Ankeny Centennial’s eight state wrestling qualifiers aren’t content with just making it to Wells Fargo Arena.
Neither are the two qualifiers from Ankeny High School.
“We’re happy that we qualified, but we’re not satisfied,” said Centennial coach Jay Groth, whose team advanced the most wrestlers in the five-year history of the school. “We want to get up on the (awards) podium now.”
The Class 3A tournament begins on Thursday at 1:30 p.m. with the first-round matches, followed by the first-round consolation bouts. The quarterfinals and semifinals are slated for Friday, with the championship matches to be held on Saturday night.
Centennial’s contingent of qualifiers is led by sophomore Ben Monroe, who is ranked sixth at 120 pounds. He was a state runner-up last year at 106.
Monroe faces a difficult path just to reach the semifinals. He will meet fifth-ranked Dylan Albrecht of Waverly-Shell Rock in the opening round, then would likely face fourth-ranked Zachary Thompson of Perry in the quarterfinals.
The Jaguars’ other qualifiers are ninth-ranked Noah Blubaugh at 113, Alan Ayres at 145, sixth-ranked Logan Neils at 160, ninth-ranked Nic Leo at 170, sixth-ranked Colin Honderd at 182, Noah Stober at 195 and Riley McClaskey at 285. Both Honderd and McClaskey captured district crowns on Saturday at Dallas Center-Grimes.
Centennial is seeking its highest finish ever at the state tournament. The Jaguars’ previous best was a tie for 19th place in the 2015 meet.
Ankeny’s qualifiers are second-ranked Caleb Rathjen at 113 and Spencer Anderson at 132. They both won district titles on Saturday at Waukee.
Ankeny’s Ben Schiltz placed eighth at 182 a year ago, becoming the Hawks’ first placewinner since the split into two high schools. Anderson and Rathjen will try to match, if not surpass, Schiltz’s accomplishment.
“My plan is never to go out and win, it’s to go out and dominate,” Rathjen tweeted on Tuesday.
Rathjen meets Hans Von Rabenau of Iowa City West in the opening round. With a victory, he could face Centennial’s Blubaugh in the quarterfinals.
Rathjen appears to be a threat to win a state title despite missing nearly two months of action due to an ankle injury. The freshman enters the tournament with a 17-1 record.
“We’ve had three days after districts to get a little better conditioning under his belt,” Ankeny coach Jack Wignall said. “I absolutely think he can win it all. That’s our goal.”