Prep Wrestling

Williamsburg handles transition from football to wrestling seasons

Prep wrestling notes: Raiders state finals appearance in football causes slow start; Henry with big pin; Foreman sets pin mark

Williamsburg head coach Grant Eckenrod (left) talks to Jalen Schropp during his 113-pound championship match at last January's Bobcat
Williamsburg head coach Grant Eckenrod (left) talks to Jalen Schropp during his 113-pound championship match at last January's Bobcat "Jerry Eckenrod" Invitational Benton Community High School in Van Horne. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

WILLIAMSBURG — The transition from fall to winter sports seasons produced a mix of good and bad for Williamsburg.

The football team reached the Class 2A state football finals, earning a runner-up finish in mid-November, which was very good.

The championship game was held after the start of wrestling practice, causing some mild early woes for the Raiders in both sports.

Williamsburg Coach Grant Eckenrod had to alter his approach, getting the group of football players up to speed for the wrestling season. Despite the circumstances, the Raiders have posted a 10-2 start to the season and finished second at Western Dubuque’s Bobcat Duals on Saturday.

“I was pretty happy with our kids for what we have been through here early,” said Eckenrod, noting the loss to 3A North Scott came down to the final match and the Raiders beat the host Bobcats for just the second time. “I was pretty pleased.”

Many of the Williamsburg starters played football, including all-state running back Gage Hazen-Fabor and standout defenders Tucker Stanerson and Josh Holub. Eckenrod said the school’s second state runner-up finish in football was a great problem to have, but the Raiders had to deal with the lingering effects.

“None of them live-wrestled the whole first week,” Eckenrod said. “I thought we were pretty healthy in that championship game, but once you start rolling around on the mat you find out that you’re pretty dinged up. Our guys were all beat up. Every single one of them.”

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Eckenrod said they slowed things down and changed a few things in the early practices. The Raiders only had three days of strong preparation for a season-opener against defending state champion Solon. Eckenrod said conditioning played a key role in a lackluster 32-31 loss on criteria. The fact they were willing to get down to weight and be ready to wrestle in the first dual showed their heart.

“It tells you how tough they are and what kind of character they have,” Eckenrod said. “It shows the great kids we have here.”

Eckenrod said the Raiders are starting to get their legs underneath them and getting stronger each day. Williamsburg wrestles at North Linn’s Lynx Invitational this Saturday. Eckenrod said the holiday break could allow the Raiders to heal up and be set for a stronger second half.

“Our lineup by no means is really set in stone,” Eckenrod said. “We’re getting there. We’re taking it slow, trying to survive here a little bit. After Christmas break, we’ll get everybody where they need to be, hopefully, and make a run.”

HENRY’S BIG PIN

Belle Plaine’s Dakota Henry captured the 126-pound title at the North Cedar Invitational on Saturday in Stanwood. The way Henry capped the gold-medal run is the most impressive.

Henry, ranked seventh at 120, pinned New London’s fourth-ranked Samuel Loyd in 5:33 of the finals. Loyd was a state runner-up in 2016, finishing third at last year’s district meet behind both eventual state finalists. Henry, a senior, improved to 10-1 this season and is attempting to return to state, placing seventh as a sophomore.

FOREMAN SETS CRW PIN MARK

Cedar Rapids Washington’s Will Foreman pinned West Des Moines Valley’s Chase Sandy in the quarterfinals of the Valley Tournament on Saturday. The fall gave Foreman 53 for his career, setting the school record for career pins, according to the program’s Twitter account.

Foreman is 7-1 and ranked fourth at 132 this season. He has placed sixth at the state tournament the last two seasons.

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

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