Tornado grappling trio has high state hopes

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Storm Lake High's 145-pound wrestler George Romualdo feels there's no reason not to set his goals high when it comes to wrestling in this week's Iowa State meet.

"My goal is to win the state championship, and if I wrestle to my potential, I think I can accomplish that," the SLHS senior said Tuesday night.

Two other Tornado wrestlers, senior heavyweight Jake Droessler and 130-pounder junior Dustin Huffman, will also be wrestling Thursday, Friday, and hopefully Saturday in the medal round in Des Moines.

"When you get to the state meet, you can't afford to hold back," said Storm Lake High wrestling coach Ty Seaman. "You've got to keep your focus mentally for the full six minutes and wrestle aggressively every minute. You can't sit back, even if you have a lead."

Droessler emerged the district champion at heavyweight after winning two tough matches at districts last Saturday in Fort Dodge. He enters the state meet with a 27-10 mark and will meet Greg Reckman (22-14) in the first round of state meet competition Thursday.

"My goal is to place as high as I can, and to be on that podium Saturday night," Droessler said Tuesday. "The most important thing for me is to keep my focus at state both on and off the mat."

Droessler won via fall at 4 minutes, 26 seconds in his second round match at districts, then won a 3-1 decision in overtime in the district finals.

The district title was especially sweet for Droessler, he said, because he lost in overtime last year in the semis and had to settle for third place. Just the top two placers at districts advance to state.

"I knew going into my finals match Saturday that it was probably going to go into overtime," Droessler said.

Both wrestlers had escapes in regulation and the score was tied at one after three periods. Droessler got a takedown late in the first overtime for the 3-1 win.

"I actually thought it was probably going to go into a second overtime," added Droessler.

Added Seaman: "Jake wrestled very smart in the district meet. In the championship match, he didn't make any mistakes and was just aggressive enough to keep the officials happy. He waited for his opponent to make a mistake and took advantage of it in the overtime."

Romualdo, meanwhile, took second at districts last year and went 1-2 at state last year and failed to place. He hopes to change that this season.

Grapplers/ See Page 12A

"Being a senior, this is my last chance and I'm going to give it everything I have," Romualdo said. "I wasn't pleased with the way I wrestled at districts. I wasn't as aggressive as I could have been. Now, I have that behind me and and going to go all out at state."

Romualdo was nearly derailed in the second round at districts. In that match, he had a 6-3 lead in the third period.

"I figured I would just sit on the lead and it wound up going into overtime," Romualdo said. "I can't do that at state. I have to be aggressive and focused for every minute of every match."

Added Seaman: "George really wanted to get back to state again and for that reason, wrestled a little tight at districts.

"Now he has that behind him and I think he'll be a little more relaxed. If George wrestles as well as he can, he will be very tough to beat. He's extremely quick and very strong. He's an explosive wrestler."

Romualdo enters the state meet 24-4 and has a tough task ahead in his first round meet. He will meet a district champion in Jake Kerr of Oskaloosa. Kerr is 38-1.

"I'm going down there to win it," Romualdo said. "If I wrestle to my potential, I think I can accomplish that."

Huffman, a junior who enters state competition 25-18, took second at 130 pounds at districts, losing a close championship match. He won in his first two rounds but said he didn't wrestle as well as he could have.

"I was fairly pleased with the way I did at districts, but I know I have the potential to be better," he said. "My goal at state is to take a first place, and I think I have the ability to do that. The key for me will be to stay aggressive and keep my mental focus strong for six minutes of every match."

Seaman added that he knew before the season started that Huffman had the potential to wrestle well this season.

"There was a stretch in January where Dustin wrestled his best matches of the season, but he didn't quite match that at districts," added Seaman. "Our goal with Dustin is to get him wrestling up to that standard he set earlier in the season.

"It's great for our team that an underclassmen made it to state," Seaman said. "Not only will it give Dustin state meet experience, but he can help lead the team next coming back with that experience."

Huffman also has a tough assignment in his first round at state, and will meet a district champion in 35-4 J.J. Anderson of Des Moines Dowling.

Seaman added that wrestlers have to win two matches to get to the medal round.

"It's essentially double elimination to make the medal round," he said. "But if you lose one match before that round, the best you can hope for is third place.

"But we're sending some good wrestlers to state and we're optimistic for all three of them. In a way, it's a whole new season for them."

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