SIOUX CITY – For the second year in a row, the Iowa high school wrestling season aperitif will take place in Sioux City. It is again time for the Night of Conflicts.
This year’s event, hosted by IAwrestle, will take place at Long Lines Arena and feature some of the state’s top wrestling talent.
On the girls’ side, two 2020 State Champions will be at the event, in Lily Luft of Charles City and Naomi Simon of Decorah, while four girls from Northwest Iowa will also be present, in Jolynn Tiefenthaler and Tatum Shepard of Ridge View, with Morgan Griffin of Spencer and Paris Doyen.
There will also be four boys making the trip to the Siouxland area, with the West Sioux trio of Mikey Baker, Braden Graff and Cam Clark, as well as Sergeant Bluff-Luton’s Ty Koebem.
“It kind of represents the season that is just around the corner,” said West Sioux coach Mark Van Oort. “We’re always excited to see our guys being able to participate in an event like this. IAwrestle has really done a terrific job of trying to create an opportunity for the kids, and doing it here in Northwestern Iowa is pretty impressive. For us, having three competitors makes things even more enjoyable.
Graff finished second in Class 1A last season at 113 pounds and will face defending 120-pound Class 2A champion McKinley Robbins of Greene County.
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“He wants to use this event to try to catapult his season and get off to a good start,” Van Oort said. “He was undefeated before the state tournament, and we know McKinley Robbins. We wrestled him at State Freestyle last year. It might be a bit of a grudge match here, but an opportunity for (Graff) to see what kind of gains he’s made over the year.
Baker, a junior who finished fourth in Class 1A last season at 132 pounds, will face Indianola’s Ryder Downey, who was fourth at 132 pounds in Class 3A.
The match between the two state winners will be held at 145 pounds.
“Mikey continues to grow, and I’ll tell you what, I think he’s really looking to build on the success he enjoyed last summer,” Van Oort said. “He was an All-American in Greco at Fargo, which was a dream for him. Now that he sort of has that goal out of the way, he’ll be looking to add to his list of goals he’s trying to accomplish, and who’s trying to put himself in a position to win a state title.
The two other Siouxland boys wrestlers will face off, Cam Clark and Ty Koedam. by Sergeant Bluff-Luton.
“These two have never wrestled before,” said Van Oort. “Cam might be a little undersized in the game, but he’s just looking to come out and fight a good local opponent, and an opportunity to come out on the mat and see where he’s at for the season.
Saturday will be Clark’s first fight at Night of Conflict. He finished fourth last season in Class 1A at 126 pounds, while Koedam finished the medal bar in Class 2A.
“I think Ty worked really hard in the offseason,” said SB-L coach Clint Koedam. “One of the things he said to me was ‘I can’t wait to show people that my state high school tournament wasn’t me.’ He is a fairly motivated young man and he wants to do well.
While the Night of Conflict results are important to the wrestlers involved, most importantly, it means wrestling season is almost here.
The aperitif is served this weekend. The entrance is not too far behind.
“Last year I felt like this was the thing that kind of sparked our community, like ‘Okay the wrestling isn’t that far now’,” the coach said. Koedam. “It’s October 2, the fight starts on November 14 or something like that. We’re six weeks to the start of this season, and I think we’ll have that spark again.”
“What’s cool is that there will be people following and people having fun outside. We can never do this for wrestling.
The Night of Conflict begins at 4:30 p.m. with the girls’ event. The boys’ events will start at 6.30 p.m.