Iowa City West's Nelson Brands goes 4-for-4-for-4 at MVC Super Meet

Brands becomes ninth 4-time champ with four OW awards; City High wins first team title since 2002

CEDAR RAPIDS — Iowa City West’s Nelson Brands stands alone when it comes to Mississippi Valley Conference accomplishments.

In a conference that has kicked out state champions, including multiple four-timers, NCAA Division I All-Americans and national champions, no one has run the table quite like Brands.

Brands pinned his way through the 160-pound bracket Saturday at the MVC Super Meet at Cedar Rapids Jefferson, becoming the ninth wrestler in the 25-year history of the tournament to win four conference crowns. Even more impressive, Brands was named Outstanding Wrestler by the MVC coaches for the fourth time.

Brands, ranked first in Class 3A, beat Dubuque Wahlert’s 2A top-ranked Josh Ramirez for the second time in three days, pinning him in 3:20.

“It doesn’t mean a whole lot,” Brands said of sweeping four conference titles and OW awards. “It was a great match in the finals. It’s something I really haven’t done before and it felt good to beat a worthy opponent that way.”

Ramirez, an Ohio State commit ranked 17th nationally and a Fargo All-American, transferred to Wahlert after winning three Louisiana state titles. Brands beat him, 6-5, on Thursday.

Brands scored the first takedown, but Ramirez answered with escapes in the first and second periods to tie the match, 2-2. Ramirez locked up and tried to throw Brands, who counted and stuffed him into the mat, getting the pin quickly.

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“It felt great,” Brands said. “I felt good there. I felt like he was getting out of position and it came down and got the pin. That’s all that really matters.”

Brands has had different paths to each MVC gold. His freshman season, he was seeded sixth and beat the Nos. 6, 7 and 8 ranked wrestlers for the 126 title. He beat his eventual state finals opponent at 138 for his second championship. Last season, he scored a fall and two technical falls to claim the 152 crown.

“That’s a pretty tall order as a senior,” West Coach Mark Reiland said. “It’s supposed to get easier.

“He’s gotten better each year. He’s found a way to wrestle well at this tournament and that’s what you want.”

Brands is the first four-time MVC champion since West’s Jack Hathaway and Justin Koethe both did it in 2012. The last seven to do it have had ties to West and Reiland. West’s Graham Gambrall (132) also placed first.

It was a big day for Iowa City overall. Iowa City High captured the team title for the first time since 2002, snapping Cedar Rapids Prairie’s five-year reign.

The Little Hawks crowned two champions and scored 221 points, topping runner-up Prairie by 18. The Super Meet crown comes two days after City High won its first conference dual title in 12 seasons.

“I’m just proud of the kids,” City High Coach Cory Connell said. “They’re worked hard. This is something they wanted. You can tell by the way they wrestled.”

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Ethan Wood-Finley helped the Little Hawks pull away with a pin over Prairie’s Austin Kegley in 1:08 for the 106-pound title. The ninth-ranked sophomore was fourth a year ago,

“I’m very happy,” Wood-Finley said. “(MVC) was a big tournament to win and I’m really glad to have won it.”

Teammate Kyle Hefley joined him atop the podium. City High’s sixth-ranked 152-pounder built an 8-0 lead before pinning Waterloo West’s Jacob Oliver in 3:08.

“He looked good,” Connell said of Hefley. “He competes so hard. It’s fun to watch.”

Prairie had a pair of repeat champions. Conrad Braswell (120) and 138-pounder Trenten Wennermark won titles.

Braswell opened with two pins and then scored a 12-2 major decision over Cedar Rapids Xavier’s Keegan Schultschik in the final. Braswell notched his third MVC title and could join Brands by becoming the 10th four-time conference champion next year. He would be Prairie’s first.

“He hasn’t said a word about it but I know he knows,” Prairie Coach Kane Thompson said. “He’s smart enough to know what he’s done.

“It’s a long ways away until next year. It would be a pretty cool thing to have happen.”

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Wennermark was just as dominant, matching Braswell with each bonus-point result Saturday. He beat City High’s Joey Harney, 13-3, in the final.

“Trenten put the hammer down in the finals,” Thompson said. “He looks like he’s ready to compete for the top of any tournament he wrestles.”

Cedar Rapids Kennedy finished with two titlists. Ben Sarasin and Cade Parker won consecutive titles at 170 and 182, respectively.

Top-ranked Sarasin beat Linn-Mar’s second-ranked Jacob Wempen, 7-4, scoring the first two takedowns. Sarasin won his second straight MVC title. This time, he did it after fighting the flu all week, missing Thursday’s dual to illness.

“It was pretty significant for me. I had some good opponents (Saturday),” Sarasin said. “In terms of being sick, it wasn’t a big deal. There are all sorts of obstacles you face in wrestling. Being sick is another one and once I got past those mental and physical barriers it’s just like wrestling another match.”

Parker, ranked eighth, beat West’s No. 6 Will Hoeft, 5-1, in the finals.

MISSISSIPPI VALLEY CONFERENCE SUPER MEET

At C.R. Jefferson

Teams — 1. Iowa City High 221, 2. C.R. Prairie 203, 3. Dubuque Hempstead 193.5, 4. Iowa City West 162.5, 5. C.R. Kennedy 155, 6. Cedar Falls 140, 7. Dubuque Senior 118, 8. Linn-Mar 115, 9. Dubuque Wahlert 197.5, 10. C.R. Jefferson 88.5, 11. Waterloo East 70, 12. C.R. Xavier 62, 13. Waterloo West 53.5, 14. C.R. Washington 52.

Championship matches

106 pounds — Ethan Woood-Finley (ICH) pinned Austin Kegley (CRP), 1:08; 113 — Dillon Gottschalk (DH) dec. Jakey Penrith (CF), 4-0; 120 — Conrad Braswell (CRP) major dec. Keegan Schultschik (CRX), 12-2; 126 — Joe Pins (DH) major dec. Cam Shaver (CRK), 20-8.; 132 — Graham Gambrall (ICW) major dec. Lance Bormann (ICH), 11-3; 138 — Trenten Wennermark (CRP) major dec. Joey Harney (ICH), 13-3; 145 — Matt Connolly (DS) pinned Jaxon Bentley (WE), :38; 152 — Kyle Hefley (ICH) pinned Jacob Oliver (WW), 3:09; 160 — Nelson Brands (ICW) pinned Josh Ramirez (DW), 3:20; 170 — Ben Sarasin (CRK) dec. Jacob Wempen (LM), 7-4; 182 — Cade Parker (CRK) dec. Will Hoeft (ICW), 5-1; 195 — Tyrell Gordon (WE) major dec. Jacob Dykes (ICH), 12-4; 220 — Boone McDermott (DW) pinned Francis Duuggan (ICW), 5:09; Hwt. — Dylan Olson (DH) pinned Josh Vis (CRK), 1:19.

Outstanding wrestler — Brands (ICW)

l Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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