Cascade’s girls’ wrestling team competed at a pair of tournaments last week, gaining experience before this week’s regional tournament at Luther College in Decorah, on Jan. 27.
The Cougars opened with a ninth-place team finish at East Buchanan, Jan. 20.
“East Buchanan was full of teams we haven’t wrestled yet this year,” coach Josh Lawler explained. “With that said I thought we wrestled some of our best matches fundamentally Friday night as a team. Not because we had a ton of placers, because we didn’t, but for the way they listened, adjusted during the match and finished their moves and stayed in good positions. That is hard for experienced wrestlers to do.”
Leah Schwenker led Cascade with a third-place finish. She started the tournament in style by pinning Anna Hurning, of Central DeWitt, in 46 seconds. Next, she earned a win by fall in 34 seconds over Rebecca Surh, of Central Elkader. After a loss to East Buchanan’s Keeley Kehrli in 40 seconds, she pinned Madison Edens, of Central DeWitt, in 4:21.
“Leah found a very formidable opponent in East Buc’s Kehrli. Leah lost by fall, due to a young mistake but pound for pound they match very well. Leah was not happy with that match and she will definitely make sure she adjusts when they meet again,” Lawler said.
Ella Madsen-Lucas finished fourth. She opened with a win by fall over Nevaeh Howard, of Burlington, Notre Dame in 2:23. After a loss in the semifinals, she earned a 3-1 decision over West Delaware’s Addison Burger. She was pinned in the third-place match.
Kinzi Martin and Jennifer Knepper finished fifth.
After a first-round loss, Martin battled through the consolation side of the bracket. After a bye, she pinned Ali Burkhalter, of AP-GC, received a medical forfeit win over West Delaware’s Emily Gudenkauf and pinned Kara Knipper, of East Buchanan, in 26 seconds.
Knepper opened with a quarterfinal loss to Center Point-Urbana’s Jenna Small. Then she pinned Aijah Twillie, of Burlington, Notre Dame, in 2:34. After a loss to Dubuque Senior’s Abigail Gauf in 1:20, she earned a win by fall over Averie Bartolotta, of Dubuque Senior, in 2:10.
Baleigh Martin finished seventh with a record of 3-2. She had a bye and two wins via fall. She topped Macey Brant, of Clear Lake, in 2:23, and April Theisen, of Dubuque Senior, in 1:25.
Grace Davis and Gracee Kearney both placed eighth. Davis went 2-3 with a win via bye and by fall over Kaela Kootsvayouma, of Dubuque Senior, in 1:15. Kearney went 0-3.
“Grace, Ella, Kinzi, Baleigh, Gracee and Jeni wrestled with excellent form,” Lawler said. “I was very proud of the whole group. None of them were out-wrestled. They were beaten with experience, which comes from going out there day after day in meets and practice. They don’t see what the parents, Cascade staff and I see in how much they improved and grown.
“Most improved for this week goes to Grace Davis and Gracee Kearney, They really need to be proud of their efforts. I know I am and so is the team.”
East Buchanan won its own tournament with 234 points. Dubuque Senior was second (138), Central DeWitt third (114), Central Elkader fourth (114), Alburnett fifth (109), AP-GC sixth (95), Tripoli seventh (93), West Delaware eighth (86), Cascade ninth (69), Clear Lake 10th (67), Center Point-Urbana 11th (48), Denver 12th (30) and North Tama 13th (nine).
Jan. 21, the Cougars competed in the North Tama Red Hawk Girls’ Scramble where Schwenker again led the team. She tallied three wins to take first. She won by medical forfeit and pinned Ciera Randall, of West Marshall, in 36 seconds and Meredith Crawford, of West Marshall, in 2:22.
“Saturday was a round-robin format where we had a lot of great matches with some schools we don’t see often or may never see in regionals,” Lawler said. “These teams were very well coached and the girls were tough. Hats off to the coaches and wrestlers of West Marshall, Moravia, Albia, Baxter and North Tama. They have some excellent wrestlers and programs. These girls have been around the sport for a while.”
Martin earned a second-place finish with a 2-1 record. Her wins were by fall over Randall (officially recorded at 0:00) and Crawford in 37 seconds.
Halana Reed finished third with a 1-2 record. Her win was by fall over Nevia Brown, of West Marshall, in 3:04.
Madsen-Lucas, Martin and Kearney all finished fourth. Madsen-Lucas was 1-3 with a win by fall over Savannah Perry, of West Marshall, in 1:38. Martin and Kearney were both 0-3.
Davis finished fifth with an 0-4 record.
The Cougars next competition will be at the regional tournament which begins at 11 a.m. on Friday.
“All I can say going into regionals is the girls just need to wrestle ‘their’ match, not worry about records, seeds or any of the hype, and just go wrestle the girl in front of them. They cannot have fear of losing or winning, just be present and put out what they have to bring,” Lawler said. “They already have so much to be proud of. They are a great example of work ethic, determination, grit, sportsmanship and Cascade should be proud of this historic first class team of women grapplers.
“I always tell them that this program and team is on them to build and that I am just a guide. They represent the school and town with the character and integrity the program is built on, which starts with them and ends with the rest of us.”