Perry seniors Zachary Thompson and Zach Stewart along with junior Kaleb Olejniczak stamped their ticket to this season’s wrestling state tournament after recording top finishes.


In Waukee, both Stewart and Olejniczak competed their IHSAA 3A District 8 matches in first place with Thompson placing second at the Feb. 10 tournament.


“All three have been laser focused all season and it has been fun to sit in their corner when they wrestle,” head coach Mark Weber said.


Olejniczak makes his third state appearance in a row after defeating both of his opponents in the 126-pound weight class.


Despite his experience at the state level, the junior admitted that he still might be a bit nervous when he steps onto the mat.


“The size of the crowd is going to make you a little nervous no matter how many times you wrestle at state,” he said. “So I think just controlling the nerves and being able to still think clearly is important. I am not really going to approach this meet any different from other meets cause then it becomes too big for you.”


Olejniczak advanced after first earning a pinfall win against Norwalk’s Landon Card, 13 seconds into the second period. Olejniczak then won his first place match with a 3-0 decision over Waukee Cody Anderson.


It was almost a similar road for Stewart who faced three opponents on his way to first place in the 138 pound bracket.


Stewart’s only pinfall victory came in his quarterfinals match against Seneca Calhoun of Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson.


In the semis he finished off Carroll’s Abraham Dirkx with a dominating 17-2 Technical Fall win. He then defeated Norwalk’s Carter Smith in the finals with a 17-2 major decision.


The senior makes it back-to-back state appearances after making his debut in the 2016-2017 season. He’s excited for another opportunity.


“Last year I got really nervous because of the size of the arena and how many people there were,” he said. “I just need to approach this tournament like any other tournament and just look to score points in all positions. I just need to relax, have fun, and score points.”


Thompson makes it four straight state appearances after finishing second overall in the 120-pound bracket. Last year in state he placed third.


After receiving a quarterfinals bye he defeated Ankeny’s Derek Anderson in the semifinals with a 3-2 decision.


The chance at a first place win ended when he fell to the host’s Kyle Biscoglia. Thompson placed second by rule, due to his earlier victory over Anderson.


Regardless of his finish at districts Thompson revealed in the chance at making it to state and prepares for what awaits him this week.


“Having experience helps calm my nerves because I know and can visualize the atmosphere before I even get out on the mat,” he said. “By this time of the year I know how I need my body and mind to feel to approach my matches. Approaching this tournament is no different than any other match.”


Eight other Bluejays participated in Waukee with Justin Stammer (145) placing fourth, and Alexander Tapia (220) in fifth.


Five other Bluejays Daniel Brinton (170), Erick Funez (160), Jered Narber (152), and Jacob Nelson (132) placed sixth. Riece Graham (106), and Jonathan Silva (182) did not place.


“I am proud of every wrestler and coach on this team. Everyone has continued to improve this season,” Weber said. “Many have battled through adversity in different ways… they have learned a lot about themselves, and what it takes to be great at something. Wrestling requires very high levels of focus and dedication, and they are realizing that as they mature as young men.”


The state bound trio will head to Des Moines on Wednesday, Feb. 14 for the first day of competition in the Wells Fargo Arena.


“Myself and the rest of the coaching staff are excited to watch them go get their goal this weekend,” the head coach said. “They are men on a mission. I think Perry will surprise the state this week. Now it is time to go get it done.”


“Myself and the rest of the coaching staff are excited to watch them go get their goal this weekend,” the head coach said. “They are men on a mission. I think Perry will surprise the state this week. Now it is time to go get it done.”