CEDAR RAPIDS — No more second chances.
Cedar Rapids Prairie senior Conrad Braswell understands this is his last shot at his ultimate goal.
“It’s something I’ve been working toward for a long time,” said Braswell, a three-time state medalist in search of a state title. “This year, a lot of pieces have been falling into place.
“I’ve had some pretty good wins. I don’t have any losses in 3A. I’m hoping to bring back a title for Prairie.”
Braswell captured the 132-pound title at a Class 3A district wrestling tournament Saturday at Prairie. He earned his fourth state tournament berth and is one of runner-up Prairie’s seven qualifiers.
Iowa City High won the team title with 210 points, crowning three champions and advancing four. Iowa City West was third, leading all teams with five champions.
Second-ranked Braswell was one of three Prairie titlists. He rolled through the bracket, recording a second-period semifinal pin and scoring the final six points in an 8-2 decision over Burlington’s No. 9 Duncan Delzell.
Braswell (31-4) finished fourth in his first two seasons, but last year’s finish was even tougher to swallow.
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“I’m really glad to have the next opportunity,” Braswell said. “Getting eighth last year really is good motivation for this year and peaking at the right time.
“Go in there with the right mindset, knowing I can do some damage.”
He was joined atop the award stand by returning state placewinners Austin Kegley (113) and Ashton Stoner-DeGroot (195), who are both ranked third. Kegley (32-2) barely wrestled two minutes in consecutive pins, including a 1:09 fall over Fort Madison’s Elton Kruse in the final.
The Little Hawks received bookend championships from Ethan Wood-Finley at 106 and heavyweight Jacob Murry. Sixth-ranked Kyle Hefley had little trouble winning the 152-pound title with a pin and 5-0 technical fall over Justis Kruse in the final.
Wood-Finley (32-3) had two pins under a minute to return to state. He placed fifth there a year ago.
“I’m really confident right now,” Wood-Finley said. “I’m excited for state. Just one more week. I’m going to give it all that I’ve got.”
Wood-Finley spent part of the season ranked first and is third in The Predicament’s final 3A poll. He has battled injury and some tough losses. He continued to keep his head up and his sights set on the postseason.
“I’ve lost to some kids that I shouldn’t have. At the end of the day, I just know I’m better. I will get them at state.
“I feel like I’ve been peaking these last couple weeks. It’s been getting better.”
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The Trojans advanced six to next week’s week state meet at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. Freshman Hunter Garvin (120), Keaton Speicher (126), eighth-ranked Graham Gambrall at 138, Will Hoeft (182) and 220-pounder Landon Green each won championships.
First-year West head coach Nate Moore wasn’t surprised by the team’s showing.
“They did a real good job,” Moore said. “They were real businesslike and got what they needed to get done. We’ve performed how we performed all year.”
Iowa City Liberty’s Ashton Barker became the school’s first state qualifier and district champion. The sophomore 170-pounder recorded two pins, decking City High’s Joe Ring in 3:02 of the finals.
He has been thinking of this moment since last season ended at a 2A district and throughout the summer on the freestyle circuit. He said it felt good to reap the rewards of hard work.
“It means a lot,” Barker said. “I got bigger over the summer. I started listening to my coaches a lot more, telling me what to do.”
Barker (17-4) took a 4-3 lead with a takedown in the second. He proceeded to put Ring on his back and was determined to end it.
“I just had to get in gear and go for the pin,” Barker said. “I didn’t want to feel the same I did last year at districts. I thought about that a lot. Just worked out of it.”
Clear Creek Amana had three qualifiers in its move to 3A this season. Seventh-ranked Andrew Rohret (41-7) opened with two falls and beat Mount Pleasant’s No. 10 Nathan Wallace in the 145-pound championship.
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