Cedar Rapids Prairie opened the season strong, but tougher tests await.
The Class 3A fifth-ranked Hawks soared the opening week with an impressive tournament title and two dominating dual wins. The competition stiffens when they head to No. 2 Linn-Mar for a Mississippi Valley Conference dual Thursday, scheduled to start at 7 p.m.
Prairie will also wrestle Saturday in the Five Seasons Duals co-hosted by Cedar Rapids Kennedy and Cedar Rapids Washington. The following weekend will include the two-day Battle of Waterloo dual tournament.
The dual against Linn-Mar features four matches with two ranked wrestlers. The Five Seasons Duals has seven ranked teams, including Linn-Mar, 1A top-ranked Alburnett, 2A top-ranked West Delaware, and Bettendorf, ranked third in 3A.
“We will wrestle the best in the state the next few weeks,” Prairie Coach Blake Williams said. “We’ll see where we’re at.”
The latest accomplishment was a good gauge. The Hawks crowned four champions and advanced 10 to the finals, winning the Independence Invitational by 45 points over Alburnett and solid 2A programs Independence and Osage. The performances are a product of a good attitude and atmosphere at practice, according to Williams.
“The kids are willing to work,” Williams said. “It’s been a great start to the year. They know fthere is a lot of work to do.”
The Hawks are led by Josh Wenger, Cameron Rathje and Andrew Netolicky, all returning state medalists ranked third at 126, 170 and heavyweight, respectively. Austin Gould, a 2012 state qualifier, is ranked fourth at 182, and joined Wenger and Netolicky as individual champions Saturday.
Rathje, who placed second at 182, wrestled up a weight, along with some teammates, because he has not had ample time to drop down after his all-state football season as a linebacker, helping the Hawks reach the 4A state quarterfinals.
“The plan is to get Rathje down and get everyone down from there,” Williams said. “He got a late start with football.”
Waddell suffers spinal injury
Cedar Rapids Xavier’s Phillip Waddell experienced a scary conclusion to his first tournament of the season, suffering a cracked vertebra in a consolation match.
Waddell was removed from the building on a stretcher after the 170-pound bout at the Independence Invitational on Saturday. He injury default his final match to place sixth.
The injury was apparent after Cedar Rapids Prairie’s River Whitters put Waddell to his back and scored a fall in 22 seconds. Waddell remained on the mat, and then tended to by emergency personnel. He received a supportive pat on the head by Saints Coach Ryan Chambers before receiving cheers from the crowd.
“It was a freak accident,” Chambers said. “It wasn’t a slam or anything like that. Just one of the monsters of the sport.”
Chambers said Waddell had some numbness in his extremities and was transported to University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics, where tests revealed a fracture of his T-2 vertebra. He was released Monday and will have to wear a neck brace with no permanent problems, according to Chambers.
“The first stop he wanted was to come back to the wrestling room, so his mom and dad brought him back,” Chambers said. “I think he wanted to make sure the guys understood he was OK.”
Waddell called Chambers as early as Saturday evening and owns a positive outlook with a good prognosis. His season is over, but Chambers said Waddell shared a desire to return in the future.
“I’m glad he can walk,” Chambers said. “That’s the most important.
“It puts it all in perspective.”
Xavier will wrestle Thursday against Dubuque Hempstead and Iowa City West at Hempstead.
Union edges Mount Vernon
Union Community’s Josh Clark scored a 4-2 decision over GMG’s Nate Judge, helping the Knights edge Mount Vernon, 241-240 1/2, for the team title at Saturday’s Belle Plaine Invitational.
Fifth-ranked Union had six champions, winning four finals matches against the Mustangs. Max Thomsen (126) and Logan Thomsen (145) earned bonus points with a pin and technical fall in the finals.
Mount Vernon had three champions in Kyle Jilovec (138), Trey Ryan (160) and 220-pounder Josh Cannon.