Eric Faught etched his name in North Central Conference history as a four-time NCC title holder, and the Lions earned four additional titles at the conference meet held Saturday at Clarion. Twelve Lions contributed to a runner-up finish for Clear Lake.
Clarion-Goldfield-Dows claimed the conference crown with 225-points. The Lions were next with 177, followed closely by Hampton-Dumont with 174. Humboldt (155.5), Webster City (135) and Algona (133) all pushed the leaders. The field also included Iowa Falls-Alden (113.5) and St. Edmond (10).
“Our total efforts are right on track rolling into this part of the season. I am proud of the efforts and dedication of our team. We feel short on the conference title, placing second, which is still a good accomplishment. We have a few key points to work on this next two weeks to build our technique and shape as we roll into sectionals Feb. 2,” said Lions Coach Mike Lester.
Faught, Sam Nelson, Braxton Doebel and Kade Hambly all won their weights. For Faught, the accomplishment was the culmination of a high school quest. He is the 10th person to become a four-time North Central Conference champion.
“It is an amazing feat,” said Coach Lester. “He did it in style pinning all of his competitors. This is a great accomplishment for Eric and well earned. (It is also) Pretty awesome for the Faught family to have both of their boys be on this list. Both Ryan Faught and Eric Faught are four-time conference champs.”
Another four-time champion could also be in the making for the Lions, as Sam Nelson is starting to show his style at 113.
“He wrestled much better today, as you saw him move and use his hands much quicker. I talked with him before his finals match about just wrestling and not thinking. We got a chuckle out of the conversation, as you don’t really hear people tell you not to think! It showed in his finals match and he proved why he is a two-time conference champ as a sophomore.”
At 152-pounds Braxton Doebel continued his success. He won by technical fall in his semifinals match and got a pin in the finals in the first minute. “He made short work of this conference title, which was well earned,” said Lester.
Kade Hambly also won his conference title in short time at 220-pounds. Hambly pinned his way to the conference title, wrestling a total of 1:18 seconds on the day. “He is all geared up and ready for that state title run,” said Lester.
Thomas Gansen finished as runner-up at 160-pounds for the Lions. Gansen pinned his way to the finals, where he met Algona’s Carson Devine. “He went down in score early, but worked his way back into the match,” explained Lester. “He had a nice toss on the edge of the mat that put Devine to his back, but the referee signaled out of bounds. If we see him again I think Thomas will be able to edge him out.”
Clear Lake picked up a pair of third place finishes from Connor Morey (120) and Dylan Kruckenberg (182). Morey pinned on the back side of the bracket and avenged a loss in the third place match over Hampton’s Barkema. “A big part of that win is his style,” said his coach. “Connor has some high risk moves, but this match he focused on the basic and was able to pull out the win.” Kruckenberg had a long battle to emerge with his third place finish. His match against Cole Lewis, of Algona, went into sudden victory. He won in the ultimate tie-breaker to go 2-1 on the day.
Fourth place finished were posted by Brian Hillyer at 138-pounds and Connor O’Tool at 170.
AJ Stevenson was fifth at 185, while Gavin Rich and Isaiah Smith each finished sixth. Coach Lester noted the single points provided by grapplers were crucial in Clear Lake’s run for the conference title.