Howard wins Lakes title – Freshman avenges losses in winning 160-pound crown
SPENCER — Estherville Lincoln Central freshman Nate Howard surprised maybe a few people at the Lakes Conference Tournament on Friday.
Howard defeated three wrestlers who had beaten him earlier this season on the way to a Lakes Conference title at 160 pounds.
ELC had a decent showing with fellow freshman Austin Greig stepping up to place third, at 112 pounds, Joel Christensen (130) and Ryan Kaltved (135) both placing fourth, Spenser Schichtl placing fifth and Nathan Spoo (119) placing sixth.
“Our kids battled through and took one match at a time and did a nice job,” said ELC coach Chris Koenck. “It looks like we are wrestling our best right now and that is what we want.”
Taking on Western Christian’s Tyler Buys, Howard went after him and pinned Buys in 4:56.
“The whole bracket only had one seeded wrestler and the rest was drawn in,” said Koenck. “We happened to draw the first round against that No. 1 seed. Nate never backed down and controlled the match from start to finish.”
That set up a match with Lemars’ Ben Beitelspacher in the semi-fnals. Howard again came out on top with a 2-1 decision.
That set up a rematch with Spencer’s Jordon Rasmussen. Rasmussen beat Howard in overtime in the dual last Tuesday.
“Nate got his shot at him and this time it was for a conference title,” Koenck said.
Howard came through with a 7-2 victory to become ELC’s first Lakes Conference champion since Drew Evans in 2005.
“Nate is really coming on strong and is peaking at just the right time. He is gaining confidence with every win, especially wins over guys who have beaten him earlier in the season,” Koenck said.
Howard currently has a 23-10 record and has won 13 of his last 14 matches.
At 112 pounds, Greig’s third-place finish also was a remarkable effort.
“This is our JV kid that is stepping in with one year of wrestling experience,” said Koenck. “Wrestling varsity and placing third as a freshman, my hat is off to him.”
Greig began his run with a pin over Emmetsburg/Armstrong-Ringsted’s Nick Larson in 1:12, but he lost to Sheldon South-O'Brien's Chris Helm in 1:2.
In the consolation bracket, he pinned Storm Lake’s Miguel Rodriguez in 4:20 and added another pin over Western Christian’s Matt DeWild in 4:25 to place third.
“Austin wrestled his match each time he stepped out there and really was focused on getting the job done,” said Koenck. “He is a hard worker in the room and that is really starting to pay off for him in his matches.”
Greig improves his varsity record to 9-5 after going 3-1 on Friday.
At 130 pounds, Christensen opened with a 12-10 decision over Sheldon/South O’Brien’s Tyler Drenkow, but then had to face top-rated Dillon Miner of Spirit Lake Park. Miner won by fall in 1:14.
Christensen then won a 9-4 decision over Western Christian’s Dustin Keizer and faced Spencer’s Tyler Schaefer in the third-place match. Schaefer won with a pin in 4:09.
“Joel was giving up some weight to these kids and it was a very competitive weight class,” said Koenck. “In the third place match, he was beating Tyler Schaefer when he got put on his back.”
At 135 pounds, Kaltved had a first-round bye and then lost to Spirit Lake Park’s Grant Willard in 1:45.
In the consolation, he won a 14-6 major decision over Storm Lake’s Zach Glassford to face Western Christian’s Kyle Westra. Westra won by fall in 2:00.
“Ryan looked the best I’ve seen him this season,” said Koenck. “he is really starting to find out what works for him and goes out there with a plan. He works hard in practice and pushes his teammates to make themselves better.”
Schichtl posted a 2-2 record and pinned LeMars’ Jared Meiss in 1:29 in the fifth-place match.
Spoo was 1-3 on the day.
ELC travels to the Class 2A Sectional Meet in Emmetsburg on Saturday. Wrestling starts at noon.