116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Cedar Rapids Prairie’s Blake Gioimo has become a commanding force.
The Hawks’ junior has ridden roughshod over his opponents. Gioimo has done it across the board, taking care of business against ranked and out-matched foes alike. He doesn’t seem to be slowing down as championship season approaches.
“I step out on that mat to show everyone I’m the dominant wrestler,” Gioimo said. “I think I’ve done that all-around in all my matches, really. I haven’t had anyone close with me.”
Gioimo dominated his way to the 113-pound championship of the Bob Lueders Invitational on Saturday at Clinton. He posted two technical falls before a 12-4 major decision over Fort Dodge’s Max Bishop in the final.
Gioimo is 37-0 and ranked No. 1 in Class 3A.
“I still think there is a lot of room to improve on,” Gioimo said. “You can never stop getting better.”
The championship bout was indicative of Gioimo’s entire season. He didn’t wrestle to protect a seed or ranking and focused on widening the gap with competitors, including third-ranked Bishop. The result was a lopsided victory from a takedown, two reversals and a whopping six nearfall on three turns.
“He got a lead and just kept scoring,” Prairie Coach Derick Ball said. “There was never a point where he was just going to stay in good position and ride it out. He was on the kid the whole time and scoring.”
Tenacity and relentless offense has been a key component to his success. Gioimo owns about an 86-percent bonus-point win rate, recording 12 pins and nine technical falls. Of his five wins by decision, just three are over in-state foes and only one from 3A. He focused on injecting more energy into each performance.
“I just want an even higher intensity,” Gioimo said. “I feel like if you dictate the pace the entire match things are going to start to go your way.”
Ball said Gioimo doesn’t get the credit he deserves for his dominance. No one has been within three points. Sights are set on a state title.
“You can’t rattle him,” Ball said. “He always stays composed. He always has his mind where it needs to be. He’s got his eyes on a prize. I don’t see anything derailing him.”
Gioimo has worked on getting better in the neutral position. Ball said he heard a fan call Gioimo a “one-trick pony,” insinuating Gioimo was only dangerous with wrist tilts from the top position. Ball has used that to motivate Gioimo to show his ability to control opponents in all phases.
“He’s taken things on his feet to a whole new level,” Ball said. “He hasn’t been ridden too much. Being on his feet and his leg attacks have improved. I’m excited for that to be showcased at the state tournament.
“I think people are going to assume they can’t go down on this kid. They’ll beat him on their feet, but that’s not the case anymore.”
Gioimo’s last loss came in the state finals to Waukee’s Carter Freeman. The setback was the only one in 20 bouts last season. The feeling remains fresh and provides a drive to avoid reliving that experience.
“It definitely pushed me in the offseason,” Gioimo said. “That’s something you never want to have happen to you. Every time I’m at practice and feeling tired I just think of that moment. I never want that to happen to me again.”
West Liberty wins River Valley dual title
West Liberty maintained its perch atop the River Valley Conference, clinching its eighth straight regular-season conference duals title. The Comets clinched the championship with a 42-31 victory over Wilton last Thursday.
Wilton jumped to a 25-0 lead after the first five weights. West Liberty answered with seven consecutive wins sparked by pins from Josh Zeman (145) and 152-pounder Morgan Lehman. Class 2A third-ranked Drake Collins, Bryan Martinez (195) and Jahsiah Galvan at 220 added pins in the streak.
The dual wasn’t decided until the final bout when the Comets’ seventh-ranked Colin Cassady pinned Kale McQuillen in 2:57 at 106.
“We beat Wilton at home in an old-school rivalry environment,” West Liberty Coach Ian Alke said. “It was nuts.”
The Comets also beat Durant, 60-21, last Thursday. They followed with a team title at the Louisa-Muscatine Invitational on Saturday, tallying 182.5 points and topping runner-up Burlington by 72.5. The Comets received titles from Cassady, Collins and Felipe Molina at 182. Heavyweight Quintyn Rocha was second.
West Liberty will compete in the RVC tournament Saturday at Monticello.
Fast fall for Linn-Mar’s Grant Kress
Grant Kress tied the Linn-Mar record for the fastest fall Saturday during the Bob Lueders Invitational at Clinton. The sixth-ranked sophomore opened with a seven-second pin against Eric McClelland, of Quincy (Ill.) High School.
According to the team’s Twitter account, Kress matched the record shared by Jacob Wempen and A.J. Garcia, who is a current Lions assistant. Wempen did it in 2019 and Garcia set the mark in 2012.