On to Des Moines!

Antoni Solovi works from the bottom in his District final match against East Buchanan’s Cody Fox.
John Jensen
Herald Sports

MONONA — If at first you don’t succeed, try try again. That attitude paid off for Postville High School sophomore Antoni Solovi, whose first victory in four tries this season over MFL MarMac’s Will Howes propelled him to his first-ever State Wrestling Tournament berth at Saturday’s Class 1A, District 5 meet in Monona.


Solovi advances at 285 pounds and will be the first Postville athlete to wrestle in the State Tournament since Isaac Steffans placed sixth at 285 pounds in 2020. Riley Rankin qualified for the tournament in 2021 but was unable to participate due to an injury.


Solovi (34-13) entered the tournament as the No. 3 seed, just behind Howes. He opened the tournament with a fall before facing Howes, whom he had lost to in all three of their previous matches, including twice by fall. He said the key to the win was wrestling smarter. 


“He’s a big strong kid and our goal was to stay out from underneath him and try to work some angles,” Pirate Coach Bryan Mueller said. “We know (Howes) likes to do headlocks, so we really worked on staying in a good stance and when he headlocked get our head right out. Today was the best we’ve done against him.”


After a scoreless first period, Solovi took Howes down midway through the second. 


“At the start he was being very aggressive and when I got that takedown it changed the tempo,” Solvi said.


After Howes escaped, Solovi took him down a second time to lead 4-1 entering the final two minutes. Solovi opened the third period in the down position but needed just 17 seconds to escape. He clinched the win with a takedown less than 20 seconds later.


Solovi dropped the final to second-ranked Cody Fox of East Buchanan but advanced without a wrestleback when Howes won his third-place match.


Solovi showed marked improvement since finishing 13-8 during his freshman year. 


“I lifted lots of weights over the summer and went to camp,” he said.


“Last year as a freshman he was kind of timid,” Mueller said. “This year we kind of grew up to more of a leadership role, got more aggressive. You can tell he’s a lot stronger and he’s a lot smarter.”


“We’ve worked on a lot of things this year,” Mueller said. “We had a handful of guys this summer that came with me to a couple of camps and did open mats and a couple of tournaments in the summer. Seeing these guys’ hard work pay off is pretty awesome.” 


Other Pirates did not fare as well as Solovi, with only two others placing in the tournament. Darinel Ramirez won three of his four matches at 113 pounds, though his semifinal loss to Clayton Ridge’s Kenny Colsch cost him a chance to reach the State Tournament. Stephen Russell opened with a win at 175 but dropped two of his next three matches to place fourth in the weight class. Conner Wenthe (190) and Sam Acevedo (215) also picked up wins at the tournament, though neither placed in the top four.


The Pirates were eighth in the team race with 47 points. Jesup dominated the tourney, finishing with 228 points, while East Buchanan and Sumner-Fredericksburg were also in the top three.


The State Tournament begins Wednesday (Feb. 14) at Wells Fargo Arena in downtown Des Moines. The initial Class 1A session begins at 6 p.m., with Solovi, the No. 23 seed, scheduled to face No. 10 seed Joel Cooper of Panorama (39-11) in the first round. 


Class 1A, District 5

(at MFL MarMac)

Team scores – 1) Jesup 228; 2) East Buchanan 131 ½; 3) Sumner-Fredericksburg 125; 4) MFL MarMac 115; 5) Cascade 93; 6) Starmont 88; 7) Bellevue 52; 8) Postville 47; 9) Clayton Ridge 36; 10) Central (Elkader) 21.

106 – 1) Ayden Bergman (Jesup); 2) Jesus Lara (Clayton Ridge); 3) Michael Elmers (Sumner-Fredericksburg); 4) Reid Callahan (Cascade). Final: Bergman pinned Lara, 0:38. Second-place: Lara won by rule.

113 – 1) Cooper Hinz (Jesup); 2) Kenny Colsch (Clayton Ridge); 3) Darinel Ramirez (Postville); 4) Gunnar Ross (MFL MarMac). Final: Hinz major decision Colsch, 11-0. Second-place: Colsch won by rule.

119 – 1) Sam Egan (Sumner-Fredericksburg); 2) Gavin Bell (Jesup); 3) Jax Tommasin (Starmont); 4) Keith Anderson (MFL MarMac). Final: Egan major decision Bell, 16-7. Second-place: Bell won by rule.

126 – 1) Brock Morris (Cascade); 2) Braxton Bormann (Central); 3) Rylan Schroeder (MFL MarMac); 4) Max Devore (Jesup). Final: Morris decision Bormann, 9-6. Second-place: Bromann pinned Schroeder, 1:36.

132 – 1) Ethan Krall (Jesup); 2) Brody McGrath (East Buchanan); 3) Gavin Kishman (MFL MarMac); 4) Oliver McCutcheon (Bellevue). Final: Krall pinned Kishman, 3:43. Second-place: McGrath pinned Kishman, 3:05.

138 – 1) Holden Mathis (MFL MarMac); 2) Dawson Bell (Jesup); 3) Kalvin Manternach (Cascade); 4) Aiden Harms (Bellevue). Final: Mathis decision Bell, 6-3. Second-place: Bell won by rule.

144 – 1) Colton Torres (East Buchanan); 2) Kaden Lange (Jesup); 3) Anthony King (Starmont); 4) Kyler Glenn (Sumner-Fredericksburg). Final: Torres decision Lange, 6-2. Second-place: Lange won by rule.

150 – 1) Keaton Moeller (Starmont); 2) Tyce Larson (Jesup); 3) Wesley Adams (Cascade); 4) Jack Gericke (East Buchanan). Final: Moeller pinned Larson, 1:26. Second-place: Larson decision Adams, 11-8.

157 – 1) Wyatt Vanderwerff (Jesup); 2) Carter Wilgenbusch (East Buchanan); 3) Jake Hiland (Bellevue); 4) Tristen Koehn (MFL MarMac). Final: Vanderwerff decision Hiland, 4-3. Second-place: Wilgenbusch decision Hiland, 3-2.

165 – 1) Clay Wilgenbusch (East Buchanan); 2) Quinn McGeough (MFL MarMac); 3) Jase Tommasin (Starmont); 4) Maxx Solie (Jesup). Final: Wilgenbusch decision McGeough, 8-4. Second-place: McGeough decision Tommasin, 6-3.

175 – 1) Kile Bucknell (Jesup); 2) Noah Henderson (Sumner-Fredericksburg); 3) Evan Vogel (Cascade); 4) Stephen Russell (Postville). Final: Bucknell major decision Henderson, 17-5. Second-place: Henderson won by rule.

190 – 1) Kyle Kuhlmann (Sumner-Fredericksburg); 2) Tanner Thurn (East Buchanan); 3) Dax Youngblut (Jesup); 4) Cason Rausch (Cascade). Final: Kuhlmann decision Thurn, 10-3. Second-place: Thurn won by rule.

215 – 1) Grant Henderson (Sumner-Fredericksburg); 2) Jack Hiland (Bellevue); 3) Skyler Blad (Jesup); 4) Owen Recker (Starmont). Final: Henderson decision Blad, 7-6. Second-place: Hiland decision Blad, 3-1 (Sudden Victory).

285 – 1) Cody Fox (East Buchanan); 2) Antoni Solovi (Postville); 3) Will Howes (MFL MarMac); 4) Ethan Hunt (Sumner-Fredericksburg). Final: Fox pinned Solovi, 0:46. Second-place: Solovi won by rule.


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