By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – The goal for every kid that laces up a pair of wrestling shoes in the state of Iowa is to compete at the state meet.
Just as every wrestler sets the goal of getting to state almost every one also has a moment when they wonder if that goal will ever be reached.
Ryan Schott had that moment of doubt, so did his Regina teammate Mason Simpson.
Schott and Simpson both dealt with enough injury setbacks and bouts of bad luck to justify a few seconds of uncertainty.
When the Class 1A state meet gets underway on Thursday at 1:30 p.m. at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines both will make good on their long-time goal.
“At some point, you do wonder if it’s going to happen,” Schott said. “I was mostly just wondering why the injuries kept happening and my dad kept telling me that everything happens for a reason and I guess that it does.”
Following a 37-10 season that ended with a third-place finish at district last season, Schott was expecting a breakthrough this winter as a junior.
Schott finally got the breakthrough season he wanted but it didn’t start the way he imagined.
A broken hand during football required surgery and caused the 160-pound Schott to miss all of the preseason.
On his first day back at practice Schott suffered a high ankle sprain that kept him out three more weeks.
“Ryan and Mason have both had some bad luck the last few years and to see their hard work pay off it’s really fulfilling as a coach,” Regina coach Adam Martensen said. “It’s just been one thing after another with those guys and they never stopped working hard.”
For a moment, Schott wondered if his dream of reaching the state meet would have to wait another year.
However, once he returned to the mat in January Schott wasted no time picking up where he left off.
He has posted a 21-2 record this season, won 13 consecutive matches and secured his first state meet berth with a 1-0 win over fifth-ranked Rogan Pforts of Wapello in the district title match.
Schott will face Tri-Center senior Tyler Paulson in the 160-pound opening round on Thursday.
“I knew it was going to be a tough battle going in,” Schott said. “Getting my hand raised at the end of that match really brought my confidence up thinking I could hang with the guys that are ranked.”
Simpson had to overcome his own serious injury issues to reach the state meet.
Shoulder surgery cost Simpson his entire junior season and kept him off the mat for more six months.
Shortly after he returned for some summer workouts is when Simpson briefly wondered if his state tournament goal was attainable.
“I lost some of my stuff, I had to re-learn a lot,” Simpson said. “My style changed a little bit after the injury too.”
By the time the season rolled around Simpson was healthy and has stayed that way through a season for the first time in his career.
The results have followed.
Simpson brings a 28-7 record into his 195-pound opening round match with Alta-Aurelia sophomore Nick Gaes (35-3).
“Mason is somebody who has wrestled his whole life through youth wrestling and he has done really well in high school but having a whole year off and not being able to compete is hard,” Martensen said. “He started off a little rusty but he is the kind of kid that wants to keep improving and I think he was aiming for the end of the season and he knew that he had plenty of time to get to where he wanted to be at the end.”
With Simpson and Schott healthy at the same time after the holiday break the intensity in the wrestling room went up.
Toss 170-pound state qualifier Nick Milder (35-4) into the mix along with freshman Rowan Udell and the competition in practice was sudden an asset that had been missing due to injuries.
“We all push each other,” Simpson said. “I work with Milder a lot the first part of the year and when Ryan got back that helped all of us more. We all just help each other, we go at it in here and that makes all of us better.”
Simpson spent most of the season at 182 pounds but bumped up to 195 for the River Valley Conference tournament.
He has gone 7-1 at 195 with his only loss coming to 2A top-ranked Bryce Esmoil of West Liberty in the RVC title match.
Schott and Simpson both enter their first state meet with plenty of confidence.
“I think it’s a great confidence boost to go into state and to understand that you belong there and that you have a real shot to surprise some people down there,” Martensen said. “He has really shown that he can compete at that upper weight as well.”