CEDAR RAPIDS — Cedar Rapids Prairie’s Jayden Flege had someone special watching him kick off his sophomore wrestling season.
Arlo Flege, a Hall of Fame official, made the trip down from Waverly and likely was impressed by his grandson’s performance on his trip back home.
Flege scored two pins as the Hawks opened the season last night with two lopsided Mississippi Valley Conference dual victories at home. Prairie blanked Waterloo East, 75-0, and then handled Cedar Rapids Kennedy, 51-14, in the nightcap. Kennedy beat East, 57-16.
Flege knew his grandfather would be in attendance, and was excited for him to make a rare home meet.
“He gets to a lot of tournaments Not so much home meets,” Flege said about his grandfather. “It was good to see him down here today.
“When he comes down I get pretty pumped.”
Prairie Coach Blake Williams, who wrestled for Decorah and was an All-American at Wartburg in the mid-1990′s, is quite familiar with Arlo Flege. If he’s in southwest Cedar Rapids, he’s switching Waverly-Shell Rock colors for the preferred local shades.
“We make Arlo wear the orange-and-black instead of gold and black,” Williams said with a laugh.
Arlo Flege worked 30 state tournaments as an official before retiring. That mark is an Iowa record. He was also a Northeast Iowa Conference champion in 1953, and the conference’s sportsmanship award is named after him. Wrestling is important to the Flege family to say the least.
“It’s pretty big,” said Jayden, whose dad, Stacy, was a two-time NEIC champion. “It’s important to continue it.”
The Hawks’ sophomore 112-pounder did his best to carry on the tradition, pinning Waterloo East’s Davon Caldwell in 1:43 and Kennedy’s Chris Haman in 50 seconds.
“I’m pretty excited,” Flege said about his start. “It’s important to get off to a good start (and) keep going hard throughout the year.”
Williams said Flege has flashes of being a spark plug for the Prairie lineup. he wants that to be a regular occurrence.
“Jayden gets after it,” Williams said. “Hopefully, he keeps getting after it every match.”
Flege broke his collarbone in a district wrestleback last year, missing a state berth. He is motivated to get to Des Moines this season.
“Ever since he got healthy he’s really worked hard,” Williams said. “I think that will pay off.”
Hard work paid dividends for Prairie (2-0), losing just four matches. The Hawks scored bonus points and claimed some unexpected wins, knocking off three Kennedy state qualifiers at 119, 140 and 152. Prairie freshman Chris Walters built a 16-6 lead before pinning Taylor Moss in 5:53 at 119. Roy Siemering won an exciting 1-0 match over Kennedy’s Ryan Rodriguez at 140, holding off scoring chances at the end of all three periods and riding him out in the third. Hawk sophomore Cam Rathje scored an early five-point move and held on for a 9-6 win over Shane Williams at 152.
Rathje caught Williams on his back with a knee-tap to start the match, and kept him from rolling off for a big advantage.
“It was big,” Rathje said. “It gave me confidence to finish that match.”
Rathje had wrestled Williams in the past and he credited his wrestling partners like Zach Witte, Peyton Wagner and Siemering for getting him over the hump. Wagner and Witte each went 2-0 also.
“I’ve been pushing myself. My teammates have been pushing me,” said Rathje, who finished with two pins. “They’re the best there is.”
Siemering is a senior, who hasn’t wrestled varsity until now. He came away with two wins and showed toughness battling for a tight victory over a state qualifier.
“At least we see we can go with guys like that,” Williams said. “All three of those guys beat good kids.”
Andrew Netolicky added two pins for Prairie.
Kennedy’s J.D. Ruzicka (125), Ben Feuerhelm (130). Luke Kremer (135) and Ryan Sheldon (171) each went 2-0. Kremer had a pin and his major decision against Prairie’s Casey Becker pulled the Cougars (1-1) within 18-10.
The Cougars gave up two forfeits and lost some tight matches that could have gone their way.
“What this tells me is I like my team,” said Kennedy Coach Brent Paulson, who was happy with his wrestlers’ effort. “In three months, we’ll be OK.”
Andrew Netolicky, Arlo Flege, Ben Feuerhelm, Blake Williams, brent paulson, Cam Rathje, Cedar Rapids Kennedy, Cedar Rapids Prairie, Chris Walters, Cougars, Hawks, J.D. Ruzicka, Jayden Flege, Luke Kremer, Mississippi Valley Conference, Peyton Wagner, Roy Siemering, Ryan Rodriguez, Ryan Sheldon, Shane Williams, Stacy Flege, Taylor Moss, Trojans, Waterloo East, Wrestling, Zach Witte