WATERLOO, Ia. — West Delaware coach Jeff Voss recognized the degree of difficulty when he acknowledged the Hawks could leave the Battle of Waterloo without a victory on the tournament’s final day.
The statement spoke more about the strength of the competition and parity of the 32-team field than the might of his squad, but it wasn’t a knock on West Delaware’s mettle.
The Hawks invited a pair of state title contenders into their backyard on the season’s opening weekend, sought out the state’s toughest dual tournaments the last two Saturdays and emerged victorious every time.
But this topped all of West Delaware’s performances to date.
The top-ranked team in Class 2-A wiped out a pair of 3-A powers for the second straight weekend and handled Davenport Assumption on Saturday night to win the Battle of Waterloo’s round-robin championship series at Young Arena.
“We’re getting there as a team,” West Delaware coach Jeff Voss said. “We fought hard in matches we lost, we didn’t give up bonus points maybe we had in previous duals. I think as a team we’re starting to evolve a little bit. I still think we have a ways to go and we need to accomplish our goals at the end of the year, but we’re making progress.”
The Hawks went down to the wire last week with Linn-Mar of Marion and Cedar Rapids Prairie, winning on the final match to claim the title at the Five Seasons Duals. There was no last-bout suspense this time around.
“This is something we’ve been working towards since the beginning of the season,” said West Delaware 195-pounder Jacyn Goebel, who wrestled a grand total of 4 minutes, 46 seconds in six matches this weekend. “The training partners in the room really sharpen everyone up. Good training partners and good results.”
West Delaware turned three individual losses last week into victories Saturday to distance itself from two of the top four teams in the 3-A rankings. The Hawks cruised to a 38-24 win against No. 4 Cedar Rapids Prairie, handled No. 2 Linn-Mar 42-28 and clinched the tournament crown with a 34-26 victory against Class 2-A No. 2 Davenport Assumption.
“We got outfought,” Cedar Rapids Prairie coach Blake Williams said. “Hands down, they just beat us. They were better than us. But at least the kids responded.” We challenged them to go out and fight the next two meets like we know how to fight and I thought we wrestled a lot better in the Assumption meet.”
Cedar Rapids Prairie defeated Linn-Mar and Davenport Assumption to finish second.
Valley went 1-2 Saturday to finish third in Bracket 2, Indianola dropped two of its three duals to place second in Bracket 6 and ADM of Adel lost all three of its meets to finish fourth in Bracket 6.
Second-ranked 113-pounder Zach Less set the tone Saturday night for West Delaware when he pinned Prairie’s Jonah Nassif in the first match of the championship series. Teammate Sam Phillips fought off a shot by Jayden Flege and countered for an overtime takedown to win 3-1 at 120. West Delaware’s Connor Wickman, who lost in last week’s title meet against Prairie, defeated Dylan Becker 4-1 at 138.
Prairie led just once against West Delaware — Austin Gould’s disqualification victory at 182 put his team ahead 22-18 with four matches remaining — but it hardly felt like an advantage. West Delaware still had four top-ranked wrestlers to send out and Goebel, defending state champ Adam Reth (220), heavyweight Dean Broghammer and 106-pounder Patrick Woods produced two pins and a pair of decisions.
West Delaware’s lineup – with highly-ranked wrestlers at the beginning, middle and end – was too much for Linn-Mar and Davenport Assumption to handle, especially with sidelined stars. Injured defending state champions Matt Wempen of Linn-Mar and Nick Georgean of Davenport Assumption didn’t wrestle Saturday.
“I feel like by the time state comes we’ll be an entirely different team and this will be just a little thing of the past,” Davenport Assumption 132-pounder Kyle Springer said. “We’ve got to keep working on where we’re weak and keep working on our heart because it looked like some of us lost on heart out there, and that’s a big aspect of wrestling.”