Consider it business to tend to and not unfinished business.
After settling for a runner-up finish last season, top-ranked West Delaware is positioned to capture a title at the Iowa High School Athletic Association Class 2A State Duals tournament Wednesday at Wells Fargo Arena. The Hawks (25-0) wrestle Ballard (16-5) in the quarterfinal round, starting at 9 a.m.
“We’re going in to kick some butt,” West Delaware senior 220-pounder Adam Reth said. “We’ll take it one match at a time and wrestle our best. That’s what we’ve been doing all year.”
West Delaware dropped the last five matches in the 2012 finals against Davenport Assumption, losing 32-30. Avenging that loss from a year ago isn’t as important as fulfilling the aspirations of this season.
“We’re more focused on our goals right now than what happened last year, because we can’t change that,” West Delaware Coach Jeff Voss said. “We’re in control of what we’re doing right now.”
The loss has stuck with some on the team since they left Wells Fargo Arena the second-best trophy. The Hawks don’t dwell on that performance, but they haven’t forgotten either.
“I think it’s been in the back of our minds all year,” Hawks top-ranked 106-pounder Pat Woods said. “We haven’t talked about it too much, though. It doesn’t matter who we face. We just want to come away with a win because we know how bad it feels (to lose).”
The team has been stronger than a year ago, and much of that is a strong nucleus of accomplished competitors from last season. The Hawks returned seven state medalists from last season. Woods, Reth, Jacyn Goebel (182) and heavyweight Dean Broghammer are all top-ranked. Zach Less, a 2011 state finalist, is ranked second at 113, and Zach Muller and Jake Voss are ranked fourth at 145 and 152, respectively.
The entire team has shown progress, which is a trademark of the program.
“We knew that would be a good foundation,” Jeff Voss said. “As the year has gone on, those kids have gotten better and the other wrestlers have improved as well.”
The approach to each dual is extremely simplistic: win eight matches and score more bonus points than the opposition. The burden doesn’t just fall on the shoulders of their top wrestlers.
“Overall, it’s a team effort,” Woods said. “I think it’s the others, who aren’t ranked high, that make or break the dual.”
The road to gold will be tough. If the Hawks can get by Ballard, making its eighth State Duals appearance, they will face the winner of an impressive fourth-seed Charles City (19-4) team and No. 5 Creston (15-1). The finals could be a rematch against Assumption (23-5) or even N0. 3 Mediapolis, which also enters the tournament at 25-0.
“All eight teams are pretty good,” Jeff Voss said. “I think you have the best teams there. You have to be ready for each dual from the first round on.”
Union Community is making its eighth State Duals appearance and first since 2008. The sixth-seeded Knights open with Mediapolis.
Prairie, Linn-Mar return for second straight year
For the second straight year, the Class 3A State Duals tournament will include Cedar Rapids Prairie and Linn-Mar, beginning at 9 a.m. Wednesday at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
Prairie qualified for its 13th State Duals tournament and seventh time under Hawks head coach Blake Williams. They are the No. 2 seed with a 24-3 mark and face West Des Moines Dowling (15-2) in the quarterfinals. The Maroons are making their first State Duals trip since 1993.
The Hawks placed seventh in the first year of the new state schedule. The approach will be finalized the day of the event.
“I’m really still not sure,” Williams said. “We talked about it and we’ll see where we’re at.”
The Hawks have battled multiple injuries this season, so that might be a factor. The approach could depend on the opponent.
“Last year, we had a plan to get everyone a match,” Williams said. “It worked well. It could be the same or more.”
Fifth-seeded Linn-Mar (26-7) wrestles No. 4 Waverly-Shell Rock (20-2) in the quarterfinals. The Lions are making their third straight appearance and fourth in school history. They placed sixth last season.
The Lions did not wrestle their starters last season. Linn-Mar Coach Doug Streicher said after Saturday’s district meet at Marion that he was uncertain what type of lineup he will field Wednesday.
Three programs in Class 1A will make their State Duals debut Wednesday at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
Sumner Fredericksburg, Audubon and West Marshall each qualified for the 1A bracket for the first time.
Sumner-Fredericksburg is the highest seed. The Cougars (26-3) are fourth and have No. 5 Clarion-Goldfield (12-2) in the first round. They reached the State Duals with a 43-31 win over Turkey Valley in the regional dual final.
West Marshall toppled traditional power Don Bosco 39-31 in the regional dual final to punch its ticket. Eighth-seeded West Marshall (22-7) has another tough task with No. 1 Alburnett (29-1) in the quarterfinals.
Audubon (25-2) is seeded seventh and takes on No. 2 Woodbury Central (27-4). All 1A quarterfinals begin at 11 a.m.
In Class 2A, Boyden Hull/Rock Valley (25-2) is making its first appearance as a combined program. Rock Valley was a State Duals participant in 1989, 1990 and 1993.