116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Alburnett Coach Clayton Rush has liked what he’s seen in the first week of the boys’ wrestling season.
In a challenging week of competition that included two Class 3A teams in an opening triangular and a 31-team, two-day tournament, the Pirates have shown why this season was met with high expectations.
“We’re starting at a really high level right now,” Rush said. “I think we found out what kind of tournament team we are, too. We put those things together.
“Obviously, we have a whole year to work on things and develop techniques and different positions, individually and as a team. I’m really excited where they are at right now.”
The Pirates placed eight wrestlers in the top nine of their respective weights and posted a runner-up team finish Saturday at the Cliff Keen Independence Invitational. Alburnett had three finalists, including 160-pound champion Carson Klostermann, for 293 1/2 points with a shortened lineup.
Any questions about the ability or composure in big matches were answered.
“They handled themselves well,” Rush said. “That goes from underclassmen all the way through the seniors. The seniors have a lot of experience, getting into those pressure matches. I would say right where we’re at and like where we’re at.”
Klostermann rolled through his weight, tallying four pins and a major decision in his six wins to improve to 8-0 this season. He handled Tristan Steldt, of Fennimore (Wis.), 10-1, in the finals.
“I thought I wrestled pretty good,” Klostermann said. “Something I noticed I improved on a lot through the year last year and it transferred into this year was just being calm out on the mat. Not letting the little things get to you, like an early takedown. I got taken down early in my semifinal match and it didn’t affect me too much. I wrestled through the matches.”
Alburnett had six wrestlers finish in the top four of their divisions. Preston Klostermann (126) and Brody Neighbor (138) were second. Rowdy Neighbor placed third at 113, while 106-pounder Atlee Dewitt and Gunnar Keeney (145) each earned fourth.
“We have a lot of coachable guys up and down the lineup,” Rush said. “We’re working on different techniques in the room during practice. There are guys asking questions and having an open mind about doing different things.”
Klostermann is one of five Pirates with state experience. Alburnett had four medalists and five qualifiers — all are back — on a team that finished ninth in the Class 1A standings with 49 points last season. The Pirates also just missed the state duals tournament, falling to No. 7 Wilton, 39-34, in a regional final. The Pirates have been waiting to get back on the mat since February.
“We’ve been waiting on the season for a long time now,” Klostermann said. “I think it’s going as planned so far. Hopefully it keeps heading that way.”
Rush said the wrestlers are a tight-knit group that push each other. They mesh their individual aspirations with the team goals. It has resulted in success early with a plan for it to yield bigger rewards.
“We haven’t had any state trophies here in a while,” Rush said. “That’s something we want to do. I think we can get two of them back here. After this first week, the kids realize they can make a push.”
Jannell Avila commits to Baker University
Iowa City West’s Jannell Avila has been one of the area’s top girls’ wrestlers since she broke on the scene for Lisbon as a freshman. Avila, an Iowa Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association state champion and multi-time medalist, announced via social media that she will continue her wrestling career at NAIA’s Baker (Kan.) University.
Avila shared a spiritual message and then thanked her family. She mentioned her dad droves hours to tournaments because she was afraid to fly. Sometimes it would mean driving back and forth in the same day. Her mom was always there with post weigh-in food and helping her get up for morning workouts.
“I also want to thank my parents,” Avila said. “I would not be able to achieve the things I have and go and do the things I love without them.”
Avila is ranked nationally and was runner-up to Decorah’s Naomi Simon at 170 in the Dan Gable Donnybrook last Friday at Xtream Arena in Coralville.
Solon duo wins titles
Solon duo McKenna Rogers and Olivia Bonnema won titles Monday at the Williamsburg Invitational.
Rogers had two falls, pinning Williamsburg’s Zoey Thede in 2:00 in the 110 final. Bonnema opened with two pins before topping Mid-Prairie’s Grace Conway, 5-4, for the 140 title.
The Spartans had 12 placewinners overall, including runners-up Kate Richards (115), Mikayla Langenberg (135) and Kendall Jensen (170).