DES MOINES – Cedar Rapids Prairie freshman Sam Uthoff limped to the mat with a smattering of applause from nearby fans.
The Hawks’ 106-pound freshman deserved the appreciation given his Wednesday morning.
Uthoff inured his knee during the quarterfinal round of the Iowa High School Athletic Association Class 3A State Duals wrestling tournament at Wells Fargo Arena. The Hawks won the dual over West Des Moines Dowling, 41-27, but whether they lost Uthoff for the week is uncertain.
“Better,” Uthoff said about how he felt before the second-seeded Hawks’ semifinal dual with No. 3-seed Bettendorf. “Keep icing it and not let it heat up. No hot tub tonight.”
He seemed upbeat, despite the possibility of the State Duals schedule robbing him of a chance to compete in the three-day individual tournament Thursday through Saturday here. Uthoff (29-8), ranked fifth, is set to face Bettendorf’s No. 2 Jacob Schwarm in the first round.
The risk of injury is why some coaches sit traditional state tournament qualifiers during the Duals.
“It’s unfortunate,” Prairie coach Blake Williams said. “It’s your worst fear down here.”
To make matters worse, Williams said he felt the situation could have been prevented on and off the mat.
Williams said Dowling’s sixth-ranked Tanner Rohweder cinched up an inside cradle with Uthoff on his hip and his left leg bent oddly. As Rohweder moved behind Uthoff, it became worse before Rohweder won by fall. Williams claimed it was obvious to all, including the official, who declined to stop the action.
The Hawks have been riddled with injuries this season, including season ending injuries to ranked starters Austin Gould (182) and Dylan Becker (132). Williams said safety has to be the priority.
“It’s one thing if it’s a freak thing,” Williams said, “and another if it’s something that could be prevented with a potentially dangerous (position call).”
Williams said that Uthoff was tended to by the team’s athletic trainers. He said Uthoff’s knee was sore and swollen, but unsure of the extent of the injury. They will decide Thursday morning if he can continue to compete.
“Right now, we really don’t know,” Williams said Wednesday afternoon. “It is what it is.”
The scheduling has created situations like this. Last year, Nashua-Plainfield’s Cody Marks was injured during State Duals and missed the individual tournament. Jesup’s Ryan Hall replaced him and placed fifth. Linn-Mar’s Noah Ajram, who was third at the Marion district, could replace Uthoff.
Williams said the incident didn’t alter his approach for later rounds of the State Duals tournament, but it did make his decision easier. He doesn’t want to be forced into such a decision, but has to with the dual championship on the eve of the individual tournament.
“It puts coaches and wrestlers in bad spots,” Williams said. “It shouldn’t be a case at state.”