SERGEANT BLUFF - The improved Cherokee Braves wrestlers posted a first-place finish and three thirds on the way to an impressive third-place team showing at Saturday's rugged Sergeant Bluff-Luton Wrestling Invitational here on a snowy Saturday.
Cherokee's lone champion was skillful senior stalwart Zac Anderson, who handled three consecutive foes to claim the chakpionship at 152 pounds.
The Braves Gabe Conley was fourth at 182 pounds, and three other Braves were fifth in their respective weight classes, earning team points.
Deep and traditionally tough Woodbury Central won the team crown with 230 points, followed closely by host SB-L 226, Cherokee 127, Sheldon-South O'Brien 125.5, Akron-Westfield 113, West Sioux 93, Westwood 84, Lawton-Bronson 80, Sioux Center 71, Sioux City Heelan 70, and Kingsley-Pierson 55.
Champion Anderson beat Bret Tomoson of SB-L 3-2 in his opening match, waltzed past John McNaughton of K-P 12-2 in the semifinals, and then pinned Dylan Van't Hof of Sioux Center in 3:05 in the finals at 152.
Letsche pinned Josh Olvera of Sioux Center in 5:07 in his opener, lost 6-3 to Paul Oltmanns of A-W, beat Brett Rickord of Heelan 2-1, and beat Gunnar Klinker of SSO 11-3 to place third.
Back pinned Jack Niggling of Heelan in :46, lost 5-3 to Landon Paulson of WC, pinned Josh Fletcher of SB-L in 5:42, and beat Alejandro Jara of Sioux Center 13-5 for his third-place finish.
Conley posted a 2-2 record for his fourth-place finish, beating Ryan Mulvihill of Westwood 12-2, and beating Taylor Christensen of SB-L 5-4, before being pinned in 5:55 by Taylor James of A-W, and in 2:40 by Christian Brobst of Heelan.
Also for Cherokee, Andy Pitts was 2-2 at 120 pounds for fifth place, Rick Weaver was 2-2 at 145 for fifth place, and Trevor Devitt was 2-2 at 195 pounds for fifth place. Luke Zeiman also was 2-2 and placed seventh at 160.
"This was a great first tournament of the season," notd Cherokee first-year coach Austin Todd. "We finished 3rd out of 11 behind two very tough teams, Woodbury Central and Sergeant Bluff-Luton.
"I was very pleased with how we started the tournament. We won our first six matches with five of them being pins which allowed us to jump out in front at the start of the tournament. Zac Anderson was able to bring home a gold medal while Jack Letshe, Miah Back, and Hunter Morrow battled back to get 3rd place."