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|3/9/2013 ||Email this article Print this article |
Season of ups and downs sets stage for big things in 2013-14
|A battle of the wills. Northeast junior Garrett Moeller (left) tries to stop a takedown attempt by Central junior Doug Hayen during a quarterfinal match at 285 pounds at the Saber Invitational. Both Moeller and Hayen had great seasons this year with the former winning 27 matches and the latter 26. The best news, though, for their respective coaches is that both will be back next year.|
By Ross Eberhart
Even with all of the successes on the mat this year - and there were many - you can count on a pair of hungry area wrestling teams when the 2013-14 season kicks off next winter.
Both the Central and Northeast wrestling squads will not only look to build off strong campaigns, but also rectify bitter endings that will provide plenty of motivation for the future.
For the Sabers, the season's end came a day too early as a quartet of state qualifiers came a match short of earning a state medal.
For the Rebels, the 2012-13 campaign ended even sooner than expected with just one Northeast wrestler advancing past the sectional meet.
The finishes were certainly not ideal, but they also take nothing away from successful seasons on the mat for both teams.
The four state qualifiers were the most for Central since the 2006-07 season as the Sabers peaked at the end of the season (in a three-week stretch, Central finished sixth at the WaMaC meet despite using 10 wrestlers, finished second at the 2A sectional meet to advance to the regional duals and took third in a loaded 2A district meet that included the second- and third-ranked teams in the state).
The Rebels, meanwhile, continued to rack up the dual victories, winning 16 this season (after breaking a program record with 19 last year) and they did it despite constantly being undermanned.
The great news for area wrestling fans is that both squads will remain largely intact for next year. Central had just four senior wrestlers compete at this year's sectional meet, while Northeast had just three.
That means there will be a large group of experienced and motivated grapplers ready to use this year's outcomes - good and bad - to springboard them to even better results in 2013-14.
Sabers pin their way to a successful season
There is nothing very rhythmic to a hand slapping the mat, but the sound proved to be music to the ears of the Central wrestling team.
Nine different Central wrestlers finished with at least 10 pins this season and the Sabers finished the year with 158 in varsity matches - the second-most in program history.
Senior Nick Woodford led the way with 21, while juniors Chase Kraklio and Doug Hayen were right behind him with 20 and 19, respectively.
Not surprisingly, the Sabers' large accumulation of falls also equated to more victories and Central wrestlers accounted for 303 wins this season. That number is fifth best in program history and the most since 2003.
Even more impressive is the fact that the Sabers earned their victories against some of the toughest competition in the state.
Central wrestled against each of the top-three teams in class 2A - West Delaware, Davenport Assumption and Mediapolis - at least twice during the season, and took part in a number of tournaments that featured ranked squads.
The Sabers opened the season with a tight dual loss against Wilton, but bounced back to take third at the Dick Mellinger Invitational in Burlington as Jake Feldpausch and Cameron Donovan both won titles.
A pair of dual losses to West Delaware and Mount Vernon was fouled by another strong tournament finish as Central took fourth at Sterling (Donovan won another title).
The Sabers finished their first half of the season by routing Maquoketa for their first dual win and then earning runner-up honors at the Saber Invitational.
Central opened the 2013 portion of the season with seven-straight dual meets and the Sabers got the new year off to a good start by going 5-2, including victories over 3A squads Iowa City High and Davenport West.
The Sabers kept rolling with a second-place finish at the Cascade Invitational (Drew Schroeder, Kraklio and Feldpausch were all champions for Central, which earned some revenge after finishing sixth the year before) and two more dual victories over Solon and Anamosa.
Late season injuries limited Central to just 10 wrestlers against tough fields at the Bob Lueders and WaMaC Invitationals, but the Sabers still wrestled well, taking ninth in the former event and sixth in the latter.
The Sabers saved their best for last, crowning a pair of champions - Schroeder and Donovan - at the 2A sectional meet and advancing six overall to the district meet.
Central also earned a spot in the regional duals for the second time in three years and gave eventual dual champion Assumption a battle in their meeting.
Competing against some of the state's best at the 2A district meet, Central advanced four wrestlers - Walker Wegener, Greyson Doolittle, Feldpausch and Donovan - to the state meet and finished third as a team.
A tough Friday prevented any of the Saber qualifiers from medaling, but it was still a strong finish for Central and one that might be topped next season.
The Sabers do lose two of their state qualifiers in Donovan and Doolittle, who will graduate with four years of varsity experience under their belt, as well as Woodford and Bowen, who both made spirited returns to the varsity lineup.
The other two qualifiers - Wegener and Feldpausch - do return. Feldpausch led all Sabers in victories this season with 33 and Wegener proved during his state run that he could compete with any wrestler in the state.
Joining the two are Schroeder and Kraklio, who were both district qualifiers. The former won a sectional title, while the latter was the Sabers' top finisher at the WaMaC meet and led the squad in team points.
Hayen will also be back after he won 26 matches in his first varsity season and so will varsity regulars Carter Cahill, Derol Campbell, Mason Cousins, Ryeland Doolittle, Emmitt Enyeart and Bryant Woodford.
With that much experienced talent coming back, the Sabers have every right to be excited for what comes next after a strong 2012-13 campaign.
Short-handed Rebels still put together winning year
The 2012-13 season definitely proved to be one of quality over quantity for the Northeast wrestling team.
The Rebels had fewer grapplers step on the mat this season (just 14, after 20 saw action last year), but those that did take to the center circle were some of the toughest wrestlers in the area.
Six different Northeast wrestlers won more than 20 matches this year with two more finishing with 19 and 17 victories.
Junior Tyler Schoon led the way with 37 wins, while senior Connor Soenksen had 35 and sophomore Blake Dierks 31.
The victories extended past just the individual level as Northeast went 16-6 during the dual season with the 16 wins being the second most in program history (just three less than the top mark set last season).
The Rebels got the season off to a good start as they swept a quadrangular with Davenport Central, Tipton and North Cedar before splitting two more dual meets against Camanche and Davenport Assumption.
In its first tournament of the year, Northeast finished second at Tipton, while crowning a pair of champions (Dierks and Dylan Ploog) and then avenged a loss from last year by beating Lisbon in a triangular with Midland.
The Rebels scored another runner-up finish at a tournament, this time at North Cedar, as Derick Johns won an individual title.
Northeast ended the 2012 portion of its season by winning two more dual meets (over Fulton and Bellevue) and competing at the Saber Invitational where Soenksen picked up the area's lone individual title.
After another dual split to start the new year, the Rebels jumped headfirst into 2013 by hosting the Northeast Invitational.
Keyed by titles from Schoon and Soenksen, the Rebels took third at their home event - just under eight points behind runner-up Durant.
The second half of the season proved to be full of dual meets for the Rebels, who won eight such competitions in the 2013 portion of their schedule, including a revenge victory over Durant and routs of Maquoketa, Davenport North and Anamosa.
The Rebels' dual meet success made for an especially sour experience at the 2A sectional meet as only Soenksen was able to extend his season and advance to the district meet.
Soenksen, though, also had the unfortunate circumstances of competing in the state's toughest district at his weight and the wrestlers who ultimately finished second and third at state denied the Rebel a second-straight trip to Des Moines.
It was a tough end for Soenksen, who finished his career sixth all-time in victories with 112 and led the Rebels in both takedowns (his 71 were fifth-most in program history) and two-point near falls.
The Rebels will also say goodbye to fellow seniors Cole Dickey, Ploog and Jon Schluns.
Dickey showed his mettle by returning from an injury in the second half of the season and going 11-5. Ploog, meanwhile, was a fixture of the Northeast lineup for the last three years, and Schluns went 3-0 this season.
The Rebels, though, also have a ton of returning talent highlighted by Schoon, who led all area wrestlers this season with 37 wins.
Schoon already has 107 wins to his name through three seasons and will no doubt threaten Northeast's all-time record of 143 wins next season.
Dierks still has two seasons to go after he racked up 54 career wins in his first two years and Northeast also brings back juniors Garrett Moeller, Andrew Driscoll, Grant Hinerichsen and Octavio Cruz.
Moeller and Driscoll are already seasoned veterans for the Rebels and combined for 53 wins this year, while Hinerichsen and Cruz impressed during their first full seasons of varsity action.
The talent is certainly there for the Rebels as they look to build off of yet another strong season on the mat.