DES MOINES — West Delaware is a young, inexperienced team. The Hawks have five freshmen and three sophomores in their lineup.
This year was supposed to be a rebuilding year for Coach Jeff Voss’ team.
“Our focus from the beginning of the year hasn’t been winning and losing, it’s been getting better and we’re doing that,” Voss said. “It’s been a great experience for the kids to come down here and get their first matches as a group and a team. You can’t coach experience, so the experience is really going to be beneficial for them.”
West Delaware (17-4) beat Williamsburg (27-4) 43-21 Wednesday at Wells Fargo Arena to get third place in the Class 2A State Duals tournament.
“I think it’s a great accomplishment from where these guys started,” Voss said. “When the season started, we put no expectations on the kids, the only thing we talked about was getting better. We haven’t had a week all year where we haven’t improved from the previous week. The message all year was get better than you were yesterday and the kids did that.”
Voss believes a key part of the improvement is the team’s chemistry. He got his team to buy into the idea that the results didn’t necessarily matter. He just wanted his guys to give their all.
“Nobody in our room once talked about winning or losing dual meets and tournaments — it was just about giving your best effort and I don’t think they worried about winning or losing,” Voss said. “I think they were thankful they had a chance to wrestle each time. They went out aggressively and there was no fear in them.
“With some of our younger kids – even our older ones – this is the first time they competed at this level — they improved that much. They didn’t have any fear of losing and I think that was a big key to their improvement this year.”
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Another aspect that helped with the chemistry was West Delaware student-coach Dylan Linderwell’s idea to have a “Pin Belt.” The belt resembles a WWE championship belt and has the West Delaware logo on the front. Every time a West Delaware wrestler pins his opponent, he gets the belt.
Six different Hawks got the belt against Williamsburg.
While West Delaware is an up-and-coming team. Williamsburg is a team chock-full of experience.
The Raiders have eight seniors in their lineup. That experience led to Coach Grant Eckerod’s 500th career dual-meet win with a quarterfinal victory over Ballard. He’s just the fourth coach in Iowa to reach the milestone.
“It just means that you’re old, I guess,” Eckenrod said. “It means that I have had a lot of help along the way. I have been very blessed.”
Eckenrod credited his wife and his family for his accomplishment. Eckenrood said his wife was essentially his coach at home.
Of course, his assistant coaches and wrestlers get some credit, too.
“The one thing I’ve learned in coaching is surrounded your kids with great men and people,” Eckenrod said. “I’ve been smart enough to do that. I’ve also been blessed with kids that have done whatever I’ve asked.”
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