A runner-up finish
By David Swartz
DES?MOINES?- Estherville Lincoln Central’s four state qualifiers returned home Sunday afternoon to a heroes’ welcome.
Although the Midgets returned with just one state medal, it was a pretty good one.
ELC senior Oscar Ramirez placed second in the Class 2A 132-pound bracket following a 10-2 loss to Eric Clarke of Davenport Assumption.
When considering that only 14 wrestlers in each of Iowa’s three classes come home with the top medal (just 42 in all), being in that second-place tier is still something special.
Clarke-ranked first in the first regular season poll, but seventh in the final rankings-proved to be a very tough opponent earning a takedown at the 1:28 mark of the first period and then getting a 2-point nearfall with just under a minute left.
“It’s hard to come back from 4-0,” said Ramirez.
Ramirez chose to wrestle on his feet in the second period, but Clarke again came up with a takedown. The Assumption wrestler took the top position to start the third period and got a 3-point nearfall to take a 9-0 lead. A moment later, a reversal by Ramirez got the ELC wrestler on the board. But Clarke escaped with 13 seconds left in the match for the final score.
ELC assistant coach Mike Mix said Clarke was a lanky kid able to “wrestle Oscar from head to toe.
“He was able to keep his hips straight and tie up both Oscar’s head and feet,” said Mix. “He was a lanky flexible kid and a well-balanced wrestler.”
Ramirez, who compares his wrestling life to a second home, plans to continue his wrestling career at Mankato State while studying computer science.
The senior finishes his career with a school record 141 wins. Ramirez finished fourth a year ago as a junior and placed sixth his sophomore season.
Sunday’s welcome home at the ELC High School Little Theater also celebrated fellow state qualifiers Zack Snyder, Blake Gjerde and Chase Bonner.
Snyder described the state wrestling experience as “amazing” and plans to work in the weight room in order to make a return to Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. Barring a growth spurt, he plans to remain at 106 pounds in his sophomore season.
Bonner posted a 1-2 record in his first trip to state at 220 pounds and finishes his junior year with a 44-6 record. Both his losses were to ranked opponents – the first in overtime and the second, a 3-2 decision.
“It was fun-I just came up a bit short,” he said.
Gjerde also went 1-2 at 152 pounds in his second trip to the state tournament. The senior ends his final season with a 37-12 record.
“I’ve made a lot of good friends and good memories,” said Gjerde. “Wrestling is a good sport.”