Small College Sports

Iowa Wrestling Weekend That Was: Solid showing shows Coe's promise

Kohawks challenges No. 2 Wartburg; UIU beats ranked foe; Decorah's Jackson Rolfs wins fourth NEIC title

Coe head coach John Oostendorp yells to Coe's Josh Edel during the 184-weight bout of their dual at Cornell College in M
Coe head coach John Oostendorp yells to Coe’s Josh Edel during the 184-weight bout of their dual at Cornell College in Mount Vernon on Friday, Feb. 7, 2020. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

It was a busy weekend for area small colleges. High school conferences adjusted to a winter storm. Decorah’s Jackson Rolfs joined an elite group. This is the Wrestling Weekend That Was.

Coe splits opening weekend

Coe Coach John Oostendorp isn’t one for moral victories, but even he was encouraged by a close season-opening loss. The Kohawks split 10 matches with second-ranked Wartburg, coming up just short in a 23-21 American Rivers Conference dual Saturday at Simpson.

Coe followed with a decisive 48-6 win over Simpson in its first weekend of competition. Both Simpson and Wartburg had wrestled two previous duals.

“I think it shows where I think this team can be at,” Oostendorp said. “That’s the No. 1-ranked team by some publications and I felt we were right there with them.

“I feel like coming in we could have a good team and it was good to see us on our first weigh-in (and) competition come out and compete the way we did.”

Impressively, three Kohawks topped Knights ranked in the top 10 of their respective weights by the National Wrestling Coaches Association. Alex Friddle started the dual with a 9-3 decision over No. 10 Brady Kyner at 125.

“It’s always nice when your 125-pounder goes out and sets the tone for your dual,” Oostendorp said. “Alex did a good job attacking in every position.”

Former Cedar Rapids Xavier prep Josh Gerke (149) and former Sigourney-Keota prep Kaleb Reeves posted pins against ranked foes. Reeves pinned second-ranked Jordan Brandon at heavyweight, while Gerke stuck No. 10 Brady Fritz in 4:49.

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“(Reeves) is starting to do techniques that can win at a high level,” Oostendorp said. “He’s doing a really good job with using some of his physical abilities and skills more effectively.

“Josh is a good athlete. He’s a dangerous wrestler. I wouldn’t say that’s a fluke because he’s done that to a lot of people.”

The Knights (3-1) answered with pins of their own from second-ranked duo Kristian Rumph (141) and former Cedar Rapids Jefferson prep Kyle Briggs (184). Rumph was locked in a close two-point match before getting a fall in the third for three bonus points, which was the difference.

Coe nearly had its first conference dual victory over the Knights. It proved to be a good measuring stick for the Kohawks in this shortened season.

“I like wrestling big, competitive duals,” Oostendorp said. “It was fun.”

Coe hosts Luther and Nebraska Wesleyan on Saturday, beginning at 4 p.m.

Upper Iowa tops another ranked opponent

Upper Iowa moved to 2-2 this season and notched its second victory over a ranked opponent. The 16th-ranked Peacocks won six matches, including the final three, to beat No. 25 Wisconsin-Parkside, 21-12, Thursday at Dorman Gymnasium.

Upper Iowa trailed by two after seven matches. Donny Schmit (133) gave it a lead for good with a decision. Tate Murty (141) and Eric Faught (149) followed with back-to-back majors to cap the dual.

Former Monticello prep Chase Luensman (157) opened the dual with a 5-3 sudden-victory decision over Ben Durocher. Heavyweight Jordan Baumler, a former North Fayette state champion, added a decision.

Cornell back on the mat

Cornell College returned to the mat for the first time in about 10 months with its unofficial start to the wrestling season. The Rams held an intrasquad dual on Friday and Saturday, which marked the first competition since last season’s NCAA Division III Lower Midwest Regional.

The Rams have been hard at work to get to this point.

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“We’re excited to be training and getting into competition mode,” third-year head coach Brent Hamm said in a news release. “I give credit to our student athletes for all they’ve had to overcome over the last 10 months. They’ve stayed disciplined and committed to their goals, which has been a challenge.”

Cornell doesn’t have a returning national qualifier, but three regional placewinners are back. The intrasquad scrimmage also served as the debut for new assistant coach Matt McDonough, who joins the staff after two years with Wisconsin. The Rams host Westminster (Mo.) Saturday at 10 a.m.

4 conference titles for Jackson Rolfs

Decorah’s Jackson Rolfs joined an elite club Saturday. The Vikings senior 145-pounder captured his fourth Northeast Iowa Conference title. A special feat considering the strong conference of programs with wrestling-rich traditions.

Rolfs, ranked fifth in Class 2A, defeated New Hampton/Turkey Valley’s Cade Murray, 9-0, in the final, becoming the 17th wrestler in the NEIC’s 75-year history to achieve four titles. He is just the second Viking to do it, joining his head coach, Lee Fullhart, who did it from 1991-1994.

Rolfs won titles at 132 his first two seasons and 145 last two.

Conference movers and shakers

Saturday was supposed to be conference tournament day. Well, except for the Mississippi Valley Conference, which canceled its tournament weeks ago. The weekend’s winter storm caused conferences fits.

The Tri-Rivers Conference, River Valley Conference and North Iowa Cedar League were casualties. The Northeast Iowa Conference held its tournament on Saturday. Other tournaments were more creative. The South Iowa Cedar League switched hosts from BGM to Colfax-Mingo.

Upper Iowa Conference organizers beat the weather. On Thursday, they moved the tournament up to Friday night. Elkader Central hosted the eight-team meet without issue.

MFL MarMac Coach Chet Bachman was pleased with the event, especially on short notice.

“Everything went very well,” Bachman said. “Elkader did a great job hosting.”

The Wamac Conference at Marion was canceled originally. West Delaware Athletics Director Matt Weis reached out to Wamac Commissioner Bob Murphy and Marion AD Mike Manderscheid, offering to host Monday.

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Ninety-five wrestlers from seven of 13 schools were expected to compete, despite sectional Saturday just five days away.

The effort included “a ton of phone calls and emails” to other schools, workers and West Delaware staff. Weis credited Hawks coaches for helping line things up. Many of the volunteers for the conference junior varsity meet slated for last Monday returned to work.

“It ended up pretty seamless,” Weis said about the organizing the quick makeup date. “I’m just really glad the athletes around the conference are getting a chance to compete.”

MFL MarMac Playing the odds

Speaking of the UIC, MFL MarMac claimed the team title. The Bulldogs scored 234 points, topping runner-up South Winneshiek by 15. This marks MFL MarMac’s fourth conference crown in six seasons.

Interestingly, the most recent have been in odd-numbered years. The Bulldogs won in 2019 and 2017. They were champions in 2016 as well.

MFL MarMac placed half of its lineup in the finals, receiving titles from Holden Mathis (120), Karter Decker (138), 145-pounder Kashton Mathis and Gabe McGeough at 160. Eleven of 14 wrestlers finished third or better with each wrestler placing in the top six.

The Bulldogs are eighth in the final Iowa Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association Class 1A dual rankings.

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

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