It may seem like the West Delaware wrestling team was all business during the state tournament, but the Hawks found time to have some fun.
Before the state dual tournament, the they ran their regular warm-up run to sophomore Jared Voss singing “Doo Wah Diddy Diddy” by Manfred Mann with the rest of the team chiming in on the repeat lines.
“I found the song watching the movie ‘Stripes,’” said Voss, who wrestled at 160 pounds. “We were just walking up the hall one day, and I (sang) ‘There she was just a-walking down the street singin’ ...’, and then Sam (Lyness) chimed in and sang ‘doo wah diddy diddy dum diddy do.’ It just became a thing we did every day after we lifted.”
At a pep rally held after the Hawks returned with titles in the dual and traditional tournaments, head coach Jeff Voss told the crowd the wrestlers received some “interesting looks” from other teams during the state dual warm-ups.
“All of the sudden (the team) started jogging and singing their song,” Jeff Voss said. “It was funny because we heard some of the other teams say ‘we need to do something like that.’”
After the fun was over, the Hawks went to work and plowed their way through the state dual tournament quarterfinal and semifinal rounds, putting up a 58-20 win over Sergeant Bluff-Luton and a 51-28 victory over Crestwood. In the championship match, the team won 10 out of 14 matches, sealing a 45-12 win over No. 2 ranked Solon and becoming Class 2A State Dual Tournament champions.
Fifth-ranked senior Ryan Phillips ended the dual with a 4-3 decision over sixth-ranked Zeb Gnida.
“I don’t look at rankings, but I knew I’d have a tough match,” Phillips said. “Going into the dual I was prepared to battle if it came down to me, but my teammates had it taken care of way before then. It felt great to end the dual season in a gritty match like that one.”
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The rest of the weekend, the team’s eight state qualifiers wrestled their way through the traditional tournament. Seven out of the eight wrestlers placed — 132-pounder Ryan Phillips (fourth), 138-pounder Jadyn Peyton (fourth), 145-pounder Cael Meyer (eighth), 152-pounder Mitchel Mangold (fifth), 170-pounder Wyatt Voelker (fourth), 182-pounder Jack Neuhaus (eighth) and 285-pounder Carson Petlon (fifth).
Their performance throughout the week locked up the Class 2A State championship Saturday morning before the final session — the first time a team had won without a qualifier placing in the top three.
“Going into (the tournament), we thought we had a really good dual-meet team, and I thought we would go down there and win (the dual tournament),” Jeff Voss said at the return pep rally.
“The traditional tournament, I wasn’t really sure of.”
But, after the first round, West Delaware was in the lead, and then at the end of the second round, West Delaware still was in the lead, and all of the sudden Friday night’s over, and “we’re like ‘we’re still in the lead.’ By the end of Saturday, we had scored enough points, and nobody could catch us.”
On top of taking home two state titles, the coaching staff also earned the Class 2A Coach of the Year award. The last time Coach Jeff Voss received this award was in 2013 when West Delaware won the tournament’s traditional title.
At the pep rally, assistant coach Mitch Peyton noted the example Coach Voss sets.
“Coach Voss is one of the fiercest competitors you’re ever gonna be around,” Peyton said. “And to be as fierce of a competitor and still be humble as he is a great trait for these guys to have an example of (as they) move forward.”
This honor is awarded to the head coach as well as the assistant coaches. Coach Voss praised the assistant coaches during the pep rally.
“The biggest asset that all these (coaches) have is that they care about these kids like they’re their own,” Jeff Voss said. “These (coaches) work their tails off. (They) are working all day and put a workout in (after work). They’ll come in in the morning and work some guys out, and they’ll also do it after practice.”
Overall, the coaching staff and the team are proud of the season and are optimistic for the future.
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“We went down (to the state tournament) to have some fun, but we didn’t realize we were building memories,” said assistant coach Kris Lenz. “Let’s do it again next year.”