Prep Wrestling

West Delaware strives to be its best in repeat state wrestling title quest

Hawks have dominated 2A opponents this season, eye second straight state title sweep

West Delaware gathers with their team trophy at the state wrestling tournament at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines on Sat
West Delaware gathers with their team trophy at the state wrestling tournament at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines on Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

West Delaware has adopted a simple mantra.

The Hawks have approached each dual, every tournament with the expectation that the next performance will be their best.

If “the best is yet to come” proves true, it could mean bad news for the competition.

Top-ranked West Delaware will attempt to win its second straight Class 2A state duals title Wednesday at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.

“We don’t have any expectations to win anything,” West Delaware Coach Jeff Voss said. “It’s just to go out and keep getting better. Hopefully, we make our best better every time we step on the mat.”

The Hawks open with No. 8-seed Humboldt in the quarterfinals, starting at 9 a.m. They are looking for their third state duals crown and first repeat in school history.

“West Delaware has never won it two times in a row,” returning state medalist and sophomore 145-pounder Jadyn Peyton said. “It would be an honor to be the first team to ever do that.”

The Hawks’ regular-season dominance is undeniable. They are 22-2 overall, but 16-0 against 2A opponents. West Delaware has beaten 2A foes by an average of 57.8 points, outscoring the second and third seeds in the field by a total of 109-18.

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West Delaware has won 32 straight duals against 2A opponents, dating back to a 2018 state duals semifinal loss to eventual champion New Hampton/Turkey Valley.

“We know we’re a program that’s a lot bigger than ourselves,” top-ranked 195-pounder Wyatt Voelker said. “We know we have something special. We’re ready to take it one step at a time and make sure we don’t miss anything along the way and have as much fun as we can.”

West Delaware has positioned itself for another possible state team title sweep. The Hawks rolled through the duals field. They added the traditional crown without a top-three finisher, scoring 76 1/2 points and winning by 13.

They have been equally impressive in duals and tournaments, but Voss said it hasn’t been decided which suits his team better. The Hawks have experience, but some will make their first appearance in Des Moines since AAU competition.

“We’re not putting any expectation on the duals or traditional state tournament,” Voss said. “It’s just go out there, wrestle your best and see what happens. Our best just keeps getting better right now.”

West Delaware’s lineup is blessed with 12 state qualifiers and eight ranked wrestlers. The success doesn’t rest solely on talented starters and tremendous balance. They benefit from a competitive practice room that hosts daily scraps tougher than some varsity bouts.

“We’re competing in the room,” Voelker said. “No one wants to give an inch in the room or get taken down. No one wants to give up any points.

“We go out and fight our (butt) off in the room. Once we walk out of the room I think everyone knows we’re brothers and we have each other’s backs.”

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This isn’t just a newly formed unity or one forged with success. This is a bond years in the making and strengthened by a passion for wrestling.

Coaches and supporters recognized the talent in middle school, creating high hopes for this cycle of athletes. It's similar to one that won a traditional state team title in 2013 after a runner-up dual finish.

This group has the potential to be the best ever to come through the program.

“We just kept getting better every time we stepped foot in that room and we brought everybody with us,” Peyton said. “That’s a big key, too. I don’t know how many kids we had in that room for practices on Tuesday and Thursday nights.

“We’ve always had the vision. We knew we were going to be a tough team, but we didn’t know how good we could possibly be. The possibilities are endless with this team now.”

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

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