last year after I lost in the semis to never lose again, win two titles and put a statement on my high school career. It just feels good to be one match away – six minutes.”
Faught wrestled for a state title two years ago as a freshman, but fell in the championship match. Last year, his chase to nab that title admittedly blinded him and he had to settle for third place.
This time around, he brought a renewed focus, and it’s paid off as Faught is a perfect 51-0 heading into Saturday’s championship.
“This year I’m just having more fun,” he said. “Last year I was upset from the year before trying to just get a title and I didn’t focus on what was right in front of me, and I ended up losing and getting third.”
In Friday’s semifinal, Faught had to work for what he got, and the end result reflected how hard he had to work.
Ihde took a 1-0 lead on an escape early in the second period and then Faught went to work.
A takedown with time running down in the second helped him to a 2-1 lead through two, and then Faught wore down Ihde in the third after and escape and a takedown. He was able to ride him out for most of the period, and finally got the tilt in the final 10 seconds, but was unable to finish it off. Still, it was enough to leave him satisfied heading into the finals.
He’ll take on second-ranked Shea Ruffridge of Pocahontas Area in Saturday night’s 126 final. Faught beat Ruffridge 5-3 in the Webster City Duals early in the season.
“I know I left points out there that I could’ve had, and this time I’m not going to leave those out there,” Faught said. “I’m going to go for everything in a smart way and just do what I gotta do.”
Osage’s Zach Williams had his state tournament run in the winner’s bracket end on Friday with a 6-1 loss vs. Dyersville Beckman’s Luke Hageman in their semifinal at 160.
Williams was fresh off an emotional quarterfinal victory which saw him pin Connor Pellett of Atlantic-CAM.
“That’s the best feeling I’ve probably ever had wrestling. It’s just amazing,” Williams said after the pin.
Even with the semifinal loss, Williams will still place after not winning a match at state last year.
Hampton-Dumont junior Dalton Chipp has his own memorable run in the top side of the bracket cut short in Friday’s semifinals.
Chipp began his day with a wild 11-9 win by sudden victory over Davenport Assumption’s Seth Adrian, and had it end with a 9-4 semifinal loss vs. Woodward-Granger’s Cody Fisher.
With a couple wins in the bag for the week, and a chance on Saturday to lock up a couple more, Chipp had already accomplished one of his goals – beating his brother, Logan’s record at the state tournament.
“I actually get to one-up my brother because he came down here and never won a match,” Chipp joked after his quarterfinal win.