CEDAR RAPIDS — Cedar Rapids Xavier wrestling will host a white-out for its next dual.
The coordinated effort has special meaning that extends beyond the results against Cedar Rapids Washington on Thursday night at Ron Thillen Gymnasium.
According to Cedar Rapids Xavier Coach Ryan Chambers, the event will be an opportunity to bring attention to mental health awareness and honor former Saints wrestler Jeff Vipond, who died in November after a battle with an anxiety disorder.
“We, as coaches, thought about it because we are still struggling with the loss of Jeff,” Chambers said. “We needed to do something special for him to carry on his legacy.”
Vipond wrestled at 106 and 113 for the Saints from 2013-16. He won 120 matches, ranking among Xavier’s all-time wins leaders. He earned third-place district finishes every year as a four-year varsity starter.
Chambers said Vipond devoted time to help underclassmen and the Xavier youth club, which included some current wrestlers. He recalled pictures of X-Men members mobbing Vipond at state tournaments.
“He was pretty special for our program in a lot of different ways,” Chambers said. “He was a great wrestler. More than that, Jeff was a great person to be around and he always gave his time to the younger kids.
“He always gave them time. He always made them feel special.”
White was a regular color worn by Vipond. Chambers remembered one of Vipond’s first competition when he wore white instead of the uniformed navy warm-up tops. After assistant coach Kevin Murray convinced him to put on the proper warmup, Chambers noticed that Vipond kept his white sweatshirt on under the issued team top.
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White shirts and sweatshirts with the message “Forever a Saint” were sold with the proceeds going to a memorial fund that Chambers said will help others who experience mental health issues. Chambers said about $3,500 has already been raised.
“We dedicated our whole season to Jeff,” Chambers said. “To most people, our season doesn’t mean squat because we don’t have a whole lot of wins, but the fact that he is with us every day.
“We want to honor Jeff but the bigger picture is Jeff would want to live life through him and help other people. That’s how Jeff was.”
Brad Smith tops Iowa’s all-time dual wins list
Lisbon Coach Brad Smith moved into a tie for the most dual wins in Iowa coaching history Monday. The top-ranked Lions tallied three wins, improving to 20-1 this season and giving Smith a 645-210 career record. He is tied with former Logan-Magnolia head coach Kent Kersten, who is now retired.
Lisbon hosts East Buchanan and Maquoketa Valley Thursday for a chance to move Smith into sole possession of first place.
Smith’s monumental coaching career includes more traditional state team titles than any other in state history, surpassing legendary coach Bob Siddens in 2018. Smith has led Lisbon to nine, including consecutive titles in 2017 and 2018. He also won three with Iowa City High. He guided the two programs to six state duals championships as well.
Smith tallied 346 dual wins for City High from 1992-2012. Smith totaled 142 wins in his first stint with Lisbon from 1979-91. He has 157 since returning to Lisbon in 2012.
IWCOA girls’ state tournament is this weekend
The second Iowa Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association Girls’ state wrestling tournament will be held at Waverly-Shell Rock High School, beginning Friday and concluding Saturday.
Eighty-seven wrestlers competed in the inaugural event last season and, according to iawrestle.com, 376 participants are registered this year. Iowa has 559 high school girls wrestling in grades nine through 12.
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