Prep Wrestling

Iowa state wrestling notes: Cedar Rapids Prairie duo close with finals appearance

Hawks with 2 finalists for first time since 2014; Smith coaches fifth four-timer; No team sweeps

DES MOINES — Cedar Rapids Prairie boasted two state wrestling finalists for the first time in six seasons.

Seniors Austin Kegley and Ashton Stoner-DeGroot capped their strong prep careers with an appearance in championship matches.

The second-ranked duo each earned runner-up finishes at the Class 3A state wrestling tournament Saturday night at Wells Fargo Arena. It was the first time Prairie had multiple finalists Trey Blaha and Skyler St. John were second in 2014.

The duo pinned their way through the first three rounds and earned runner-up finishes to defending state champions Saturday night.

Kegley (36-5) notched two first-period pins and one in the second to face Fort Dodge’s top-ranked Drake Ayala in the 120-pound final. Ayala led 6-2 before a fall in 45 seconds.

Kegley finished as a three-time medalist, going 107-24 during that stretch. He was third and eighth the previous years.

“Austin Kegley has set a new standard for the program with the amount of time he puts into the sport,” Prairie Coach Kane Thompson said. “Folkstyle, freestyle and Greco, he does it all and does it with the purpose of just getting better all year long.”

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Stoner-DeGroot placed third and sixth the last two years, posting a career record of 131-36, with just four losses the last two seasons.

The Hawks’ 195-pounder recorded the fastest pin of the first round in 3A and then had an overtime fall to cap the come-from-behind semifinal victory.

Stoner-DeGroot (35-3) lost to Southeast Polk’s No. 1 Gabe Christenson, 12-7, in the final. He battled the University of Iowa recruit. He turned a 4-3 deficit at the end of the first into a 6-4 lead midway through the second. Christenson pulled away with eighth straight points late in the second and early in the third.

“Ashton is one of the fiercest competitors I have coached,” Thompson said. “He loves competition where the tougher the opponent the better.

“Both athletes have left a great legacy with the Prairie wrestling program.”

Brad Smith coaches fifth to No. 4

Lisbon’s Hall of Fame Coach Brad Smith has coached five of Iowa’s 28 four-time state champions.

In addition to Cael Happel, Smith coached Carter Happel from 2013-16 and Shane Light from 1987-90 at Lisbon. He also coached Lisbon’s Scott Morningstar for the final two of his from 1977-80 and the last of Iowa City High’s Jeff McGinness four crowns from 1990-93.

 

If the longtime coach remains long enough, that number could grow. Lisbon sophomore Robert Avila Jr. (132) won his second straight championship, while freshman Brandon Paez won the 120-pound title.

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“I’ve never felt like this before,” Paez said. “I’ve never worked for something so hard and actually achieved, but this isn’t the end. It’s just my freshman year.”

No need for brooms

None of the team champions swept state duals and traditional state team titles for the first time since the Iowa High School Athletic Association moved the dual competition to Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines in 2012.

Southeast Polk (3A), West Delaware (2A) and Lisbon (1A) won duals championships, but Waverly-Shell Rock (3A), Osage (2A) and Don Bosco (1A) won the traditional tournament. The Go-Hawks and Dons were second at the duals, while Southeast Polk and Lisbon finished runner-up in the individual tournament.

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

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