Old habits are hard to break.
Ask the Davenport Assumption wrestling team, which earned its 11th consecutive berth in the Iowa Class 2A state team duals by sweeping Mount Vernon 35-29 and Washington 44-27 in regional competition Tuesday.
“It means a lot to keep the streak going,’’ Knights 145-pounder Eli McCracken said. “We’re a pretty young team this year and to get back to state, that does mean a lot. Everybody on our team works to be a part of it.’’
Fifth-ranked Assumption, which will face West Delaware in its 11 a.m. state quarterfinal match on Feb. 14 at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, advanced with a workmanlike effort.
Knights coach Pete Bush wanted his team’s focus from start to finish to center on both its technique and wrestling with a bit of an edge, something he said has been a bit of a challenge for a young team.
“We needed to wrestle two good, sound duals. I knew Mount Vernon would be a tough match-up for us in the semifinal,’’ Bush said.
“They’ve always been known as an exceptionally strong team from a technique standpoint and for years, they’ve been a team that will bring the fight to you. We needed to be on top of our game and for the most part, I felt like we were able to get that done.’’
In its regional final against ninth-rated Washington, McCracken helped take some of the pressure off of his teammates with his pin in the third match of the dual.
Assumption led 6-3 when McCracken, trailing 6-4 late in the second period, was able to turn David Hora and pick up the second of the Knights’ five pins against the Demons.
“I knew going in he was a tough wrestler and he fought hard,’’ McCracken said. “I was able to catch him and hit him quick and get the turn. I was just trying to make something happen.’’
His fall in 2 minutes, 49 seconds gave Assumption an advantage which reached 21-3 following a 9-2 decision by Joe Deckert at 152 over Kiowa Keith and a pin by Kole Kreinbring at 160.
“McCracken’s win really seemed to put our guys at ease,’’ Bush said. “This time of year, that win that might not be expected, it can really lift a team and Eli stepped up and took the pressure off of our team. He took advantage of an opportunity.’’
The Knights (15-5) also took advantage of a dual-opening pin by Matt Robertson at 132, and falls from Julien Broderson at 182 and T.J. Fitzpatrick at 113 to end the Demons’ 25-5 season.
After riding the strength of pins to rout Dyersville Beckman 49-25 in the semifinals Washington won just two contested matches against the Knights, a decision from Garrett Ikerd at 138 and a fall from Tristin Westphal-Edwards at 170.
In its semifinal win, Assumption used consecutive pins from Broderson at 182 and Seth Adrian at 195 to extend a 19-14 advantage and pull away to the win. After early falls from Robertson and Kreinbring, Adrian followed Broderson’s pin of Nolan Hinrichs in 1:13 by dropping Coy Martin in 1:46.
“They had a lot of really good wrestlers and we had to come out with the right mindset. We had to have that killer instinct,’’ Adrian said. “We had to come out and be aggressive and make things happen. I was able to get that done. We got what we wanted, another trip to state.’’