116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY – Hot start and a strong finish.
Iowa City High parlayed both into a springboard victory to close the first part of the season and begin the holiday break.
The Little Hawks opened with four straight victories and recorded consecutive pins in their last four competed matches for a 44-33 victory over crosstown rival Iowa City West in a Mississippi Valley Conference dual Wednesday night at West.
“I’m so proud of the kids, right now,” City High Coach Cory Connell said. “You could tell when they went out there that they were fired up and they wanted to win this. They were ready to fight. They wanted this.”
City High trailed 27-20 with five weights left, giving up at 113 to close the dual. The Little Hawks needed wins with a little extra and the upper weights provided.
“Connell always emphasizes bonus points,” City High 195-pounder Nick Marker said. “It’s always on our mind to get those bonus points, no matter what.”
Marker started the streak with a throw in the opening minute and a fall over Dayne Van Dyke in just 1:09. The win pulled City High within one. Marker said he’s not much of a thrower, but the move was there.
“We had a lot of energy,” Marker said. “It was there and I wanted to go big. I hit it.”
Connell said Marker has the potential to do special things on the mat. His confidence has to catch up with his skill, transferring his ability in practice to competition.
“He can do anything anywhere,” Connell said. “He just has to believe in himself when he steps out there. I know he’s got everything in the room. He knows more technique than just about anybody. It’s just a matter of him going out there and executing it and believing in stuff when he does it.”
Connell made a move that paid dividends. He bumped two-time state champion Ben Kueter from 220 to heavyweight and sent senior Cameron Lacina out at 220. Lacina responded with a first-period pin over Luke Ernst, putting the Little Hawks up, 32-27.
“Getting that win was huge for us,” Connell said. “We’ve tried to bump him up before. He’s been getting better. He wrestled quite a bit last week. He started fixing some things. He started to get more belief. He started to understand somethings and it really showed tonight.”
Kueter put City High ahead for good, pinning Brett Pelfrey in 42 seconds. Top-ranked Kueter withstood a charge soon after the opening whistle and a throw attempt. He then took Pelfrey down and turning him for the fall.
“The goal is always to dominate and that’s what I do,” Kueter said. “I never focus on a certain move or set of moves that I want to hit. I just focus on me and going out and dominating.”
Bonus-point victories ignited the Little Hawks early. Cale Seaton generated a spark in the opening bout, posting an 18-3 technical fall over Sterling Warren at 120. Kael Kurtz followed with a pin at 126, building a 13-4 lead over Thomas Pierce before ending it in 3:03. Zach Fern (132) added a second-period fall for a 17-0 Little Hawks lead.
Jake Mitchell and Kyler Scranton produced the most competitive match of the night. Mitchell used two takedowns for a 4-3 lead after the first. Scranton claimed his first lead with an escape and takedown to go up by two, heading into the third. Mitchell scored a takedown with three nearfall, but Scranton tied it with a reversal and penalty point.
In a scramble as time expired, Mitchell earned an escape for no control to win 10-9. City High led 20-0.
“Coming out tonight, I didn’t know what to expect out of some of our guys,” Connell said. “I knew they could win or should win. It’s a matter of them going out and doing it.
“I loved their effort. I loved their attitude. I love how they went out and competed.”
The Little Hawks have persevered injury and illness, but have shown progress from week to week. Connell said he expects the lineup to be even stronger after the break. This victory propels City High into the break.
“It’s huge,” Kueter said. “It gives everybody confidence. People are excited about it.
“We didn’t have all our guys wrestling. It’s good. It’s exciting to see. It was definitely good to battle through it and win.”
West won five straight matches, taking its first lead at 21-20 with five weights remaining. Grant O’Dell used three takedowns to drop Ryan Ott, 7-5, at 145.
Three-time state champion Robert Avila Jr. and Hunter Garvin wrestled less than a minute combined. Avila (152) scored two takedowns and pinned Kale Clark in just 24 seconds. Garvin decked Jesse Hendershot in 35 seconds at 160.
Kael Scranton received a forfeit at 170 to put West ahead and Drake Davis’ first-period pin at 182 increased West’s lead to seven before City High’s run of pins. Braden Doyle collected a forfeit at 113 for the Trojans.
The Little Hawks and Trojans also had a girls’ meet before the boys’ varsity dual. West finished with a 30-18 advantage.
Ava Davis won two matches to pace West. Janell Avila, Emma Barker and Lexi Nash also won for the Trojans.
Natalia Flack, Erin Anderson, Nina Kuhlman and Nabi Emmanuel had wins for City High.
AT IOWA CITY
Iowa City High 44, Iowa City West 33
(Individual takedowns in parentheses)
120 pounds – Cale Seaton (ICH) tech. fall Sterling Warren, 18-3 (4,0); 126 – Kael Kurtz (ICH) pinned Thomas Pierce, 3:03 (5,0); 132 – Zach Fern (ICH) pinned Gordey Gambrall, 2:22 (0,0); 138 – Jake Mitchell (ICH) dec. Kyler Scranton, 10-9 (3,1); 145 – Grant O’Dell (ICW) dec. Ryan Ott, 7-5 (3,1); 152 – Robert Avila Jr. (ICW) pinned Kale Clark, :24 (2,0); 160 – Hunter Garvin (ICW) pinned Jesse Hendershot, :35 (1,0); 170 – Kael Scranton won by forfeit; 182 – Drake Davis (ICW) pinned Drew Nye, 1:23 (1,0); 195 – Nick Marker (ICH) pinned Dayne Van Dyke, 1:09 (1,0); 220 – Cameron Lacina (ICH) pinned Luke Ernst, 1:02 (1,0); Hwt. – Ben Kueter (ICH) pinned Brett Pelfrey, :42 (1,0); 106 – Kendall Kurtz (ICH) pinned Marissa Goodale, 1:19 (1,0); 113 – Braden Doyle (ICW) won by forfeit.
Takedowns – City High 17, I.C. West 8. Reversals – City High 1, I.C. West 2. Escapes – City High 5, I.C. West 10. Nearfall points – City High 16, I.C. West 0. Penalty points (awarded) – City High 1, I.C. West 1. Total match points – City High 58, I.C. West 31.