DES MOINES | The road to becoming a four-time state champion is full of potholes.
Union of La Porte City’s Max Thomsen is keenly aware of that. Saturday, Thomsen avoided a huge one to become Iowa’s 79th three-time state champion with a 5-4 victory over Clear Lake’s Andres Gonzalez in the Class 2A 138-pound state title match at Wells Fargo Arena.
With the win, Thomsen is one step closer to becoming the 24th four-time state champion in Iowa high school history.
“It is a fight out there,” Thomsen said. “I don’t care if you win state your freshman year. Some people win it their freshman year and never win it again. It is just a fight and you take each new year like a brand new year, go at it and head butt it.”
Title number three didn’t come easily for Thomsen, who improved to 151-1 in his career.
Gonzalez used an over-aggressive move on Thomsen’s part to go up 2-0 with 1 minute, 26 seconds left in the first. But wanting no part of riding Thomsen, he cut him immediately.
Thomsen went ahead 3-2 with his own takedown on the edge and made it 4-2 with a quick escape to start the second.
“I attacked too hard and went a little too aggressive right away,” Thomsen said. “I hung around and played his game. He slowed me down.”
Gonzalez tied it with another takedown with 1:12 left in the third, but again cut Thomsen to give him the final margin of 5-4. Thomsen controlled the rest of the match getting to Gonzalez’s legs, but was never able to finish.
“It’s been a long, long time since I’ve seen Max taken down,” Union head coach Pat Hogan said. “That kid was strong. I’ve seen Max hit those shots and finish most of the time. But Gonzalez was strong physically and stayed in good position.”
Union’s night got better when junior Jacob Holschlag added a second title to the Knights’ haul with a 3-2 win over top-ranked Drew Foster of Medapolis at 160.
Holschlag escaped to start the second period and turned a front headlock into two points with eight seconds left in the second to lead 3-0. Foster escaped late and Holschlag gave up a stalling point with 11 seconds left, but that was it.
“In that situation you just have to hand fight, circle and do nothing stupid,” Holschlag said of the last 20 seconds. “The worst thing you can do is take a bad shot and try to hang on.
“I’m pumped. It hasn’t sunk in yet.”
Thomsen and Holschlag allowed Union to finish fifth in the 2A race, and the Knights will return six state qualifiers next year, four of whom stood on the podium.
“It’s big,” Hogan said of the two championships. “Jacob had a great tournament. Max, he’s been there, and you know it is hard to win because no matter what people are going to look for him. Bottom line, he got the job done.”
Four other area wrestlers saw their dreams of winning a state title come up short.
New Hampton sophomore Connor Cleveland fell short in his bid to become the Chickasaws’ 36th state champion when he dropped a 7-5 sudden victory decision to Dubuque Wahlert’s Tristan Birt.
Cleveland led early 2-0 and also was up 4-3 after two periods. After an optional start to begin the third period by Birt to give Cleveland a 5-3 lead, Birt scored the tying takedown with 1:41 to go and rode Cleveland out.
The winning takedown came as Birt countered an outside single attempt by Cleveland and was rewarded with 23 seconds left in sudden victory.
Trying to become Osage’s 53rd state champion, Brady Jennings saw his title shot fall short at 126 against Atlantic’s Darrian Schwenke. Jennings led 1-0 with an escape midway through the second period, but Schwenke took Jennings down and tilted him for five with under 40 to go in the second.
Jennings scored a takedown midway through the final period, but couldn’t turn Schwenke to tie or win the match. Jennings, a junior, finished the year at 43-4.
Independence’s Kyle Fank gave up a reversal with 51 seconds left to Cash Wilcke of Odebolt-Arthur/Battle Creek-Ida Grove and lost the 182-pound final, 2-1. Fank was attempting to become the Mustangs’ first champion since Andy O’Loughlin in 2006.
Hampton-Dumont’s Mario Pena, trying to become the Bulldogs’ first champion since Jason Wedgbury in 1991, lost 3-2 in an ultimate tiebreaker to Forest City’s Tyler Putney in the heavyweight title match.
It was the fifth meeting between the two and Putney’s third victory.
Other medal winners:
Nate Lasher of Charles City, sixth at 106.
Dante Tacchia of Iowa Falls-Alden, eighth at 106.
Derek Holschlag of Union, seventh at 106.
Brandon Mayer of Crestwood, fourth at 113
Johnny Etherington of Charles City, sixth at 120
Brock Jennings of Osage, fifth at 132
Hunter Slifka of Crestwood, third at 132
Christian Fox of Osage,third at 138
Wyatt Forsyth of Charles City seventh at 138
Chase Straw of Independence third at 145
Trevor McLaughlin of Union eighth at 145
Alex Mitchell of Charles City sixth at 145
Zach Milks of Charles City fifth at 152
Douglas Perrin of Osage seventh at 152
Nick Baumler of North Fayette-Valley seventh at 160
Zach Lamphere of Oelwein seventh at 195
Tyler Johansen of North Fayette-Valley, fifth at 220
Kendrick Suntken of Hampton-Dumont, third at 220