Monday, March 19, 2018
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Jim Ecker, President & Editor

Metro Sports Report

J-Hawks' Herman trims Nagle for state title

DES MOINES -- Conner Herman waddled around Wells Fargo Arena at the state wrestling tournament last year as a 250-pound heavyweight. Or maybe it was 260.

"I was pretty big," he said Saturday night. "I was not the healthiest person ever."

Now he's the picture of good health, and the trimmer Cedar Rapids Jefferson senior has the Class 3A 215-pound state title as a satisfying reward.

Herman beat Ben Nagle of North Scott, 5-3 in overtime, Saturday at Wells Fargo Arena to claim Jefferson's first title since Tim Ironside won a championship for the J-Hawks in 1998.

Herman thanked Jefferson assistant coach Matt Orton, a former J-Hawk state champion himself in 1989, for "beating on me" in practice and giving him dietary advice.

Orton's advice?

"Eat stuff that spoils," Herman said. "Don't eat anything that doesn't spoil."

Nagle, ranked second in the state, tried to spoil Herman's goal of winning Jefferson's first state title in 13 years by taking a 2-0 lead with a reversal in the second period, but Herman fought back.

Herman got an escape and a takedown for a 3-2 lead with 30 seconds left in the third period, but Herman locked his hands while trying to protect the lead and was called for a penalty point to tie the match 3-3 with 11 seconds to go.

"It was a dumb move on my part," he said.


Tara Trcka, Linn-Mar girls in at state

Xavier sophomore Tara Trcka has qualified for Thursday's Class 1A bowling meet, and the Linn-Mar girls have qualified as an at-large team for Class 2A meet Friday.

Trcka shot a 388 in Saturday's regional tournament at May City Lane. Her name was not on the list when the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union released the names of qualifiers Saturday night, although her 388 was better than several of the scores that had been reported as at-large qualifiers. By Sunday, she was on the list.

Trcka is one of 16 qualifiers for the individual championship.  Hope Seyb of Keokuk had the top score in regionals with a 490.

Trcka's cousin, Allie Trcka of Cedar Rapids Jefferson, qualified for the Class 2A individual championship.

Linn-Mar finished third at the Class 2A regional at May City Bowl on Saturday. But both at-large teams to fill out the 10-team tournament field came from that regional. The Lions join regional champ Jefferson and second-place Muscatine in the 2A field.


Witte wins a thriller for 145-pound title

DES MOINES -- Zach Witte could write a thriller about his high school wrestling career someday.

Chapter 1: Witte finishes a surprising second at the 2009 state tournament as a starry-eyed freshman.

Chapter 2: Witte fails to qualify for state as a sophomore in 2010 and dedicates himself to winning the 2011 state title, vowing to climb to the top of the podium.

Chapter 3: He does it.

Witte became Cedar Rapids Prairie's first state champion in five years Saturday night when he edged Gabriel Moreno of Urbandale, 6-5, for the Class 3A 145-pound crown at Wells Fargo Arena.

"I've done it. I've finally done it," an exuberant Witte declared. "Wow. Wow is all I've got."

Wow was good enough.

Witte capped his perfect season with a 38-0 record and became Prairie's first state champion since Phil Sexton won the 140-pound crown for the Hawks in 2006.


Streicher on Northrup: 'He's one of our family'

DES MOINES -- Linn-Mar wrestling coach Doug Streicher stands solidly behind Joel Northrup, his 112-pounder who forfeited a match to a girl at the state tournament.

"He's one of our family," Streicher said Saturday at Wells Fargo Arena. "He does everything we ask him to do and he's a good kid. This doesn't change his status on our team one bit."

Northrup declined to wrestle Cassy Herkelman of Cedar Falls in the opening round on Thursday, possibly costing the Lions precious points in the team standings.

"It's a special situation that we're not commenting on and we stand by him," said Streicher.

Northrup, who is home-schooled, cited religious beliefs for not wrestling against Herkelman, who became the first girl to win a match in state tournament history.

Linn-Mar finished the consolation round Saturday afternoon in 15th place in the team standings, well short of its goal of cracking the top-10. The Lions brought eight wrestlers to Des Moines, but six of them lost in the first round.


Stokes, Lions crush J-Hawks again

Kiah Stokes and the Linn-Mar Lions beat up on the Jefferson J-Hawks for a second time this year.  Same song, different verse as Stokes once again outscored the J-Hawks alone to lead the Lions to a 54-22 victory in the Class 4A regional semifinals on Saturday night at Linn-Mar.

Stokes went for 29 points, 14 rebounds and eight blocks. She broke the state record of 497 career blocks held by Jessica Nikkel, who played for Lynnville-Sully from 1995 to 1999. Stokes has 500 career blocks.

“It’s pretty amazing to break a state record,” Stokes said. “Hopefully, it will make it harder for the next person to beat it.”

“I am very very proud of her,” Linn-Mar Coach Mike Brandt said. “She deserves it.”

The Lions (20-2) will face Cedar Rapids Xavier (15-7) on Tuesday night in the Jefferson gym with a trip to state on the line. The defending state champion Lions drummed Xavier twice during the regular season.

“It’s going to be who comes to play,” Brandt said. “It’s gonna be a war with them. It always has been. I don’t see it being any different on Tuesday."

Rachel Thrune added six points for the Lions.

Jefferson (8-15) was led by sophomore Taylor Jacobson with eight points. Senior Britteny Steffeny and sophomore Maddie Koolbeck each added six.


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