Prep Wrestling

State wrestling notes: Independence assumes underdog role again at state duals

Mustangs upset third-ranked foe to qualify; Teams beat weather; 3 make state duals debut

Independence celebrates after its regional dual victory over third-ranked New Hampton/Turkey Valley on Feb. 6, 2019. (photo Matt Shannon/Independence)
Independence celebrates after its regional dual victory over third-ranked New Hampton/Turkey Valley on Feb. 6, 2019. (photo Matt Shannon/Independence)
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DES MOINES — Independence finds itself in a familiar role.

For the second straight week, the Mustangs are cast as the underdog. The first time turned out fine for them.

Independence toppled third-ranked New Hampton/Turkey Valley to reach the Class 2A state duals tournament Wednesday at Wells Fargo Arena. The seventh-seeded Mustangs (18-11) face Wamac Conference foe and No. 2 Solon (26-1) in the quarterfinals, beginning at 9 a.m.

State duals preview

A closer look at the Gazette area teams competing in Wednesday's Iowa high school wrestling state duals tournament, plus predictions for all three classes.

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“Our kids know what they are in store for,” Independence Coach Michael Doyle said. “I think our fans and community know what the expectation is but we’re not going to bow down to them. We are going to fight them and see what happens.”

The Mustangs garnered some deserved attention when they avenged an earlier loss to NH/TV with a 36-34 victory in the regional dual final.

The weights were split, but Independence recorded five pins, receiving a fall from 220-pounder Christian Kremer in the final bout. They knew they had a chance after a close loss to the same team in December.

“In the first dual, we lost two matches by a point (including 220),” said Doyle. “We basically had to reverse that stuff and it came down to getting our kids to wrestle as hard as they possibly can. When they do that, we feel like good things will happen and we have a chance against anybody.”

Solon handled Independence 45-24 earlier this season at the South Tama Duals. The Spartans won nine matches with six bonus-point wins. Independence has seen progress throughout the season. The focus has been on wrestling their best and learning to improve.

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“I do think our team has improved,” Doyle said. “I’m not saying their team hasn’t. I think (Solon Coach) Blake (Williams) is a good coach and Solon is a good program.”

Independence has four ranked wrestlers in 113-pounder Isaiah Weber, Matthew Doyle at 152, Cole Davis (160) and heavyweight Drew Evans. They lead the way as teammates follow their gritty and tough example to be successful at the varsity level.

“I think it was good to wrestle and beat a team like New Hampton, because that gives us a little bit of confidence,” Doyle said. “We’re going against a team that on paper is better than we are but we’re still going to go out and battle them and see where we’re at.”

Beating the weather

Some teams elected to leave for Des Moines early in an attempt to beat weather that dumped snow across Eastern Iowa. Independence, Solon and West Delaware all left Monday ahead of the storm.

Solon reached Des Moines Monday, working out at Grand View University on Monday night and Tuesday at Norwalk.

“Monday morning was crazy getting everything planned but I think we made the right call by getting up here when we did,” said Williams, who was teammates with Grand View Coach Nick Mitchell at Wartburg. “We still got two good practices.”

Lisbon and Western Dubuque traveled on Tuesday.

State duals first-timers

Ankeny Centennial, Crestwood and Monroe PCM will make their debuts at the state duals tournament.

Centennial is the highest seed of the newbies, receiving the No. 3 seed in Class 3A. The Jaguars wrestle No. 6 Bettendorf in the quarterfinals.

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Crestwood is seeded fifth in 2A. The Cadets face No. 4 Davenport Assumption, which is making a state record 12th straight appearance. The Knights’ 20 state duals trips is second only to Don Bosco’s 24.

PCM earned the No. 6 seed in 2A, opening against No. 3 Osage.

l Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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