The Decorah wrestling team had three champions and two others finished in the top three. Pictured are, from left, front row - Tyler Hovey, Andy Hovden, Austin Ashbacher. Back row - Hans Holkesvik, Peter Kephart, McKinleigh McCabe. (Photo submitted)
It was a battle in Cresco at the Northeast Iowa Conference meet Saturday.
When the dust settled, Decorah, ranked No. 9 in Class 2A by the Iowa Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association, finished fourth for the second year in a row.
In addition, the Vikes tripled their first place winners from a year ago, with three taking conference titles. Tyler Hovey (182), Class 2A No. 4 Andy Hovden (220) and Class 2A No. 10 Austin Ashbacher (285) all finished first in their respective weight classes.
"We are extremely excited to have three fine wrestlers win NEIC titles. The last time we had a number this high was in 2004 when we had four champions. Given the high strength of the conference, winning a title means a lot and is one of the ways wrestlers can earn a spot on our wrestling hall of fame board. The fun fact is all three of our gentlemen (Tyler Hovey, Andy Hovden and Austin Ashbacher) join family members already on the board," said Coach Jeff Freidhof. "As coaches we were most pleased with McKinleigh Mcabe on the day as he wrestled very fundamentally sound and showed he will be ready to make noise at sectionals and districts. Hans Holkesvik and Peter Kephart also wrestled well but ran into very tough competition. As a team we know we left several opportunities on the mat, and we let Crestwood slip past us in the team race.
"Our focus now is simple - make adjustments to keep our advantage in matches we have won and correct technique in matches we let slip pass us. The sectional tournament will be close to a repeat of conference minus Waverly and Charles City while we add a strong Independence team. Lots of opportunities for us to improve and put ourselves in the top two teams and qualify for regional duals."
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