INDEPENDENCE — It hasn’t been “home sweet home” to the Independence wrestling team the last decade.
The Mustangs failed to win their home meet to kick-off the season’s tournament competition in Mike Doyle’s 10 previous years as head coach.
Fifth-ranked Independence changed that Saturday, however, winning the Independence Invitational for the first time in Doyle’s tenure The Mustangs crowned five champions, tallying 216 points, 31 more than runner-up Cedar Rapids Prairie. Osage crowned three champs and was third with 178.
The welcome win reversed a trend, allowing Independence to celebrate in their own gym.
“We’ve been conference champs, third at state, been to the state duals four times, but never won this tournament,” Doyle said. “You really want to win your home tournament.
“We’ve never really done well in December.”
Doyle made it known to his team, according to senior 215-pounder Ryan Fank, who said the team won more for Doyle, saying the coach always brought it up.
“This year we were planning on winning,” Fank said. “Everyone was ready for it.”
Fank, Austin Evens (103), Tyler Endres (130), Cam Savage (160) and 189-pounder Blaize Cabell all won titles. They also helped Independence finish strong, going 9-3 in the final round. Conditioning was a factor as the day progressed.
“I feel they held up pretty good,” Doyle said. “Any time you wrestle five times in a day you have to be in shape.”
Evens and Cabell scored pins, while Savage and Fank beat ranked foes in the finals.
Fank, ranked second in Class 2A, had two pins before beating No. 6 Patrick Hansen, 7-4.
Savage, ranked fourth in 2A, two takedowns in the second for a 6-4 win over 3A No. 3 Ben Swalla of Ames.
“Savage did a good job of staying in position and wrestled hard,” Doyle said.
Indee’s Chris Johnson was impressive, finishing second to Osage’s Trevor Hejhal at 135. He beat two ranked wrestlers — 1A No. 7 Mark Reicks of Turkey Valley and 3A No. 8 Trevor Hardin of Prairie — to reach the Final.
Prairie’s Jake Rizzio gave Indee another runner-up, edging Dan Ryan, 7-6, at 140.
Rizzio battled through a hip flexor injury, having to hold off a late scramble as time expired. His offense struggled.
“It was tough to take a shot,” Rizzio said. “I did what I needed to do to win.”
The second-ranked Rizzio won his second straight title at Independence.
“Winning is an expectation anymore,” Rizzio said. “I can’t settle for anything less.”
Teammate Zach Witte highlighted the Hawks showing, beating Osage’s No. 8 Brent Blaser, 7-2.
Witte, a state runner-up last year, scored three takedowns, including two in the second.
“It was a pretty decent job by him,” said Prairie Coach Blake Williams. “It’s a good start for him.”
Prairie’s Zach Becicka and Peyton Wagner placed second at 103 and 152. Wagner defaulted from the tournament after being carting away on a stretcher when injured during a semifinal match with Marshalltown’s Gustavo Martinez.
He said it was a day that consisted of ups and downs.
“We made a lot of silly mistakes and mental errors,” Williams said. “The effort was good.”
Cedar Rapids Xavier heavyweight Josh McDonald capped a perfect day, pinning Hampton-Dumont’s Skyler Martinez for the heavyweight title. He pinned his way through the bracket thanks to leverage from his 6-foot-8 frame.
“Just good technique and keeping my weight on them,” McDonald said about the key in the final. “I felt (conditioning) worked in my favor today.”
The Saints’ Peter Ickes was second at 171.
North Fayette’s Shane Havenstrite won the title at 152, scoring two pins and a medical default. Havenstrite’s teammate, Brody Hubbell, reached the finals at 119.
Turkey Valley had one finalist. Freshman John Hageman improved to 5-1, placing second to Marshalltown’s Eric Shomo at 125.
ames, Austin Evens, Ben Swalla, Blaize Cabell, Blake Williams, Brent Blaser, Brody Hubbell, Cam Savage, Cedar Rapids Xavier, champion, Chris Johnson, Dan Ryan, Gustavo Martinez, hampton-Dumont, Hawks, Independence, Jake Rizzio, John hageman, Josh McDonald, Mark Reicks, Marshalltown, Mike Doyle, Mustangs, North Fayette, osage, patrick hansen, Peter Ickes, Peyton Wagner, Prairie, prep wrestling, Ryan Fank, Shane Havenstrite, Skyler Martinez, tournament, Trevor Hardin, Turkey Valley, Tyler Endres, win, Zach Becicka, Zach Witte