HJ - Clarinda 1994 State Wrestling Champions

Displaying the state championship trophy are the members of the 1994 Clarinda wrestling team. Representing the Cardinals at the state tournament in 1994 were, front row, Dave Wimberly, Damian Moses, Dan Casey; back row, Jeremy Robberts, Ryan Isaacson and Clarinda wrestling coach Michael Moreno. The Cardinals defeated Osage 92-85 to win the Class 2A team title. Moses became the second individual state champion for Clarinda as he won the gold medal at 171 pounds to secure the team championship. (photo by Kent Dinnebier)

Clarinda went to Des Moines as underdogs. The Cardinals returned as state champions.

This week our “Blast from the Past” highlights the 1994 state champion Clarinda wrestling team. The Cardinals defeated Osage by seven points to claim the Class 2A team title.

As the spread of the COVID-19 virus continues to leave high school sports in a prohibited phase, we will continue to look back at some of the greatest games and athletic achievements from Clarinda High School and South Page High School. Send your suggestions by email to kdinnebier@mchsi.com. Include CHS Greatest Game in the subject line and provide the year as part of the email so we can search our archives to find the story.

The 1994 State Wrestling Tournament was held from Thursday, Feb. 24, through Saturday, Feb. 26, at Veterans Memorial Auditorium. After clinching the championship Saturday night, the Cardinals returned to Clarinda as conquering heroes and were treated to parade and community pep rally. We hope you enjoy the story of the 1994 Clarinda wrestling team taken from the archives of the Clarinda Herald-Journal.

“Simply tremendous! What a way to top off a great season,” is how one Clarinda fan expressed his excitement after the Cardinals had captured their first ever state wrestling championship Saturday night.

Clarinda had sent five grapplers to the state meet and those five young men, Dan Casey, Ryan Isaacson, Jeremy Robberts, Dave Wimberly and Damian Moses, scored enough points to upset the favorites, teams from Osage, Winterset and Wilton.

Heading into the consolation semifinals and finals Clarinda was trailing Osage 77.5 points to 77 points. Osage had two grapplers alive in the consolation bracket while Clarinda had Isaacson. Neither Osage wrestler was able to place while Isaacson racked up eleven team points by pinning both his opponents and finished his outstanding high school career with a third place medal.

On the winners side of the brackets both teams had three men vying for individual championships. By the time the finals were held the Cards had built a lead in which Osage would have to win all three of their matches and Clarinda would have to lose all three for the team title to slip away.

Moses captured a state championship at 171 and secured the team victory. Casey and Wimberly finished second with very strong performances. This allowed the Cards to increase the final margin of victory to 92 to 85.

Moses Brings Home Gold

It was the first trip to the state tournament for Clarinda senior Damian Moses but he made the most of it as he captured the class 2-A 171 pound championship. This is only the second individual championship by a Cardinal wrestler. Donnie Donahue won the 103 pound class in 1989.

Moses’ feat was not only a great individual effort, but his four wins in the tournament helped the team capture its first ever state title.

Moses started the tournament with an 8-6 overtime victory over George Bryant of Grinnell. He trailed Bryant 4-3 heading into the final period. Moses then tied the match with an escape only to lose the lead as Bryant gained the takedown. Moses then reversed Bryant to take the contest into overtime. Moses then used his second takedown of the match to win the match and advance to the next round.

His second match was a little easier as he pinned Matt Pederson of Osage in 4:38. Then Friday night Moses scored his second pin of the tournament with a 2:29 fall over Jason Seibert of Monroe. Seibert went on to place third.

In the finals, Moses had to face his old rival Jake Hayes of Creston. These two have faced off three times this year and Hayes has come out on top including a 9-2 decision at the district finals. But this time things were different. Moses used quickness and an aggressive attitude to win 7-5.

Moses jumped out to a 4-1 lead at the end of the first period. Neither man was able to score in the second period. Hayes scored first in the final period with an escape. Moses’ lead was increased to 5-2 when Hayes was penalized for backing out. Then Moses gained a takedown to go up 7-2 before Hayes scored an escape and a final takedown. Moses finished the season with a 41-7 record.

Three other Cardinal grapplers finished with medals as Dan Casey and Dave Wimberly finished second and Ryan Isaacson placed third for the second year in a row.

Casey (119) breezed through his first two matches defeating Travis Buerger of Monona 14-2 and Pat Elliot of Mt. Vernon 9-2.

His third match was a barn-burner as he faced the number one rated and undefeated Chad Bennett of Huxley. Casey fell behind 2-1 at the end of the first period. The second period belonged to Casey as he used a takedown and a two point near fall to finish the period with a 5-4 lead. Both men scored a point in the final period, Casey’s on an escape and Bennett’s on a penalty point.

Casey then advanced to the finals only to lose to the once beaten Jason Halupnick of Centerville 4-0. Halupnick used a takedown in the first period and a reversal in the final period to take the title. The two had met earlier in the season with Halupnick winning the contest 4-2.

Casey, only a junior, competed in his third state tournament and finished the season 43-5.

Wimberly (160) also made a very strong showing by finishing second. He battled his way to the finals where he lost to Tim Duff of Winterset 6-3.

In his opening match, Wimberly decisioned Jason Larson of Decorah 8-3. He then followed with a pin of Robert Roethler of Emmetsburg in 4:41.

Wimberly then defeated Cory Brown of Bloomfield 15-9 in the semifinals. He was trailing Brown 3-2 after the first period but turned it on in the final two periods nearly receiving a fall in the second period. He finished the season with a 38-8 record.

Isaacson (135) pinned his way to third place losing only once and winning by fall the other five times. In his opening round match he pinned David Matthy of Davenport in 2:41.

Due to the draw, Isaacson, rated number two, had to face number one rated Ben Uker of Osage in the second round. Uker, the eventual state champion, defeated Isaacson 12-2. Isaacson then came back later and pinned B.J. Epperly of Tama in 1:43.

In the consolation quarterfinals he pinned Jared Duwa of Mid-Prairie in 4:30. In the semis he won by fall over Matt Phillips of Centerville in 2:30. Finally in the battle for third place Isaacson defeated Andy Dellaca of Saydel in 3:30.

Isaacson finished the season at 44-4. He had over 140 victories in his career and over 100 of those victories came by way of the pin.

The fifth Cardinal member of the state class 2-A champions was Jeremy Robberts - who competed at 152 pounds.

Robberts lost a heart breaker in his first match, a 3-1 decision to Dave Doebel of Clear Lake. He came back in the next match scoring a pin in 3:49 over Cory Peterman of Starmont-Arlington.

Robberts lost his final match, a 5-0 decision, to Bart Stiffler of Monticello. He finished the season with a 35-10 record.

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