Senior Dana Cleveland is one of eight state qualifiers for the Ankeny girls’ wrestling team. She is ranked fourth at 145 pounds with a 37-1 record.
The state tournament will be held on Thursday and Friday at Xtream Arena in Coralville. Cleveland, who placed fourth at 135 last year, will meet Annabelle Stelpflug of Iowa City High in her opening match.
Here is some inside info on Cleveland:
Congratulations on winning an individual title at the super regional meet on Friday at the Iowa Events Center. Were you confident going into the tournament that you could win it?
I went into the meet with the mindset that I would go into every match and do the best that I could.
You got a pin in all three of your matches. Would you say that most of your pins just kind of happen, or do you have a favorite move that you like to execute?
I have some favorite moves, but this year I have been trying to use a greater variety in order to expand my skill set.
It did take you nearly two full periods to pin your opponent in the finals, Gracie Leslie of Nevada. Had you ever wrestled her before?
No, I had never wrestled Gracie before.
What did you think of your team’s performance?
I feel that as a team we performed very well, especially considering we added some new girls to our lineup. We are a good team, but there are always things to improve on to become better.
You recently earned your 100th career victory. When you first started wrestling, did you ever imagine you could reach that milestone?
When I first started wrestling, I was not very good…I knew nothing. My first year wrestling as a freshman I had only 14 matches, and my record was 9-5. At that rate I wouldn’t have even wrestled 100 matches, let alone win 100. I got beat up every day in practice. I wasn’t worried about winning; I just wanted to work hard and get a little bit better each day.
What is your goal going into the state tournament? Do you think you can win a state title?
Going into state I want to take one match at a time. Anything is possible, including a state title.
I know you have several tough wrestlers in your bracket, including Eve Skrocki of Dubuque Wahlert, who handed you your only loss at the Dan Gable Donnybrook nearly two months ago. Do you think Skrocki is the girl to beat at your weight?
There is a reason why you actually have a state meet. Records and rankings are writing on a piece of paper. When you get out on the mat, anything is possible.
You haven’t had very many matches this season that have gone the distance. Are you confident that you can wrestle a full match if you have to?
Although I haven’t wrestled very many long matches this season, my preseason training and training during the season have prepared me for full-length matches.
You became Ankeny’s first state placewinner last year. How much do you think that experience will help you at this year’s tournament?
Having been there once, I know what to expect and how to handle the pressure a little bit better.
Do you think your team can contend for a top-10 finish?
Absolutely we can, if we stick to what we know and wrestle hard.
You recently signed a letter of intent to wrestle at Wartburg College, and you told me that you plan to major in Education. Which grade levels are you planning to teach?
I plan to teach kindergarten or second grade. I love that (the young kids) are not yet aware of the judgement in the world and aren’t afraid to speak their minds freely.