CEDAR RAPIDS — Jake Rizzio’s senior season has been one big headache lately — literally.
The Cedar Rapids Prairie 135-pounder has missed the about a month of the season, battling effects of a concussion, but Rizzio will wrestle in a Class 3A district meet today at Marshalltown.
Wrestlers from across the state in all classes will compete in districts, attempting to advance to the state tournament next week at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. Districts begin at noon.
Rizzio suffered a concussion during Waterloo West’s Dan Gable Classic, causing him to miss four weeks of competition. Even his contact in practice was restricted. He did what he could to stay in shape.
“I did a lot of conditioning and lifting,” Rizzio said. “I feel I’m a lot stronger and in better shape than I was before.”
Rizzio returned to the young Prairie lineup on Feb. 4 and scored a pin in a dual against Dubuque Senior. Rizzio remained a leader for the Hawks even while he was sidelined, lending encouragement and helping the younger wrestlers.
“It was really tough,” Rizzio said about being a spectator. “I was glad to be there to support them still. It was a good experience but not what I wanted. I turned it into what I could.”
Rizzio, who is 13-3 and ranked fifth by The Predicament, is looking to improve on last year’s sixth-place state finish and cap his prep career strong.
“I’m ready to take the mat,” Rizzio said. “I should be able to beat anybody who’s there. I’m looking forward to a state championship this year.”
Prairie Coach Blake Williams said having Rizzio’s experience, and that of 215-pound senior Josh Lambrecht, is a big addition to a lineup that has had as many as eight freshman in the lineup at once.
“It boosts our team,” Williams said. “Any time we can have those proven veterans it makes a difference.”
Prairie is hoping to return to the regional duals, but will have to place in the top 2 against top-ranked Waverly-Shell Rock, Cedar Falls, Des Moines North/Hoover, Marshalltown, Newton, Waterloo East and Waterloo West. They need as many Hawks in the winners bracket as possible, according to Williams.
“We’re going to have to have a team effort,” Williams said. “Everybody’s going to have to score points.”
The rest of the Metro schools, along with Iowa City High and Iowa City West, will compete at Cedar Rapids Jefferson.