Many North Iowa high school girls’ wrestling teams begin their season on Saturday.
It’s going to be a crazy rush until early February when the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union (IGHSAU) inaugural state wrestling tournament is held at Coralville’s Xtream Arena.
Here are five storylines to keep an eye on this winter.
According to IGHSAU, there are over 2,000 girls in wrestling programs in the state. It’s a huge step up from the first-ever IWCOA state tournament held at Waverly-Shell Rock four years ago.
Most schools have been able to set up their own programs and some have combined them. Still, it’s a step in the right direction as the sport is now under the umbrella of the girls’ union.
Coaches have also seen an increase in their youth programs, so expect the number to increase in the years to come.
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Osage a title favorite?
Only one senior filled the core of the Green Devils, who finished third in the team race last year with 135 points. All of their singles are back.
Jalynn Goodale is the headliner after taking second place at 110 pounds. She is pursuing her first career state title in her senior year. She has stood on the podium on three previous trips to the state.
Gable Hemann, a sophomore, finished second at 100 pounds, while Aubrey Chapman (fourth) and Leah Grimm (sixth) also return. Of the 135 points Osage scored last winter, 127 are behind.
Hello North Central Trailblazers
Five area schools – Forest City, Lake Mills, Central Springs, St. Ansgar and Northwood-Kensett – will form a cooperative team called the North Central Trailblazers.
One of the better wrestlers for the Trailblazers will be Mariah Michels, a sophomore at St Ansgar, who placed fourth at 100lbs. Her record was 16-7 in her freshman season.
Three Northwood-Kensett sophomores who went to the state as freshmen in Jessika Ausborn, Hadley Buenzow and Marisa Halbach are all back.
A medalist from Cerro Gordo County?
Clear Lake and Mason City each sent several wrestlers to the state tournament last winter, and while neither of them went home with hardware, that could change this year.
Lions senior Olivia Fausnaugh ran through the consolation round after losing her match in the first round and came two wins away from a top-eight finish. She had four of her teammates qualified last winter but only Emery Hippen is back.
The Riverhawks had their first two girls winning games in the state in Layla Phillips and Kamina Munson. Neither of them threatened to take the podium, but both are back and could be fighting for a different result this season.
Super Regional Qualification
Usually a term found in Illinois high school sports, Super Regionals will come to Iowa as a qualifier for the 2023 state tournament. It is the first year in which an official qualification takes place.
There will be four national locations, two of which have been booked and reserved according to IGHSAU. Two more will be completed before the January 27th date of the nationwide tournaments.
The top eight girls from each of the 14 weight classes will head to Coralville to the state, which will again be a two-day tournament.
Zach Martin is a sports reporter for the Globe Gazette. Reach him via email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @zach_martin95.