Editorial: Grappling with excellence
Op-Ed · March 15, 2013

Congratulations to West Branch Wrestling on another winning season and two state placewinners, as well as the school’s first two-time state champion.

The Bears finished the season with a 14-7 duals record and did that despite having as many as four open weight classes.

West Branch took first place at the Solon tournament; second at Regina, Highland and the Cedar Valley Conference tournaments; and third at Jesup, Tri-County, Sectionals and, with only five wrestlers, Districts as well.

That third-place finish at Sectionals was a one-point shortfall to Regina. West Branch could have easily taken second, but one capable wrestler was sidelined with an injury. It was at sectionals where the absence of a full lineup was most painfully realized since it stopped the rest of the team from advancing to districts.

That was just one of the reasons why Co-coaches Will Kober and Jason Feuerbach stressed at the awards ceremony that wrestlers need to encourage friends to join: The Bears had some junior varsity wrestlers who could fill in, but not in all weight classes.

The coaches also shared an exciting development: The creation of a new wrestling club headed up by University of Iowa-trained wrestlers. This will give West Branch grapplers that precious mat time necessary to give them an edge over top-tier opponents.

“There are thousands of different moves, and we don’t have you for enough time to teach them all to you,” Feuerbach told the team.

Very true, but we still were very impressed with how well the varsity wrestlers improved over last year and the quality of first-time varsity wrestlers.

We would also like to highlight those wrestlers who made it to districts: Will Seydel, Ryan Grosvenor, Tyler Donovan, Casey Pence and Cade Jones. Only the top two wrestlers advance if the whole team does not qualify. That is quite an accomplishment.

Of course, we also must congratulate Pence and Jones for qualifying for state with first-place finishes at districts. Jones would go on to win his second state championship, a first for a Bears wrestler, and Pence would end up in sixth place in his first trip to Des Moines.

It is worth noting that wrestling prognosticators did not all agree that Jones would get that second title. Jones started ranked No. 1, but he eventually would drop to No. 3 and end up at No. 2 right before state. It may show how closely matched these wrestlers are at that level. Jones avenged his only loss of the season, then had a come-from-behind win in the championship round in the last 15 seconds of the third period. You had us on the edge of our seats, Cade.

We are sorry that West Branch will lose some great wrestlers to graduation, but we are encouraged that the coaches bring such skill and knowledge that they will raise up the next generation of champions.

Congratulations, West Branch Wrestling, on another great year, and we look forward to what you will accomplish starting in November.

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