CORALVILLE — Mt. Pleasant’s Abby Blint was the first. Two years ago, Blint was the losing participant in the first match of the inaugural Iowa Wrestling Coaches and Officials girls state wrestling tournament.
Blint has advanced, the sport has grown and the tournament has progressed from a high school gym to an arena, from 87 registered wrestlers to 470, from a single day to a two-day event.
Blint lost her next match that year, went 3-2 last year, then 4-2 this year with a 40-second pin in the seventh-place match to put herself on the medal stand at 106 pounds.
Blint was one of 14 Union area entries. Mid-Prairie had nine of those and two also climbed onto the medal stand Saturday at Xtream Arena.
Bronwyn Brenneman placed fourth at 126 pounds and teammate Sarah Meader scored an escape with 5 seconds remaining in her final match to win fifth place at 152. She lost in the same match last year. When the match ended, Meader had to look at the score to see who won.
“I didn’t know. I was just too busy trying to get away, but it feels so good to win that one,” Meader said. “I just gave everything I had.”
Brenneman went 7-2, starting with a technical fall win, then a second-period pin before her first loss. She won a 7-1 decision win, then a 6-4 sudden victory-1, a third-round pin, a medical forfeit, then a third-round pin put her in the third-place match.
“My second match was the most fun because I reversed silly situations to my advantage,” Brenneman said. “I never had a forfeit so I didn’t know what to do. Was I supposed to put the band on?”
She was pinned in 3:22 in the match for third place.
“I feel like I could have done better, but I couldn’t get my shot set up,” Brenneman said. “Usually I can get out of those sticky situations.”
Last year, Cedar Rapids Kennedy was the 94th and last team that scored. This year, Benton and Nodaway Valley each scored two to tie for 119th.
Mid-Prairie, with Mia Garvey, Madison Kelly, Caitlyn Busch and Marissa Cline adding points, was 12th in the team race after placing 10th last year.
The Golden Hawks scored more points this year but there was more teams and more competition.
“Every year this is getting bigger and better,” Mid-Prairie head coach Justin Garvey said. “Waverly-Shell Rock brought 26 girls.”
Chloe Curtis was Fairfield’s only entrant and she scored 10 points with a 3-2 record in the tourney.
Highland had three wrestlers but Maddie Pfeiffer scored all five points.
Blint had a teammate with her this year in Ella McNamee.
“Hopefully I’ll have more teammates for my senior year,” Blint said.
“It’s awesome to have this venue,” Mt. Pleasant head coach and Abby’s father Anthony Blint said. “Abby has come so far in 2 1/2 years. As her dad, it’s tough to sit in the corner and know she will be heartbroke over decisions she made gave up points.”
Coach Garvey also had a dual role with daughter Mia Garvey making it through to the second day of wrestling before being eliminated.
“Personally I was disappointed to see my daughter get bounced out of it because I think she had more to give than what she showed, but that makes her hungry for next year.”
Coach Garvey was excited for the team race with more Golden Hawks on the team than last year.
“We’ve been watching team scores update all weekend,” he said. “Doing well there helps us grow our team and our sport at Mid-Prairie.”
Girls’ wrestling is riding a wonderful wave right now. Growth and excitement in the sport, considered the oldest competition in the world, is at all-time high. From having to wrestle on the boys team to having their own, maybe unsanctioned to sanctioned is not far away for girls wrestling.