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From the large crowd to all those talented wrestlers, the experience of wrestling at a sectional meet cannot be reproduced by Mooseheart in any of its regular-season meets. Consequently, the knowledge juniors Jose Tovar and Oliver Wah gained last weekend in Oregon was invaluable, and both said they would use it as they moved toward their senior seasons.
Wrestling in his second consecutive sectional, 170-pounder Tovar won an opening-round match, then fell in consecutive matches, the last of those being a Saturday morning third-period pin by Byron’s Ricky Messling.
Messling finished third in the weight class and advanced to the state meet. The Oregon Sectional is known as one of the toughest in the state, and Tovar had three matches in the competition, finally ending his season with a 9-8 record.
“Last year, my first year at sectionals, I had two straight losses,” Tovar said. “This year, I got a win before the two losses, and I see the progression. I need to lift more weights, learn more moves and get better. Being here last year, seeing how good everyone was and now being here this year, gives me a lot of hope.”
In the 160-pound bracket, Wah lasted the entire six minutes against Kewanee’s Jeremy Burhorn, though Burhorn took an early 5-0 lead and eventually won 6-2.
“It was a good experience. I learned I need to finish strong,” Wah said.
This was Wah’s first year competing for Mooseheart since he wrestled in junior high. He ended the year with a 15-5 record and much hope for the 2018-19 season.
“These guys have been wrestling since they were really young,” Wah said. “I need to learn from this and get better.”
Mooseheart’s program is in a building phase. From six wrestlers in 2016-17, the Ramblers increased their team numbers to 14 and continued a run of having a sectional qualifier that stretches over the last decade.
“We’re a small team and it’s hard finding matches because teams don’t want to give up a dual meet by wrestling us,” Mooseheart coach Mark Johnson said. “We find our best-quality matches when we come to a tournament. So when we come to a meet like this, it’s great experience for us to build on. There are no shabby wrestlers here.”