DES MOINES – Two Ballard wrestlers placed at the state wrestling tournament last Thursday through Saturday at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
The Bombers saw one great career come to a close, while another is just taking off.
Senior Mitchell Broer finished up his outstanding four-year run with a fourth-place finish at 132 pounds in Class 2A. Meanwhile junior Alex Silberstein capped a breakout season by finishing seventh at 220 for the Bombers.
“Mitchell’s career is among the legendary ones at Ballard, like the Weathermans,” Ballard head coach Nick Britton said. “Alex is a fireball. He’s so much fun to coach because you never know what’s going to happen.”
Broer entered the meet as the No. 3 wrestler at 132 in 2A according to The Predicament.
Broer took care of business on opening day – edging 10th-ranked Tristan Pohren by a 6-5 decision. In the next round, Broer ran into seventh-ranked Eric Clark of Davenport Assumption and he had an off match against a red-hot opponent, losing by an 8-3 decision.
Though the loss prevented him from reaching his goal of a state championship, Broer was quick to regroup as he finished the tournament wrestling at a high level.
In the second-round consolations Broer cruised past Greene County’s Jacob Challen by a 10-3 decision. He won by the same margin in the third-round consolations over Clear Lake’s Ryan Faught.
The victory over Faught put Broer in the consolation semifinals. There he faced No. 2-rated Bryce Leshen of Albia.
Leshen only had two losses entering the match, but Broer was unfazed. He battled Leshen to a draw through two periods and then struck with a takedown and a two-point nearfall in the third to take control.
Broer added another takedown before finishing off Leshen by an 8-3 decision.
“When I had that first slide-by, I felt like he was broken,” Broer said. “I could hear my coaches yelling in the corner, ‘push the pace – you’ve got this.’ I tried to get in on his legs and just had to finish a couple shots there. Then on that chin-whip I just turned in a half, sucked in that leg and turned him for two. That was good to get those extra points.”
The victory over Leshen put Broer in the third-place match against Crestwood’s Hunter Slifka. Broer fell behind 2-1 early and never fully got going, losing by an 8-6 score.
“Over 150 matches won, four-time (state) qualifier and three-time placewinner,” Britton said. “For him to come down here and wrestle the way he did after he got beat in the quarters – it’s unfortunate he lost the last match of his career. But losses don’t define you. He’s a great kid and hopefully we’ll see what he does in college.”
“I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything else,” Broer added. “Obviously I’m not happy with the way things finished, but I definitely wouldn’t trade this experience for anything else. There’s nothing like being here.”
Broer ended the season at 41-7, finishing his career with an impressive 157 victories.
Silberstein entered the state tournament with 14 losses and no prior state experience. He battled inconsistency issues early in the season and also had to adjust to going down from 285 to 220.
But Silberstein peaked at just the right time.
After dropping a 7-3 decision to North Fayette Valley’s Tyler Johansen in the first round, Silberstein came back to score a pin over Van Meter’s Spencer Benton in three minutes, 11 seconds. Silberstein followed his first-career tournament victory with a 6-0 win over Assumption’s Zach Adrian – ranked No. 4 in 2A – during the consolation second round.
In the third-round consolations Silberstein suffered a 9-3 loss to Hampton-Dumont’s Kendrick Suntken. That put him in the seventh-place match versus Grinnell’s Anthony Clayton.
Clayton got Silberstein on his back and nearly pinned him in the first 15 seconds. But Silberstein fought his way out for an escape.
Still trailing 5-1, Silberstein regrouped and manage to get Clayton on his back in the second period. Silberstein managed to get Clayton’s shoulders held down for a big pin at the 2:36 mark to wrap up a fabulous finish to his junior season.
“I feel pretty good about that,” Silberstein said. “It’s mostly cardio. I have to give credit to working in the room with Britton and TK (Tyler Kyhl). They pushed me to my limits and I love them to death.”
Simplifying his approach to matches made the difference for Silberstein down the stretch of the postseason – especially at state.
“Sectionals and districts were tough,” Britton said. “But during districts he finally said, ‘coach – I’m just not going to think during a match.’ I said yeah. Let us do the thinking for you.”
“It’s really exhilarating,” Silberstein added. “Three weeks back everybody talked to me and I decided I’m going to work my (butt) off and not overanalyze things.”
Silberstein ended the season with a 37-16 record.
Nathan Macki also competed for Ballard at state.
Wrestling at 126 pounds, Macki went 0-2 on Thursday to finish the season at 19-10.
Just a junior, Macki has made state all three years he’s competed. But the last two have been marred by injuries as he suffered a broken elbow last year and had to battle through a shoulder injury this winter that cost him a good portion of the season.
“When he’s on his game and 100 percent, he’s like the other guys – he can score a lot of points,” Britton said. “When you’re not 100 percent down here it’s just tough. He’s scheduled for surgery in a couple weeks and we’ll see how rehab goes. Hopefully we get a full recovery and – knock on wood – he gets to go a full year without an injury next year.”
With the return of Silberstein and Macki and several other wrestlers, Britton will be looking for big things out of his wrestlers in 2014-15.
“I’m excited for next year,” Britton said. “We graduated four seniors. Two of them we’re really going to miss the number points they scored for us. But we’ve got young kids who are fighting in the room and an eighth-grade class that comes up and is really talented. If we keep working in the offseason, good things will come.”
North Polk had one wrestler compete at state in 2A.
Senior Landon Schuessler returned to state for the second year in a row for the Comets. Competing at 160, Schuessler went 1-2 at state – earning his first victory on the big stage.
Schuessler suffered a 4-1 loss to Creston-Orient Macksburg’s Tyler Pettit in the opening round. In the first-round consolations he bounced back by pinning Sioux Center’s Dylan Vant Hof in just 1:14.
Schuessler came up short against North Fayette Valley’s Nick Baumler in the consolation second round, losing by a 6-1 decision. Like Macki, Schuessler was injured for a large chunk of time during season as he finished with a 19-4 record.
“Completing a wrestling season is an accomplishment, let alone qualifying for the state tournament,” North Polk head coach Kirk Hesse said. “Landon went beyond that by defeating an opponent that had compiled a 37-0 record prior to the tournament.”
In Class 1A competition Collins-Maxwell-Baxter’s Dawson Dahlke wrestled at 285.
An underdog all through the post season, Dahlke was overmatched in his two matches at state. But Raider head coach Joe Bartello was still happy with getting to send the senior off on the biggest stage in the state.
“We were very proud of Dawson for both his achievement of qualifying for state and for his efforts Thursday night,” Bartello said. “While things didn’t go as well as we were hoping, it was still a great way to end a high school wrestling career. It has been a pleasure coaching Dawson and watching him not only be a leader of the team, but pushing himself individually to earn a spot in the state meet. We will miss having him next year.”
In the first round Dahlke was pinned by Mount Ayr’s Joe Ricker and he suffered a loss by fall to Graettinger-Terril/Ruthven-Ayrshire’s Cody Thompson in the consolation first round. Dahlke finished his senior season with a 19-13 record.
Class 2A – Ballard and North Polk
126 pounds – Nathan Macki (B), 0-2; 132 – 4. Mitchell Broer (B), 4-2; 160 – Landon Schuessler (NP), 1-2; 220 – 7. Alex Silberstein (B), 3-2.
Class 1A – CMB
285 – Dawson Dahlke, 0-2.