IOWA CITY — Western Dubuque has some new faces in its wrestling lineup this season.
OK, that might be an understatement as the Bobcats only returned three starters from last year’s squad that qualified for the state duals tournament for just the third time in school history.
“The philosophy of (Bobcats assistant) coach (Tom) Danner is next man in,” Western Dubuque Coach Paul Cleary said. “We train hard and try to breed a family and team atmosphere. We’re fortunate to have these great numbers. It’s a benefit for so many people.”
A new cast of characters but a similar result. In a rematch of last year’s regional dual final, Western Dubuque notched another victory over Iowa City High, winning the final three bouts for a 45-28 Mississippi Valley Conference Mississippi Division wrestling dual victory Thursday night at City High.
The Bobcats (1-1, 1-1 MVC) held a two point lead with three matches left. Evan Surface scored a takedown in sudden victory at 160 pounds. Carter Kluesner (170) and second-ranked 182-pounder Jake Hosch capped the dual with consecutive pins.
“Looking on paper, I knew it was going to be a good match,” Cleary said. “It was just like last year. Those guys came to wrestle. They had some good guys. We had some good guys. It was good.”
Western Dubuque built a 24-3 lead through five matches, receiving falls from Sawyer Nauman (195), Jagger McCool (106) and Tanner Gaul at 113.
City High (1-1, 1-1 MVC) battled back with five wins in the next six weights, giving up a forfeit at 138. Two-time state medalist Ethan Wood-Finley sparked the stretch with a first-period fall at 120. Garrett Bormann (126) and freshman Ari Collins (132) followed with a pin and major decision, respectively.
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After Reece Caven’s pin at 145, Gable Mitchell produced the most exciting win of the dual. Mitchell scored seven points in the final period, including a reversal and nearfall for a four-point move and a 12-10 decision over Levi Burds.
Western Dubuque has a deep and balanced lineup. The Bobcats have 67 wrestlers on their current roster, needing two busses to make Thursday’s trip. It is a luxury and a challenge just to make the lineup.
“Our wrestle-offs are really intense,” Cleary said. “We’re still working out our lineup. We’re excited about our lineup and the competition we have in our room.”
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