INDIANOLA, Iowa – In a word, it was special.
That’s the attribute senior 157-pounder Carrington Banks and senior heavyweight John Helgerson put on top-ranked Wartburg’s 206.5-point finish at the 2011 Iowa Conference Championships on Friday. The duo was among seven individual champions for coach Jim Miller’s program as it won its 19th consecutive and 29th overall league title inside Cowles Fieldhouse on Simpson’s campus.
“I just wanted to be able to help the team,” Banks said of his first title. “This is one of the most special things I’ve ever been a part of – being one of the 10 (Wartburg) finalists.”
“I’ve got to give all of this to the coaching staff,” Helgerson added after he won his second individual championship. “They’ve been there for me and all of us in support and working hard in the room. This is a great feeling.”
Banks and Helgerson were joined by sophomore 133-pounder Thomas Mirocha, senior 149-pounder Jacob Groth, junior 174-pounder Bradley Banks, junior 184-pounder Dylan Azinger and junior 197-pounder Byron Tate atop the individual awards stands. They were part of 10 finalists with senior 125-pounder Mark Kist, senior 141-pounder Matt Kelly and senior 165-pounder Adam Weber.
Helgerson and Tate concluded the evening with a pair of impressive finals victories, with Tate, who earned the Dick Walker Outstanding Wrestler honor, posting 31 points to defeat Dubuque’s Sam Johnson by technical fall, and Helgerson rolling up 17 first-period points to defeat Coe’s Alex Burkle by technical fall.
“It’s tremendous what this team accomplished,” Miller said after his squad finished just a point and a half shy of tying the meet record of 208 points set in 2008 by Wartburg. “To finish the way we did was especially good with seven champs and then to have Byron and John wrestle so well to wrap it up. We still have some big goals in mind with these 10 national qualifiers, and we need to get some work done toward meeting those goals.”
Wartburg continued some other sparkling streaks. The seven individual champions marked the eighth time in the last nine years the Orange and Black have had five or more, and the multiple winners spotlighted the 21st consecutive championship that they’ve had two or more.
The Knights earned 10 national qualifiers for the fifth consecutive year. They begin preparations for the 2011 NCAA Division III Championships next week. The meet is Friday and Saturday, March 11 and 12, at the La Crosse Center in La Crosse, Wis.