Prep Wrestling

Wrestling notes: Western Dubuque aims for strong opening statement in MVC Super Meet debut

Bobcats could become first team to win Wamac and MVC tournament titles

Western Dubuque's Jason Simon-Ressler (top) wrestles Iowa City High's Jason Lemus in a regional final dual at Iowa City High on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Western Dubuque's Jason Simon-Ressler (top) wrestles Iowa City High's Jason Lemus in a regional final dual at Iowa City High on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

Western Dubuque Coach Paul Cleary has discussed the importance of this weekend with his wrestlers.

The Bobcats have a chance to achieve a team first, joining Iowa City Liberty as newcomers to the Mississippi Valley Conference.

Western Dubuque and Liberty increase the MVC Super Meet field to 16 teams for the first time since its inception in 1993. The seventh-ranked Bobcats are among a handful of teams with a reasonable shot at a conference team title Saturday at Iowa City West.

“We’re competitors,” Western Dubuque Coach Paul Cleary said. “We want to win just like everybody else. That’s the goal. Our guys want to win and they’ve been training real hard.

“We’ll let it fly and see what happens.”

Western Dubuque can become the first program to win Wamac and MVC conference tournament titles.

“We’ve talked about it,” Cleary said. “The MVC is a prestigious conference in all sports and for wrestling as well.

“Those things don’t just happen. We want to take advantage of it. We have a great senior class and some great underclassmen. Hopefully, we capitalize on the talent we have.”

The Bobcats are the only conference team in the state tournament rankings. Defending champion Iowa City High, Cedar Rapids Kennedy and Linn-Mar have made appearances in the Class 3A top-10 poll this season.

Cedar Rapids Prairie and Dubuque Hempstead are also among contenders.

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“I think there are about five teams all in the same boat,” Cleary said. “We all have a bunch of firepower. It’s going to be who has a great day and who is going to knock off other teams.”

Western Dubuque and Liberty add as much quality as they do quantity to the league.

“It makes it better,” Prairie Coach Kane Thompson said. “I think it will be more exciting. They are adding some depth to it, for sure.”

Western Dubuque boasts six of the MVC’s 33 ranked wrestlers, including third-ranked Devin Ludwig (182), No. 5 Jake Hosch at 170 and Ryker Kurimski and Jason Simon-Ressler, who are fourth at 160 and 220, respectively. Dawson Bierman (113) and Elijah Demmer (152) are also ranked and part of a tight-knit group that stays for extra work after practice.

“They feed off each other’s intensity,” Cleary said. “They love to punish and push each other. It makes it a brotherhood that lasts a lifetime, too.

“Honestly, it’s a really big part of coaching that I enjoy, seeing them work really hard because that bond will last forever and is really special.”

Four ranked wrestlers are in the 220 bracket, including Linn-Mar’s third-ranked Tanner Schultz, Kennedy’s No. 7 Cam Jones and West’s No. 9 Landon Green. Three ranked wrestlers are listed at 120, 160, 170, 182, 195 and heavyweight.

“There are some great wrestlers at those weights,” Cleary said.

Prairie had won five straight MVC Super Meet titles until the Little Hawks snapped the streak. The Hawks have four ranked wrestlers, including third-ranked 132-pounder Conrad Braswell, who is attempting to become the 10th four-time conference champion.

Thompson said multiple teams have a chance to walk away with a 20- or 30-point victory.

“I think it’s going to be pretty tight and the way the brackets shake out might have something to do with that,” Thompson said. “The way you’re wrestling that day is going to have a say as to who wins the team title.”

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Bonus points and consolation wins could make the difference in what is expected to be a very tight team race. Placing as many wrestlers in the top half of the bracket might elevate a team to the top.

“We feel we have an opportunity like a bunch of other teams,” Kennedy Coach Dennis Hynek said. “This year is wide open. It’s going to come down to every place value and bonus points are going to be huge. If we can get pins, it’ll be a big deal.”

Repeat favorites

Lisbon and West Delaware are heavy favorites to repeat as conference champions. Class 1A third-ranked Lisbon could win its third straight Tri-Rivers Conference tournament team title Saturday at Winthrop.

West Delaware, ranked second in 2A, will try to win a second consecutive Wamac tournament title. The Hawks are attempting their first repeat since winning in 2013 and sharing the title with Independence in 2014. 2017 champion Solon is ranked sixth.

Regional duals

The Iowa High School Athletic Association released regional dual pairings Tuesday for Class 3A and site hosts for 1A and 2A. The two smaller classes will wrestle on Tuesday, Feb. 5 and 3A will be the following day.

Western Dubuque stays at home and received a bye, facing the semifinal winner between Prairie and City High for a state duals berth.

Kennedy and Iowa City West will compete in a semifinal dual with the winner wrestling host Waukee in the final.

Linn-Mar takes on Dubuque Hempstead in the semifinal at Waverly-Shell Rock. The Go-Hawks await the semifinal winner.

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In 2A, Solon, Union Community, West Delaware and Williamsburg host regional dual sites. In 1A, Lisbon is the lone Gazette-area host. Pairings for 1A and 2A will not be determined until after sectional competition on Saturday, Feb. 2.

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

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