116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MARION – Jordan Wheeler was one of the original five.
She is also the last of the group of girls who showed interest in joining Marion’s wrestling program three years ago.
“It’s pretty neat she was willing to take a chance on our program,” Marion Coach Jason Haag said. “Now, it’s sanctioned for her senior year.”
Wheeler has been part of the development of girls’ wrestling at Marion, growing from the initial handful her freshman season to 11 on the school’s official team her senior campaign. The experience has changed during Wheeler’s participation.
“It’s different this year,” Wheeler said. “The first year it was all fun and games. We’re wrestling for points, now. It makes me a little nervous.
“I was excited to hear we were sanctioning it.”
Marion had 10 wrestlers to start and then a manager inquired about wrestling the day of the first competition. Wheeler was there when Marion started its emphasis on girls’ wrestling. Haag said she has done a little talking to others to join wrestling and has persevered the sport’s demands.
“She just goes about her business,” Haag said. “She’s always been in for the long haul.”
Wheeler has improved each season and has won at least one match in each of the Iowa Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association girls’ state tournaments. She recorded 18 victories last season and posted her 30th career win Saturday at the Independence Girls’ Invitational.
Wheeler went 2-1 in the season opening scramble, notching two first period pins.
“My performance has been decent,” Wheeler said. “My mindset isn’t where I want it but I’m working on it. I have to focus more on the match and not the other girl.”
Wrestling has always been an attraction to Wheeler, stemming from her family’s appreciation for the sport. A friend at school convinced her to go to that first meeting with her. Practices are tough, but it was her first matches that hooked her.
“It tried it,” Wheeler said. “I had my first competition and I realized I enjoyed it. It was a different atmosphere (than practice).”
The girls’ season has state qualifying tournaments, consisting of four meets with the top eight from reach advancing to state Feb. 2-3 at Xtream Arena in Coralville. Names of Marion’s state qualifiers and medalists are stenciled on the wrestling room’s wall. She aspires to join her former male teammates and be one of the school’s females on that list.
“I’m really excited for regionals,” Wheeler said. “I want to be one of the first girls at Marion to qualify for state. I think it would be cool to be up there.”
Marion freshman Natalie Hedlund led the way at Independence. She won all three bouts by pin, including her final two in 22 and 25 seconds. Hedlund was listed as the No. 10 incoming freshman by members of IAwrestle.com. Haag sees the potential in the accomplished youngster.
“She’s wrestled well,” said Haag, noting illness limited her to just one practice last week. “I’m excited to watch her in a highly-contested match.”
DECORAH’S SIMON, JEVNE WIN AT HOME
Decorah’s Naomi Simon and Skyla Jevne captured individual titles Saturday at the Decorah Tournament.
Simon, a two-time IWCOA girls’ state tournament champion, is ranked sixth nationally. She pinned her way through the 170-pound bracket, stopping Waukon’s Kloe Hemmersbach in 1:14 for the championship. Jevne also pinned her way to the 235 crown, needing 1:09 to defeat Vanessa Schnuelle in the finals.
Waukon, Postville and MFL MarMac each had individual champions. Waukon’s Mia Kurth won the 105-pound title, topping Northwood-Kensett’s Mariah Michaels, 7-3, in the final. Postville’s Dulce Lopez tallied four pins to win the 120 B bracket.
MacKenzie Bachman, of MFL, opened with a fall and closed with two straight decisions, outscoring her three opponents 14-1. Bachman beat Osage’s Katelynn Huebsch, 6-1, in the finals.
MID-PRAIRIE WINS AT BGM
Mid-Prairie finished in first place at the BGM girls’ tournament Saturday in Brooklyn. BGM scored 118 points, two more than the Des Moines Public Schools combined program.
The Golden Hawks received varsity titles from Gabi Robertson at 100 pounds and 170-pounder Mia Garvey. Ashlee Farrier (130) and Ellie Brenneman (140) placed second.
Robertson scored a takedown in sudden victory for a 4-2 finals decision against Colfax-Mingo’s Lily Webster in a rematch of last season’s seventh-place bout at the IWCOA girls’ state tournament.
Garvey opened with two pins and defeated Des Moines Public Schools’ Kayte Yaw, 4-2, in the championship.