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Harney, Graham continue on at state tournament for Woodward

Sean Cordy
Correspondent

After Thursday's opening night of action at the Wells Fargo Arena, Woodward-Granger's list was cut down in half as two of the four Eagles survived their opening rounds in the Class 2A state wrestling tournament and will compete again Friday.

While all four of Woodward's entrants lost their opening rounds, Riece Graham (132 pounds) and Dustin Harney (160) bounced back in the consolation bracket. Peyton Nixon (113) and Jon McKeever (170) fell just shy of the mark, ending their season with the consolation of reaching the biggest stage after narrowly missing out last season.

Riece Graham 

Riece Graham, of Woodward Granger, wrestles Brock Moore, of Forest City, at 132 in Class 2A during the first round of the Iowa High School State Wrestling Tournament on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021, at Wells Fargo Arena, in Des Moines.

After falling behind early in the opening round as the 13-seed, Graham found his second chance in the consolation bracket. With a chance to still get some hardware this weekend, the senior rebounded with a second-period pin against 12-seed Chase Rattenborg. Graham's next opponent has yet to be determined among the remaining eight in the champion bracket.

Dustin Harney

Ballard's Gabriel Christensen wrestles Woodward-Granger's Dustin Harney during their class 2A 160 pound match at the Iowa high school state wrestling tournament on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021, in Des Moines, IA.

As the 10-seed, Harney grappled for six minutes with 7-seed Gabriel Christensen, but like their meeting in the district round, came up short with Ballard's star. With elimination knocking on the door, Harney picked himself up in the wrestleback with a second-period fall over 15-seed Garrett McHugh. Like Graham, Harney's next opponent Friday is TBD. For a chance to get into the top-eight, they'll both need to avoid another opening-round loss.

Peyton Nixon

Nixon's biggest storyline coming into the season was his jump from 106 to 113 pounds after a couple inch growth spurt. While some lightweights take a step back after jumping a class, Nixon stayed on the same trajectory as he was a consistent figure among media polls. He more than fulfilled that same status, officially seeded 11th among the final 16.

That pitted him against 5-seed Osvaldo Ocampo, and after two periods, trailed 6-5. Ocampo was able to slip through in the next minute, pinning Nixon for the win. 

Unfortunately, the numbers didn't do Nixon any favors as 14-seed Royce Butt pulled away with a 7-2 decision in the consolation round. Nixon officially ended the season with a 35-9 record.

Jon McKeever

McKeever faced an even greater hill to reach the top as he walked onto the mat as the 14-seed. He fully accepted the challenge against 3-seed Cade Collins, and after trailing just 7-6 through two periods, it was anyone's match. Chalk won in the end, putting McKeever in the consolation bracket. 

Like his first match, McKeever hung in and was only down three points after four minutes. Less than a minute later, the whistle blew in favor of 6-seed Dylan Meiners. McKeever left the season with a 38-10 record.