Nikes crown five champions at Maquoketa Valley
December and January are great,but it's all about February when it comes to the high school wrestling season.
That's been the philosophy of Hall of Fame coach Bill Plein, who is in his fifth season as head coach at Notre Dame-West Burlington.
The Nikes, the defending Class 2A state champion, made a 2 1/2-hour bus ride north Saturday to compete in the Farr Jebens Invitational at Maquoketa Valley High School in Delhi.
There, Notre Dame-West Burlington crowned five champions and finished fourth in the team race with 167 points.
For the Nikes, it is one step closer to the postseason, which begins Jan. 28 with the SEI Superconference Tournament at New London.
"We wrestled pretty decently. We left a lot of matches out there that w I thought we should have won," Plein said of the Nikes' first competition since Dec. 21. "We focused more on fixing some skills and improving on some other things (last week). We spent most of the time just trying to get healthy and trying to get back on the same page."
Winning championships for the Nikes were Carter West at 106 pounds, CJ Davis at 120, Kaiden Dietzenbach at 126, Isaiah Fenton at 160 and CJ Walrath at 182.
Also placing for the Nikes were Evan Vanerstrom (seventh at 113), Cole Mincer (sixth at 132), Blake Wilson (fifth at 145) and Lyblie Christofferson (seventh at 152).
"It's an opportunity to see some different people. Nothing against the tournament around here, but you end up wrestling the same people. This give us a better barometer on where we are at," Plein said. "We saw some improvement from a lot of our kids. We are really young. A lot of kids are adjusting to the varsity level."
Notre Dame-West Burlington travels to New London for a quadrangular with Louisa-Muscatine and Lone Tree at 6 p.m. Thursday, then travels to Cascade for a tournament on Saturday.