The Little Hawk

Wrestling Team Overcoming Injuries

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Wrestling Team Overcoming Injuries

Senior Brandon Lalla escorted by his parents

Senior Brandon Lalla escorted by his parents

Lottie Gidal

Senior Brandon Lalla escorted by his parents

Lottie Gidal

Lottie Gidal

Senior Brandon Lalla escorted by his parents

Jack Bacon, Reporter

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With the State Tournament just around the corner, Little Hawk wrestling hopes it has turned the corner. After a regular season derailed by injuries and illness, 170 pound wrestler Brandon Lalla ‘19 believes City is prepared to turn heads in Des Moines.

“We’ve had a rough season,” said Lalla, “But we’re back on track now.”

Despite losing multiple State tournament qualifiers from last season, including State Champion Jacob Dykes and runner-up Wilfred Kadohou, City came into the season with high expectations. The Little Hawks won the MVC regular season championship in 2018 as well as the MVC Tournament. With multiple State qualifiers returning, Lalla says the team hoped to repeat as MVC Champs.

“Winning titles is always the goal,” said Lalla, “We’re always competing for MVC titles and state titles.”

However, City quickly realized that a regular season championship wasn’t in the cards. The team was hamstrung by injuries in the first half of the season and dropped key conference matchups.

“Before (Winter) Break we didn’t have a full lineup,” said Lalla, “So our team was only running on three quarters of what it should have been.”

At least six of the team’s 14 Varsity wrestlers missed competitions due to injury or illness, including 285 pounder Jacob Murry, who was consistently ranked in the top five when healthy, and 106 pounder Ethan Wood-Finley, who was ranked number one for most of the season.

Now, though, the Little Hawks are healthy. With all of their starters back in the lineup, they’re looking to return to the State Dual tournament, something the program had not achieved in a decade until last season. The State Duals only welcome eight schools. Lalla says that qualifying would be vindicating for the team.

“Having success at State would go a long way in showing people how good this team can be,” said Lalla.

There is a viable path, but it won’t be easy. City has to go through Cedar Rapids Prairie and Western Dubuque to qualify, two schools that narrowly defeated the Little Hawks earlier in the year. City’s lineup was not at full strength then, as Wood-Finley did not wrestle in the Prairie dual and other starters were injured for the Western Dubuque matchup.

The duals are expected to be close. Prairie, City High, and Western Dubuque finished second, third, and fourth respectively in the MVC Tournament last weekend with little separation between each team (The Little Hawks were at full strength). City wrestles Prairie on Wednesday, February 6, with Western Dubuque to follow later that night if they win.

Then, of course, there is the individual State Tournament. City High currently has five ranked wrestlers, and most of the roster as a chance to qualify. Districts, the qualifying brackets for the State Tournament, are on February 9.

City is primed to replicate its success from last year, but it will take a total team effort. Wood-Finley, Murry, and Kyle Heffley at 152 have the best chances to win it all or at least place in the top three.

Then it will be up to the rest of the lineup to overachieve. City needs to qualify as many bubble wrestlers as possible and needs the rest of their returning qualifiers to get as far as possible. Lalla, who qualified for State last year, is setting his goals accordingly.

“My goal for this year is to place,” says Lalla. “I’m going out there with confidence.”

Fans haven’t seen much of this healthy Little Hawk team. Now they’re about to get a good look under the brightest spotlight in Iowa high school sports.

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Wrestling Team Overcoming Injuries