116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
WILLIAMSBURG — Hard hats and blue collars are not standard wrestling equipment.
Williamsburg, however, has used them to produce a strong dual campaign.
'We don't have that superstar,' Raiders Coach Grant Eckenrod said. 'We just have a bunch of lunch-pail kids that come in and work hard. They do everything we ask of them. They are great kids on and off the mat.'
The Raiders claimed a sectional title Saturday, advancing to the Class 2A regional duals Tuesday night at Washington (Iowa). Fourteenth-ranked Williamsburg will face No. 11 Mediapolis in a regional semifinal with the winner facing either No. 7 Washington or West Liberty in the final. Regional champions advance to the state dual tournament Feb. 17 at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
The Raiders are young, including six sophomores and a freshman in the starting lineup. Grayson Kesterson, ranked 10th at 106 pounds, leads that sophomore class with a 33-7 mark. Five own winning records, including 160-pounder Calvin Malloy (33-14) and Josh Holub (28-19 at 170).
The season began with uncertainty of how successful it could be. The question wasn't a matter of if, but when.
'They have done it in the past,' Eckenrod said. 'They were awful good in junior high, so we knew the potential was there to be good. We just didn't know how good and how soon.'
The underclassman resemble a past Raider team that had sophomores 'thrown to the wolves.' They ended up earning the program's only state duals berth when they were seniors in 2011. Eckenrod said they have discussed the goal of returning.
'You bet we have talked about it,' Eckenrod said. 'There are a lot of similarities to that team. Just a bunch of solid kids.
'I couldn't be more proud of them. They are a bunch of kids who battle and fight.'
They have meshed with tough upperclassmen, including fourth-ranked 182-pounder Vic Malloy (40-3) and Colton Lewis (33-9) at 152. Malloy placed fourth at last year's state meet and Lewis was a state qualifier. Senior Miguel Sanchez (195) is 32-4.
Williamsburg is 18-3, winning 13 straight duals dating back to Dec. 12. Eckenrod recognized the potential right before the midseason intermission.
'I couldn't have been happier going into Christmas break,' Eckenrod said. 'I almost didn't want to go in (the break) after the momentum we started.
'After that, I thought maybe this team will be OK if we hang in there and stay healthy.'
The Raiders have not faced Mediapolis this season, but did post a 43-27 win over a short-handed Demons squad. Eckenrod said he expects the Mediapolis dual to be a tight contest that might not be decided until the final match.
'We're going to strap it up and try to qualify for the state duals,' Eckenrod said. 'We're not going to sit or rest anybody. We're going down there with guns blazing.'
Sixth-ranked Independence hosts a 2A regional dual as well. The Mustangs will face Gilbert in the semifinal. No. 18 Union Community will take open No. 20 Denver-Tripoli in the other semifinal.
Mount Vernon, ranked 12th, will host No. 16 Solon in a regional semifinal. The winner will face either third-ranked Davenport Assumption or South Tama.
In 1A, third-ranked Alburnett will host Iowa City Regina for a regional semifinal with the winner facing either No. 9 Dike-New Hartford or East Buchanan.
Lisbon, ranked third in 1A, welcomes Tipton, MFL MarMac and Wilton for regional dual competition. The Lions open with Tipton, while MFL and Wilton compete in the other semifinal dual.
Sigourney-Keota, ranked 10th, takes on Eddyville EBF in a regional semifinal dual at home. No. 16 Southeast Warren and 17th-ranked Interstate 35 are also at Sigourney.
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