Four MFL MarMac wrestlers are state bound

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MFL MarMac wrestlers Gabe McGeough (left), Zach Howe, Jacob Trudo and Karter Decker have qualified for the state tournament. The wrestlers are pictured with coaches Chip McGeough, Travis Johnson, Tracy Decker, Mike Meyer, Chet Bachman and Collin Stubbs. (Photo courtesy of MFL MarMac Wrestling)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

Four MFL MarMac wrestlers have punched tickets to the Iowa High School Athletic Association State Wrestling Tournament in Des Moines this week. Zach Howe was the 195-pound champion at Saturday’s Class 1A District 6 Tournament at Starmont, while Jacob Trudo, Gabe McGeough and Karter Decker qualified after placing second in their respective weight classes.

Sophomore Kashton Mathis placed fourth at 120 pounds, and fell short of advancing.

“They’re all a bunch of newcomers [to the state tournament]. It’s neat that it’s come to fruition that way,” said head coach Chet Bachman, who estimated this is just the fourth or fifth time the school has sent this many wrestlers to state. “We knew we had some pretty good kids.”

Howe, who is the team’s lone senior, earned a fall over North Linn’s Nathan Rechkemmer to advance to the first-place match. There, he pinned Damon Meyer, of South Winneshiek—Howe’s third victory in as many weeks over the conference opponent.

“He took advantage of the position he was in,” Bachman said. “He just went out and took it.”

Howe’s championship came six years to the day his older brother, Nathan, took the top spot at districts—also as a senior.

Reaching state in the final season is special, Bachman noted: “I’ve seen him grow through the entire program, saw how he dealt with adversity and kept coming back.”

Howe will head to state with a season record of 43-3.

Trudo is MFL MarMac’s heavyweight. A fall over Beckman Catholic’s Bennett English propelled him to the finals. 

“The longer [Trudo] waited, we knew it would be possible to get [English] out of position,” Bachman shared. “We had watched some video and knew his tendencies.”

Trudo narrowly lost the championship match 5-1 to a familiar foe: Postville’s Isaac Steffans. 

Bachman was proud of the junior’s efforts, and how he’s gained momentum throughout the season.

“Us coaches saw it coming the last couple weeks. He had more zip in practice,” stated Bachman. “Now, he’s really showing it on the mat. I’m happy for him and what he brings to the table.”

Trudo enters the state tournament with a record of 32-9.

McGeough, a 145-pound sophomore, heads to state with a 27-2 mark. After pinning Mason Recker, of Beckman Catholic, in his first district match, McGeough fell 12-5 to Don Bosco’s Cael Rahnavardi in the final.

Although McGeough missed the first month of the season due to injury, Bachman said nothing is holding him back now.

“He got rid of the butterflies in that first match, then really cranked it up against the Don Bosco kid, who’s ranked second in the state,” the coach noted. “He’s been doing some good stuff.”

MFL MarMac’s final state qualifier is 126-pound Karter Decker. The freshman entered districts undefeated, a stretch he continued by besting Beckman Catholic’s Levi Feldman 7-3 in the first match. The streak was snapped in the final, though, when Decker was pinned by Michael McClelland from Don Bosco.

“He battled that kid well. I loved the effort,” Bachman said.

Decker now has a 44-1 record. While the loss was unfortunate, Bachman said he’ll learn from it.

“He’s got it underneath his belt. Now, he can just go out and wrestle,” he added. “It’s big for a freshman to be in this situation for the first time.”

The state tournament will run from Thursday, Feb. 20 to Saturday, Feb. 22, at Wells Fargo Arena, in Des Moines. Class 1A first round action will kick off Thursday at 6 p.m. Bachman said the wrestlers won’t do anything out of the ordinary to prepare.

“Don’t change anything—just keep doing what you’re doing,” he stressed. “Stay in good shape and stay healthy.”

Bachman said he and the wrestlers are appreciative of the support they’ve received from parents, fellow students and community members throughout the season. MFL MarMac’s success in multiple sports this past year “has built a lot of school spirit,” he shared, “and that helps everybody.”

It also helps that his team—and these state qualifiers—are a tight-knit group.

“There’s a lot of camaraderie going on. That’s something you don’t coach; it just happens,” he said. “Their minds are in a good spot, and they’re ready to roll. I have a good feeling.”

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