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W-SR qualifies for state

The Waverly-Shell Rock wrestling team poses with its new banner Wednesday night in Waverly after winning the Class 3A regional dual tournament and qualifying for the dual state tournament.

When senior Brayden Wolf pinned his opponent at 220 to cap a 79-0 drubbing of Western Dubuque and seal a Class 3A regional dual title for the Waverly-Shell Rock wrestling team, there wasn't exactly an outpouring of emotion in the Go-Hawk Gym on Wednesday night.

Wrestler's weren't fighting back tears. There was no mosh amongst the Go-Hawk wrestlers upon receiving their new banner that symbolized a state dual tournament berth. 

There was excitement, sure. While the Bobcats loaded the bus outside and began the 96-mile ride home, the W-SR wrestlers embraced friends and family with wide smiles.

But the celebration was certainly subdued, and the reason for that is as simple as this:

Waverly-Shell Rock has been here before. They expect to be here every year. 

"This is the expectation of the program: to be involved in the state dual tournament every year, and then hopefully go down and challenge for the state title every year," head coach Eric Whitcome said. "It’s the expectation, and to be honest with you, every kid that’s involved with the program, when they come out, they expect that we’re going to be in the mix."

"Coming into tonight, it was pretty expected," senior Jentry Staack said. "But nothing is guaranteed, so we came into it like a regular dual. We all came out and worked hard."

The result of the dual against Western Dubuque — which defeated Dubuque Hempstead 73-6 in the first round earlier in the evening — was never really in doubt, but Wednesday night still served an important purpose for W-SR.

Prior to regionals, the Go-Hawks hadn't wrestled in over a week following their Northeast Iowa Conference title win on Feb. 1. It was just another long stretch without wrestling in a season that has been full of them, much to Whitcome's chagrin. 

So it was an opportunity to get the guys back on the mat in an official capacity and to get back some of the consistency that can be lost during so much off time. 

"For us, it was about our guys getting back out on the mat," Whitcome said. "It’s been like two-week spurts of like, 'Hey you get to wrestle, no you don’t get to wrestle.' It’s just these layovers. It’s good to get out on the mat."

Having so much time off between meets can have some negative consequences — wrestlers can lose focus, and it can be difficult to keep weight where it needs to be. 

"There’s a lot of things," Whitcome said. "But the big thing is just putting matches together, the approach to the match, just all parts and facets of completing tough matches. When you’ve got that time between, it’s hard to feel consistent even if you are consistent."

Unfortunately for Waverly residents, Wednesday night was the last time in the 2019-20 season that the Go-Hawks wrestled in the Go-Hawk Gym. W-SR will head on the road for good to end the campaign.

For seniors like Staack, it can be a little emotional. 

"It’s kind of bittersweet, but it’s not over yet, and we have more to come," he said.

Up next, the Go-Hawks will head to Des Moines on Wednesday for the Class 3A dual state tournament, and the traditional state tournament runs from Thursday to Saturday.