CEDAR RAPIDS – Battered, bruised, but still better.
Even with a depleted lineup due to injury, Cedar Rapids Prairie was good enough to eked out a win.
The second-ranked Hawks won the final three matches, posting two pins and a technical fall, to outlast No. 12 West Des Moines Valley, 40-29, Wednesday night in an Iowa High School Athletic Association Class 3A regional dual at Prairie. The Hawks (24-3) advance to the State Duals tournament Wednesday, Feb. 13 at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, beginning at 9 a.m.
Up to five previous starters were out of the lineup, including ranked wrestlers Josh Wenger (126) and Austin Gould (182). Regulars Zack Fiser (113), 220-pounder Jesse Hynek and Dylan Becker (132) did not compete.
“We had some tough decisions to make with some guys,” Prairie coach Blake Williams said. “We just thought it would be best to have them wait until Saturday. Other guys stepped up in their place and did a nice job.”
Jarod Cadena was at the top of the list. He took the mat at 182 pounds in the final bout with the Hawks holding on to a six-point lead and Valley still in contention. Cadena not only prevent the Tigers from tying it, he secured the victory with an impressive 16-0 technical fall over Zach Downs.
“I just wanted to fight,” Cadena said. “I knew we needed to not get pinned. I knew if I wrestled my match I would win.”
Prairie trailed 29-23 with three matches remaining, and it was the first time he had been in position where the dual possibly rested on his shoulders. Cadena received a boost when the Hawks tallied 12 points before his match.
“There was a lot of energy,” Cadena said. “It’s easy to get pumped up for that kind of match.”
The stage was set for Cadena thanks to the workman like effort from River Whitters and Cameron Rathje. The senior duo wasted little time in producing back-to-back first-period falls that helped propel Prairie to its 13th State Duals berth and second straight.
Whitters was surprise the Hawks struggled, even with a ghost of a lineup compared to earlier this season.
“I had no idea it was going to be that close,” Whitters said about the team score. “It kind of ticked me off a little that it was. I tried to get the pin as quick as I could.”
Whitters took down Walker McCabe and turned him, needing just 59 seconds for a pin at 160. Cameron Rathje, who returned two weeks ago from a neck injury, built a 5-0 lead and decked Casey Roth in 1:22 at 170.
“We knew we had to get pins,” Whitters said. “It was getting closer. Being seniors, it was our responsibility to get it done.”
Earlier in the dual, the Hawks faced a 10-point deficit. Trey Blaha turned the tide on the Tigers. The fourth-ranked 138-pound Prairie junior pinned Mitch Hagar in 1:35, pulling Prairie within 23-19. Heavyweight Andrew Netolicky also won by fall for the Hawks.
“Going into the meet, knowing we weren’t going to be wrestling everybody, we knew we needed bonus points,” Williams said. “We needed a momentum switch. We got Trey in there and that spearheaded things.”
Skyler St. John tied the team score, 23-23, with a 16-5 major decision at 145. Casey Becker also won by major decision, opening the dual with a 16-6 win over Cam Hansen at 195.
Prairie’s fifth-ranked Sam Uthoff recorded a win in a battle of ranked wrestlers. Uthoff scored four points in the final period with a reversal and two nearfall for a 6-0 win over No. 10 Jack Koethe.
“I thought it was a good team effort,” Williams said. “I told the kids they should be proud of what they have done and I think they’re excited about continuing to wrestle as a team. It’s a big accomplishment and hopefully build into the weekend.
Williams said the lineup is still undecided for Saturday’s district tournament at Marion. It is also unclear who will be in the lineup for State Duals. Prairie is seeded second and will face West Des Moines Dowling (15-2) in the quarterfinals. The Hawks placed seventh last year.
“It’s going to be exciting,” Whitters said about returning to State Duals. “Hopefully, this year we can get up there and place top-three.”
AT C.R. PRAIRIE
C.R. Prairie 40, West Des Moines Valley 29
(Individual takedowns in parentheses)
195 pounds - Casey Becker (CRP) major dec. Cam Hansen, 16-6 (3, 0); 220 – Brady Smith (WDMV) pinned Conner Nolan, 3:52 (1, 1); Hwt. – Andrew Netolicky (CRP) pinned Abdulrahman Abusharkh, :40 (1, 0); 106 – Sam Uthoff (CRP) dec. Jack Koethe, 6-0 (1, 0); 113 – Clayton Eicher (WDMV) won by forfeit; 120 – Jake Koethe (WDMV) tech. fall Jonah Nassif, 15-0 (2, 0); 126 – Austin Stotts (WDMV) dec. Jayden Flege, 2-0 SV (1, 0); 132 – RaeKwon Lee (WDMV) dec. Seth Wennermark, 4-3 (2, 0); 138 – Trey Blaha (CRP) pinned Mitch Hagar, 1:35 (1, 0); 145 – Skyler St. John (CRP) major dec. Dennis Curry, 16-5 (3, 1); 152 – Dylan Matter (WDMV) pinned Jamie Day, 3:06 (1, 1); 160 – River Whitters (CRP) pinned Walker McCabe, :59 (1, 0); 170 – Cam Rathje (CRP) pinned Casey Roth, 1:22 (1, 0); 182 – Jarod Cadena (CRP) tech. fall Zach Downs, 16-0 (1, 0)
Takedowns – WDMV 8, CRP 14; Reversals – WDMV 3, CRP 7; Escapes – WDMV 7, CRP 2; Nearfall points – WDMV 9, CRP 27; Penalty points (awarded) – WDMV 1, CRP 2; Total match points – WDMV 39, CRP 73.