Lawton' Bronson's Austin Eilers wrestles Sergeant Bluff-Luton's Zach Shultz at 152 pounds during the Sergeant Bluff-Luton Invitational Saturday.
Jim Lee, Sioux City Journal
SERGEANT BLUFF | Sometimes the sting of disappointment is just what a wrestler needs.
Lawton-Bronson senior Austin Eilers was a state qualifier as a freshman before experiencing some of the lowest lows the sport can dish out as a sophomore.
“Sophomore year he didn’t make it out of sectionals after being a state qualifier as a freshman,” Lawton-Bronson Coach Kyle Lewis said. “It was gallons and gallons of fuel that just motivated him and I think it still motivates him. We know in this sport nothing is guaranteed and you get what you earn.
“Hitting rock bottom his sophomore year was the best thing that could happen to him.”
Rock bottom seemed so far away Saturday at the Sergeant Bluff-Luton Invitational as he pinned his first two opponents in the first period before the statement match against Ballard’s Class 2A 145 pound top-ranked Skyler Noftsger.
Eilers, 8-0, gave up an early takedown, but the Class 1A fourth-ranked wrestler proved his conditioning and pace were too much on his way to the 6-3 win at 152 pounds.
It is the kind of victory he credits to the hard work and determination he has used since his second-year disappointment.
“Sophomore year was a hiccup really,” he said. “My head wasn’t right all year. I blew up my knee early in the season and after that I just thought my season would be done.”