INDEPENDENCE - For Independence, the prep football season opener bore little resemblance to its winless 2016 campaign.
Even in defeat, a clear message was sent that there are brighter days ahead for the Mustangs.
Independence nearly matc ... »
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DES MOINES — Cedar Rapids Prairie Coach Kane Thompson wasn’t focused on the finish.
He concentrated on the entire body of work.
The Hawks were not considered a top-eight team at the start of the season. They closed it with a sixth-place finish at the Class 3A State Duals wrestling tournament Wednesday at Wells Fargo Arena.
Prairie (16-5) fell to third-seeded North Scott, 39-20, in the final round.
“When you think about it the entire season long, we were nowhere in the rankings and we had just a few ranked individuals,” Thompson said. “To be sixth, is pretty good.”
The Hawks entered as the eighth seed and drew top-ranked Southeast Polk. The Rams bounced Prairie to the consolation round with a 36-23 victory. Thompson said the approach to the opener sent a message to his wrestlers that they have to bring the fight if they want to reach a championship level.
“We were going to go after them,” Thompson said. “We were going to take it to them and see what happens.”
Prairie won six matches, including the final four.
The Hawks rebounded with a 47-21 consolation win over fourth-seeded Western Dubuque. Prairie won the first eight weights against a Bobcat squad that didn’t wrestle all of its starters.
The Bobcats made their second appearance at the State Duals and first since 2009. Like the debut, Western Dubuque lost a quarterfinal to Waverly-Shell Rock. The fifth-seeded Go-Hawks won, 43-30, for their second victory of the season against the Bobcats.
Waverly-Shell Rock avenged some key losses from the first dual.
Western Dubuque picked up its first State Duals victory, beating Indianola, 55-15 for seventh place.
“It was a great experience,” Western Dubuque Coach Paul Cleary said. “We had 10 times the fans of everybody else. I love Bobcat Nation and this team.”
Western Dubuque finished the season 26-6. The Bobcats had this tournament in their sights since the start of the season. They celebrated the team concept.
“It was cool for the guys who didn’t qualify (individually),” 132-pounder Bradan Birt said. “We expected to get here. We were really proud when we did make it.”
Southeast Polk (19-0) capped an undefeated dual season with a 48-18 victory over No. 7 Fort Dodge (16-2). The Rams advanced to the final with a 40-24 over the Go-Hawks.
“The State Duals is a team thing,” Southeast Polk Coach Jason Christenson said. “It’s not about individuals. I couldn’t be more proud of the steps they’ve taken in the process throughout the way.”
Southeast Polk made its fifth straight finals appearance. The Rams also won titles in 2013 and 2015. This time, they accomplished it after graduating seven seniors from last year’s squad.
“We have a lot of depth in our program,” Christenson said. “We had 83 guys finish the season. We don’t split practice. Everybody is exactly the same, so when those guys get their chance they’re ready to go.”
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