Aurelia senior Brad Gustafson has set nearly every school wrestling mark for his AGH wrestling team over the past four years, and now he's gunning for a state championship.
The 119-pounder took fourth last year at state, but he'd like to end his prolific high school wrestling career on a high note.
"I've been waiting a year for this," Gustafson told the Pilot-Tribune Thursday afternoon. "I'm as mentally ready as I can be and I've just got to stay aggressive and not be passive on the mats over the next couple of weeks."
Gustafson enters this Saturday's 2A District meet in Cherokee with a 40-1 season mark. He's won just over half, 23, by falls.
During his four year varsity career, he is 172-17 with a school record 108 pins. Gustafson won a 2A sectional title last Saturday in Holstein when he beat junior Tyler Halverson (36-5) in overtime. Halverson was the 2A state champion last year at 103 pounds.
The Aurelia senior knows he could be seeing Halverson again this weekend.
"It's not going to be an easy task for Brad or the rest of our kids the rest of the way," AGH co-coach Scott Phelps said.
Saturday, Gustafson will open district action when he faces Sioux Center junior Jose Felipe (32 wins), the runnerup at 119 in last week's Sioux Center sectional. The champion of that section at 119 was sophomore Grant Williard (25 wins) of top-ranked Spirit Lake Park.
Phelps was encouraged by his team's performances at sections. Besides Gustafson, seven other Pirate grapplers finished first or second and will wrestle today in Cherokee.
Of those, only Gustafson and 171 pounder Josh Lyon are seniors.
Other AGH wrestlers competing today are 103 pound freshman Ryan Donahoo, 112 pound sophomore Adam Parker, 152-pound junior Bryce Dean, 160-pound junior Austin Todd, 189 pound junior Daniel Borchers and 275-pound sophomore Adam Dreeszen.
"Our kids have come a long way since the start of the season," said Phelps, whose Pirates finished 25-3 in dual meets this winter.
"We'd like to see our seniors get to state, but we'd like to think all our kids have a shot at making it," he added. "The more the better."
Winning section titles in Holstein last Saturday were Parker, Gustafson, Dean and Lyons. Taking seconds were Donahoo, Todd, Borchers and Dreeszen.
Parker enters districts with a 36-5 mark while Dean is 22-15 and Lyons 30-1.
Donahoo ( 32-14) lost the section title match at 103 pounds to Sioux City Heelan freshman David Stubblefield, while Todd (30-12) lost his section title match to OA-BC-IG senior Kevin Down (28-6).
Borchers (35-8) lost the 189 pound section title match to Joe Herrig of WLVA (26-13). Dreeszen lost his match to senior Austin Babzien (39-3) of OA-BC-IG.
Phelps, meanwhile, says the Pirates' district competition will be especially tough this year. It will includes wrestlers from top-ranked Spirit Lake Park, Sheldon, Sioux Center and Cherokee.
"Staying focused and aggressive will be the real keys for our kids this weekend," Phelps added.