DES MOINES — It had been a decade since a Northeast wrestler stood on the awards podium at the state wrestling tournament.
Fortunately, the Rebels had someone who knew a little something about ending droughts.
After all, senior 170-pounder Ty Schmidt had already this winter become Northeast’s first conference champion since 2014.
Two weeks later, he became the first Rebel since 2012 to punch their ticket to the state tournament.
And despite entering the state tournament unseeded, Schmidt saved his best performance for last, winning back-to-back matches to bring home a state medal with an eighth-place finish.
“I thought he wrestled great,” Northeast head coach Josh Petersen said of Schmidt, who became the first Northeast medalist since Spencer Lueders took seventh in 2010. “The goal was to get out here and make some noise and he definitely did that.”
Schmidt faced a difficult first-round test in Western Christian’s Tristan Mulder, who was seeded sixth, but eventually finished third overall at the weight.
Mulder struck for three takedowns in the first period and withstood a Schmidt flurry in the second period — the Rebels senior rattled off three straight points, including a takedown — by scoring the final six points of a 16-5 major decision.
Schmidt did not have long to dwell on the setback as he was back in action for a first-round consolation match with Cael Hester of English Valleys.
Needing a victory to stay alive in the tournament, Schmidt jumped out to a 4-0 lead and then turned it on late, putting Hester on his back twice in the third period to wrap up a 12-2 major decision.
The win sent Schmidt to the second round of consolations and set up a meeting with fourth-seeded Matthew Francis of West Hancock (Britt).
The two wrestlers went scoreless in the first period before Francis struck first with an escape in the second period.
Schmidt countered with a quick reversal to open the third period, putting him up 2-1. Francis, however, earned another escape and the two wrestlers ended the period tied at two, sending the match to overtime.
Schmidt worked for the winning takedown and finally drove Francis to the mat just before the one-minute overtime period expired, giving him the 4-2 victory.
“There were times out here where he faced guys who might have been better athletes, but nobody had more heart than Ty,” Petersen said.
That was proven again in the consolation quarterfinal as Schmidt went the distance in his bout with West Bend-Mallard’s Connor Fehr.
After another scoreless first period, Fehr used an escape and a pair of takedowns in the second period to build a 5-1 lead.
Undaunted, Schmidt rallied in the third period. An escape and a penalty point pulled him back within two and the senior picked up the match-tying takedown in the final seconds to knot things up at five.
The first overtime went by without a point and two wrestlers traded escapes in the second overtime.
That sent the match to a third overtime, called the ultimate tiebreaker. Because he scored first, Fehr was able to choose where he started the third overtime and he picked bottom. That meant Schmidt needed to keep Fehr within his grasp for 30 seconds to earn a victory.
He nearly did, but the West Bend-Mallard grappler was able to escape just before time expired to earn the 7-6 win.
That sent Schmidt to the seventh-place match on Saturday afternoon.
Fifth-seeded Lane Swenson of South Hamilton (Jewell), however, struck late in the first period for a takedown and then carried that momentum into the second period where he earned a fall in 3:51 to take seventh.
“It didn’t end the way he wanted, but that takes nothing away from what Ty accomplished,” Petersen said. “He is the hardest working kid I’ve ever coached. He gave 100 percent every single day and he was a great role model and great representative of our team and community.”