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16 first-round matches to watch on Thursday

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Ayala, 120 pounds and the first Dodger to ever be ranked No. 1 nationally, is one of the most sought-after recruits in the nation.

Des Moines Register

It is impossible to overstate the importance of the first day of the Iowa state wrestling tournament.

Only two rounds of wrestling take place — the first-round and the first-round wrestlebacks — which means 56 wrestlers in each class will see their seasons end. Dreams come crashing down, because after a first-round loss, the best possible finish is third place.

Team titles can not be won on the first day, but they can be lost. The best teams will use a strong first day to set up the all-important second day.

So the first round is absolutely crucial, and especially so this year with highly-anticipated team races in all three classes. Here are 16 first-round matches to watch on Thursday.

Some will impact their respective team races. Others will play a big role in a path to the finals. The rest just look like fun. 

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CLASS 3A

113 pounds: Lane Cowell (Fort Dodge) vs. Rheiner Stahlbaum (Johnston)

These two met in the first round last season, and Cowell won, 8-0. Here they are again, with crucial team-race implications on the line.

126 pounds: Ayden Kingery (Southeast Polk) vs. Connor Kelley (Waukee)

Kingery has been wrestling at an extremely high level lately, and Kelley has proven he can contend for a medal at this weight. Yet another with big-time team-race implications.

145 pounds: Ben Monroe (Ankeny Centennial) vs. Logan Adamson (Bettendorf)

Maybe one of the toughest weights in the tournament, with two returning medalists wrestling in the first round. Monroe is a three-time finalist seeking his first title. Adamson is back after taking seventh last year. Both of their teams could use the points here.

152 pounds: Evan Yant (Waverly-Shell Rock) vs. Ben Faber (Dubuque Hempstead)

Yant hasn’t lost since early January and is among the leaders of a Go-Hawk team looking to repeat, but Faber has wrestled extremely tough against some of the state’s best. This should be a treat.

170 pounds: Ashton Barker (Iowa City West) vs. Deveyon Montgomery (Southeast Polk)

Another tremendous first-round match that could impact the team race. Barker placed third a year ago, and Montgomery carries a mean double leg and darkhorse potential at a deep weight.

285 pounds: Connor Brown (Southeast Polk) vs. Luke Walker (Waverly-Shell Rock)

Why not close the first round with a matchup between two guys whose teams are expected to battle for the team title? What could be better than that?

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The Des Moines Register

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CLASS 2A

106 pounds: McKinley Robbins (Greene County) vs. Carter Anderson (Albia)

Robbins enters at 34-1 with his only loss coming against Webster City’s top-seeded Camron Phetxoumphone. Anderson is 35-3 and two of his losses came outside of 2A. Expect fireworks.

113 pounds: Aybren Moore (Atlantic) vs. Rylie Anderson (Bondurant-Farrar)

A couple of district champs with eight combined losses — and just one of those losses came to another 2A wrestler. 

120 pounds: Carter Straw (Independence) vs. Kayden Gryp (Williamsburg)

Gryp won this matchup in January, 3-1, in sudden victory. Both Independence and Williamsburg could use the team points, too, in what’s expected to be a wicked battle behind West Delaware.

145 pounds: Jadyn Peyton (West Delaware) vs. Nicholas Bockenstedt (North Polk)

Bockenstedt pinned Union’s Jack Thomsen, a returning state champ and contender again this week, last weekend at districts. His reward is Peyton, another title contender and returning medalist, first thing Thursday.

195 pounds: Carter Maynes (Red Oak) vs. Jack Sindlinger (Charles City)

Sindlinger pulled an upset at districts last weekend to advance to state. Last time he was here, he placed seventh, in 2018. Maynes is seeking his first podium finish.

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CLASS 1A

120 pounds: Brandon Paez (Lisbon) vs. Chris Ferguson (Sioux Central)

Paez has been on a roll lately, having scored two pins in the last two weeks over a returning state medalist. His points will be crucial in Lisbon’s chase for a team title. But Ferguson is 17-0 with 10 pins. Should be fun.

126 pounds: Wyatt Reisz (Logan-Magnolia) vs. Jacob Moore (Denver)

Another first-rounder that could impact the team race. Reisz is an impressive freshman with just three losses, all to past state finalists. Moore is a senior that can hit the big move when needed.

160 pounds: Gabe Carter (New London) vs. John Ebaugh (Denver)

Ebaugh won this match, 3-1 in sudden victory, at regional duals. This rematch in the first-round carries team race implications.

170 pounds: Tristan Mulder (Western Christian) vs. Ty Schmidt (Northeast, Goose Lake)

Mulder upset the top-seed last year and rode three one-point victories to the state finals. The junior has just one loss this season, but was seeded sixth here this week. Schmidt has found a rhythm recently, having secured six pins this month alone.

195 pounds: Treyten Steffen (Sumner-Fredericksburg) vs. Darius Gashe (West Monona)

These two also met in the first round last season, with Steffen winning, 10-7. Both ultimately fell one win shy of the podium. Perhaps they both take that next step this week, but whoever wins here likely gets top-seeded Tate Hagen of West Hancock next. Tall task.

Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.

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