By Jon Gremmels
Herald Sports Editor
Two athletes from the Camanche Junior Wrestling Club won state titles Sunday, another claimed second place and a fourth took third at the Iowa AAU Kids State Championship at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
The Clinton Junior Kings also had two placewinners, as did the Sabertooth Club from DeWitt.
“The kids are putting a lot of work in, and it’s showing for them,” said Josh Liddle, one of the coaches of the Camanche team. “All the kids, even in the matches they lost, they were in the matches.”
Baylor Crigger went 5-0 with three pins to earn the Class B (fifth and sixth grades) title at 105 pounds, while Griffin Liddle had two fast pins and a technical fall as he won the Class A (third and fourth grades) title at 140.
“Baylor is a stingy wrestler,” Josh Liddle said of the sixth-grader. “He’s strong and always in good position. He’s real methodical and gets the job done. He doesn’t get rattled.”
Crigger defeated Cael Lester of ICE 4-2 in the championship match.
“He had some tough kids,” Liddle said.
Griffin Liddle pinned Kobe Simon of West Liberty in 1 minute to claim his title.
“Griffin goes out there and has fun doing what he likes to do,” Josh Liddle said of his son. “He did a pretty good job.”
Nathan Thoms, an eighth-grader, placed second at 85 pounds, losing 2-0 in the final to a wrestler, Drew Bennett of Fort Dodge, whom Liddle said won his fifth state title.
“He lost a scramble in the first period for the only points,” Josh Liddle said. Thoms won his other four matches.
Cade Everson took third for Camanche in Class A at 65 pounds. He lost 7-4 in the semifinals to the eventual champion, Kain Luensman of MWC Elite, then came back with a pin in the consolation semifinals before beating Ayden Kingery of Southeast Polk 11-0 for third.
“Cade did a really good job,” Liddle said. “He had one tough match.”
Eighth-grader Noah Everson was one win away from placing in Class C at 115 for Camanche. The club also was represented by Jaxon Bussa (Class A, 55 pounds), Eric Campie (B, 95), Dawson Sally (C, 110), Andrew Edens (C, 125) and Benjamin Vogel (B, 60).
“Every kid was right there,” Liddle said. “They work really hard. Success breeds success. This gets the ball rolling in the right direction; I think that’s what our junior program has done. If you can convince the kids to work hard, they can have success.”
Walker Chapman, an eighth-grader, placed fifth in Class C at 145 for the Clinton Junior Kings, while Benton Chapman was sixth in Class C at 152.
Walker, a former state champion, won his first three matches before losing to Anthony Sherry of Cobra Wrestling, a returning champion who won again this year, in the semifinals. He also lost in the consolation semifinals, then pinned Dillon Africa of Iowa City for fifth place.
Benton Chapman lost his first match, then won five in a row to reach the consolation semifinals. There, he lost to Justus Burke of Bettendorf Wrestling and also lost to Joey Schwenn of Benton County Wrestling in the fifth-place match.
The Clinton Junior Kings had four other wrestlers compete in Class C: Mitchell Dann (135 pounds), Brennan Weets (90), Tristen Daniels (125) and Noah Schoephorster (90).
Ian Kuehl (fifth, B, 165) and Dakota Penniston (seventh, A, 60) placed for the Sabertooth Club.
Kuehl won three matches in a row after losing in the quarterfinals. After losing in the consolation semifinals, he beat Charlie Nohr of Hinton Mathawks 1-0 for fifth place. Penniston won by injury default in the seventh-place match after going 4-2 in earlier matches.
Also representing the Sabertooth team were Matthew Roling (B, 65), Ira Kuehn (C, 100), Drew Durant (C, 115), Brady Benhart (C, 90) and Blake Chapman (C, 130).
Also competing from the area were Thaddeus Clark (B, 85) and Cayden Oestern (A, 80) from the Maquoketa Little Cards and Aaron Schoon (B, 115) from Northeast.