CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa -- Saturday's Five Seasons Duals in Cedar Rapids, Iowa were supposed to be a showdown between three of Iowa's five nationally ranked teams. However, Kaukauna came in from Wisconsin and stole the show. The Ghosts started their day with a pair of dominant wins, 72-7 over Cedar Rapids Washington (12 matches to 2) and 48-12 over Alburnett (10 matches to 4). They then faced No. 25 Bettendorf in the semifinal round after the Bulldogs had two wins of their own: 68-10 over Marion (12 matches to 2) and a tight 38-31 victory over Iowa City West (split at 7 matches each).
In this semifinal dual, Bettendorf and Kaukauna split the matches at seven apiece. The six Bulldogs wrestlers in their lineup that are projected to place at state all won their matches. Notable wins for that group came from No. 3 at 132 Fredy Stroker earning a 3-1 decision over two-time state finalist Robert Lee at 138 pounds, a 26-11 technical fall from No. 16 Logan Ryan against state qualifier Bailey Van Handel at 145, and state runner-up Jacob Schwarm with a pin at 0:40 over Junior Greco-Roman All-American Ty Lee at 113.
However, Kaukauna responded with seven wins in the other eight matches of the dual. The lack of depth in the Bulldogs' lineup was exacerbated by the absence of state alternate Eli Preisser (182) and state placer Raekwon Jefferson (285). With the dual starting at 138 pounds, Bettendorf jumped out to a 13-0 lead on the strength of victories from state champions Stroker, Ryan, and Jacob Woodard. Then five Kaukauna wins in six matches flipped it to a 23-16 lead for the Ghosts after 285 pounds.
It was three straight wins for Bettendorf, those coming from Cadet freestyle All-American Jack Wenger, Schwarm, and state qualifier Paul Glynn, to create a 31-23 advantage with two matches remaining. Kaukauna earned a pin from state third placer Tres Leon at 126 pounds would create a winner take all last match of the dual meet, one in which state qualifier Kolton Jansen scored a 22-7 technical fall to give the Ghosts a 34-31 victory.
The other half of the draw featured a pair of teams, which quite frankly had to be sick of each other after less than ten days of the regular season. No. 46 Cedar Rapids Prairie and No. 49 Linn Mar were in the same tournament last weekend, one which Cedar Rapids Prairie out-pointed Linn Mar by 25-1/2 points; and wrestled in a dual meet on Thursday night, Cedar Rapids Prairie came on top 38-34 there even though the teams split the fourteen weight classes.
Cedar Rapids Prairie opened with a 60-15 win over the West Delaware JV (10 matches to 4) and followed it up with a 52-13 win over Charles City (11-3 in matches) to advance to the semifinal round, while Linn-Mar scored a 72-12 win over Waterloo East (12-2 matches) and split the 14 weight classes in a 39-35 victory over West Delaware Manchester. This meant a second dual meet for the squads in three days.
Two notable additions to the Linn-Mar lineup from the earlier events where Cedar Rapids Prairie was present were the return of 2012 Junior freestyle All-American Noah Ajram (113) and two-time state placer Matt Wempen (126). Those two wrestlers made the difference in this dual meet. On Thursday night, Cedar Rapids Prairie got a win by fall from Dylan Kleinschmidt at 113 pounds, but on Saturday Ajram pinned Kleinschmidt; Zach Fiser earned a 5-2 decision at 126 for the Hawks on Thursday, but on Saturday it was Wempen earning a fall in 3:16. As a result, Linn-Mar won 9 of 14 weight classes in a 40-29 dual meet victory.
Cedar Rapids Prairie bounced back with a strong third place match performance, as they upended Bettendorf 39-35. Again, the Bulldogs lack of depth was costly. Their six projected state placers all won, but the other eight wrestlers went 1-7. Key wins from Bettendorf's core wrestlers came from state champion Jacob Woodard, who beat state placer Trey Blaha 4-3 at 152 pounds; and state qualifier Paul Glynn, who beat state placer Sam Uthoff 7-5 at 120. Key to the Hawks winning the dual meet was that five of their seven wins came from pins, while the other two came by pin and technical fall.
In the championship match, it was another split of the fourteen weight classes, as Kaukauna was able to upend Linn-Mar 33-32. With the dual meet starting at 145 pounds, each team would have three consecutive weights with some of the better wrestlers for their squads. Linn-Mar jumped out to an 8-0 lead with a pair of major decisions: 16-7 for Toby Northrup over Bailey Van Handel in a battle of state qualifiers, and two-time state placer Ross Lembeck scored an 18-6 victory over state qualifier Evan Hieptus. However, the Ghosts responded with a 3-1 victory from Justin Kloehn over Shea Hartzler in a battle of state qualifiers.
The next five matches were all either pins or forfeits. Kaukauna earned pins from Zach Shukoski (170) and Trent Trull (182) and got a forfeit for Will Russum (285), while Linn-Mar earned pins from state qualifiers Andrew Holladay (195) and Sam Nowak (220). At the turn, the score was 21-20 for Kaukauna. Trent Leon extended the Ghosts' lead to 27-20 with a first period pin at 106, while it was cut back to 27-24 after Noah Ajram earned a 13-0 major decision over Ty Lee in a battle of Junior National All-Americans.
The last four matches were alternate outcomes for each of the squads. No. 16 Alijah Jeffrey put Linn-Mar back on top 29-27 with a 15-0 technical fall over Ian Giacchini. Probably the most crucial match of the dual came next at 126 pounds where state third placer Tres Leon put Kaukauna back on top 30-29 with a 6-4 decision over two-time state placer Matt Wempen. Linn-Mar bounced back with a 3-2 victory from two-time state placer Damon Griffin over state qualifier Kolton Jansen at 132 pounds. This set up a winner-take-all last match, one in which Cadet freestyle All-American and two-time state finalist Robert Lee gave Kaukauna the 33-32 dual meet victory with a 5-0 match victory over Emmanuel Jeffrey.