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Iowa high school girls’ wrestling regionals: East Buchanan shows ‘quality over quantity’ with 6 finalists
In IGHSAU’s first postseason, 1,307 total wrestlers competed in the 8 state qualifiers
CEDAR RAPIDS — Three years ago, East Buchanan had more girls’ wrestling coaches than wrestlers.
Keeley Kehrli was the lone girl out for wrestling while Dan Stiefel and her older sister, Kendra, mentored her. She has company these days as one of 11 Buccaneers competing in the inaugural Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union postseason.
Even more impressive, those 11 wrestlers have elevated the small school of just 147 students in ninth through 11th grades in 2021-22 to the same plane as schools more than four times its size.
“For us, it’s almost quality over quantity,” Kehrli said. “We might have a small school but we have some powerhouses on the team. They are willing to take any match head on and do what we do best.”
East Buchanan advanced six to the finals at the Region 6 tournament Friday at Alliant Energy PowerHouse. The six finalists are automatic qualifiers for the first IGHSAU state tournament Feb. 2-3 at Xtream Arena in Coralville.
“I knew it was going to be tough,” Stiefel said. “The girls just fought. They have done very well.”
As far as the tiny school competing and beating schools with much larger enrollments, well, that’s in part to the efforts of the wrestlers.
“It’s just a lot of hard work and a lot of offseason work,” Stiefel said. “They work harder than anybody I know. It’s a great team. They all help each other. I couldn’t ask for a better team.”
⧉ Related article: Photos: Iowa high school girls’ wrestling regional tournament in Cedar Rapids
East Buchanan’s Destiny Krum (130), Miley Walz at 135, 140-pounder Andelyn Cabalka, Kehrli (155), Brooklyn Graham at 170 and 190-pounder Alyson Krum all reached the finals and advanced along with third-place 105-pounder Valeria Torres.
Torres was one of eight Buccaneers to qualify for state. She was on the fence about joining the team this season. Torres is an example of the program’s growth in numbers.
“After having success, we’ve slowly gotten girls who also want to see that success,” said Kehrli, who won a 2-0 decision in the finals and won titles along with Walz and Graham. “We slowly dragged them into the sport and they ended up loving it.”
The significance of being in the historic field isn’t lost on the competitors.
“I’m kind of overwhelmed because it’s the first sanctioned tournament where we had to qualify for state,” said Alyson Krum, who pinned her way to the 190-pound final. “I’m just happy that I made it.”
Kehrli secured her berth by pinning her way to the title bout against Iowa City West’s top-seeded Jannell Avila. Kehrli has placed at the last three Iowa Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association girls’ state tournaments, earning medals each appearance with a runner-up finish in 2021.
“It’s huge,” Kehrli said. “It’s part of girls’ wrestling history. I think it’s crazy to be one of the people going to the first sanctioned girls’ wrestling state tournament.”
The team was easy to sport with a mob of blue and red warmups in the corner and matside of teammates as they stockpiled wins. Camaraderie and unity have contributed to the Buccaneers’ success.
“We have a really good dynamic,” Kehrli said. “We’re always there to support each other, win or loss. We’re super close to one another. That comes from having a small team and wanting success for each other.”
More Gazette area state qualifiers
Cedar Rapids Prairie’s Myah Rausch became the first Metro wrestler to earn a berth to the IGHSAU state tournament, beating Iowa City Liberty’s Taylor Cavanh in the 100-pound semifinals. She edged Waverly-Shell Rock’s Amber Hoth in the championship.
Rausch was joined on the top of the award stand with teammate Mackenzie Childers, who won the 125-pound title. They were part of five Hawks qualifiers.
Bree Swenson was one of three Vinton-Shellsburg finalists. She claimed the 110 title with a 4-0 decision over West Branch’s Emmersen Thomas in the finals. The Vikings’ Chloe Sanders secure the 130-pound title. Sanders dominated in the finals, beating Destiny Krum, 9-0, in the final.
Vinton-Shellsburg advanced five.
Solon’s McKenna Rogers won a Wamac Conference title on Monday and added a regional title to her haul. She pinned Waverly-Shell Rock’s Macy Tiedt for the 105 crown and advanced.
Iowa Valley sisters Emma and Breanna Peach each won championships. They combined to go 6-0 with six pins. Emma stopped Waverly-Shell Rock’s Haidyn Snyder in 2:29 in the 145 final. At 190, Breanna pinned Alyson Krum in 3:22 for the crown.
Cedar Rapids was just one of four regional sites, joining Luther College in Decorah, Iowa Events Center in Des Moines and Tyson Events Center in Sioux City. Tournament officials announced 1,307 total wrestlers competed in the eight state qualifiers.
The two tournaments in Cedar Rapids led the way with 360 entrants. Des Moines was next with 343. Decorah had 309 wrestlers, 14 more than Sioux City.
REGION 6 TOURNAMENT
At Alliant Energy PowerHouse
Teams – 1. Waverly-Shell Rock 254, 2. East Buchanan 241, 3. C.R. Prairie 166, 4. Vinton-Shellsburg 161, 5. Solon 136, 6. Iowa Valley 107, 7. Iowa City Liberty 92, 8. Clinton 86, 9. Wilton 81, 10. Marion 78
Other Gazette area teams – 12. Clear Creek Amana 75, 15. Iowa City West 54, 16. West Branch 50, 20. English Valleys/Tri-County 13, 22. C.R. Washington 9, 24. (tie) Central City and Iowa City Regina 0.
100 pounds – 1. Myah Rausch (C.R. Prairie), 2. Amber Hoth (WSR), 3. Wynter Morgan (Marion), 4. Taylor Cavanh (Iowa City Liberty); 105 – 1. McKenna Rogers (Solon), 2. Macy Tiedt (WSR), 3. Valeria Torres (East Buchanan), 4. Emma Gillen (Vinton-Shellsburg); 110 – 1. Bree Swenson (Vinton-Shellsburg), 2. Emmersen Thomas (West Branch), 3. Kara VeDepo (Solon), 4. Marlie Mcbride (Clear Creek Amana); 115 – 1. Caitlin Reiter (Pleasant Valley), 2. Ellie Weets (Vinton-Shellsburg), 3. Natalie Hedlund (Marion), 4. Callia Logan (Clinton); 120 – 1. Abigail Meyer (Pleasant Valley), 2. Brinley Meier (WSR), 3. Emma Descourouez (Clear Creek Amana), 4. Grace Patterson (Central DeWitt); 125 – 1. Mackenzie Childers (C.R. Prairie), 2. Hannah Rogers (Wilton), 3. Eva Heise (WSR), 4. Kily Castillo (Muscatine); 130 – 1. Chloe Sanders (Vinton-Shellsburg), 2. Destiny Krum (East Buchanan), 3. Lillu Stough (WSR), 4. Kaly Thomas (Clear Creek Amana); 135 – 1. Miley Walz (East Buchanan), 2. Kiley Langley (Wilton), 3. Olivia Bonnema (Solon), 4. Lila Miller (Pekin); 140 – 1. Kiara Djoumessi (WSR), 2. Andelyn Cabalka (East Buchanan), 3. Kaydence Boorn (Wilton), 4. Jade Hynek (C.R. Prairie); 145 – 1. Emma Peach (Iowa Valley), 2. Haidyn Snyder (WSR), 3. Tayla Stiefel (East Buchanan), 4. Evelyn Eggleston (Iowa City Liberty); 155 – 1. Keeley Kehrli (East Buchanan), 2. Jannell Avila (Iowa City West), 3. Erika Brokovich (C.R. Prairie), 4. Jalyiah Gardner (Keokuk); 170 – 1. Brooklyn Graham (East Buchanan), 2. Teagyn Hartz (West Branch), 3. Karissa Oldenburger (WSR), 4. Justyce Dominick (Vinton-Shellsburg); 190 – 1. Breanna Peach (Iowa Valley), 2. Alyson Krum (East Buchanan), 3. Chloe Heefner (C.R. Prairie), 4. Arie Russell (Clinton); 235 – 1. Madison Hinrichs (WSR), 2. Averyia Binnion (Central DeWitt), 3. Cambrie McLoyd (Clinton), 4. Molly Bramble (Louisa-Muscatine)