Your Prep Sports
DES MOINES – With a hard-fought 8-4 loss to top-ranked defending state champion Mickey Griffith of Des Moines Lincoln in the Class 3A semifinals on Friday night Ashton Barker proved what those that had watched him the past two season already knew – the West High senior could compete with the best in the state.
On Saturday, Barker did what no one doubted he would do, he bounced back from that loss in a big way.
Barker (16-1) posted back-to-back consolation wins on Saturday morning to secure a third consecutive third-place finish at 170 pounds.
“It’s been preached to me since I was a little kid by my parents – don’t quit no matter how hard it gets,” Barker said. “Last year wrestling back five matches with mono, sick as a dog was hard but I didn’t quit. I wasn’t going to quit.”
Third-ranked Barker came to Wells Fargo Arena a legitimate title contender and advanced to the semifinals with a first-period pin and 19-11 major decision.
Third-ranked Barker wrestled top-ranked Griffith even until the final 90 seconds of Friday’s semifinal before the defending champion scored five points in an eventual 8-4 win.
Just as he has the past two seasons at state Barker refused to lose two matches.
He responded with an 11-5 win over fourth-ranked Ivan Thomas of Cedar Rapids Xavier on Saturday morning and capped a stellar prep career in fitting fashion with a first-period pin of No. 5 Timothy Nimely of Muscatine.
“It’s always so much easier once you lose to lose again,” Barker said. “Especially after last night I had to reset and I knew I didn’t want fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eight. I couldn’t get first so the next best thing was bronze.”
An Iowa State recruit, Barker was 68-12 over the past three seasons, including a 13-3 mark at the state meet, while collecting three bronze medals all at 170 pounds.
“Never being able to call myself a state champion is something I don’t want to think about at all but I’ll probably have that match against Mikey on my lock screen but there is more to come,” Barker said. “There is more than just high school wrestling. There is college and there is international and I definitely want to do both of those things.”
Barker wasn’t the only West High wrestler to close an impressive career with another medal on Saturday.
Senior Graham Gambrall earned the fourth medal of his career with a fourth-place finish at 152 pounds.
Third-ranked Gambrall won a 15-7 major decision over fifth-ranked Abraham Dirkx of Carroll in the consolation semifinals before dropping a 3-0 decision to No. 4 Carson Martinson of Southeast Polk.
Gambrall was sixth as a freshman, eighth as a sophomore and won the 145-pound title last season.
An Oregon State recruit, Gambrall closes his career with 131 victories.
Junior 126-pounder Grant O’Dell was forced to medial forfeit his two consolation matches on Saturday and finished sixth.