Panthers set record, send five to state
When time ran out on the 170-pound wrestleback match for second place at the district tournament on Saturday, Mt. Pleasant’s Jayton Phillips was declared the winner by a 13-3 decision over Iowa City West’s Donovan Doyle.
With that win, the Panthers made school history — Phillips was the fifth Mt. Pleasant wrestler to qualify for the state tournament, more than the school has ever sent to Des Moines.
Phillips was also the final state qualifier for Mt. Pleasant. The other four — Tyler Lanphier, Josh Larson, Justin Dilks and Colton Aplara — each won second place by rule, and didn’t have to compete in a wrestleback.
“I was really nervous (before the wrestleback),” Phillips said. “I just went out there with the mentality that I had to make it. It feels really good to be going back, especially since me and Colton (Aplara) will be going back together as seniors.”
Phillips and Aplara were the school’s only state qualifiers last season, but this year, they look forward to bringing three other teammates with them.
“It will be nice because the guys who have been there before can help the guys who haven’t,” Aplara said.
Larson, a senior, and Lanphier, a junior, are making their first trips to the tournament; Dilks, a junior, went as a freshman.
“I have learned that you have to keep your cool up there — a lot of people get too excited to be in the big show, with all the lights, and they don’t focus on their matches,” Aplara said.
He kept focused enough to claim eighth place last season, and hopes to return to the podium again this year.
On Friday, however, it didn’t look like Aplara would even be able to compete at districts, as he fought a skin issue that doctors said would keep him off the mats.
An early Saturday appointment, however, cleared him just in time.
He pinned his first opponent in the 220-pound bracket in 2:39 and won the semifinal by an 8-4 decision.
The championship was a close match, but Aplara was bested by Iowa City High’s Ryan Maas in a 3-1 decision.
None of the Panthers were declared district champions, but that couldn’t put a damper on the day for Coach Anthony Blint.
“It was a pretty good day,” he said. “We’re definitely excited. I think that it helped being at home, with the home atmosphere and being able to sleep a little later.”
Lanphier, at 120 pounds, was the first Panther to qualify. He had pinned his first opponent in 1:23 and then pinned Ft. Madison’s Chase Seaney in 2:43. It was another close decision in the championship — Lanphier lost 2-0 — but Seaney won the consolation match, sealing Lanphier’s state tournament bid.
“I didn’t know what was happening (in the consolation match) until I was done,” Lanphier said. “It feels pretty good.”
The best part, according to the Mt. Pleasant junior, has already begun: “I think the best part is just saying that I get to go to state,” he said.
Next came Larson at 145 pounds. He got a first-round pin in 1:50, and then got a late pin (5:56) over Iowa City West’s Tyler Hebl in his second match. In the championship, Larson was pinned, but he claimed second place in the weight class to earn a berth in Des Moines — quite an accomplishment for someone who was injured for the first half of the season.
“It was rough,” Larson said on working his way back from the injury. “I would ride the bike every day and run in the mornings.”
But now the senior is rewarded for his hard work.
“I look forward to going because it’s something I’ve never gotten to do before,” he said.
Dilks, the Panthers’ 182-pounder, made state as a freshman and then was injured during a district tournament match last year.
“I have two years left, and I want to go as many times as I can,” he said.
He pinned his first opponent in 1:04 before taking down Oskaloosa’s Mason Wisse by a 4-2 decision. In the championship, Dilks met up with an old rival, Burlington’s Matt Seabold.
“We’ve been going back and forth since freshman year,” Dilks said.
This time, it was Seabold who came out on top, pinning the Panther in 3:13, and Dilks earned his state bid as the runner-up. He knew his spot was secure before his match even ended.
“I looked over (at the consolation match),” Dilks said with a grin.
Phillips had the longest path to the tournament, as he won his first two matches (by fall, 0:52, and by decision, 5-4), but didn’t get the luxury of taking second place by rule.
His wrestleback win, however, sends him back to Des Moines, one year wiser.
“I’ll be more focused this time,” he said. “It’s more intense up there.”
Blint was proud of not only his five state qualifiers, but of all his Panther wrestlers.
“All the kids looked really good on Saturday, and I’m happy with the whole team performance,” he said. “Many of our guys wrestled better than their seed.”
For full Mt. Pleasant district results, see the Feb. 12 edition of the Mt. Pleasant News.
The state wrestling tournament starts Thursday.