DENISON, Iowa — After a week of agonizing practices, Trevor Frain and his Creston/Orient-Macksburg teammates needed a break.
Pausing to celebrate winning another Hawkeye Ten Conference wrestling tournament did the trick.
The Panthers crowned five individual champions and claimed their third straight league title Saturday evening at a buzzing Denison High School. They racked up 258.5 points, well ahead of runner-up Clarinda (195), Glenwood (178) and Council Bluffs Lewis Central (160.5) at the 11-team meet.
Frain, who repeated as a conference champ while cruising through his 170-pound bracket, acknowledged that the big prize is still to come. Sectionals kick off the postseason next weekend, and that’s what Creston is working toward first.
But the young team was fresh enough to collect another trophy on the way there.
“(Workouts) are just really, really hard — to the point where you don’t want to do it anymore,” Frain said. “But you got that guy next to you. Our family for wrestling this year, I think, is stronger than it’s ever been.”
Joining Frain at the top of the podium for a second time was fellow senior Kruz Adamson, who prevailed at 113 pounds. Other Panther winners were sophomore Joey Huntington (138 pounds), freshman Chase Shiltz (145) and senior Adam Baker (182).
Shiltz, rated No. 6 in Iowa Class 2-A, edged 2-A No. 10 and 2012 league champ Jared Eischeid of Carroll Kuemper 11-5 in the final. Huntington and Baker also pulled out decisions in their last matches.
Twelve Panthers finished the day fourth or better, with nine competing in the championship round.
“We don’t have a superstar this year,” said Creston coach Darrell Frain, Trevor’s father. “We have 14 kids who come in and grind on people and work their tails off. It’s a little more satisfying when you know it takes all 14 guys to get it done.”
The meet’s only other repeat champ was Atlantic senior Darrian Schwenke. Rated No. 3 in Class 2-A at 126 pounds, he earned his third title by blitzing through his bracket and majoring Clarinda’s Blake Luna 11-2 in the final. Schwenke missed last year’s tournament with an injury.
Luna, No. 3 in 2-A at 120 pounds, was forced to wrestle up after not making weight in the morning. He was going for his fourth league crown.
“Anybody who wants to come up to wrestle me, they’re coming into my territory and I’m going to defend it,” Schwenke said. “It’s a real big statement — separating myself from everybody is my goal this year.”
Atlantic teammate Dillion Cox (120) also ended atop the podium. Along with the Trojans, Lewis Central and Harlan Community each left with two individual champions.
L.C. sophomore Paxton Whiteaker surprised himself by beating Denison-Schleswig’s Josef Rogers 8-7 to win the title at 106. Class 3-A No. 3 Ethan Ruby of the Titans later followed with an 8-3 decision at 152.
“It’s a lot better weighing 102 pounds instead of 90 last year,” Whiteaker said. “There’s not much of a difference now, and I got the wins that I needed.”
Harlan senior Cale Stork rallied to win the most dramatic match of the day. Trailing 5-2 late in the third period against Creston’s Seth Maitlen, the 195-pounder converted a takedown and two-point near fall as time expired.
Moments after the senior walked off pumping his fist, Harlan classmate Dallon Bendorf (220) completed a 5:07 pin of Council Bluffs St. Albert’s Sean O’Neill on the other mat.
But St. Albert still earned some Hawk-10 bragging rights for the first time since joining the league in the fall. Senior Wyatt Lewis, top rated at 160 pounds in Class 1-A, picked up four pins on his way to the title, passing career win No. 150 along the way.
“It’s a big turning point for the school, showing everybody that we can participate in the conference,” Lewis said. “Everybody wrestled really well today, even though some of the placings didn’t show. There’s a lot of tough competition here.”
Other champs were Glenwood sophomore Matt Malcom (132 pounds) and Clarinda’s Dakota Calfee (285). Unrated Malcom got through two-time defending Hawk-10 champ Alexander Schmitz of Carroll Kuemper — ranked No. 10 in 2-A — with a 3-1 sudden-victory takedown in the semifinals.
He capped his Saturday with a 43-second pin of Creston’s Spencer Wray.
“I was hoping to do this,” Malcom said. “I feel a lot better, having worked on my stuff I need to get better on. Hopefully the next two weeks I’ll do well going to districts and state.”
Despite landing just one winner, Clarinda put 10 wrestlers on the podium (top six). It secured its best meet placing since winning in 2007.
Coach Josh Porter said he likes the Cardinals’ chances to get back to full strength with another week until the season really starts to matter.
“We’re right there in some of those matches, and there’s some things we have to fix between now and next week,” Porter said. “It (stinks) being second — no one wants to be there — but I didn’t think we performed overly bad today.”
Team scoring: 1, Creston/Orient-Macksburg 258.5; 2, Clarinda 195; 3, Glenwood 178; 4, Council Bluffs Lewis Central 160.5; 5, Atlantic 142; 6, Harlan Community 112.5; 7, Red Oak 85; 8, Council Bluffs St. Albert 72; 9, Carroll Kuemper 65.5; 10, Denison-Schleswig 54; 11, Shenandoah 48.
Championship matches: 106 pounds: Paxton Whiteaker, Lewis Central, dec. Josef Rogers, Denison-Schleswig, 8-7. 113: Kruz Adamson, Creston, dec. Jorge Partida, Denison-Schleswig, 6-4. 120: Dillion Cox, Atlantic, pinned Wyatt Thompson, Creston, 3:54. 126: Darrian Schwenke, Atlantic, major dec. Blake Luna, 11-2. 132: Matt Malcom, Glenwood, pinned Spencer Wray, Creston, :43. 138: Joey Huntington, Creston, dec. Trey Stickler, Clarinda, 8-6. 145: Chase Shiltz, Creston, dec. Jared Eischeid, Carroll Kuemper, 11-5. 152: Ethan Ruby, Lewis Central, dec. Gavin Leith, Creston, 8-3. 160: Wyatt Lewis, St. Albert, pinned JJ Clark, Clarinda, 1:31. 170: Trevor Frain, Creston, tech. fall Hayden Waldstein, Lewis Central, 15-0. 182: Adam Baker, Creston, dec. Cain Johanns, Clarinda, 6-2. 195: Cale Stork, Harlan, dec. Seth Maitlin, Creston, 6-5. 220: Dallon Bendorf, Harlan, pinned Sean O’Neill, St. Albert, 5:07. 285: Dakota Calfee, Clarinda, dec. Jacob Cook, Lewis Central, 5-2.