When you think about West Hancock sports over the past four years, Mathew Francis is a one name that comes to the top of the list. That was even before the senior became West Hancock’s all-time leader in career wrestling wins last week.
In West Hancock’s quad on January 25th with Belmond-Klemme, Humboldt, and Algona Francis passed Hunter Hagen with his 160th career win to take the top spot.
Hagen, a 2018 West Hancock graduate, spent the 2018-2019 season with North Iowa Area Community College wrestling a 197, where he collected seven wins by fall.
Francis is currently 47-0 on the season and won his second Top of Iowa Conference champion on Saturday; he’s ranked #1 in Class 1A at 220.
The West Hancock wrestling program is a storied one. A program that includes a four-time state champion, multiple three-time state champions, many conference champions, 47 individual state championships, and thousands of wins. Now, Francis stands alone atop of the all-time wins list.
His coach, Mark Sanger, was one of the individual champions – winning the 189-pound class in 2001. Francis had eyes on joining him atop the podium last year, but that bid came up short; he finished third. He’s a two-time qualifier, and his road back to Wells Fargo Arena begins this weekend. Coach Sanger says everything Francis has gotten is because of his work ethic.
As the #1 ranked wrestler, Francis is a favorite to wrestle for a state title on Saturday night of the finals, but he says that doesn’t just happen. He will need to take each match one at a time through sections, district, and tough state tournament bracket.
He is also a two-time football state champion and helped the West Hancock shuttle hurdle team finish fifth last spring. With three more wins this week, Francis is nearing 170 for his career.