Ayala, 120 pounds and the first Dodger to ever be ranked No. 1 nationally, is one of the most sought-after recruits in the nation. Des Moines Register
There was a lot to digest with 32 different Iowa sectional tournaments taking place this past Saturday.
All of it helped decide both who qualified for districts, for one, and who qualified for regional duals in Classes 1A and 2A. The 3A regional duals are already set, and Iowa’s largest class also only has one level of postseason wrestling in order to qualify for state (more on this in a minute).
The biggest thing, to me, that emerged was that two girls advanced to their respective district tournaments.
In 1A, Southwest Valley’s Adyson Lundquist finished second at 106 pounds and qualified for District 7. In 2A, Glenwood’s Abby McIntyre took second at 132 and qualified for District 2.
These developments, in tandem with the continued growth of girls’ wrestling the past two years, is an easy segue into reminding everybody that only two girls (Cassy Herkelman and Megan Black) have ever qualified for the state tournament. Both qualified in 2011. Black qualified again the next year and took home a medal, the only girl in state history to do so.
So Lundquist and McIntyre, along with the handful of other girls who will compete at various 3A district tournaments this weekend, are on the precipice of doing something special.
Both are accomplished wrestlers when competing against other girls. Lundquist took fifth at the IWCOA girls’ state tournament this year and is only a freshman. McIntyre, a junior, won the IWCOA girls’ state tournament earlier this year, earned All-American honors at the U16 freestyle national championships last summer as well as a spot in the most-recent high school girls’ national rankings.
So what are their odds of reaching state?
For Lundquist, her district bracket features Underwood’s top-ranked Gable Porter, Riverside’s seventh-ranked John Schroder and Bedford-Lenox’s Mizael Gomez — those rankings are from IAWrestle. She’s 0-1 against Schroder this year and 0-2 against Gomez. And, for whatever it’s worth to you guys, I’ve thought Porter to be the favorite to win state since watching him compete at the Council Bluffs Classic back in December.
For McIntyre, her district features Winterset’s fourth-ranked Bryce Hatten, Clarinda’s Kale Downey and Creston’s Garzon Wurster. She’s 0-2 against Downey this year and hasn’t faced the other two. Hatten is absolutely a title contender at a weight I believe to be relatively wide-open in 2A.
In short, it’ll be a tall task for both, but it’s not out of the question. By putting yourself in the bracket, you give yourself a chance, and as we’ve seen time and again in wrestling, anybody can be beaten on any given day.
Now, then. Onto the wrestling mailbag. Speaking of girls’ wrestling, a quick shoutout to Rachel Watters, a former Ballard star who won a Women’s Collegiate Wrestling Association national title over the weekend for Oklahoma City University. She went 5-0 and outscored her opponents 49-2 en route to first. She’s good, but we knew that.
Please give me a follow on Twitter (@codygoodwin) and I’ll keep you guys up-to-date on all things wrestling in Iowa. Thanks so much for your help here, and for reading.
These first two questions kind of go together, so we’ll knock them out with one big, sweeping response.
I’d love to see sectionals go away. They seem like an unnecessary step. I scanned every sectional in both Class 2A and 1A. No bracket was bigger than eight wrestlers, and some were as small as two. You can eliminate sectionals and just bring everybody to their assigned district, and no bracket would be bigger than 16.
You can knock that out in a day, and you could open up a trove of possibilities. By eliminating sectionals, you’ll open up a free weekend.
Here’s a radical idea: Imagine if you did New Districts™ (that’s what we’re calling this now) on the weekend normally reserved for Old Sectionals and that opened up the weekend before the state championships.
For, say, I don’t know, state duals.
The hesitation here is that sectionals decide the regional dual pairings for 2A and 1A. But maybe it’s time to figure out a new process. By opening up that week, you could find a way to figure out new regional dual format. Heck, you could dedicate THAT ENTIRE WEEK to state duals.
Think about it. You do a round of regional duals on Tuesday, another on Thursday, then wrap up with the finals on Saturday. Everybody gets breaks in between and allows for teams to still qualify. It’d be a weeklong celebration of the dual format, then everybody can reconvene the following week for the traditional state tournament.
Or, you could move New Districts™ to the same weekend as Old Districts and push the state duals to the same week as Old Sectionals. So you’d knock out the state duals, and then focus the final two weeks on the individuals and traditional state tournament.
Like I said, a trove of possibilities.
There would be many other details to hammer out, of course. Holding state duals the Wednesday before the traditional state tournament is easy, because it allows the Iowa High School Athletic Association to rent out Wells Fargo Arena for the week. But for so long, coaches and wrestling prognosticators in the state have wanted it to move.
By eliminating sectionals, you open up that possibility in the schedule, at least, and it’s just one idea that falls in line all too well. Maybe you take state duals to Young Arena in Waterloo, or put the finals in the West Gym in Cedar Falls, or take it to Hilton Coliseum or Carver-Hawkeye Arena if either is open. Or to Coralville, once Xtream Arena is done.
I don’t know if this is on the association’s mind at all. I haven't asked. But it makes a little bit of sense. The association announced last May that it’s exploring the idea of moving state duals. This seems like one possibility.
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I’d put my bets on Michael Kemerer beating Mark Hall again, but probably at like a 55% shot.
This is not a knock against Austin DeSanto, who I believe is still a national title contender at one of the country’s deepest weights. This is also not a slight against Hall, who has reached the NCAA finals during each of his three collegiate seasons.
One thing I’ve noticed, though, is that some top-tier guys tend to wrestle DeSanto better after getting a feel for him than they do the first time against him. That pace can be a mother to deal with when you’re not ready for it. But when you are ready, guys can find a way to adapt, like Seth Gross did at the Midlands Championships.
Although DeSanto wasn’t his normal self against Roman Bravo-Young last month because of the injury, everything I’ve seen from Bravo-Young this season suggest he’s made significant strides since last year. He looked a lot more confident on the mat going into that match last month than he did either time they wrestled last season.
What struck me about Kemerer’s win over Hall last month was that Kemerer basically withstood every haymaker Hall threw at him, and then continued to pile on throughout the match. Kemerer has the uncanny ability to finish around 99.6% of his shots, be it because of good technique or strong hips or the fact that he’s just relentless on his feet.
The one thing to keep in mind is that maybe Hall wrestles a different match if they meet again. Last month, Hall knew he could end the dual by taking out Kemerer, and tried as much by going for the killshot within the first minute. Kemerer is athletic enough that he rolled through that attempt and went on to score three takedowns and win.
I wonder how strategic he would be in a rematch, and I also wonder how DeSanto will look once he comes back. If he’s wearing any sort of brace or something on his knee, I think that might hinder his wrestling style, even if only a little.
Or maybe it won’t. We haven’t seen it yet.
There’s a world where both Kemerer and DeSanto beat their Penn State counterparts, and there’s a world where they both lose those matches, too. It might be the same world, since they could theoretically meet multiple times over the course of three weeks in March.
... Which would be a lot of fun.
They’ll be as healthy as they can be. Once Big Tens roll around, they won’t have much of a choice. But by then, nearly everybody is dealing with something, big or small.
It is my understanding that both guys will be in the postseason lineup. Until I hear otherwise, that’s the plan. They are Iowa’s best chance at scoring the most points at both of those weights.
There are only two duals left — against No. 5 Minnesota this weekend and No. 9 Oklahoma State the following weekend — so there’s a fair chance we may not see them until the Big Ten Championships. But I’ll bet we see them at least once before then.
I felt inclined to say that the 89 straight basketball wins is more impressive, just because of the frequency of the games and all the different factors that go into a game — your team making shots and your opponent missing shots chief among them (remember, I’m a wrestling guy) — and for all of that to fall your way 89 straight times is just ludicrous.
At the same time, they’re two different sports. There are multiple ways to win a basketball game. You can have one guy dominate and produce half (or more) of the total scoring output. One guy can only score six points in a wrestling dual. In that sense, Grand View’s ability to consistently field a dominant wrestling team is impressive.
They’re pretty similar when viewed through that lens. Because over the course of however many sporting events, you have to
- go out and execute,
- and stay healthy over the course of however many whatever sporting events.
The wild part about Grand View’s current streak is how dominant they’ve been in that span. In 88 straight dual victories, they’ve posted 30 shutouts and have held another 33 opponents to six points or less. Only 11 teams have scored double digits against them.
It’s been 2,287 days and counting since Grand View last lost. The win streak has now spanned eight seasons. There are second-graders who have literally never lived to see Grand View lose a wrestling dual. I am running out of ways to adequately describe how impressive this streak is.
The all-time record for any collegiate wrestling program at any level is 92, set by by State University of New York Delhi from 1979-83. At their current rate, Grand View will surpass that mark next season. The Vikings could even hit 100 by the end of next season if they schedule enough duals.
There’s something to chew on heading into 2020-21.
This week, I referenced Grand View’s 88 straight dual victories, and followed up by asking if you guys had ever done anything 88 times in a row. And some of the responses were pretty great.
I mean, I guess, but I was looking for a little more creativity.
That said, I can’t honestly say I’ve done this 88 times in a row. I’ve pulled a couple of all-nighters in the past 88 days, so kudos to you guys who sleep regularly.
The consistency is impressive. I’ve learned to at least not skip leg day every week because I don’t want to publicly waddle like a duck for the few days afterward if I do blow it off.
We were all there, Steve Austin DeSanto. We were all there.
Even on the weekends? You’re a machine.
I was told by my first journalism teacher that in order for you to have 10 good photos of something, you must shoot 1,000 of that something. I’ll bet a lot of photographers can relate to this.
I would bet she’s probably undefeated, or at least has a streak that includes ties/compromises.
That Championship Lifestyle requires major sacrifices sometimes. I respect it.
Does this count, even with the all-nighters? I may have finally found one that applies to me.
Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.
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