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WAVERLY, Ia. — There will always be something special about the first.

Last year’s inaugural girls’ state wrestling tournament, hosted by the Iowa Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association at Waverly-Shell Rock high school, was exceptional. The girls were so competitive, the action so thrilling, that the boys' tournament running alongside it was forgotten about at times.

This weekend’s second running of the event showed the continued growth of the girls’ wrestling movement in Iowa — both in terms of numbers and talent. After 87 competed here a year ago, 350 attended in 2020. The event grew from a one-day affair to a two-day extravaganza.

When it ended Saturday, the host Go-Hawks emerged victorious again, claiming a second-straight team title with 156.5 points. Charles City won a heated battle for second, scoring 128 points to edge out Dubuque Wahlert (121), Osage (119) and Iowa City West (102).

If the first IWCOA girls’ wrestling state tournament was special, the second might best be described as momentous. The movement isn't slowing down and this weekend’s tournament was a shining example of that progress.

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Here’s 17 thoughts and observations from the action from the 2020 IWCOA girls’ state wrestling championships:

1. Waverly-Shell Rock continued its reign over the state’s girls’ wrestling scene thanks to five place-winners. Only one Go-Hawk wrestler reached the finals — sophomore Annika Behrends at 138 pounds — but the other four placed in the top six.

Even more, Waverly-Shell Rock received plenty of points from those who didn’t place — an additional 57.5, to be exact.

2. It helped that the Go-Hawks brought 20 total wrestlers, the second-most by any team. Only Iowa City West brought more, with 21. In all, 11 schools brought 10 wrestlers or more.

3. Six of the 11 weights required 64-person brackets because of the number of wrestlers. Another three required 32-person brackets. There were exactly 16 for 195 pounds and eight for 285. 

4. Check out this parity: The 44 wrestlers that reached the semifinals — only 11 weights were contested — represented 33 different schools. The 22 that made the finals represented 20 different schools.

5. Iowa City West and Independence both had two finalists. Every other school had just one.

6. All 11 state champions were from different schools. Five were seniors, two were juniors, three were sophomores and one was a freshman — Lisbon’s Jannell Avila.

7. Avila is the younger sister of Robert Avila Jr., the 2019 Class 1A state champion for the Lions who’s ranked No. 1 at 132 pounds this season. Robert coached Jannell in Saturday’s final, a 2-1 win over Logan-Magnolia’s Olivia Diggins at 138 pounds thanks to a third-period reversal.

Her entire family embraced her afterward, and she was quite emotional when she met with the media. The victory clearly meant a lot.

8. Of the 11 champions, four were repeats from last year: Davenport North’s Tateum Park at 113, Pleasant Valley’s Chloe Clemons at 120, Davenport Central’s Sydney Park at 126 and Iowa Valley’s Millie Peach at 195.

9. The other seven were first-time champs: Bettendorf’s Ella Schmit at 106, Glenwood’s Abby McIntyre at 132, Avila, Crestwood’s Lakin Lienhard at 145, Dubuque Wahlert’s Alaina Schmidt at 152, Humboldt’s Kendal Clark at 170 and Iowa City West’s Salima Omari at 285.

10. Six Iowa girls were included in the most-recent national high school girls’ wrestling rankings released by USA Wrestling, the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum and Flowrestling. Five of the six — Tateum Park, Clemons, Sydney Park, McIntyre and Peach — won titles.

The one that didn’t, Nashua-Plainfield’s Toyia Griffin, placed fourth at 152 pounds.

11. All three of Iowa's 16U freestyle All-Americans from this past summer — Schmit, McIntyre and Peach — won state titles.

12. Schmit won a title this year by getting revenge on AGWSR’s Ali Gerbracht in the 106-pound final. Schmit won 6-0 thanks to a takedown in the first period and a pair of reversals. Gerbracht beat Schmit 4-1 in last year’s state final.

13. McIntyre won arguably the tournament's toughest weight, and she took the hardest path to do it, beating the eventual fourth-, third- and second-place finishers. She defeated Waverly-Shell Rock’s Behrends, the defending state champion, in the finals.

14. Of the 11 champions, five pinned their way to first place — Tateum Park and Schmidt both recorded five pins, Lienhard and Peach both recorded four and Omari recorded three.

15. Eight of the 11 finals matches were decided by pin, including six in the first period. Tateum Park had the fastest, pinning Starmont’s Kari German in 11 seconds.

16. Four girls tied for the most pins, with six: Wahlert’s Alaina Duggan, Southwest Valley’s Adyson Lundquist, East Buchanan’s Keeley Kehrli and New Hampton-Turkey Valley’s Claire Quirk.

17. In all, 100 different wrestlers combined to record 332 total pins over the two-day tournament. More than 100 of those were in less than a minute. Humboldt’s Clark recorded the tournament’s fastest pin in seven seconds.

Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.

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2020 IWCOA GIRLS’ STATE WRESTLING CHAMPIONSHIPS

FINALS RESULTS

  • 106: Ella Schmit (Bettendorf) dec. Ali Gerbracht (AGWSR), 6-0
  • 113: Tateum Park (Davenport North) over Kari German (Starmont) by fall, 0:11
  • 120: Chloe Clemons (Pleasant Valley) over Meridian Snitker (Waukon) by fall, 3:14
  • 126: Sydney Park (Davenport Central) dec. Emma Grimm (Osage), 6-3
  • 132: Abby McIntyre (Glenwood) over Annika Behrends (Waverly-Shell Rock) by fall, 4:59
  • 138: Jannell Avila (Lisbon) dec. Olivia Diggins (Logan-Magnolia), 2-1
  • 145: Lakin Lienhard (Crestwood) over Mami Selemani (Iowa City West) by fall, 1:53
  • 152: Alaina Schmidt (Wahlert, Dubuque) over Val Boleyn (North Fayette Valley) by fall, 1:01
  • 170: Kendal Clark (Humboldt) over Kenzie Fischels (Independence) by fall, 1:13
  • 195: Millie Peach (Iowa Valley) over Rachel Eddy (Independence) by fall, 1:06
  • 285: Salima Omari (Iowa City West) over Iliana Yanes (Riverside, Oakland) by fall, 1:24

Final Team Scores

  1. Waverly-Shell Rock, 156.5
  2. Charles City, 128
  3. Dubuque Wahlert, 121
  4. Osage, 119
  5. Iowa City West, 102
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