Lake Mills and West Hancock are both off to state duals. Lake Mills, a familiar face – West Hancock, a newcomer.
Lake Mills was a favorite coming into the wrestling season to return to Wells Fargo Arena. The Bulldogs returned a senior-dominated lineup led by returning state place winners, Jack Ramaker, Casey Hanson, and Elijah Wagner. Junior Brady Hanson also reached the traditional state tournament last season.
The Bulldogs – currently ranked fourth in Class 1A as a dual team – earned a first-round bye last night and were set to wrestle either Hudson or Central Springs. Central Springs beat Hudson setting up the regional championship matchup between the two Top of Iowa Conference teams.
Lake Mills kept its perfect season going by beating #12 Central Springs 48-23, sending the Bulldogs back to state duals. Lake Mills continues its school record of consecutive appearances – now at six – with the win. “The atmosphere was electric tonight, and our kids wrestled really well,” said Coach Alex Brandenburg. “It is fun to see all the kids’ hard work pay off with the biggest reward a team can get, a trip to State.”
In their past five appearances, third place is the highest the Bulldogs have been. They finished fifth place the last two seasons. Lake Mills will try again for their elusive state championship next week.
For West Hancock, it’s been over 30 years since they were last at the dual state tournament in 1987. West Hancock beat South Winneshiek 42-21 in the final round after South Winn beat Denver in the first round.
Head Coach – Mark Sanger
In 1987, the Eagles finished in third place with four teams qualifying. West Hancock lost in the first round (semifinals) to Lisbon but then beat Griswold in the third-place match. Lisbon went on to win against Riceville for the dual team championship.
This year, the Eagles qualified with seven other teams and will likely be the seventh seed in Des Moines. The Eagles are expected to have a first-round date with second-ranked Lisbon, which would set up a rematch 34 years in the making. In the past 34 years, Lisbon has won four more dual team state championships on 13 more appearances. This season will mark the seventh straight year for the Lions as a team in Des Moines.
KIOW will have full coverage of both the Eagles and Bulldogs at state duals next week. KIOW will also have coverage of all area athletes that qualify for the traditional state tournament.