STATE WRESTLING: RUTH'S STILL ALIVE
By BRANDON HURLEY
DES MOINES –
After suffering a heartbreaking loss in the waning seconds of his first round match, Greene County’s Hunter Ruth rebounded with a resounding victory in his first round consolation match Thursday at the 2A state wrestling tournament in Des Moines.
The senior picked up a pin of South Tama’s Kyle Kucera 1:19 into the first period to advance to the second day of competition at Wells Fargo Arena.
Ruth refused to bow out early this time around in his second trip to the Well. The 220-pounder was bounced in consecutive matches back in 2015 during his sophomore campaign.
“(Hunter) just had the right frame of mind. He was not going to lose that match,” Greene County head coach Mark Sawhill said. “He remembered two years ago losing two matches in a row and that was not going to happen today.”
Ruth battled his first round opponent, No. 9 Nick Smith of Central DeWItt to a 0-0 tie after the first period of his first round match. The grapplers each had shots at a takedown but fought each other off with brute strength. Ruth began the second by pushing Smith out of bounds three straight times on escape attempts period before the Central DeWitt wrestler earned a one-point escape for the first lead of the match. Ruth fought off several takedown attempts but found himself trailing 1-0 entering the final period.
The senior exploded for a quick takedown 15 seconds into the third for a 2-1 lead, but Smith was awarded a point for an escape, tying the match at two.
The grapplers battled wits for the next 60 seconds before Smith pulled off a takedown and earned a two point near-fall in the closing seconds for the 6-2 victory.
Ruth’s consolation opponent was no match for the senior’s strength and quickness as he picked up a takedown just 20 seconds in. The senior held his position on top of Kucera and pinned the South Tama County wrestler less than a minute later.
“He was pissed about that first one, he was really upset,” Sawhill said. “He went out there and took care of business. That’s the way he’s been wrestling most of the year.”
Ruth will face either second-ranked Kadon Hulett (53-2) of Creston-Orient/Macksburg or third-ranked Caleb Ring (39-1) of Osage in the consolation second round Friday afternoon. Ring and Hulett square off in the 2A quarterfinals in the afternoon session, which begins at 2:30 p.m.
If Ruth wins his second round match, he’ll wrestle in the consolation quarterfinals Friday night starting at 8:45 p.m.