MFL MarMac wrestlers cap off successful individual seasons at state

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MFL MarMac wrestlers Karter Decker (126 pounds), Gabe McGeough (145 pounds), Jacob Trudo (heavyweight) and Zach Howe (195 pounds) capped off successful seasons at the state tournament in Des Moines Feb. 20-22.

MFL MarMac state qualifiers Karter Decker (126 pounds), Zach Howe (195 pounds), Jacob Trudo (heavyweight) and Gabe McGeough (145 pounds) are pictured with coaches Travis Johnson (left), Mike Meyer, Chet Bachman, Collin Stubbs and Tracy Decker.

126-pound Karter Decker finished his freshman year with a stellar 44-3 record.

Bulldog heavyweight Jacob Trudo, a junior, flew under the radar for much of the season, but turned up the intensity in January and February.

The tournament got off to a good start for 195-pound senior Zach Howe, who had a first-round fall over Kale Pevestorf of Coon Rapids-Bayard.

Sophomore Gabe McGeough won the fifth-place medal at 145 pounds in Class 1A. It was the best finish for an MFL MarMac underclassman in over a decade and a half.

“One thing I think I do well is rise to the occasion,” said Gabe McGeough. “I didn’t probably wrestle the best I could my first match, but as the tournament went on, I kept wrestling better and better. By the end, I was wrestling the best I had all year.”

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

MFL MarMac wrestlers Zach Howe, Jacob Trudo, Gabe McGeough and Karter Decker competed at the Iowa High School Athletic Association State Wrestling Tournament in Des Moines Feb. 20-22, capping off successful individual seasons. McGeough, a sophomore, won the fifth-place medal at 145 pounds in Class 1A—the best placement for a Bulldog underclassman since Kyle Pedretti a decade and a half ago.

“They’ve put in a lot of work, a lot of weekends, getting ready,” said head coach Chet Bachman. “I’m proud of these guys for making it to the state tournament. They represented us very well.”

Decker wrestled at 126 pounds, making a rare appearance as a freshman.

“I thought it was pretty cool for me because not a lot of freshmen have the opportunity to go down there,” he said.

Decker described the state atmosphere as a “crazy experience.”

“When we got there, we went to the arena and checked everything out, to get the feel of it. It gave me the chills,” he remarked.

Decker’s matches didn’t go as planned. He lost the first by technical fall to Adam Allard from West Sioux-Hawarden. Allard was a tough draw, ranked number one in the state, with nearly 200 wins and only one career loss, and was going for his fourth title.

“Karter wrestled the best he could,” Bachman said. “Then he came back on the back side and lost a tough, hard-fought match,” 10-8, to Nashua-Plainfield’s Trey Nelson.

“I couldn’t be more proud of a freshman,” he added, “to step in and go 44-3 on the season.”

“I don’t think I wrestled my best,” acknowledged Decker, but the experience will serve as fuel for next season. “It’s gonna prepare me better. Hopefully I can get down there next year and get up on the podium.”

Trudo, a junior, was MFL MarMac’s heavyweight. He flew under the radar for much of the season, but began to open both his coaches’ and opponents’ eyes in January.

“He shed some pounds and started to move better and practice harder and get after it. When you see that, as coaches, you can tell something is coming along and transpiring, that something good could happen,” said Bachman.

Although Trudo lost both his state matches—the first to state finalist Ryley Snell of Interstate 35-Truro and the second to Keegan Akers of Mediapolis—they were valiant efforts.

“The thing about Jacob that’s really special, that you don’t see in heavyweights a lot, is he wrestled six minutes in both matches—he didn’t get pinned,” Bachman explained. “A lot of times, you’ll see a heavyweight, they shift one way or another and can get caught and put on their back.”

 At state, Trudo said he realized just how stiff the competition is. 

“I think I was too happy just getting down there. I kind of get used to the wrestlers up here, and think they’re going to be just as good as any kid [at state], but then, when you wrestle or watch the kids, you realize how much talent there is all over the state. It’s impressive,” he shared. “It made me realize how much I have to work.”

“Now that he knows he can do it,” said Bachman, “it gives him something to look forward to next year.”

Howe entered the state tournament as a district champion at 195 pounds. The feat was especially meaningful as a senior.

“I always wanted to go to state. That was my whole goal,” he said. “Last year, I changed my mentality after sectionals. I put more work in and got myself there.”

At state, he said it didn’t take long to adjust to the atmosphere.

“After you’re there a little bit, it sinks in that you deserve to be there,” Howe remarked.

His tournament got off to a good start, with a first-round fall over Kale Pevestorf of Coon Rapids-Bayard. 

“It was nice having a win down there,” Howe said, “but I didn’t get too crazy.”

The next day, in the quarterfinal match, he lost 6-3 to Hinton’s Derek Anderson.

“He almost had the takedown for the win. He just fell short,” Bachman said.

Howe couldn’t rebound from the loss, and was pinned by Eric Van Ginkel of Western Christian-Hull in the second consolation round.

“The hardest thing is to come off a loss and wrestle back in a big time tournament,” noted Bachman. “You’ve just given everything in your mind and heart, and now you’ve gotta come back and do it again. That was hard.”

Howe said it could’ve gone better, but he has no regrets.

“I gave it my all and left it all out there,” he quipped.

“It doesn’t take away the kind of season he had,” Bachman added. “He started out his freshman year getting thumped, but he just kept working. He had a mental toughness attitude every day, in everything he does. He’s a good kid and was raised right. He’s a good leader.”

Howe said he values the independence and ability to care for himself that wrestling at MFL MarMac has instilled. His advice to other wrestlers: take advantage of your time in high school while you still can.

“Make sure you put in work in the offseason,” he stressed.

McGeough’s tournament was defined by his ability to bounce back. After losing his opening match to Wapello’s Daniel Meeker, he pinned ACGC’s Cale Rowley on the back side. Wins over Mark Dawson of Eagle Grove and Reed Abbas of Clarion-Goldfield-Dows followed, giving McGeough a shot at the third-place match.

“The longer you keep wrestling at the state tournament, the more you learn and the better you become, especially when you’re younger,” Bachman said. “He grew at the state tournament in just a couple matches. It was fun to watch as a coach.”

McGeough agreed: “One thing I think I do well is rise to the occasion. I didn’t probably wrestle the best I could my first match, but as the tournament went on, I kept wrestling better and better. By the end, I was wrestling the best I had all year.”

In the consolation semis, the sophomore faced a familiar opponent in Meeker. He led most of the match, but narrowly lost, 11-7. 

McGeough relied on his experience from large tournaments in elementary and middle school to help himself bounce back for the fifth-place match.

“You learn there’s no time to sulk and be down on yourself,” he shared. “You have to get back up if you want to get the next best thing.”

He got that next best thing—a fifth-place medal—with a fall over Brody Hawtrey of North Cedar-Standwood. Bachman was impressed.

“Man, did he wrestle well,” the coach remarked. “He’s tough and he showed it. What a tournament he had.”

McGeough said his finish has inspired him to fight even harder next year.

“I realized every match is going to be a dog fight. You’ve got to go into every match giving it your all,” he stated. “Watching the finals Saturday night really sunk into my mind that I want to be there next year, so that’s where I plan on being.”

Bachman thought it was unique that each high school grade level was represented by this year’s state qualifiers. It bodes well for the next few years.

“They’re not all seniors and leaving,” he said. “You’ve got a leader for each grade, and that’s what you want when you’re a coach.”

“We pioneer these guys—we don’t recruit them. We bring them up the right way and try to raise these kids to not just be wrestlers. It’s important to us that they’re taking something away from here that they can use later in life,” Bachman added. “In the grand scheme of things, it’s not about wins and losses. It’s about you guys, our community, coaches and families.”

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