116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Ella Brown is Cedar Rapids Kennedy’s most experienced wrestler.
She understands the responsibility that comes with that distinction, recruiting classmates to come out before the season, sharing her knowledge with teammates in practice and performing in competition.
Brown embraces that leadership role, wanting to build the best team possible.
“It’s super important to me,” Brown said. “A big thing to us is family. If you don’t feel that family connection and that vibe, it’s not going to work. Many people say wrestling is an individual sport. Yeah, it is on the mat but off the mat it’s a team sport.”
Brown was one of two Kennedy champions at the Prairie Title Tournament Saturday at Cedar Rapids Prairie. She pinned her way to the 190-pound title, helping the Cougars finish third. The host Hawks were runners-up with 202 points, four back of first-place Cedar Falls.
Brown built a 5-0 lead before pinning Prairie’s Chloe Heefner in 1:50.
“I felt really good,” said Brown, a sophomore. “It felt like I was getting back to normal on how I use my technique and not trying to rush to make things happen. Just going with the flow and feeling how the girls were moving.”
All of her matches were short, recording falls in 1:04 and 1:53 to reach the finals. Brown improved to 27-1 with 21 pins. She is the most accomplished wrestler on the team, placing seventh at last season’s Iowa Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association girls’ state tournament and second in Preseason Nationals.
“At the same time, she doesn’t act like that,” Kennedy Coach Craig Mallicoat said. “She’s very coachable.”
Brown has always been active in multiple sports, playing softball and basketball as a youth. She started wrestling in fourth grade when she became bored sitting through her sister’s practices and day-long tournaments. Success wasn’t instant but her passion developed early.
“It’s become something I love and enjoy, meeting new girls, traveling and being around different teams and schools,” Brown said. “Actually finding my confidence and will to win. It drove me to be fully into this sport. I want to win.”
Mallicoat said Brown has learned to apply a cerebral approach to her wrestling. Weighing in about 180, she can offset any disadvantage in size and strength.
“She knows how to use angles and her body position,” Mallicoat said. “She’s smart when she wrestles.”
The postseason is less than a week away. Kennedy will compete in one of the regional tournaments Friday at Alliant Energy PowerHouse. Borwn has her sights set on a top-two finish in the qualifier and a spot near the top of the state podium.
“I definitely feel confident, going into (regional) and the postseason,” Brown said. “I’m just going to dominate. I’m going to do what I do best. I’m going to wrestle the way I know how and make things happen.”
⧉ Related article: Photos: Cedar Rapids Prairie girls’ wrestling tournament 2023
Kennedy’s Joscelyn Stricker joined Brown atop the awards stand. She used a takedown and four nearfall for a 6-3 decision over Prairie’s Luisa Meade in the 170 final.
Stricker, a first-year wrestler, fought through back pain just to take the mat Saturday. She won her title just moments before Brown on an adjacent mat. Interestingly, they are practice partners.
“It means so much,” Brown said about Stricker’s title. “I’ve only known her for this season but it feels like I’ve known her my entire life. I love her so much. All I want is to see her succeed.”
Prairie had a tournament-high seven finalists and four champions. The Hawks received titles from Myah Rausch (100), top-ranked Mackenzie Childers at 125, 140-pounder Jade Hynek and Erika Brokovich at 155.
Childers pinned her way through the field. Rausch and Hynek had two pins apiece. Brokovich won an overtime thriller, topping Western Dubuque’s Josie Jecklin, 3-2, in tiebreaker-1.
Prairie was short-handed, filling 11 of 14 weights.
“Exceptional,” Prairie Coach Zach Becicka said. “We knew we had to do that to win the tournament. We fell just a bit short. We looked really good.”
All eight teams with finalists crowned at least one champion. Linn-Mar’s Ally Jelinek pinned her way to the 120-pound title. Iowa City High’s Claire Brown also had three pins, winning the 130 crown. Western Dubuque’s Adriana Shepherd tallied two takedowns to edge Dubuque Hempstead’s Katelyn Brokus, 4-3, in the 235 final.
The tournament is expected to become the annual Mississippi Valley Conference Super Meet, starting next season.
PRAIRIE TITLE TOURNAMENT
At C.R. Prairie
Teams – 1. Cedar Falls 206, 2. C.R. Prairie 202, 3. C.R. Kennedy 173, 4. Western Dubuque 125, 5. (tie) Dubuque Senior and Linn-Mar 114, 7. (tie) C.R. Jefferson and Dubuque Hempstead 106, 9. Iowa City High 95, 10. Dubuque Wahlert 61, 11. Iowa City Liberty 57, 12. Waterloo West 37, 13. C.R. Washington 20, 14. Iowa City West 12.
100 pounds – Myah Rausch (CRP) dec. Natalie Blake (CF), 5-0; 105 (round robin) – 1. Lauren Whitt (CF), 2. Sunsha Pierre (CRJ); 110 – Hope Chiattello (CF) pinned Kenedy Stolk (DS), 1:16; 115 – Hannah Reel (DS) major dec. Olivia Hallam (CRK), 15-2; 120 – Ally Jelinek (LM) pinned Destiny Hoeppner (CF), 3:00; 125 – Mackenzie Childers (CRP) pinned Apryl Halsor (CF), 1:52; 130 – Claire Brown (ICH) pinned Anna Johnson (CF), 5:31; 135 – Ayla Osterkamp (DH) dec. Hayley Setrum (LM), 4-3; 140 – Jade Hynek (CRP) pinned Sarah Roling (WD), 3:53; 145 – Jolee Strohmeyer (DS) pinned Claire Hynek (CRP), 3:16; 155 – Erika Brokovoich (CRP) dec. Josie Jecklin (WD), 3-2 TB1; 170 – Joscelyn Stricker (CRK) dec. Luisa Meade (CRP), 6-3; 190 – Ella Brown (CRK) pinned Chloe Heefner (CRP), 1:50; 235 – Adriana Shepherd (WD) dec. Katelyn Brokus (DH), 4-3.