Onto Des Moines: Men’s state wrestling 2022


Matt Miller

Pictured above are the 2022 Spartan state wrestling qualifiers.

Owen Gannaway, Sports Editor

On Feb. 14, five Spartans earned their way to the state wrestling tournament. The 23-4 Spartans sent Luke Vonderhaar (12), Rusty VanWetzinga (11), Caden McDermott  (11), Jack Miller (11) and Holden Willet (10) to Des Moines last weekend. The boys battled Feb. 17, 18 and 19 for the state title, and both McDermott and Vonderhaar were able to place. 

Vonderhaar (285) came into the tournament as a seven seed but surprised everyone when he upset not only his first round matchup, but also his second round matchup, landing himself in the semi-final. Vonderhaar was motivated and, with nothing to lose, went all out in the tournament. 

He credits much of his success to his team and the training regime provided by ideal coaching. “Everyday our team came to practice ready to go and work hard in order to achieve our goals. However, we also needed to have some fun. During the postseason, we would warm up with dodgeball which helped to take away much of the stress and anxiety, resulting in us to be more relaxed and overall wrestle better,” said Vonderhaar. This goes to show how taking care of one’s mental state majorly benefits both performance and attitude. 

McDermott (170) had one of the most impressive performances in the tournament. Coming into the tournament as a nine seed, he completely ignored that and went on to win his first two matches, earning himself a place in the semi final as well. A 3-1 overtime win sent McDermott onto the final. 

Even though he lost in the final, he never gave up and always believed he could win. “The coaches helped me the most by giving me confidence before the match. Always letting me know that I could beat the kid, and never letting me get in my head that the kid only has one loss. They had me stay confident and ready to fight for it,” said McDermott. Confidence was the key to success for McDermott who surpassed all expectations.

The 2022 boys wrestling team finished the season by sending five to state with Vonderhaar placing sixth and McDermott placing second. The Spartans hope to be back in Des Moines next year and continue to succeed.