Your Prep Sports
DES MOINES – Similar to so many other wrestlers across the state Ronan Poynton always imagined competing at the state tournament.
Seeing his older brother Seamus finish seventh at state last season Poynton pictured himself standing on the podium inside Wells Fargo Arena.
In his mind those state meet memories were still a few years away.
As it turned out Poynton proved he was more than ready for the spotlight of the state tournament right now.
In his state meet debut on Thursday Poynton pulled one of the biggest upsets of the opening round in Class 1A pinning eighth-ranked Currey Jacobs of New London in 5:49 in a 195-pound stunner.
“I wrestled JV my freshman year and I didn’t even think I was going to make it here this year,” Poynton said. “It’s pretty awesome to be in this spot, it’s pretty rewarding.”
Poynton (19-3) snapped a 1-1 tie with the only takedown of the match with 1:15 left in the third quarter.
He spent the next minute riding Jacobs (37-4) before eventually turning him for the pin with 11 seconds left.
“My coaches have been telling me that I can control people on top,” Poynton said. “It was just a confidence thing. I knew I was strong enough but it was a mentality where I had to turn him.”
The win sends Poynton into the 1A quarterfinals on Friday morning at 9 a.m. where he will face ninth-ranked Blake Brocka (37-4) of Tripoli.
“All the time, I’ve always wanted to be here and place,” Poynton said. “I always thought just a couple more years and I’ll be in that spot so to be wrestling tomorrow feels amazing.”
Poynton lost two of his final three matches to close out the 2020 portion of the schedule but has shown steady improvement over the past month.
By the time the postseason rolled around earlier this month Poynton was a different wrestler.
“He’s recovering from a shoulder injury and the week before sectionals he started showing a different intensity,” Regina coach Zach Ries said. “You could see his shoulder was fine, his body was fine and he was ready to take care of business.”
The opening-round win for Poynton was his ninth in 10 matches in 2021 the lone loss coming to sixth-ranked Truman Krob of Lisbon in the district title match.
“I train with my brother and he told me that I have a lot of potential,” Poynton said. “Around districts I kicked it in and I knew I could make it and I could make my mark.”
The win from Poynton capped a strong opening day for Regina which also got a win from sixth-ranked junior Aidan Udell at 170 pounds.
Udell built a 3-0 lead and then used a late escape to earn a 5-4 decision over ninth-ranked Bowen Munger of Starmont in a top-10 opening-round matchup at 170 pounds.
“They like to call it survive and advance and at the end of the day that’s what this tournament is,” Udell said. “You can win a match by tech fall or you can win a match by one point in sudden victory. A win is a win at the Well.”
Udell went 1-2 in his state meet debut last season and used that experience while earning his first trip to the quarterfinals.
“I let my nerves get the best of me last year,” Udell said. “You have to wrestle tough and you have to wrestle your match regardless. You can’t let the jitters get you at all.”
With the match tied at 4-4 with 13 seconds left Udell exploded quickly off the restart and scored the go-ahead escape with three seconds left.
“I realized if I want to win this match I have to get out,” Udell said. “That’s exactly what I tried to do. I hit a move that I’ve worked on every single day in the room and I hit it text book and got out.”
Udell (22-4) will now face fourth-ranked Blake McAlister (40-2) of South Central Calhoun in the quarterfinals.
“With that experience he knows he has good competition and it’s probably going to go six minutes,” Ries said. “He knows how to be smart about how to use his energy.”
Class 1A State Wrestling Tournament
At Wells Wargo Arena in Des Moines
Team scores (Top 10; area teams) – 1. Don Bosco 41; 2. Lisbon 31; 3. Logan-Magnolia 23; 4. West Sioux 17.5; 5. Lake Mills 16; 6. Underwood 14.5; 7. Waterloo Columbus 14; 7. Nashua-Plainfield 14; 9. Wilton 13; 10. Midland 12; 27. Regina 6
Opening Round (Regina Wrestlers)
145 – Cael Rahnavardi (Don Bosco) pinned Sam Aitchison (Regina) 3:22
170 – Aidan Udell (Regina) dec. Bowen Munger (Starmont) 5-4
195 – Ronan Poynton (Regina) pinned Currey Jacobs (New London) 5:49
First Round Consolation
145 – Jakson Cobb (Wayne) pinned Sam Aitchison (Regina) :57
Friday’s Quarterfinal Matches
170 – No. 6 Aidan Udell (22-4) Jr., Regina vs. No. 4 Blake McAlister (40-2) Jr., South Central Calhoun
195 – Ronan Poynton (19-3) Soph., Regina vs. No. 9 Blake Brocka (37-4) Sr., Tripoli