CEDAR RAPIDS — Participation numbers have improved and so has the athlete retention.
Cedar Rapids Washington has seen more bodies in its wrestling room and the good news is they are sticking with it.
“We haven’t lost anybody,” said Warriors Coach J.P. Graham, noting 18 and 15 wrestlers finished the last two seasons. “We have about 32 to 33. Everybody who started has stayed out.”
The Warriors showed progress in their last competition before the holiday break. Washington posted its best performance of the season, crowning two champions out of three finalists and finishing with nine medalists at the North Linn Lynx Invitational.
The Warriors actually flirted with the top four of the team race before getting seventh with 111 1/2 points. Aden Abram (126) and heavyweight Tate Sykora-Matthess won titles. Joe Foreman, who is ranked eighth in Class 3A at 138 by The Predicament, placed second at 132.
“It does make you feel like you’re on the tract,” said Graham, who is in his second year as head coach after serving as a longtime assistant. “That kind of got them excited.
“To see guys in the finals, our guys loved that. They eat it up because they believe we’re doing the right thing. They see that.”
The team’s genuine excitement for one another was on display at North Linn. Many of the team were huddled together in the stands or behind the coach’s corner during the finals, cheering on their teammates. Graham said it has been cool to see the team stick together.
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“We don’t have a crowd, yet,” Graham said with a laugh. “We have about 10 parents. That is the next progression, getting more fans in the stands. Once the product is better it will be easier, too.”
Washington is 0-4 in duals, but has fielded a full lineup twice with just three total forfeits. Some years the Warriors gave up more than that in a single meet. Some of the wrestlers are still looking for their first varsity win, but haven’t been discouraged.
“They are still going out and competing,” Graham said. “It makes the duals a lot more fun.”
Programs with more tradition and more experienced wrestlers can drive wrestlers from the start. Graham said the coaches have had to learn how hard and when to push their wrestlers. More advanced wrestlers work at an accelerated pace, but coaches have taken their time to develop others, including junior varsity. The goal is to keep them in the program for two, three and four seasons.
“The attitude in the room is everybody is giving their best effort,” Graham said. “A lot of the kids have a good idea that some of them are behind in experience and some are behind in the physical part of the sport, but they’re trying hard every day and doing their best.”
IWCOA dual rankings
The Iowa Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association released its first edition of dual rankings Dec. 27. Lisbon was ranked No. 1 in Class 1A, coming off a title at the Battle of Waterloo before the holiday break. Defending state champion West Delaware earned the top spot in 2A. Southeast Polk and Waverly-Shell Rock shared first place in 3A.
Linn-Mar leads area teams in Class 3A, coming in ninth. Cedar Rapids Prairie and Cedar Rapids Kennedy are 13th and 14th, respectively. Western Dubuque is 17th and Iowa City West is 19th.
The Wamac was well-represented in 2A. In addition to West Delaware, Independence and Williamsburg tied for second, Union Community was sixth. West Liberty was 14th.
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Xavier opens 2020 with dual win
The first Metro dual victory of the year and decade belongs to Cedar Rapids Xavier. The Saints topped host Waterloo East 47-25 in a Mississippi Valley Conference dual Thursday night.
Christian Stanek opened with a technical fall at 138 pounds. Ryan Volk (195) and Ryan Cook (220) added pins for Xavier.
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