Returning state finalists take care of business day 1 of girls tournament

Published: Jan. 21, 2022 at 10:34 PM CST
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CORALVILLE, Iowa (KCRG) - After earning a first round bye, Waverly-Shell-Rock’s Annika Behrends didn’t look rusty in the slightest pinning her first round opponent in a matter of 61 seconds.

“I was actually hurt for the first part of the season, so I came into the state tournament 1-0,” she explained. “I’ve only wrestled one match and this was my second match.”

Behrends had surgery to remove a cyst on her tailbone which sidelined her a majority of this season. Wrestling runs in the family for the two-time state champion and three-time finalist, who wanted make the most of her senior season.

“I feel a lot more confident in all my shots actually more this year than I did last year. I think that’s just what happens over time. I feel like I’ve been more fluid,” she said.

In addition, the Go-Hawks have won the last three state wrestling team titles.

At 155, East Buchanan’s Keeley Kehrli was able to shake off the nerves pinning her first round opponent in 23 seconds.

“Definitely nerve-wrecking coming into it, but just getting that first win down that relieves some of the nerves,” said said after the match. “I know I can move onto the next one and take it one match at a time and just work through this tournament,” she added.

After finishing as a 2021 state finalist, Kehrli has high expectations for her junior season, but knows just as the sport continues to grow the competition has gotten tougher.

“It’s amazing seeing that girls are becoming more confident. Having this sport allows them to do that and all of the people coming in and support us is amazing,” said Kehrli.

A big advocate for growing the sport, is newly hired Iowa women’s wrestling head coach Clarissa Chun, who stopped by the tournament. She says it’s re-energizing to see so many young girls interested in the sport and taking advantage of their opportunities.

“It’s totally Iowa style in here. These young ladies are gritty and they scrap and they’re tough. I think they take pride in being able to wrestle hard. I love it. It’s engrained in the fabric of Iowa and it shows here,” said Chun.

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