Pride of Iowa Conference NEW

(KMAland) -- The winter sports season is right around the corner, and we are getting you ready with daily conference previews. No. 18 is the Pride of Iowa Conference Wrestling Preview.

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2021-2022 PRIDE OF IOWA CONFERENCE WRESTLING PREVIEW

Most of this wrestling preview will include results and happenings from the Pride of Iowa Conference, district and state meets. Here’s how the POI meet went last year:

1. Martensdale-St. Marys Blue Devils — 148.5 points

2. Bedford/Lenox — 146.5 points

3. Southeast Warren/Melcher-Dallas — 139 points

4. East Union Eagles — 125 points

5. Central Decatur Cardinals — 112 points

6. Nodaway Valley Wolverines — 96.5 points

7. Mount Ayr Raiders — 81 points

8. Wayne Falcons — 31.5 points

Southwest Valley Timberwolves — COVID

Here’s the team-by-team rundown of what’s coming back and what to expect.

Bedford/Lenox 

Coach: Derek Weller

The Bedford/Lenox combo brings back three Pride of Iowa champions in seniors Mizael Gomez, Dawson Marshall and Devin Whipple at 106, 220 and 285, respectively. Gomez went 32-15, Marshall ended up 29-15 and qualified for districts and Whipple qualified for state, won a match there and finished 48-6.

Sophomore Dalton Kitzman (29-12 at 126) and junior Jake Cox (39-9 at 152) were district qualifiers while senior Conner Fitzgerald (24-12 at 145) joined them in finishing third at last year’s POI meet. Senior Andrew Kennan was fourth at 160 and finished 15-10. Two others — juniors Colby Nelson (15-8 at 120) and Terence Sheley (20-10 at 138) — qualified for districts. 

Others to watch:

Trenton Beck, JR: 19-12 as a sophomore (138)

Brayden Daly, JR: 15-14 as a sophomore (152)

Izaak Dukes, SO: 13 wins as a freshman (170)

Keegan Smith, SO: 17 wins as a freshman (138)

Johnathan Weaver, SR: 11 wins as a junior (170)

Central Decatur Cardinals 

Coach: Brian Carson 

The Cardinals bring back one conference champion in senior Tegan Carson, who will look to follow up on a strong football season after going 46-4 as a junior at 195. Another senior — Devin Adams — went 37-17 and qualified for districts at 138. Senior William Gillis (22-19 at 126) and sophomore Evahn Wallace (6-7 at 152) were both fourth in the POI, and junior Cody Morgan (120), senior Jesse Niebauer (17 wins at 170) and sophomore Ryan Boswell (285) were fifth.

East Union Eagles 

Coach: James Erlbacher

Junior DJ Islas wrestled his way to a conference championship at 120 pounds last year. He finished in districts with a 23-11 record and is the top returnee for the Eagles. Senior Damon Hayes also had a strong year at 19-18 and took a POI runner-up at 152. 

Juniors Louis Gonzales (182) and Shane Lear (160) and sophomores Erik Allen (132) and Haydn Walters (23-15 at 138) were all in the top five at last year’s POI, too.

Others to watch:

Draven Moore, JR: 9 wins as a sophomore (145)

Tyler Tate, JR: 11 wins as a sophomore (120)

Danny Tomlinson, SR: 7 wins as a junior (170)

Martensdale-St. Marys Blue Devils 

Coach: Brian Sweet

The defending champion Blue Devils have a returning conference champion in junior Johnnie Cassady, who won 16 times on the year and was the 152-pound champ last year. They also have a pair of POI runners-up in sophomore Conor Cassady (19-12 at 120) and junior Julian Huston (7-8 at 132). 

Sophomore Christian Choate was third at 113, junior Logan Wearmouth finished fourth at 170 and sophomore Sampson Henson ended up fifth at 138. The three combined on 30 wins a year ago.

Others to watch:

Riley Nichols, SO: 13 wins as a freshman (126)

Mount Ayr Raiders 

Coach: Eric Ehlen & John Ford

Mount Ayr was hit with COVID right around the Pride of Iowa Tournament, so they only have four returnees that finished within the top five of their respective weight class. We’ll get to those in a bit, but we must start with juniors Drew Ehlen and Jaydon Knight. Ehlen went 36-8 and placed eighth in the state at 106 while Knight was a district champion, won a match at state and finished 41-2 at 152.

Senior Braydon Sweitlik went 24-19 at took second at the POI meet at 195 while sophomore Chris Wyant was also thrust into the lineup at the conference tournament before finishing second at 220. Senior Keaton White had a strong season with 28 wins and a third place POI finish at 160. Deann Wyant is their other top five from the POI meet, finishing fourth at 113.

Others to watch:

Payton Fleharty, SR: 24 wins as a junior (138)

Preston Fleharty, SO: 14 wins as a freshman (126)

Joshua West, SO: 12 wins as a freshman (120)

Nodaway Valley Wolverines 

Coach: Kolby Baier & Brad Honnold

Senior Elliot Cooney had a big, big year for the Wolverines last season. Cooney won a district and conference championship, won 45 total matches and placed seventh in the state at 120. Senior Jaxon Christensen was also a district qualifier and went 33-16 at 138. Senior Caelen DeVault also had a solid season, joining Christensen as a POI runner-up and winning 23 matches at 170. Sophomore Zackery Gebbie placed third at 132 in the POI and won 15 matches as a freshman.

Others to watch:

Jevin Christensen, SR: 15 wins as a junior (145)

Brandon Raasch, JR: 16 wins as a sophomore (160)

Carmine Shaw, SO: 8 wins as a freshman (145)

Southeast Warren/Melcher-Dallas 

Coach: Chase Petty

There’s a strong returning nucleus here with a returning state qualifier and POI runner-up in junior Rylan Jimenez (18-17 at 106). Two others qualified for districts in junior Logan Montgomery (23-15 at 195) and sophomore Tate Dierking (27-19 at 220). They finished this and fourth, respectively, at last year’s POI meet.

Junior Ian Schneider went 20-17 and was second in the POI at 113, sophomore JC Bradley placed fourth in the conference at 120 and sophomore Colton Halterman (15 wins at 126) and junior Jarett Davison (10 wins at 145) were fifth in the POI.

Others to watch:

Cole Metz, SR: 17 wins as a junior (152)

Ben Wickett, JR: 13 wins as a sophomore (160)

Southwest Valley Timberwolves 

Coach: Cody Konecne

Southwest Valley didn’t wrestle at the POI meet so much of this comes from sectionals and districts. Sophomore Brayden Maeder and junior Colin Jacobs both qualified for districts with Maeder going 31-4 at 106 and Jacobs finishing 19-15 at 195. Three others were in the top five at sectionals with junior Robbie Barnes (12-8) narrowly missing districts at 285, sophomore Ely Rodriguez (13-18) going fourth at 138 and sophomore Tate Haffner (15-25) finishing fifth at 132.

Others to watch:

Dalton Calkins, JR: 10-4 as a junior (220)

Bradlee Grantz, SO: 15 wins as a freshman (170)

Evan Timmerman, SO: 19-18 as a freshman (152)

Wayne Falcons 

Coach: Dallas O’Brien

Wayne returns just one top three finisher at the Pride of Iowa Conference meet last year. Senior Chad Kent placed third in the POI, qualified for districts and ended up 31-12 on the season at 285. The rest is up in the air.

Others to watch:

Cooper Anderson, SO: 10 wins as a freshman (113)

Dominic Haug, JR: 6 wins as a freshman (170)

THE PICK

Martensdale-St. Marys is the defending champion, and they should certainly be in the mix. However, it’s hard not to see Bedford/Lenox, Mount Ayr and Southeast Warren/Melcher-Dallas other major contenders. The pick, though, is Bedford/Lenox.

Send any questions, comments and/or concerns to dmartin@kmamail.com.

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