Prep Wrestling

Conference wrestling breakdown: What to watch for in MVC, Wamac and more

5 teams appear to be in the running for MVC title

Iowa City West's Hunter Garvin (right) wrestles Linn-Mar's Brayden Parke during the 132 lbs. match of their dual wrestli
Iowa City West's Hunter Garvin (right) wrestles Linn-Mar's Brayden Parke during the 132 lbs. match of their dual wrestling meet at Iowa City West High School in Iowa City, Iowa, on Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019. Garvin won by technical fall. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Most high school wrestling programs across Iowa will compete in conference championships this weekend.

Some of the team races are uncertain and could lead to exciting or surprising finishes. Others are more of a question of by how much than which team will win. Here is a conference breakdown for most of the Gazette area.

Mississippi Valley Conference: Wide open

When, where: 10 a.m. at Dubuque Hempstead

The Mississippi Valley Conference Super Meet has the potential for another wide-open team race with about five teams with a chance for the team title.

Class 3A fifth-ranked Iowa City West and No. 9 Linn-Mar are among the contenders. Cedar Rapids Prairie, which tied Linn-Mar at Clinton’s Bob Lueders Invitational last weekend, deserves consideration. Dubuque Hempstead, a runner-up at Cedar Rapids Jefferson’s J-Hawk Invitational and dual champs over Iowa City High at the Clyde Bean Duals, has as much balance as any team. The 2018 MVC champion Little Hawks and defending champion Cedar Rapids Kennedy round out the top group.

“It’s one of those deals where no team is the outright favorite,” Kennedy coach Dennis Hynek said. “It’s going to be a combination of whoever has a full lineup, healthy and wrestles well will come out on top. Just don’t know who that is, which makes it fun.”

Twenty-eight ranked wrestlers reside in the MVC. Iowa City West and Linn-Mar each boast five ranked competitors.

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The Trojans are led by top-ranked Hunter Garvin at 132, second-ranked Will Hoeft (182) and No. 4 145-pounder Graham Gambrall, who is attempting to win his third conference crown.

West’s Ashton Barker is among four ranked wrestlers at 170. He is ranked fifth, one spot behind Linn-Mar’s Ryan Plummer. Dubuque Wahlert’s Connor Dehn is ninth and Western Dubuque’s Carter Kluesner is 10th.

Brackets at 138, 145 and 182 have three ranked wrestlers each, including Cedar Rapids Xavier’s No. 5 Christian Stanek and Western Dubuque’s fourth-ranked 182-pounder Jake Hosch.

“It is going to be a little preview of state,” Hynek said. “We’ve had several years weights have been loaded.

Many weight classes are going to be a mini-state tournament. It’s going to be exciting to watch for sure.”

Wamac Conference: West Delaware tries to defend title

When, where: 10 a.m. at West Delaware

Class 2A top-ranked West Delaware is a strong favorite to win a second straight state Wamac Conference team title. The defending state champion Hawks have handled conference foes in dual competition and have eight ranked wrestlers.

Top-ranked Wyatt Voelker (195), No. 2 heavyweight Carson Petlon and third-ranked Jack Neuhaus provide potential for a lot of points .

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“We haven’t had an individual tournament in over a month,” West Delaware Coach Jeff Voss said. “We’re looking at it from an individual basis, getting to compete against some of the best guys in 2A.

“In a lot of cases, each weight will have two or three really good guys. We want to concentrate on how we do against some of the best guys in the state.”

Fifth-ranked Independence and No. 6 Solon are also title contenders. Williamsburg has balance and is led by top-ranked 138-pounder Jalen Schropp.

Third-ranked Isaiah Weber (126), top-ranked 170-pounder Cole Davis, No. 5 Christian Kremer (195) and No. 7 Matthew Doyle at 160 power the Mustangs.

Solon will depend on top-ranked Hayden Taylor (145), No. 3 Zeb Gnida (152) and third-ranked Jax Flynn at 170.

Flynn and Davis are part of a bracket with four wrestlers ranked in the top five of 2A. They are joined by Maquoketa’s No. 2 Abe Michel and the Hawks’ fifth-ranked Jared Voss.

Three ranked wrestlers are in the field at 126, 182 and heavyweight.

“This year, you have some of the best teams in Class 2A,” Jeff Voss said. “Top to bottom, it’s going to be one of the toughest Wamac tournaments we’ve seen in a while.

“Every weight has got three or four quality individuals. By the time you get to the quarterfinals and semifinals, you’re going to have some great matches.”

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Tri-Rivers Conference: Lisbon owns the league

When, where: Noon at Starmont

The point margin will be whatever Lisbon wants it to be.

The top-ranked Lions have won the last three Tri-Rivers Conference tournament titles and won’t be challenged for a fourth.

Lisbon has too much firepower for the rest of the conference, including three-time state champion and top-ranked Cael Happel at 138. Robert Avila Jr., Marshall Hauck (152) and 195-pounder Cole Clark are all ranked first in 1A.

River Valley Conference: West Liberty goes for fifth straight

When, where: 10 a.m. at Tipton

West Liberty will attempt to win its fifth straight River Valley Conference tournament title.

The Comets could be challenged by Camanche and Monticello. Wilton is the last team to win the team title other than West Liberty.

The Comets’ Will Esmoil, ranked first at 152 in 2A, is seeking his fourth conference crown.

Northeast Iowa Conference: Waverly-Shell Rock continues dominance

When, where: 10 a.m. at Crestwood

Waverly-Shell Rock has dominated the Northeast Iowa Conference and should win its third straight team title.

If the Go-Hawks do win, it would be their 15th in the last 16 years.

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Upper Iowa Conference: MFL MarMac attempts repeat

When, where: 10 a.m. at North Fayette Valley

MFL MarMac will attempt to win its second straight Upper Iowa conference team title and third in four seasons.

The Bulldogs are led by fourth-ranked 145-pounder Gabe McGeough and eighth-ranked duo Karter Decker and Zach Howe at 126 and 195, respectively.

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

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