116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
No bigger moment than many people’s dreams coming to reality when the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union announced Iowa would be the 34th state with sanctioned girls’ wrestling. Austin DeSanto returned against Ohio State. UNI and Iowa State handled NDSU. High schools competed in the last big tournament weekend before championship season. This is the Wrestling Weekend That Was.
IGHSAU announces move to sanction girls’ wrestling
Word of the impending announcement slithered through the grapevine before Saturday’s public statement, but it didn’t diminish the reaction to the news that girls’ wrestling will be sanctioned.
IGHSAU Executive Director Jean Berger made the announcement prior to the Iowa High School Coaches and Officials Association girls’ state tournament finals at Xtream Arena. The achievement marked the end of many hours of blood, sweat, toil and tears over the years, attempting to make this happen.
“We think there’s a great foundation in place for the success of this sport and we intend to fully support these Iowa Girls as they continue their pursuit of championships,” Berger said in a news release. “As the sanctioning process unfolded, the Board was able to quickly approve this new opportunity for our girls and schools across the state. The increase in participation, the growth in youth wrestling and the willingness of our schools to commit to the sport all factored into this decision.”
Remember four years ago? The IWCOA and other organizers put together the first girls’ state tournament in a matter of a few weeks. It was held at Waverly-Shell Rock’s gymnasium with less than 100 athletes and at the same time as a boys’ tournament.
The tournament has grown and evolved rapidly in four years, becoming a two-day tournament with 695 competitors in 17 weight brackets at a neutral arena with most of the bells and whistles their male counterparts have in Des Moines. The girls’ competition still is connected to its root on a Saturday that was impacted by a snowstorm.
Ackley AGWSR’s Ali Gerbracht became the event’s first champion, beating Bettendorf’s Ella Schmit, who just won the 125-pound title and joined Iowa Valley’s Millie Peach as a three-time champion.
Peach, who graduated last year, won titles in the first three IWCOA events. Now, her sister has picked up right where she left paving the way. Emma Peach, a freshman for the Tigers, capped a 21-0 season, pinning Waverly-Shell Rock’s Annika Behrends in 5:53 for the 140 title.
The Go-Hawks, who have been at the forefront of the girls’ teams, won the team title Saturday. They remain the only team to win the event.
The skill level on display has improved as well. Some might point to numerous early-round pins and argue otherwise. It isn’t unexpected, considering some programs wandered the hallways at school to recruit wrestlers to try the sport. Some have had the fortune to wrestle from a young age but others are new to wrestling. Some mismatches will occur.
Iowa Coach Clarissa Chun attended the tournament. She said the style of wrestling was tough and physical, which is the cornerstone to the state’s approach to the sport.
“It’s ingrained in the fabric of Iowa,” said Chun. “It shows here.”
Like any tournament in any sport, as the field dwindles the competition becomes tougher. There was plenty of proof when four past state champions were unable to even reach the finals.
There are examples of wrestlers continuing to dominate, like Decorah’s 170-pound champion Naomi Simon. The sophomore won her second crown, winning at 145 a year ago. In addition to Simon and Schmit, Waverly-Shell Rock’s Eva Diaz and Lilly Luft, of Charles City repeated as champions.
Saturday marked a major hurdle, but the work has really just started as the IGHSAU and wrestling leaders begin to mold girls’ wrestling for the future and what direction to go from here.
This was a huge win for wrestling and for the Iowa Girl.
Austin DeSanto returns for Iowa
All-American Austin DeSanto returned to the Iowa lineup Friday against No. 6 Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio. DeSanto was dominant, rolling to a 19-4 technical fall over Dylan Kuntz at 133 pounds. He needed just 4:21 to notch his team-high eighth technical fall of the season.
The appearance should put to rest a lot of the buzz surrounding his recent absence.
Speaking of Ohio State, the top-ranked Hawkeyes won six matches. In the world of “should have, could have,” Iowa was not far away from a sweep. The Hawkeyes dropped two matches that ended regulation tied and decided in sudden victory. They also lost two 3-2, leading by one in the waning moments. Iowa still recorded a solid 21-12 dual win, but had the chance to skunk the Buckeyes.
UNI, ISU, thump Bison
Northern Iowa and Iowa State were not gracious hosts to North Dakota State during the weekend. The Panthers won 29-13, taking seven bouts including five with bonus points.
Cael Happel (141) notched one of UNI’s three major decisions, whipping No. 21 Dylan Droegemueller, 15-5. Brody Teske was in the lineup at 125 and scored a fall, while Parker Keckeisen had a techncial fall at 184.
Iowa State claimed eight matches, beating the Bison, 26-9. Ninth-ranked Marcus Coleman continues his strong year, earning a 16-0 technical fall over D.J. Parker at 184.
The Cyclones also earned the program’s 1,100th all-time victory, joining Oklahoma State as the only NCAA Division I wrestling program to reach the win plateau.
In case you haven’t noticed, Iowa State has climbed into the top 10 nationally with a 9-1 record and 2-0 in the Big 12 Conference. Things are coming together for Iowa State and Coach Kevin Dresser.
Tanner Sloan posts upset
South Dakota State’s Tanner Sloan defeated Missouri’s fifth-ranked Rocky Elam, 5-2, at 197 pounds, highlighting the Jackrabbits’ 21-12 upset of No. 9 Missouri in Columbia, Mo.
Sloan, a two-time state champion for Alburnett who was ranked 22nd, used a takedown late in the second and a third-period escape for the difference. He avenged a loss to Elam earlier this season, improving to 11-4.
It was SDSU’s first win over a top-10 opponent and its first victory over Missouri since the 1970-71 season.
Sloan wasn’t the only 197-pounder with a big upset. Michigan State’s Cam Caffey defeated Penn State’s second-ranked Max Dean, 3-2.
Washington Warriors wow in wins
Cedar Rapids Washington had a marquee end to its week. The Warriors knocked off Cedar Rapids Prairie, receiving three straight falls from Zach Novak (220), heavywweight Tate Sykora Matthess and Brennan Geers at 106 for a 41-37 dual win over the Hawks.
The Warriors followed that with a tournament title at Anamosa’s Denny Christiansen Invitational on Saturday. Washington won the nine-team field with 159 points and nine finalists.
Geers, Charles Rust (126), Nick Foreman (132) and Erich Rinderknecht at 145 placed first to lead Washington.
Linn-Mar leads the Lueders
Linn-Mar captured the team title at Clinton’s Bob Lueders Invitational on Saturday. The Lions crowned three champions and topped Class 1A second-ranked Lisbon, 190-175.5, with third-place Fort Dodge at 171.5.
Brayden Parke (126), Kane Naaktgeboren at 132 and heavyweight Luke Gaffney won titles.
Naaktgeboren was impressive again, pining his way through the bracket for the second straight weekend. He has been crushing foes, recording falls in his last nine straight matches. The third-ranked sophomore is 26-1 with 24 pins. He also has a technical fall.
Parke and Gaffney beat ranked foes in the finals. Parke, No. 4 in 3A, topped Lisbon’s third-ranked Quincy Happel, 3-0. Third-ranked Gaffney pinned Lisbon’s No. 8 Wyatt Smith.
Lisbon did have champions in 120-pounder Brandon Paez and Cade Siebrecht at 138.
Cedar Rapids Prairie’s Blake Gioimo moved to 35-0. The top-ranked 113-pounder won two matches by technical fall and scored a 12-4 major decision over Fort Dodge’s No. 3 Max Bishop in the final.
Mustangs romp to Clyde Bean title
Mount Vernon won the team title of the Clyde Bean Duals at Iowa City High. The Mustangs went 5-0 Saturday, beating Cedar Rapids Kennedy, 45-32, in the finals.
Even more impressive is how they took control in the championship dual. The Mustangs recorded five straight falls from 220 to 120 to take the lead for good. Clark Younggreen started the streak and Riley Mudd capped the run.
Younggreen, Mudd, Jackson Jaspers (138) and 152-pounder Henry Ryan went unbeaten Saturday. Ryan had three pins, a technical fall and major decision. Younggreen had four pins and a decision, while Jaspers had three pins and a technical fall.
South Tama wins tight battles
South Tama also came a way with a dual tournament title Saturday. The Trojans won the EM/GMG Duals.
South Tama was 4-0, beating Benton Community, 40-37, in the final. The Trojans received pins from Boden Koehler (170) and 182-pounder Koley Kelly for the comeback victory.
The Trojans also topped Union Community, 39-38, when Kohler won by injury default in the last match.