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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
The “controlled chaos” of the wrestling season is about hit terminal velocity.
The first wrestling season sanctioned by the IGHSAU is underway. College men and women are taking the mat. Here is a look at the Wrestling Weekend That Was.
Kevin Dresser goes home again
In what has turned into a cool tradition, Iowa State has held a home dual at Humboldt High School, the alma mater of Cyclones head coach Kevin Dresser. Last year, Iowa State hosted Purdue, which is coached by former Humboldt two-time state champion and Iowa wrestler Tony Ersland.
The opponent was more local this time. Iowa State welcomed NAIA power Grand View to the event. The Vikings have been the quintessential powerhouse since Nick Mitchell started the program for the 2008-09 season. They have won 20 national team titles (10 traditional tournament and 10 duals) since 2012.
The Cyclones continued their hot start that has seen them climb to No. 8 in the national dual rankings with wins over Wisconsin, Arkansas-Little Rock, Campbell, California Baptist and now Grand View. They won all 10 matches Sunday for a 40-0 victory.
“It felt great to be back in Humboldt,” Dresser said. “This place is home and they have always treated me and our program well. We wrestled well but this team has to get better in the next couple of weeks. We're still making technical mistakes that needs to be cleaned up. Our guys had to come out and wrestle as heavy favorites today which can be hard to do when they're coming after you with everything they have.”
Jason Kraisser (157) won by fall, 165-pounder David Carr posted a technical fall and Marcus Cole and Yonger Bastida added major decisions at 184 and 197, respectively, for Iowa State. The Cyclones’ next competition is the Cyclone Open Saturday in Ames.
Cael Happel’s huge win
Northern Iowa collected four individual titles at South Dakota State’s Daktronics Open Sunday in Brookings, S.D. Cael Happel (141), Collin Realbuto (149), 157-pounder Derek Holschlag and Austin Yant at 165 all won crowns.
Happel, a sophomore, was impressive in his run to a 4-0 start. He opened with two pins, needing just 1:44 to deck Northern State’s Cory St. Martin and less than a minute to pin Iowa State’s Jacob Frost. Happel posted a 16-6 major decision over the Jackrabbits’ Caleb Gross to advance to the final against SDSU’s sixth-ranked Clay Carlson.
The back-and-forth affair saw Carlson lead 3-2 after one with Happel responding with an escape and takedown for 5-3 lead after two. With the scored tied, Happel converted a low-single attack for the decisive takedown late.
Hawkeyes dominate in Missouri Valley Open
Iowa women’s wrestling is on campus, but athletes won’t be able to officially compete for the Hawkeyes until the 2023-24 season. They are, however, allowed to compete in open tournaments on their own.
Five Hawkeyes won titles and two more were second at the Missouri Valley Open on Saturday in Marshall, Mo. Sterling Dias (101), Nyla Valencia (109), Felicity Taylor (116), Nanea Estrella (136) and Reese Larramendy at 145 were champions.
Dias and Valencia beat teammates in the finals. Dias beat Emilie Gonzalez, 3-1, for gold. Valencia edged Brianna Gonzalez, 6-5, for the championship.
Former South Winneshiek prep Taylor went 6-0 overall, recording three major decisions and two pins. Taylor, who will be wrestling for Team USA in the United World Wrestling World Cup on Dec. 10-11 in Coralville, decked University of Providence’s Ashley Gooman in the final.
Iowa dominated, combining to outscore opponents, 284-24, over the two-day event. The Hawkeyes posted a 24-0 mark on Friday. Expect much of the same as anticipation swells for next year.
IGHSAU season starts strong
The first sanctioned wrestling season by the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union is off to a strong start. Hundreds of competitors and teams from across the state are filling gyms for tournaments, duals and scrambles. Pictures of the competitors are filling social media feeds, recording the inaugural events.
The Independence Invitational on Saturday was a perfect example of the excitement that has accompanied this long-awaited season. There was standing room only in the gym with six mats for 549 total matches in 5 1/2 hours, which equates to about 100 matches an hour.
“I think it went smooth,” Independence assistant and tournament operator Matt Shannon said between announcements. “It was controlled chaos.”
Parents, grandparents and siblings were in the packed venue that had spectators cramming in rows with an overflow into the aisles.
The field consisted of 348 competitors after about 370 originally registered. Each athlete were assigned three to four matches.
Wrestlers were grouped by weight and skill, but no official brackets were set. You saw a wide arrange of skill, including Union Community IWCOA state champion and nationally ranked Jillian Worthen, who rolled with three pins. Independence’s Rachel Eddy, a 2020 IWCOA champ, went 3-0, overcoming a 4-0 deficit with a reversal and pin to top Cedar Rapids Kennedy’s Preseason Nationals runner-up and IWCOA medalist Ella Brown in a rematch of last season’s IWCOA quarterfinal. Brown went 2-0 with two pins, including one in 10 seconds.
You had some beginners like Benton Community’s Jessa Demoss, a standout softball player who is also a member of the Bobcats’ varsity basketball team. Demoss went 3-0 with three pins as well.
The season is just getting started and this type of competition will be the norm.
“It was well run,” Linn-Mar Coach Mike Geers said of the event. “It was pretty impressive.”
Coe trio wins titles
Will Esmoil (165), Tristin Westphal at 184 and 197-pounder Jared Voss claimed championships at the Coe College Invitational on Saturday. Esmoil and Voss both recorded pins in the finals. Esmoil decked St. Ambrose’s Jayden Terronez in 3:25 for the title. Voss pinned Dubuque’s Tyler Thurston in 1:32 for gold. Westphal dropped Graceland’s Cam Cornman, 11-3, in the final.
Austin Gomez shocks Yianni
Wisconsin’s Austin Gomez suffered an upset loss to Iowa State’s Paniro Johnson earlier this season. The former Cyclone dished out his own stunning victory with a 9-3 victory over Cornell University’s three-time NCAA champion Yianni Diakomihalis Saturday at Ithaca, N.Y. It was only the second loss for Diakomihalis in his college career and first since a loss to Jaydin Eierman (then with Missouri) his freshman season.
Gomez broke open a scoreless match in the second with an escape and throw for four points and a 5-0 lead entering the third. Gomez added a takedown in the third for the notable win.