Bulldog wrestlers earn valuable experience at state
By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor
MFL MarMac returned from the state wrestling tournament with some hardware, following an eighth-place finish in Class 1A by sophomore Korby Keehner. Three other wrestlers—freshman Ethan Stubbs and sophomores Michael Egan and Nathan Johanningmeier—did not place, but picked up some valuable experience.
“I’m proud of these guys,” said head coach Chet Bachman at a welcome back event at the high school Feb. 19. “They had their work cut out for them.”
According to Bachman, with three sophomores and one freshman, this was the youngest group MFL MarMac has ever sent to the state tournament. It’s the largest in 10 years.
State competition kicked off at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines on Feb. 16. The 106-pound Stubbs was the first Bulldog to wrestle, losing a 14-0 major decision to Don Bosco’s Daniel Kimball in his first match. Stubbs’ second match was back-and-forth, Bachman said, but the young wrestler was eventually pinned by Mason Dye, of Sigourney-Keota, to end his tournament run.
“It was neat to have a freshman go to state,” Bachman reflected. “It’s been an honor to coach him and watch him grow throughout the year.”
2017 marked Egan’s second trip to the state tournament. He went last year as a freshman, wrestling at 126 pounds. This time around, he wrestled at 132. Egan was pinned in his first match by Riceville’s Chance Throndson, the eventual state champ. His season ended following a 5-0 loss to George Appleseth, from Panorama.
“He lost four matches this year,” Bachman noted. “All four were to state place winners. He wrestled good competition.”
As a sophomore, Egan still has a lot to look forward to, Bachman said.
“I had a pretty good year, and, going [to state] last year, I had more expectations,” Egan admitted, “but I have more to work for next year.”
For Johanningmeier, who wrestled at 152 pounds, the tournament ended with two close losses, 7-5 to Don Bosco’s Jeremy Schmitz and 3-2 to Pleasantville’s Sawyer Phillips.
“He’s not far away,” Bachman said. “He wrestled well, but he came up short. Like anything, it’s what you do from here on out.”
Keehner, wrestling at 220 pounds, won his first match 2-1 over Brett Schoenherr, from Midland. Down early in his second match, Keehner fought back, but couldn’t catch Pleasantville’s Chaz Clark, losing 9-7. In his third match, with a chance for a medal on the line, Keehner pinned Erick Olvera, from Sibley-Ocheyedan.
“He did a nice job of going out there and taking it,” Bachman shared. “He was aggressive and physical and really into the match.”
Keehner then fell in his fourth match, 5-2, to Western Christian’s Skyler Bonestroo. The loss placed Keehner in the seventh-place match, where he suffered a 5-2 loss to Caleb Meinders, of AGWSR.
As one of two sophomores, Keehner was one of the youngest wrestlers in the 220 weight class, Bachman said. That didn’t deter him, however.
“To do what he did, showed his heart,” Bachman stated.
“He’s smart when he wrestles and stays in good position. I’m really proud and happy for him.”
Bachman said Korby is the fourth Keehner to win a medal for the Bulldogs, noting, “They’ve really done well for us.”
With the close of the season, both MFL MarMac wrestlers and coaches said the future looks bright.
“We have young kids, so we can only get better from here,” Keehner said.
Stubbs agreed, joking that the team needs to follow one of Bachman’s oft-quoted sayings: “We need to stop hooting with the owls and start soaring with the eagles. That’s the next step.”
Assistant coach Collin Stubbs said these wrestlers set a good example for younger wrestlers.
“They’ve been at it since they were little guys. If you stick with it and put the work in, it pays off,” he said, adding that he feels even more Bulldogs will be knocking on the door of the state tournament next season.
The wrestlers and coaches were also quick to thank the parents, friends and other fans who supported them throughout the year.
“I want to thank everyone for always being there,” Johanningmeier said.
Bachman gave kudos to the cheerleaders, whose spirit and support meant a lot, he said. The managers also played a key role, especially in taking and quickly uploading video from matches, he added.
“It takes a lot of people to make a good squad,” he shared.