Prep Wrestling

No. 8 Cedar Rapids Kennedy crowns six champions at 3A district wrestling tournament

Cougars will send 7 to state meet, also claim team title over host Western Dubuque, Linn-Mar

EPWORTH — A special season for the Cedar Rapids Kennedy wrestling team just continues to impress.

The Class 3A eighth-ranked Cougars had six wrestlers reach the finals of a district tournament on Saturday at Western Dubuque High School.

All six were crowned district champion.

“Very proud,” Kennedy Coach Dennis Hynek said. “I mean, you want to talk about being able to take a breath of relief afterwards because you’re done. The kids went at it. … It’s been a fun day.”

The top-two finishers at each weight qualified for the state tournament, which begins on Thursday at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.

Kennedy easily won the district team title with 247 points, which comes during a season in which the Cougars won the Mississippi Valley Conference tournament for the first time and won their first MVC duals title since 1986 with an unbeaten conference mark.

“It’s been a continuation of a season that has been pretty special so far,” Hynek said. “Half the team qualified for state, which is very, very pleasing. Even the guys that didn’t, they knew we were going for a district title and they went at it.”

Sophomore Ty Pfiffner got the wins started for Kennedy at 126 pounds with a 90-second pin of Cedar Rapids Jefferson senior Colton Woods. Ninth-ranked junior Dylan Falck needed just 55 seconds to subdue Marion senior Braden Garringer at 138, while sixth-ranked senior Noah Cunningham prevailed at 145 in the first finals match between ranked opponents with a 16-4 major decision over No. 8 Tyler Murphy of Western Dubuque.


“Just not try anything funky,” said Cunningham (15-3), who qualified for state for the second year in a row. “Go with the basics. Take him down, let him get tired.”

Kennedy closed the championship round with three more wins. Fifth-ranked junior Cade Parker pinned Dubuque Hempstead senior Owen Dunne in 37 seconds, top-ranked heavyweight Josh Vis scored a 7-2 decision over Dawson Sweet of Cedar Rapids Jefferson and third-ranked senior Cam Jones pinned fourth-ranked Tanner Schultz of Linn-Mar in 41 seconds at 220.

“I knew what I needed to do to come out on top,” said Jones (28-4), another two-time state qualifier. “I knew what he liked to do, so kind of stay away from that. He gave me the opportunity to throw him. I took advantage of it.”

Host Western Dubuque placed second with 191 points, highlighted by wins from ninth-ranked senior Dawson Biermann at 113, fifth-ranked junior Jake Hosch at 170 and third-ranked senior Ryker Kurimski at 160, who pinned 10th-ranked Trever Maiers of Dubuque Hempstead in 1:20.

“I wrestle to dominate,” said Kurimski (35-1), who qualified for state for the third time. “Heart, intensity and class. Especially class. Classy on the mat, classy off the mat. Throw some intensity in there, you have heart, you can’t lose.”

Linn-Mar finished third with 188.5 points. No. 6 Brandon O’Brien won by decision at 106, while fellow sophomore Abass Kemokai upset ninth-ranked Elijah Demmer of Western Dubuque with a 3-2 decision at 152. In the most-anticipated matchup of the day, top-ranked Lion senior Jacob Wempen scored 11 first-period points and defeated second-ranked Devin Ludwig of Western Dubuque, 14-4.

“Moving my feet,” said Wempen (33-1), who qualified for state for the second year in a row. “I feel like that was a big emphasis that we have been stressing the past couple of weeks. Moving my feet, don’t give him a chance to score and it worked pretty well today.”

Kennedy added a seventh state qualifier when sophomore Jake McLeod finished second at 120. Linn-Mar, Marion and Western Dubuque each had two wrestlers qualify for state with second-place finishes, while Cedar Rapids Jefferson and Cedar Rapids Washington had one apiece.

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Team scores — 1. Cedar Rapids Kennedy 247, 2. Western Dubuque 191, 3. Linn-Mar 188.5, 4. Dubuque Hempstead 177, 5. Dubuque Senior 110.5, 6. Cedar Rapids Jefferson 91.5, 7. Marion 77, 8. Cedar Rapids Washington 61.

Championship matches

(First and second place both qualify for state, finals loser finished second unless noted)

106 — No. 6 Brandon O’Brien (LM) dec. Niyo Gady (Mar), 7-4

113 — No. 9 Dawson Biermann (WD) pinned Adler Kramer (DH), 3:44

120 — Bryce Parke (LM) maj. dec. Isaac Cretsinger (DS), 15-6

Second place: Jake McLeod, Cedar Rapids Kennedy

126 — Ty Pfiffner (CRK) pinned Colton Woods (CRJ), 1:30

Second place: Joe Foreman, Cedar Rapids Washington

132 — No. 4 Joe Pins (DH) pinned Carter Elliott (DS), 3:58

Second place: Samuel Gisaya, Linn-Mar

138 — No. 9 Dylan Falck (CRK) pinned Braden Garringer (Mar), 0:55


145 — No. 6 Noah Cunningham (CRK) maj. dec. No. 8 Tyler Murphy (DH), 16-4

152 — Abass Kemokai (LM) dec. No. 9 Elijah Demmer (WD), 3-2

160 — No. 3 Ryker Kurimski (WD) pinned No. 10 Trever Maiers (DH), 1:20

170 — No. 5 Jake Hosch (WD) dec. No. 9 Kent Kragenbrink (DH), 9-7

182 — No. 1 Jacob Wempen (LM) maj. dec. No. 2 Devin Ludwig (WD), 14-4

195 — No. 5 Cade Parker (CRK) pinned Owen Dunne (DH), 0:37

220 — No. 3 Cam Jones (CRK) pinned No. 4 Tanner Schultz (LM), 0:41

285 — No. 1 Josh Vis (CRK) dec. Dawson Sweet (CRJ), 7-2.

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