Lions bring home honors at State Meet

(Above) Clear Lake’s Eric Faught battled Shea Ruffridge, of Pocahontas, in the championship round.  Although Faught had beaten Ruffridge earlier in the season, Ruffridge came out on top Saturday. 

Clear Lake wrestlers brought home honors, as well as experience to build on next year, from the Iowa State Wrestling Tournament held Thursday through Saturday at Wells Fargo Arena at Des Moines.

Freshman Sam Nelson, along with juniors Eric Faught and Kade Hambly represented Clear Lake at the tourney.  Faught earned runner-up honors at 126-pounds, while Hambly was fifth at 195.  Nelson won his first match at 106, but did not make the podium Saturday.

Garner-Hayfield-Ventura’s Jared Shaw also competed at 152-pounds, but did not place.

“I am very proud of our three state wrestlers.  They all had a tremendous season and can hold their head high,” said Clear Lake Coach Mike Lester.  “What is nice is we have all three wrestlers returning next year with a slough of other returning varsity wrestlers which makes the future bright for Clear Lake wrestling.”

Eric Faught

Faught walked his way to the State finals once again, winning by margins of 13-2, 8-1, and 8-2.

“His dedication and drive really shined as he competed at this tournament,” said Coach Lester.

Faught ran into Shea Ruffridge, of Pocahontas, in the championship.  The top rated Faught had defeated second ranked Ruffridge at the Webster City duals by a 5-3 decision earlier this season.  Faught and Ruffridge also crossed paths last year and Faught had the win.

Saturday’s championship match delivered everything it could have, except for a win for Faught.  The two wrestlers spent the first minute take shots and fighting them off until, with 1:14 to go in the period, Ruffridge managed a takedown.  Faught rolled out of the hold to make the score 2-1 after one period.  He started the second period in the down position and got an escape to tie the score at 2-2.  Ruffridge  chose to start the third period in the down position and got the escape for a 3-2 lead.  That proved to be enough for the win, as he relentlessly fought off the Lion wrestler until time ran out.  Both grapplers ended the season with records of 51-1.

“Eric was the aggressor the whole match when it came to setups and takedowns, attempting seven-plus shots in the third period, as Shea became a defensive wrestler and blocked off Eric’s shots,” said Coach Lester.  “Shea did not receive a stall call, so the technique of blocking Eric’s shot stayed the same and eventually the period expired with a 3-2 score in favor of Ruffridge.  This was a very shattering moment for Eric and us, as coaches.  We know Eric has been completely dedicated to the sport and did everything necessary to win a State title.  To fall just short and the way the match expired was devastating.  Eric is a strong young man and he will build off of this loss and continue to be a state champion wrestler and work towards his college wrestling goals.”

Faught took the first step toward his goal of a State title with a 13-2 major decision over Hunter Pfantz, of West Marshal-State Center.  Faught took a shot off the opening whistle and quickly had a 2-0 takedown.  Pfantz had a first period escape, but that was all he could manage as Faught had two more takedowns and back points for a 7-1 lead after one period.  The lead was 11-1 midway through the third period when Faught let his opponent go, then followed with another takedown for the major decision.

In the quarterfinals, Faught was paired with John Crowley, a junior from Tipton.  Faught was the aggressor throughout the match, holding a 4-1 lead after the first period and 6-2 after two.  He improved his record to an astounding 5-0 with an 8-2 victory.

The 126-pound semi-final featured top rated Faught against third-ranked Phillip Ihde, of Decorah.  Ihde got on the board first with an escape early in the second period and attempted a shot which was stopped by Faught and turned into a takedown, 2-1.  The Lion started the first period down and promptly escaped, then again made Ihde pay for an unsuccessful shot.  Faught circled and took down the Decorah senior for a 5-1 lead, then picked up three more points for a near-fall and 8-1 victory.

Kade Hambly

Kade Hambly had an outstanding tournament, wrestling a total of six matches on his way to a fifth place finish at 195.

Hambly’s first trip to the State tournament began with a hard-fought 6-2 loss in his opening match with Ben Mason, of Albia.  However, Hambly re-grouped and came back to win in the consolation round to continue in the competition.

In his first match, Hambly and Mason went back and forth for the first minute of the match with neither finding an opening.  Finally, with :55 remaining Mason struck first and went into the second period with a 2-0 lead.  Hambly started the period down and got an escape to pull within 2-1, but Mason had another

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