CEDAR RAPIDS — Some have been by the slimmest of margins. Others a bit more convincing.
For two straight seasons, Cedar Rapids Kennedy has not lost a Mississippi Valley Conference wrestling dual.
The 12th-ranked Cougars captured their 14th straight conference dual, beating Cedar Rapids Jefferson, 67-12, in the regular-season finale Thursday night at Jefferson. Kennedy won 12 bouts with nine pins and have claimed two consecutive MVC Valley Division titles.
“It’s a big deal,” Kennedy Coach Dennis Hynek said. “It means a ton to me to win that conference title against a lot of really good teams and tough competition.”
Kennedy is 9-1 overall and 7-0 again in the MVC. Even though wrestling is an individual sport, the Cougars embrace the team aspect and feed off each other in competition.
“We’re here to compete,” senior 132-pounder Ben Hoeger said. “There’s nothing like a dual on Thursday night. You’re behind your team. Every match counts. It’s a great feeling to win as a team.
“It shows the hard work the team is doing in the room and how people push each other.”
The Cougars have had their share of challenges and close calls during the stretch. Duals against Linn-Mar and Iowa City West were decided in the final match this year. Last season, they edged Dubuque Hempstead by a point for winning the sixth tiebreaker criteria.
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“There were several times we overcame some tough situations,” Hynek said. “When you look back at some of the dual meets that could have gone either way, I’m very proud of the kids. It took a lot of guts.”
This season is no different. Kennedy has been without two starters — state medalist Cade Parker and Cael Knox — all season due to injury. The Cougars were without second-ranked heavyweight Josh Vis and No. 10 Jay Oostendorp Thursday night as well. A lot of wins were on the bench.
“There have been a lot of kids who have stepped up this year that they didn’t think they would have to,” Hoeger said. “They’ve been winning. It’s been great for the team and we haven’t lost any of our success.”
Kennedy wasn’t challenged much by the J-Hawks (5-7, 3-4). The Cougars won the first seven matches, including six by fall. Kennedy tallied a whopping 36 total nearfall points. Jefferson only managed to score in six matches.
The Cougars will return to action Wednesday in the Class 3A regional duals at Eldridge. Kennedy takes on No. 24 Fort Madison. The winner faces No. 6 North Scott immediately afterward for a state duals berth.
“I told the guys, 'congratulations, I’m proud of you and to tell your parents thanks for coming,'” Hynek said. “Now, it’s time to get back to work.”
AT C.R. KENNEDY
C.R. Kennedy 67, C.R. Jefferson 12
(Individual takedowns in parentheses)
145 pounds — Dylan Falck (CRK) pinned Frank Budederi, :58 (1,0); 152 — Divion Ocheltree (CRK) pinned Dallas Hartgrave, 3:37 (1,0); 160 — Collin Flannagan (CRK) pinned Ryne Chamberlin, 3:15 (1,0); 170 — Alex Koch (CRK) pinned Tyler Buzynski, 1:20 (0,1); 182 — Evan Moser (CRK) pinned Carter Smith, 2:54 (2,0); 195 — Ethan Sullivan (CRK) dec. Preston Bruck, 6-1 (1,0); 220 — Gavin Bascom (CRK) pinned Zane Wilson, 1:19 (1,0); Hwt. — Dawson Sweet (CRJ) pinned Ethan Winsor, 5:17 (7,0); 106 — Cael Long (CRK) pinned Connor Luensman, :44 (1,0); 113 — Jonah Hallam (CRK) pinned Max Lathrop, 1:40 (1,0); 120 — Austin Clifton (CRJ) pinned Gunner Sparks, 3:40 (2,0); 126 — Jake McLeod (CRK) won by injury default over Dakota Tatro (1,1); 132 — Ben Hoeger (CRK) pinned Ethan Dokkham, :27 (1,0); 138 — Ty Pfiffner (CRK) major dec. A.J. Buzynski, 12-1 (2,0).
Takedowns — C.R. Jefferson 11, C.R. Kennedy 13. Reversals — C.R. Jefferson 0, C.R. Kennedy 5. Escapes — C.R. Jefferson 4, C.R. Kennedy 6. Nearfall points — C.R. Jefferson 4, C.R. Kennedy 36. Penalty points (awarded) — C.R. Jefferson 0, C.R. Kennedy 0. Total match points — C.R. Jefferson 78, C.R. Kennedy 30.
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