CEDAR RAPIDS — Kyle Hefley and Brandon Lalla have to be separated during practice.
Sometimes it is as simple as Iowa City High Coach Cory Connell wanting them to be paired with a different teammate. Then there are days the workout partners get a little too heated when one gets the better of the other.
The Little Hawk senior duo has pushed each other and made each other better since they began wrestling together in kindergarten.
“We understand this is making us better,” Hefley said. “If we go all out in practice, we can be ready for anything thrown at us out there (competition).”
Hefley and Lalla captured titles and helped City High to a runner-up team finish at the J-Hawk Invitational on Saturday at Cedar Rapids Jefferson. The Little Hawks crowned a tournament-best four champions, finishing behind Class 1A fourth-ranked Underwood, 223-208.
The pair might be best friends off the mat, but they are business associates on it. Everything is earned.
“Every day we roll around to try and make each other better,” Lalla said. “If it wasn’t for Kyle, I don’t think I would be where I am. I don’t think he’d be where he is without me. We’ve been wrestling together for so many years.”
Hefley (25-5) stepped down from atop the podium during the 152-pound awards presentation only for Lalla to climb to that same spot.
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“It is very rewarding,” Hefley said. “You feel like you won, but you won more because your partner won, too.”
Each got to the top in different fashion. Hefley, ranked seventh in 3A, pinned his way through the bracket. He needed just 59 seconds to deck Underwood’s Tanner Ownes in the final. He won the tournament award for the most falls in the least time, recording 3 falls in 3:45.
“Hefley is on fire right now,” Connell said. “This last week we’ve been working on some small things.
“He just needs to pick up some of those small things (and) there is nobody he can’t beat.”
Lalla, who isn’t currently ranked and down to 160, beat two ranked wrestlers consecutively. He tallied four takedowns to beat Dubuque Hempstead’s No. 10 Trever Maiers, 10-5, for the title. He had a 3-2 semifinal victory in tiebreaker-1 over Underwood’s No. 5 Michael Baker.
“I think today was awesome,” said Lalla, who improved to 24-6 and beat a ranked opponent last weekend. “I’m here to make a statement at 160. I think I’m doing just that.”
City High’s Jacob Murry and Garrett Bormann also won titles. Murry (19-3) dropped Jefferson’s lone finalist, Dawson Sweet, 6-3, in the heavyweight final. Bormann (26-2) beat Fort Madison’s Dayne Cordray, 4-2, in sudden victory for gold at 120.
“He’s been getting better and better,” Connell said of Bormann. “He should have a lot of confidence. He’s wrestling his best at the best time of year.”
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Underwood crowned three champions, including 106-pound freshman Stevie Barnes. The 1A second-ranked freshman earned Outstanding Wrestler honors by beating two top-ranked opponents.
Barnes scored an escape and takedown in the second period for a 3-0 victory over Alburnett’s 1A No. 1 Jaymus Wilson in the final. He also beat Iowa City High’s 3A No. 1 Ethan Wood-Finley, 6-5, in the semifinal.
Wilson was one of three Alburnett finalists. The Pirates' Mason Wickman (170) and Kanan Morris at 195 also finished second. Morris reached the final with an 8-5 decision over Muscatine’s ninth-ranked Dalton Sell.
“Jaymus wrestled a really tough opponent,” Alburnett Coach Clayton Rush said. “It lets you know what you need to work on. Morris had an awesome day. He had a great win to boost his confidence.
“All three have more to give. They will look to keep getting better.”
At C.R. Jefferson
Teams – 1. Underwood 223, 2. Iowa City High 208, 3. Dubuque Hempstead 185.5, 4. Indianola 159, 5. Muscatine 152, 6. Fort Madison 115, 7. Alburnett 111, 8. Clinton 99, 9. C.R. Jefferson 89.5, 10. Waterloo East 75.5.
106 pounds – Stevie Barnes (Und) dec. Jaymus Wilson (Alb), 3-0; 113 (round robin) – 1. Adler Kramer (DH), 2. Elton Kruse (FM); 120 – Garrett Bormann (ICH) dec. Dayne Cordray (FM), 5-2 SV1; 126 (round robin) – 1. Chryshaun Taylor (WE), 2. Zane Ziegler (Und); 132 – Joe Pins (DH) dec. Logan James (Und), 6-0; 138 – Nick Hamilton (Und) pinned Aidan Ernst (WE), 3:31; 145 – Blake Thomsen (Und) dec. Tyler Murphy (DH), 13-7; 152 – Kyle Hefley (ICH) pinned Tanner Ownes (Und), :59; 160 – Brandon Lalla (ICH) dec. Trever Maiers (DH), 10-5; 170 – Kent Kragenbrink (DH) pinned Mason Wickman (Alb), 1:22; 182 – Miles Berg (Ind) pinned Diego Lozano (FM), 2:35; 195 – Ethan Barry (Clin) pinned Kanan Morris (Alb), 2:59; 220 – Shane Mathias (Mus) pinned Hunter Randall (Clin), 5:57; Hwt. – Jacob Murry (ICH) dec. Dawson Sweet (CRJ), 6-3.
Outstanding wrestler (Voted on by the coaches) – Barnes (Underwood).
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