Capsules for Gazette area wrestling teams competing in Wednesday's State Duals at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, plus predictions for all three classes.
IOWA CITY HIGH
Coach: Cory Connell (6th season)
Appearances: 11th overall, first since 2006
Road to Des Moines: Iowa City High produced one of its best seasons in more than a decade. The Little Hawks claimed the Mississippi Valley Conference Valley Division, going 6-0 in the conference. Sixth-ranked City High rolled to a 53-16 regional dual victory over No. 13 Western Dubuque, winning 10 matches including eight of the first nine.
Outlook: City High opens with Waukee. The teams combine for 14 ranked wrestlers, including six for the Little Hawks, but they only match up at one weight class. Waukee’s Lucas Uliano is ranked fourth and City High’s Ethan Wood-Finley is seventh. Bonus points will be a necessity for the Little Hawks to entertain the upset. The Little Hawks have a shot to wrestle to or above their seed.
Class 3A predictions: 1. Fort Dodge, 2. West Des Moines Valley, 3. Southeast Polk
Coach: Blake Williams (3rd season/7th overall)
Appearances: Third overall, second straight
Road to Des Moines: Ninth-ranked Solon opened with a decisive win over Independence, 45-24, and then rallied for a 37-34 regional dual final victory over No. 6 West Liberty. The Spartans overcame a five-point deficit with two weights remaining against the Comets, receiving a decision from 160-pounder Zack Bevans and a pin by Jax Flynn at 170.
Outlook: Solon has the makeup of many previous teams coached by Williams. They have balance and a competitive wrestler at each weight. They always have a chance to win and do well to prevent bonus points. Seventh-seeded Solon is a dangerous team and could be poised for an upset in the opening round against No. 2-seed Clarion-Goldfield-Dows.
Coach: Jeff Voss (23rd season)
Appearances: Eighth overall, first since 2012
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Road to Des Moines: West Delaware captured the Wamac duals title and a sectional team title. The Hawks had little trouble, advancing to Des Moines. West Delaware dropped Crestwood, 42-24, in the regional final after a 51-16 rout of Union Community in the semifinal. Top-ranked New Hampton/Turkey Valley gave the Hawks their only dual loss in 2A.
Outlook: Fourth-seeded West Delaware opens with No. 5 Davenport Assumption. The Knights edged West Delaware in the 2012 and 2013 State Duals finals by a total of three points. The Hawks match up well with the Knights this time and should make the semifinals against No. 1 New Hampton/Turkey Valley. Third place is well within reach for the Hawks.
Coach: Grant Eckenrod (17th season)
Appearances: Second overall, first since 2011
Road to Des Moines: Eighth-ranked Williamsburg knocked off No. 7 PCM, 44-25, in the regional dual final, opening with a 45-19 victory against 2A mainstay Creston-OM. The Raiders overcame a slow start due to a state runner-up finish in football. Williamsburg lost its opener to Solon by one point and has won 26 of their last 27 duals, setting a school record in dual victories.
Outlook: The phrase “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” applies to Williamsburg. State champion Grayson Kesterson, Jalen Schropp and Josh Holub lead a very balanced team, which might be best suited for dual competition. The Raiders have a winnable quarterfinal against Ballard and could get a rematch with Solon in the semifinal.
Class 2A predictions: 1. New Hampton/Turkey Valley, 2. Williamsburg, 3. West Delaware
Coach: Brad Smith (6th season/19th overall)
Appearances: 12th overall, fourth straight
Road to Des Moines: Lisbon was dominant in regional dual, putting up a perfect 84-0 victory over New London and then punched its ticket to the State Duals by trouncing No. 13 Wilton, 54-21. The Lions have been impressive all season, taking the Tri-Rivers title and beating everyone except for Don Bosco and 3A second-seeded West Des Moines Valley.
Outlook: Class 1A is a three team race between Don Bosco, Denver and Lisbon, who is looking to repeat as both State Duals and traditional tournament team champions. The second-seeded Lions are heavy favorites in the opener against Woodbury Central, setting up a Lisbon-Denver semifinal. Lisbon has a good chance to reach the final for a third dual against Don Bosco, which has beaten Lisbon twice, although the second meeting was a much closer score.
Class 1A predictions: 1. Don Bosco, 2. Lisbon, 3. Denver
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