Lisbon claimed the Class 1A state duals title and was second in the traditional tournament. West Delaware captured the 2A state duals title. Both programs have shots at trophies again. Iowa City West and Linn-Mar are poised to crack 3A’s top five again. Here are some wrestling teams to watch this season.
Cedar Rapids Kennedy: The Cougars were decimated by injury last season, but still reached the regional dual finals. First-year head coach Nick LeClere has seven returning state qualifiers from last season, including eighth-place finisher and Mississippi Valley Conference champion Gavin Bascom. Ashtin Falck, Cael Knox, Ty Pfiffner, Divion Ocheltree, Alex Koch and Jonah Hallam can provide balance for Kennedy, which has won two straight MVC division dual titles and 14 straight conference duals.
Iowa City West: Last season, the Trojans claimed their first MVC Super Meet title since 2012. They carried that impressive performance into the postseason, placing fourth at the Class 3A state tournament. West returns four state medalists from a year ago, including state champions Hunter Garvin and Graham Gambrall, who has committed to Oregon State. Two-time medalist Ashton Barker, an Iowa State commit, and Grant O’Dell lead the way to a potent lineup that should as strong this year.
Linn-Mar: The Lions placed fifth at the 3A state meet last season and bring back state placewinners. They have elite talent that starts with state finalist Tate Naaktgeboren and senior Bryce Parke, who placed fifth a year ago. Abass Kemokai, a two-time qualifier, and Luke Gaffney reached the state podium. Doug Streicher is one of the top and longest-tenured head coaches in the area as well. If Linn-Mar can spread out its best wrestlers across 14 weight classes, another top-five run is possible.
Independence: The Mustangs return nine starters that competed in last season’s Wamac tournament, including two-time state finalist Isaiah Weber and state qualifier Carter Straw. They finished fourth at the state duals tournament, reaching the state semifinals. With the addition of former Linn-Mar state finalist Brandon O’Brien, the Mustangs should have a strong dual team with a couple top point scorers to lead the way in tournament competition.
Union Community: The Knights were runners-up at the 2A traditional state tournament last season. Union boasts three state medalists, including state champion Adam Ahrendsen. Kolten Crawford is looking to become a four-time placewinner, while Lincoln Mehlert eyes a return to the state podium after a year hiatus. Throw in state qualifier Stone Schmitz and the Knights are a salty tournament team. They will have enough balance to be solid in duals as well.
West Delaware: The Hawks have one of the most complete lineups regardless of class. They dominated their way to a second straight 2A state duals title last year. West Delaware was expected to earn another state title sweep, but settled for fifth. The Hawks return a lot of talent and experience, including two-time state medalist Wyatt Voelker and state placewinners Cael Meyer, Jared Voss, Christian Nunley, Carson Petlon and Jadyn Peyton. Four more have state experience and 10 return with at least 25 victories. West Delaware will contend for another sweep.
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Lisbon: The Lions tradition continues to power on with Hall of Fame head coach Brad Smith at the helm. Lisbon captured its fifth state duals crown last season. The Lions were runners-up to Don Bosco in the traditional tournament. They have a wealth of talent back, including two-time state champion Robert Avila Jr., defending titlist Brandon Paez and state finalist Cole Clark. Two-time qualifier Quincy Happel, Cade Siebrecht, Brant Baltes, Max Kohl and Lincoln Holub all have state experience. They are 37th in trackwrestling.com’s Fab 50 national rankings and will battle Don Bosco again for 1A supremacy.
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