By SCOTT JACKSON
DES MOINES —
Dane Jones stood alone last year at the state wrestling meet with a shot at the 195-pound title gone after one match.
Neither of those circumstances were going to happen again this year. Not if Jones could help it.
Teammates Nate Caves, Cody Jones and Andrew Landgrebe helped make sure their fourth-ranked 195-pound senior star had company in his final go-round at the state meet. All three made sure to stick around with Jones no matter how long it took as Caves and Landgrebe each picked up opening round wins at the 3A state wrestling tournament Thursday afternoon in Des Moines.
Jones, meanwhile, shook off a 10-0 opening-round loss and battled his way past Linn-Mar senior Dakota Digmann. Like his older brother, Jones had to win a back-and-forth match late with an escape and takedown in final seconds to rally from a 6-4 deficit.
“My goal all along was to get here and win at least one match,” Cody Jones said after celebrating his consolation round thriller by jumping into the arms of his coaches. “I’ve been really improving on standing up. That really opened up the opportunity to get that final takedown.”
Cody’s late victory came in the wake of older brother Dane’s own tight battle on the mat. The fourth-place finisher at state last year was his own worst enemy at times against Cedar Rapids Prairie senior Casey Becker as Jones gave up a three points on various violations to help Becker rally for a late 4-3 lead.
“I just did some stupid (stuff) and gave him a chance,” Dane Jones said.
The two wrestlers exchanged the lead twice more in the final minute with Jones needing a late escape to force overtime tied at 6-6. After holding off a near takedown that would have again sent Jones to the first round of consolation matches, the Indians? star grappler forced a takedown of his own midway through the extra minute to move on to the state quarterfinals.
“I got myself in a position where I knew I could get a hold of (Becker),” Dane Jones said. “I’m not satisfied with this result. The next match will definitely be different.”
Jones wasn’t the only Osky wrestler to be pushed beyond regulation. Junior Andrew Landgrebe needed every second of OT to pull out a 6-4 win over seventh-ranked Algona sophomore Joe Teague, scoring the decisive takedown right before the clock hit zero.
“I knew I had to take him down and I knew I had to do it soon because I heard coach yell out ‘10n seconds,’” Landgrebe said after advancing to 170-pound quarterfinals. “I knew I took him down. I was just waiting for the ref to raise my hand so I could go get a drink of water.”
While all four Osky wrestlers advanced to Friday morning?s session, only one did so with relative ease. Junior Nate Caves dominated his matchup at 120 pounds with Fort Dodge junior Kole Evans, scoring a pin with just 29 seconds left in the second period.
“I had a lot of confidence in my shots. I felt like I could take it to him any time,” Caves said. “I feel really confident that I can make it onto the podium.”
For Oskaloosa head coach Brandon Graham, having a variety of kids move within one win of placing at state is an exciting prospect. Having multiple wrestlers join the fourth-ranked returning place winner Dane Jones is certainly a better proposition then having Jones on his own battling against the best talent in Iowa.
“Being up here by yourself isn’t very much fun. I know Dane had to feel that way at times last year,” Graham said. “All these guys have worked really hard to get to this point. We wanted all four to place. We’ve given ourselves a good chance to do just that.”