DES MOINES — Success hasn’t come in abundance for the metro high school teams at the Iowa state wrestling tournament in recent seasons.
The Waterloo/Cedar Falls area hasn’t had a champion since Waterloo West’s Marcus Harrington won his second title in 2014. But this past week, all four metro head coaches saw something to build on.
“I think they are enjoying what we are doing and understanding that we are here to help them learn and help them get better,” said Waterloo West coach Alex Dolly, who saw senior Sam Gerst close out his career with a fall over Waverly-Shell Rock’s Jacob Eggelston to finish fifth at 220.
In the past four years, the Wahawk program has seen 11 different head coaches and assistant coaches, and Dolly said his biggest challenge in building the program back up is at the lowest levels.
This year, 35 kids signed up for a first-year elementary program. That encouraging for the future, while Gerst’s performance provides an example for the present.
“Hopefully there are some tweeners or kids on the fence that will now give us a shot,” Dolly said. “Sam did that and I just said to him, ‘Thank you for giving us a chance and letting us help you for one season.
“Sam gave us a shot and hopefully we can get more kids to do that.”
Cedar Falls interim head coach Ethan Wiechmann also was happy with how year one went as the Tigers saw sophomore Jakey Penrith take seventh at 113 and senior Bryce Pilcher fourth at 170.
Wiechmann, whose staff includes Michael Kelly, Nick Moore and Brad Penrith, said he doesn’t know his status moving forward, but he’s encouraged by the progress made within the program this year.
“We have to evaluate what is going on with the program,” Wiechmann said. “We have a lot of good coaches and a lot of good things going. The conversation has to involve my current coaches, my family, and right now we are just happy how we wrestled and how far the program has grown this year.”
Help is coming from a pair of youth programs at Waterloo East, but one thing the Trojans know they can build on is junior Tyrell Gordon.
Gordon took fourth at 182 after a hard-fought, 5-2 loss to Burlington’s Spencer Sherwood in the third-place match.
“I need to be more aggressive on my feet and score more points,” Gordon said. “I’m not that far away. I guess I’ve come a long way despite just starting in the eighth grade, but I’m really not where I want to be so I’ve got room to improve.”
Cedar Falls was the top metro finisher in 21st place with 27 points, while East took 32nd (19) and West 37th (13).
PROUD COACH, DAD: Kaleb Boleyn reached his goal to wrestle on Saturday and stand on the podium.
He had a rough consolation morning, losing both of his matches, but the Waterloo Columbus senior’s sixth-place finish made his coach proud.
“To leave here with his goal of wrestling on Saturday and getting on that podium ... as a coach and dad I couldn’t be happier,” Columbus coach Denny Boleyn, Kaleb’s dad, said.
STELLAR CAREER: Waverly-Shell Rock’s Austin Yant overcame a disappointing semifinal loss Friday to post a pair of victories Saturday to finish third at 152 and cap his career with 183 career victories, which ties him with Eric DeVos and Cody Krumweide as the all-time wins leaders in school history.
Yant’s third place comes after he finished second as a junior, sixth as a sophomore and seventh as a freshman.
“To be able to be a four-time placewinner and do the things he’s been able to do, that is a heck of a high school career,” Go-Hawks head coach Eric Whitcome said.
Waverly-Shell Rock finished seventh in the team standings and failed to get a wrestler into the finals for the first time since 2004.
The Go-Hawks had four other medalists — freshman Evan Yant was sixth at 106, sophomore Dylan Albrecht was sixth at 120, senior Zack Wagenhoffer was fourth at 160 and senior Jacob Eggleston was sixth at 220.
W-SR also returns state qualifiers Byrson Hervol and Dalton Woodyard next season.