MORTON, ILLINOIS — The Central DeWitt wrestling team kicked off its new year with some new opponents.
For the second straight season, the Sabers were the lone Iowa team among 11 squads in attendance at the Bob and Liz Schnarr Invitational hosted by Morton High School in Illinois (Morton is southeast of Peoria).
And Central DeWitt represented its state well, crowning an individual champion in 113-pounder Keaton Zeimet and putting four other wrestlers in the top three to finish third in the team standings — up from fourth last season — with 173 points.
The top seed at his weight class, Zeimet earned a bye straight to the semifinals and then needed just 40 seconds to pin Steven Walters of Lincoln to advance to the finals.
Things were tighter against Morton’s Cory Hoyle.
Zeimet jumped out to a 4-0 lead after a period behind a takedown and two nearfall points, but Hoyle opened the scoring in the second period with a takedown.
Zeimet answered back with a reversal and tacked on another point with an escape to open the third period.
Hoyle picked up two more takedowns, but Zeimet escaped in both instances and then earned his own takedown to wrap up an 11-6 victory.
Sophomore Mitchell Howard joined Zeimet as a finalist.
The 195-pounder opened his day with a pin in 3:01 of the quarterfinals and then made sure an early takedown held up in a 3-2 win in the semifinals against Peoria’s Davion Allen to advance to the finals.
Howard’s finals match with J.T. Guzzardo of Lincoln was also close as the sophomore earned two penalty points late to get within one, but could not pull even in a 4-3 setback.
Three other Sabers finished third.
Sophomore Cael Grell and junior Robert Howard rebounded from semifinal losses at 126 and 132 pounds, respectively.
Grell pinned his next foe in the consolation semifinals in just 29 seconds and then used a seven-point first period to beat Monmouth-Roseville’s Ashton Anderson, 9-6, for third.
Howard, meanwhile, used a takedown and reversal to win his consolation semifinal, 4-3, before pinning Tariq Paul of Niles West in 4:27.
Junior 285-pounder Cole Miller had the longest path to third after dropping his quarterfinal match.
The Saber, though, pinned his next three opponents, culminating in a fall in 3:05 over Jake Benninger of Lincoln in the third-place match.
Koal Bossom, Carter Donovan and Peyton Morgan also wrestled for third and finished fourth, while Jeff Fuller was fifth, Keaton Kruse and Andrew Ransford sixth, Skyler Tipton seventh and Cade Shaw eighth.