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Up 5-1 heading into the final period of the 145-pound Southeast Iowa Super Conference title match, Brady Hahn chose down.
His opponent, Caleb Stoltz of West Burlington-Notre Dame-Danville, had upset the No. 1 seed on the way to the final and in the last period looked like he could give Hahn a run for his money. Stoltz was able to catch Hahn in an awkward position and get a two-point nearfall.
Hahn then escaped and took Stoltz down before riding him out for the 8-3 win.
“I just felt a lot stronger than him so I knew I could ride him out,” Hahn said.
He said going into the match he knew Stoltz like to scramble, but that played right into Hahn’s strengths and he was able to take advantage of that early on.
In the week leading up to the tournament, Highland coach Derick Ball said he drilled it into Hahn’s head that he could win the title.
“I’ve been in his face this week saying wrestle to your ability and he did today … Today he was on it and wrestled tough and got a conference title,” Ball said.
Two other Highland wrestlers made it to the finals at their weight classes with 160-pound Dan Burton and 138-pound Cory Stewart running into very tough competition in their finals.
Burton pinned his way to the finals, getting a 16-second pin in the quarterfinals and a late third-period pin in his semi-final. Those wins matched the No. 2 seed Burton against Brennan Swafford, the Class 1A No. 2 wrestler at 160 pounds according to The Predicament, an Iowa wrestling publication.
In his match against Swafford, Burton battled early but Swafford was able to pin him midway through the first period.
Cory Stewart went into his finals with a 1-1 record against New London’s Javis Krieger this season. Stewart beat Krieger 10-7 at Highland’s home tournament early in January and Krieger won a 4-1 decision over Stewart in a mid-January dual.
Krieger was able to get a takedown and 3-point near fall in the first period, something that seemed to throw off Stewart for the rest of the match.
“At 138, that’s a guy we have to be able to close the gap on, but it’s widening,” Ball said.
Ball said now Stewart has to respond and potentially could have the ability to avenge the loss at the district tournament in two weeks provided both wrestlers get there.
“The big thing for him is how are you going to respond, are you going to work harder and close the gap and get better?” Ball said.
Highland had two, Cullen Klebe at 126 pounds and Bradley Rodgers at 195 pounds in the third/fourth place match. Both Klebe and Rodgers lost their matches to place fourth.
Caedon Harbison placed sixth at 120 pounds, Geoff Streb was sixth at 132 pounds, Jordan Sosa placed sixth at 152 pounds and Cael Yeggy placed fifth at 170 pounds.
Overall, Ball said he was happy with the day as all Highland wrestlers but one wrestled to their seed or better. Now he just has one hope heading into next week’s sectional at Lisbon.
“I just want them to show up and fight, I’ve preached from day one that I’m not measuring things in wins or losses but I just want you to fight.”