DES MOINES – On a recent day at Waverly-Shell Rock High School, Bryson Hervol was admiring a picture in the hallway of the 2005 Go-Hawk championship wrestling team.
It was shortly after when former head coach Rick Caldwell joined Hervol in the hallway and let him know it was the 2005 team that started it all.
Hervol’s response was, “We are going to get one of those.”
From that point on, the Go-Hawks turned their focus to their season’s mission: win a state championship.
Waverly-Shell Rock believed and achieved their feat of becoming the state’s best by tallying 157 team points, ahead of second-place Southeast Polk, who finished with 123.
Just as Hervol believed, Whitcome knew the confidence was growing among all team members.
“The kids felt like they were the best team in the state,” Whitcome said after the finals. “We had that great first round, and the confidence just started exploding. They all thought, ‘Hey, this is for real. We can do this.’ The confidence just continued to build throughout the tournament.”
The Go-Hawks were led by their only individual champion – senior Andrew Snyder at 285 pounds.
During his final bout, Snyder was pitted against a familiar foe in Bettendorf’s Griffin Liddle.
To start the second period, Snyder chose the down position and eventually got up to his feet and escaped Liddle, who was eventually cited for stalling later in the period, giving Snyder a 2-0 advantage.
While Liddle would escape in the third, Snyder was able to hold off his opponent to win the 285-pound title by a 2-1 decision.
Snyder said a lot has changed from a year ago, especially since last year he didn’t watch the finals, instead he was making funeral plans for his grandfather.
And, he knew he had a guardian angel over him on Saturday night while he got his hand raised as Waverly-Shell Rock’s lone individual state champion.
“It feels so good,” Snyder said. “This time last year ago, I was at home making funeral plans for my grandpa. I don’t even think I watched two matches of the finals. I knew that day I was going to come down here and win it, and I’ve never doubted it since that day. I could feel him with me the whole time. I don’t know if it was him or not, but I just wanted to bring some joy to my grandma and my family.”
Going out as a Go-Hawk and state champion gave Snyder an indescribable feeling and one that he had prepared for.
“I’ve been living a championship lifestyle for quite some time,” Snyder said. “I knew that what I had done to prepare was far greater than anyone. They didn’t deserve it as much as I did. It’s been amazing and there is nothing better than being a Go-Hawk. I couldn’t ask for anything better.”
Also joining Snyder in the finals on Saturday night was Jacob Herrmann at 160 pounds and Brayden Wolf at 195.
During the final bout at 160 pounds, Herrmann ran into Southeast Polk’s top-ranked wrestler, Cade DeVos. Both wrestlers entered the final match of their careers with an undefeated record. However, DeVos would go on to win with a 3-1 decision, after a takedown in the second period sealed the deal.
At 195 pounds, Wolf would also see a Southeast Polk Ram in Gabe Christenson, an opponent he had seen just three nights prior during the state dual finals. During their match in state duals, Christenson had won, 7-3. Fast forward to Saturday night, it was close to the same outcome, as Christenson would go on to win with a 12-2 major decision, while Wolf would become the state runner-up.
Aside from the finals, the Go-Hawks had six that fought for placements during Saturday morning’s session that included third, fifth and seventh-place matches.
Aiden Riggins, a first-time state placewinner for Waverly-Shell Rock came back and earned third with his fall in 5:55 over Lane Cowell of Fort Dodge, the same opponent from the championship quarterfinal round.
Riggins said being a third-place state medalist may not have been his original goal, but he was pleased with his comeback efforts.
“It’s not ultimately where I wanted to be,” Riggins said. “I lost, but I came back and got the next best thing. I didn’t get what I wanted. I am going to come back, work hard, keep improving and fix the little things. I’m going to come back next year and win that state title.”
In the 113-pound fifth-place match, Bailey Roybal saw a rather familiar foe, as he went up against Cedar Fall’s Jacob Penrith. A rematch from the Class 3A District 8 final would end up with the same result as Roybal the winner with a fall in 2:49.
Roybal would earn fifth place with the fall, and he was excited about it for a special reason.
“It’s amazing,” Roybal said. “I’m happy. I’ve gotten so much better here with better partners and better coaches — I keep learning. I’m happy I got the win for my dad today [Saturday], since it’s his birthday.”
At 126 pounds, Dylan Albrecht finished in fourth place, after he fell to Matthew Jordan of Des Moines East by an 8-4 decision.
In the 132-pound third-place match, Waverly-Shell Rock’s Evan Yant went up against Brock Espalin of Des Moines East, the same opponent he met during the championship quarterfinal round. However, Espalin would get by Yant once more in sudden victory with a 7-5 decision, as Yant finished in fourth place.
During the 138-pound fifth-place match, the Go-Hawk senior, Ian Heise, faced North Scott’s Deven Strief, who put Heise to his back in 2:17 to win the match. The Waverly-Shell Rock senior would cap off his career with a sixth-place medal.
Bryson Hervol was fighting for seventh place during his placement match at 152 pounds and was put up against Elijah Demmer of Epworth, Western Dubuque. Ending his senior season with a victory, Hervol pinned Demmer in 1:25 to win seventh.
Riggins, the Go-Hawks’ freshman 106-pounder, said being part of the state championship team during the first year of his high school career was a great feeling.
“It’s amazing,” Riggins said. “It’s incredible to be state champs as a team. There’s no feeling for it. We all worked hard for this moment. We deserve it.”
As for Coach Whitcome, bringing the state title banner and trophy back to Bremer County is what he’s wanted for quite some time.
But, instead of reflecting on the individuals that worked for the award, Whitcome made sure to humbly admit the impact of Go-Hawk nation, including his mentor, Rick Caldwell, the former Waverly-Shell Rock legendary head coach.
“When I took over this job, replacing Rick [Caldwell], my job, in my mind, was to keep the program where he left it,” Whitcome said. “With Rick being a friend and a mentor of mine, I take a great deal of pride in being able to bring that state championship trophy home — for myself, the community, for him, for my family — there is so many people that are part of this community and family that I feel like we’ve delivered payback for their contributions.”
For Snyder, being a part of this “dangerous” team was one of the best experiences he could’ve had while sporting the Go-Hawks’ black and gold singlet.
“This team is amazing,” Snyder said. “I’ve been with them ever since I was 4 years old. They are a little weird, but they are the best team in the state, and I can’t ask for anything different.”