CEDAR RAPIDS — A “rich tradition with a bright future” is how Prairie wrestling coach Kane Thompson describes his team.
Prairie opened the season unranked with only two returning state qualifiers. Only five varsity wrestlers returned from the previous season.
“As the season has progressed, the team has become more united and cohesive,” said manager Molly Kilker, who is a junior a Prairie.
Thompson, in his third year coaching Prairie, is hoping the Hawks improve on their sixth-place finish at the state duals last year.
This year’s team didn’t focus on rankings, but on putting in the work during the offseason. It’s paid off. Five wrestlers are ranked heading into the final weeks of season.
Prairie’s mantra this year has been “stronger together” and the team has proved it is working.
“The team in buying in and scoring whether they are on the championship or consolation side of the bracket,” Thompson said.
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Since Christmas, Prairie hasn’t lost a dual meet and hasn’t placed below second in a tournament. The whole team is scoring points as it continues to improve.
“The end of the season is in sight and I see two things,” Thomson said. “They either attack it or slump it.”
Prairie placed second place at last Saturday’s Mississippi Valley Conference tournament, 18 points behind champion Iowa City High. The Hawks, who had won the previous five MVC titles, had 12 placewinners, including two champions — Conrad Braswell at 120 pounds and Trenten Wennermark at 138.
“Finish with a flurry is the motto we have going into postseason,” Thompson said.
Thompson credits a lot of the success at the high school level to the fact Prairie has a strong youth program.
“For this program to win state championships, it has to be a K-12 effort,” Thompson said.
The Hawks are back in action Friday, wrestling at Iowa City West.