Mile Wide Pride.
It’s the community’s slogan, and the Denver wrestling team is owning it.
After a highly successful run as a combined Denver-Tripoli wrestling program with state championships in 2010 and 2012, Denver parted ways with Tripoli following last season.
With a new athletic facility opening Nov. 26, the Cyclones wanted to break out on their own once again.
Denver also wants to break in on the hierarchy of Class 1A as the split with Tripoli drops the Cyclones down a class.
Denver returns 53 state tournament points and is bringing in a strong freshman class that is bolstering its depth.
“We are really excited to get going,” Denver head coach Chris Krueger said. “We’re ready to go out and take on everybody, see what we can do and represent the Mile Wide City.”
The Cyclones return five state qualifiers, including state runner-up Blake Steege, third-place finisher Riley Wright and fifth-place finisher Cael Krueger. Also back are state qualifiers Gabe Lewis and Caleb Wilson.
“We had a great offseason, won the Grand View and Wartburg team camps. Everybody is falling into the right weights. We are excited,” Krueger added.
The 53 returning points puts Denver in the thick of the 1A race. Defending champion Lisbon returns 95 points and eight qualifiers, while runner-up Don Bosco returns 58 points, four state placewinners and seven qualifiers.
Missouri Valley (54), Underwood (54.5), Alburnett (42.5) and Wapsie Valley (46) also return large numbers of state tournament points.
“It is strange how it works out sometimes,” Don Bosco head coach Tom Hogan said. “1A is going to be the toughest class this season. It is going to be a fun fight.”
The Dons lost just two seniors a year ago and have plenty of firepower in the lower weights as Daniel Kimball, Easton Larson, Gable Fox and Logan Lutgen all earned podium finishes last February at state.
“We’re going to have the most kids out that we have had in a long time, upwards of 25,” Hogan said. “There is going to be some competition for spots, and that only is going to make a kid better.”
Wapsie Valley returns a pair of champions — Donny Schmit, a champ in 2016 and second a year ago at 126, and defending 138 champion Kaleb Krall.
There is one other area champion back in 1A, Chance Throndson of Riceville, who became the Wildcats’ first champ in 20 years when he won at 132.
Class 2A figures to be a tight race again, just like it was last year when Solon edged New Hampton by one-half point for the team title.
The Chickasaws lost two-time state champion Keaton Geerts and state runner-up Ryan Gorman, but head coach Nick Hemann, who will be adding wrestlers from Turkey Valley this winter, believes New Hampton will be in the thick of the postseason trophy hunt.
“We lost a good senior class, but I think we can be as good or better than we were last year, to be honest,” Hemann said.
The Chickasaws return two-time state champion Michael Blockhus, three-time state semifinalist Noah Fye and Noah Glaser at 160. Both Blockhus and Glaser are committed to Northern Iowa.
Ballard returns the most tournament points of any 2A team (55) with Davenport Assumption, third a year ago, returning 51 and New Hampton bringing back 42.
“We are excited to put our team out there and compete with anyone,” Hemann said.
Among other top area 2A wrestlers are defending 220-pound champion Jordan Baumler of North Fayette Valley, as well as Jack Thomsen of Union and Ryan Steffen of Crestwood.
In 3A, Waverly-Shell Rock has four state qualifiers back, including Evan Yant (sixth at 106) and Dylan Albrecht (sixth at 120). Bryson Hervol at 126 and Dalton Woodyard at 145 were also state qualifiers in 2017.
“We have a nice group coming back” Go-Hawks head coach Eric Whitcome said. “We are going to be heavy on juniors. We may only start one or two seniors, that is it.
“We have a bunch of guys who may not be household names yet, but we feel can step in and compete at a real high level.”