Kelly takes second at State

State WrestlingBy: Ben Louviere

Cedar Falls sent three senior Tigers to compete at Wells Fargo Arena last week in the state wrestling meet in Des Moines, with Dan Kelly bringing home a second place title.

It was an impressive first round of matches as all three wrestlers won their matches and advanced: Blake Halstead at 126 pounds, Kelly at 138 pounds and Ali Al-Mabuk at 145 pounds.

The quarterfinals proved to be a tougher challenge. Kelly advanced to the semifinals with a 9-4 win. Halstead fought a tough battle, but came up just short, losing with a score of 3-2. Al-Mabuk was also faced with a quarterfinal loss with a score of 7-5 against a formidable No. 2-ranked opponent.

Halstead and Al-Mabuk moved to the back side of the bracket with the opportunity to wrestle back for a third place finish. Unfortunately, however, both wrestlers were defeated during the first round. Excited to have made it to state and ambitious to continue becoming a better athlete, Al-Mabuk maintains a positive attitude. “[Making it to State] felt good. I’ve never done it before, so it was a really good experience. I wish it wasn’t over, but since it is, I want to do offseason stuff and see what I can do in college,” Al-Mabuk said.

Reflecting on his now-completed senior wrestling season, Halstead said, “This year I took it more seriously because it was my last shot. It meant a lot. It was pretty fun, and I had a good time. [Making it to State] was a good way to end my year as a senior.”

With ambitions high, Kelly continued to the semifinals where he conquered his opponent with two takedowns and a final score of 5-2, sending him to the finals.

Fighting for the state title and a dream in his last wrestling match at Cedar Falls High School, Kelly came up short in an 8-2 match, putting him on the podium with the silver medal. “It didn’t feel very good. It’s nice to get so close, but it’s really tough at the same time — not accomplishing what you wanted to,” Kelly said.

Despite his disappointment, earning the state title second place at 138 pounds in Iowa, the most reputable wrestling state in America, is more than impressive. Kelly is humbled, however, and finds that the competition and friendships he’s made through wrestling mean the most. “It’s fun. I like going out in front of people and competing. I like being with all my friends and meeting new people. Being with my friends is the best,” Kelly said. “I’ve had a pretty good career at CF. I hope the younger guys that have been on the team with me will step up and do good things too.”

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