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Cedar Falls' Jakey Penrith looks for a pin against Ankeny Centennial's Noah Blubaugh during their 113-pound match during Class 3A state championships last February. 

It's been 13 years, but Chris Ortner has not forgotten how to ride a bike or what it takes to coach at the high school level. 

Actually, this time around, Ortner may be even better at the later skill.

After helping Wartburg College to nine NCAA Division III wrestling titles as an assistant coach, Ortner decided to leave the college ranks and return to the prep ranks where he enters his first season as head coach at Cedar Falls.

"It's a lot different than coaching college," Ortner said. "I like it. I love it. There is a real opportunity to touch kids lives. This is an age you can really make a difference in their lives and that is what I love about coaching."

Ortner is no stranger to the prep scene. He spent four seasons at Waterloo Columbus, coaching 19 state qualifiers and 18 state place winners while leading the Sailors to the Class 1A team title in 2004.

"The biggest challenge will be instilling our philosophy, expectations and our culture," Ortner said. "To create a culture of winning. Cedar Falls is doing that in every other sport and we want to follow suit."

Ortner returns a solid lineup with some veteran leadership. Leading the way is two-time state place winner Jakey Penrith, while Jackson Barth (120), Christian Simpson (138) and Justin Campbell (285) also are returning qualifiers.

Penrith enters his senior season after a sixth-place finish at 113 last year. He was seventh at 113 as a sophomore. 

Ortner has also built a solid coaching staff with a couple of very familiar names to the Cedar Valley, including former Northern Iowa assistant Mark Schwab,  and former two-time Wartburg NCAA champion Zac Wieglein.  

Waterloo West also is introducing a new coach in former Cedar Falls state medal winner (2001) -- Steve Farrell. Farrell begins his leadership of the Wahawk program after stints at Northeast Goose Lake and Lone Tree.

"I'm excited to get to know the kids," Farrell said. "This is great opportunity to take over a historic program. We got some kids with some experience, and we have got a lot of beginners. So, we are going to be teaching a lot of skills with some and refreshing some skills with others.

"We are going to celebrate all the small success. The biggest thing for me is to see each one of them grow and help them accomplish their goal whatever that may be."

West's returns state qualifier Kaden Karns (113).

Farrell's staff is shaping up, as well, as former West two-time state champion Marcus Harrington is joining it.

At Waterloo East, veteran head coach Jay Llewellyn loses leader two-time state place winner Tyrell Gordon to graduation, but returns several key wrestlers including Chryshaun Taylor, Jaxon Bentley, Aidan Ernst, Matthew Cary and Raquem Saffold. All five of those wrestlers posted winning marks in 2017-18.

After being short on numbers last year, Waterloo Columbus head coach Denny Boleyn is seeing his numbers grow.

Boleyn expects to have 12 or 13 out this year after only having six a year ago. Four of those wrestlers have varsity experience -- Ray Seidel, Jordan Newton, Ethan Holton and Sam Hackett.

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Sports Reporter

Sports reporter for The Courier

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