116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Home / Sports / Iowa Prep Sports / Iowa High School Wrestling
Iowa girls’ state wrestling notes: Mount Vernon’s Libby Dix grew up a coach’s kid, now is wrestling for state title
Nadine Johnston leads Grand March
CORALVILLE — Libby Dix was like many coaches’ kids.
She would occasionally attended Mount Vernon wrestling practices with her dad, Justin, who was an assistant for the boys’ program. One workout, in particular, stands out to her.
Dix recalled her dad training with Mount Vernon state champion turned University of Iowa and NFL standout lineman Tristan Wirfs.
“One of the practices I remember was when Tristan Wirfs was wrestling,” Dix said. “I was just sitting in there.
“It was pretty cool that he was a coach for Tristan and he was his practice partner. I think it was pretty cool getting to be in there at a young age.”
The seeds were planted for a blossoming career that led to the finals of the inaugural Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union state tournament Friday at Xtream Arena. Dix pinned Grace Britten of SWAT Valkyrie in the 170-pound semifinals to reach the championship bout against Decorah’s top-seeded Naomi Simon.
“It’s pretty cool,” Dix said. “My coaches have been telling me all year you’re going to make it to the finals. You’re going to win state. I guess I had to keep working toward that.”
The win wasn’t an easy feat. Dix hadn’t allowed a single point in her first three state matches. She found herself down 4-1 to start the third.
Dix was able to cinch up a cradle for nearfall and tie the score inside a minute to go.
“I just saw an opening,” Dix said. “I was down, I had to take it. A cradle is not usually what I go to but it was there.”
Britten staved off the fall, but Dix worked for another turn and finished off the match in 5:44.
“I just had to keep working,” Dix said. “I knew I was good on top. I did what I needed to do.”
Justin Dix has served as his daughter’s practice partner. She said he has helped a lot and is her mentor. He was the one that insisted the Mustangs sophomore try the sport, if it was offered.
Girls’ wrestling is sanctioned and Dix is Mount Vernon’s first IGHSAU state finalist.
“In seventh grade, my dad said if wrestling is a sport in high school I had to try it,” Dix said. “I just love it.”
Nadine Johnston leads Grand March
Nadine Johnston isn’t one for the spotlight or attention, but when it came for someone to escort state medalists at the first IGHSAU state wrestling tournament organizers only had her in mind.
McNeal, a 23-year official who has worked tables at the boys’ state tournament and refereed IHSAA sectionals and districts, was selected to lead the Grand March before the final round Friday night.
“It’s an absolutely incredible honor,” McNeal said. “It’s an incredible honor just to be recognized and for it to be at this event. This season has been spectacular.”
McNeal, originally from Vinton, regularly attended the IHSAA state tournament with family when she was younger. She became a wrestling manager and even helped coaches demonstrate moves. McNeal lives in Colorado Springs, Colo., currently, but returns four to five times a year for seven to 10 days at a time to work wrestling events. She only added girls’ tournaments to her normal assignments for both boys and girls.
McNeal received a call last week from IGHSAU Associate Director Erin Kirtley, confirming McNeal would be working and that her family could attend. The news sparked emotions.
“I cried right away,” McNeal said. “(This tournament) is a display of all the hard work we have done. Every official, every coach and athlete has helped get to this point.”
Metro and Iowa City medalists
Three Metro schools boasted medalists from the first IGHSAU state tournament Friday. Cedar Rapids Prairie led all schools with three medalists. In addition to Mackenzie Childers reaching the 125-pound final, Myah Rausch (100) and Erika Brokovich (155) both earned top-six finishes.
They were joined by Cedar Rapids Kennedy’s Ella Brown, who was in the top six at 190.
Linn-Mar’s Kate Seery also reached the podium. Seery finished eighth at 110.
Iowa City High’s Clare Brown joined Iowa City West’s 155-pound finalist Jannell Avila on the awards stand. She placed eighth at 130.