Trojans eager for sectionals
The weeding out of the top high school wrestlers in the state begins Saturday with sectional tournaments at 40 different sites.
For Fairfield, that means a trip to Mediapolis to face five other Class 2A schools: Columbus, Mediapolis, New London, Washington and West Burlington/Notre Dame. The top two place winners at each weight advance to the district competition in West Liberty Feb. 9, where they will face the top two wrestlers from the B-G-M sectional.
The Trojans have seen four of their five sectional opponents up close this season, with New London being the lone exception. Mediapolis, which is ranked third as a team in Class 2A and features six top-10 ranked wrestlers individually, comes into the sectional as the favorite.
Fairfield head coach Steve Miller said his Trojans respect Mediapolis, but he emphasized they are far from intimidated.
“There’s no doubt Mediapolis is tough. We know they’re a formidable opponent, and that’s why we’re going to go out there and punch them in the nose and make sure they keep fighting,” the second-year head coach said. “Mediapolis has everything to lose. They’re the ones who have to prove themselves, and we’ve got nothing to lose.”
As has been the case all season long, a quartet of seniors is expected the lead the Trojans into Mediapolis. Seth Davisson (170), Jake Mineart (220) and Ammon Shaner (138) are all returning state qualifiers who have a good shot at placing in the top two at their respective weight classes come Saturday, while Aaron Gevock (145) has his hopes set on earning a state bid for the first time.
Shaner suffered a leg injury at last weekend’s Southern Iowa Classic, but chances are still high he’ll be wrestling Saturday.
“He’s still day-to-day. We’ll find out more Friday night, but I don’t think there’s any doubt in his mind he’ll be ready to go,” said Miller.
Shaner, along with Davisson and Gevock, are part of a middleweight group that figures to have more than its share of tough battles.
“This late in the season, every weight class is a battle, but the middleweight classes are going to be a bear,” Miller said. “There are guys looking to continue their season and there are guys who are looking to go home. So I tell my wrestlers to give them a reason to go home.”
The unpredictable nature of wrestling had Miller stopping short of making predictions, but he said any number of Trojans could ultimately advance past sectionals.
“A lot of things can happen in wrestling,” he said. “Our bodies will be at the peak, and the coaching staff has done what it can to get our guys ready, but ultimately who advances comes down to the wrestlers. How many wrestlers we take through Saturday will depend on their own confidence and mentality.”
The Trojans, who enter the postseason with a 4-7 dual record, also will be up against the five other squads in hopes of advancing to the regional dual tournament.
“I’ll always take my team. We’ve got individual talent and just a neat group. I’m honored to coach them and take them into sectionals,” Miller added.
In other area action, Class 1A schools Pekin, Van Buren and Cardinal will be headed to their sectional at Eddyville-Blakesburg. The three teams will also be facing the host Rockets, Moravia, Sigourney/Keota, Southeast Warren and Wayne for the right to advance. The top two place winners at each of the 14 weights will move on to the district competition Feb. 9 at Pleasantville.
Saturday’s action is set to begin at noon.