116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MOUNT VERNON - Claire Gaffney is paying it forward.
She recalled her admiration of former Mount Vernon wrestler Maddy Schultz, a Iowa Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association girls’ state medalist in 2020. Now, Gaffney is attempting to fill that role for others.
“She was amazing in all of her sports, her faith and mental strength, so I really looked up to her,” the Mustangs’ senior 125-pounder said. “Because she wrestled and did so well at it, I saw myself doing that. She was such a positive influence on my life, so I wanted to have that impact on other people.”
Gaffney enjoyed every moment Thursday night , watching Mount Vernon defeat Clear Creek Amana, 48-18, for its first official home girls’ wrestling dual. Each team recorded three pins in six contested bout, but the Mustangs benefited from five forfeits.
The wrestlers received a standing ovation from most of the crowd after the dual. Elli Sebetka posted the Mustangs’ first home victory, earning a third-period fall over Emma Descourouez at 120 pounds.
“It was something special,” said Gaffney, who added a pin during the extra matches that followed the varsity dual. “That was not what I was expecting at all.
“When Elli flipped over and pinned that girl, I looked around and it was like time stopped,. I looked into the crowd. Everyone supporting us, half the town was there. It was great to see that we have the support for girls’ wrestling now.”
In addition to the effect that Schultz had on her, Gaffney said she was motivated to prove doubters wrong, including a male friend who insisted she would never go out for wrestling. She ignored the skeptic and was determined to give it a try.
Wrestling has developed into a passion.
“I absolutely love it,” Gaffney said. “It is a passion. It’s one of those sports where even if you’re losing 10-0 you can still win. It’s really about that mental drive.”
Gaffney is one of the more seasoned Mustang competitors. She has competed in the last two IWCOA girls’ state tournaments, posting a combined 5-4 record in those events. Sophomore Libby Dix placed at last season’s IWCOA girls’ state. Both are two of the most experienced Mustangs.
“She has kind of been the trailblazer for girls’ wrestling here at Mount Vernon,” Mount Vernon Coach Trevor Trende said of Gaffney. “She has done a great job, stepping up being a leader.
“Libby Dix is a sophomore. She’s younger, but she’s really stepped up and been more of a vocal leader for our program. ... We have high expectations for her as well.”
She shares her knowledge to help the 14 teammates, who are new to the sport.
“I may not be the best on the team, but one thing I love teaching the people on our team,” Gaffney said. “Three of us have wrestled before and the rest haven’t. I love being able to pass on what I do know, help them out and see them grow. It feels me with joy. I love seeing these people get a passion for this.”
Trende praised Gaffney for her selfless effort to teach and push others. She has helped Mount Vernon girls’ wrestling to get to this point.
“She’s been here and done it,” Trende said. “She’s wrestled for three or four years. She’s really helped the girls, who may be struggling in the room. She shows them technique and is a positive reinforcement for the girls. It’s been good.”
Mount Vernon juniors Meika Neal and Addison Gookin closed the dual with first-period pins at 135 and 155, respectively. Neal pinned Halle Bormann in 57 seconds, while Gookin, a all-state softball player, needed 28 seconds to stop Malina Bowman.
Clear Creek Amana jumped to a 12-0 lead with pins from Marlie McBride (110) and Brenna Williams (115). McBride pinned Betsy Morf in 1:19. Williams built a 5-1 lead before a fall in 2:41 over Kiersten Swart. Kaly Thomas added a first-period pin at 130 for the Clippers.
Mount Vernon has 17 wrestlers on the roster. Fifteen are from Mount Vernon, while two are from Lisbon, where Trende teaches. The two schools are consolidated now, but could be separate in the future. Currently, the wrestlers have made the first season enjoyable.
“They make it fun,” said Trende, noting he was hesitant switching from coaching boys to girls. “They bring positive energy every day. We always preach attitude and effort and they bring that all the time. It’s made my job easy for me.”
AT MOUNT VERNON
Mount Vernon 48, Clear Creek Amana 18
(Individual takedowns in parentheses)
190 pounds - Mae Stoops (MV) won by forfeit; 235 - Aly Lashley (MV) won by forfeit; 100 - Double forfeit; 105 - Double forfeit; 110 - Marlie McBride (CCA) pinned Betsy Morf, 1:19 (1,0); 115 - Brenna Williams (CCA) pinned Kiersten Swart, 2:41 (1,0); 120 - Elli Shebetka (MV) pinned Emma Descourouez, 4:38 (3,0); 125: - Claire Gaffney (MV) won by forfeit; 130 - Kaly Thomas (CCA) pinned Kasey Nevins, 1:51 (1,0); 135 - Meika Neal (MV) pinned Halle Bormann, :57 (1,0) 140 - Double forfeit; 145 - Kaylee Kintzel (MV) won by forfeit; 155 - Addison Gookin (MV) pinned Malina Bowman, :28 (1,0) 170 - Libby Dix (MV) won by forfeit.
Takedowns - Clear Creek Amana 3, Mount Vernon 5. Reversals - Clear Creek Amana 0, Mount Vernon 1. Escapes - Clear Creek Amana 2, Mount Vernon 0. Nearfall points - Clear Creek Amana 3, Mount Vernon 0. Penalty points (awarded) - Clear Creek Amana 1, Mount Vernon 1. Total match points - Clear Creek Amana 12, Mount Vernon 13.