State Wrestling 2021: McGeough places third, Decker just off the podium

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MFL MarMac wrestlers Karter Decker (middle) and Gabe McGeough wrapped up their individual seasons at the Iowa High School Athletic Association State Wrestling Tournament, held last week at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. Decker went 1-2, just missing a shot at a medal at 138 pounds, while McGeough placed third at 160 pounds in Class 1A. They’re pictured with head coach Chet Bachman.

After a loss in his first match, sophomore Karter Decker bounced back in the first round consolation match, pinning Lisbon’s Indy Harbaugh in 48 seconds.

For Karter Decker, this season taught him how to overcome adversity. “I had a couple injuries this year I had to battle through, and I had some losses I had to fight back from,” he said. “I had to keep moving through it and not let them get to me.”

Karter Decker said coming up short is tough, but the experience serves as good motivation. “It hurts,” he acknowledged, “but next year I’ll be back down there. I stack myself up really close against all the other kids.”

Junior Gabe McGeough won his opening match by fall over Garrett Quirk of East Sac County, then followed it up with an 8-6 overtime victory against Northwood-Kensett’s Drake Tiedemann in the quarterfinals.

Gabe McGeough lost his semifinal match 3-2, coming just short of the 160-pound finals, but didn’t dwell on it. “I knew, if I got too down on myself, I wasn’t going to be able to come back,” he said. “In 10 years, I want to be able to look back and say I got the next best thing, so that’s all I could think about. Cowboy up and get back on the horse.”

Gabe McGeough defeated Casey Hanson from Lake Mills in the third-place match, avenging a loss in the state dual tournament earlier in the week. “The first time I wrestled him, I got sloppy at the end of the match. This time, I kept my feet moving and kept my pace high. I was ready to go through hell to finish that match with my hand raised,” said McGeough.

For Gabe McGeough, 2021 marked a return trip to the state tournament. He placed fifth at 145 pounds a year ago. Next year, as a senior, he hopes to improve upon this season’s third place finish. “I’ve got one last go, and I’ll give it everything I’ve got,” he said.

By Audrey Posten, Times-Register

 

MFL MarMac wrestlers Karter Decker and Gabe McGeough wrapped up their individual seasons at the Iowa High School Athletic Association State Wrestling Tournament, held last week at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. Decker went 1-2, just missing a shot at a medal at 138 pounds, while McGeough placed third at 160 pounds in Class 1A.

 

It was a sweet ending to a season that started with uncertainty.

 

“With the pandemic, we’re just happy we got a season in,” said head coach Chet Bachman.

 

The state tournament ended up being held as normal, despite early plans to make it a one-day tournament for individual qualifiers, then the state duals afterward. For schools like MFL MarMac, who also qualified for the state dual team tournament, that would have left little downtime.

 

It was tough enough this year, noted Bachman, with the team wrestling three times Wednesday and the individual portion of the tournament starting the following day.

 

“When you wrestle in the duals and wrestle all those matches, and then you have to turn around and wrestle again, that was a new experience for me,” he said.

 

Decker wrestled first on Thursday, losing by major decision to Underwood’s Westin Allen. He bounced back in the first round consolation match, though, pinning Lisbon’s Indy Harbaugh in 48 seconds. 

 

“I’m happy. I got my first win down there,” said the sophomore, who was also a state qualifier last year. “It was pretty exciting.”

 

But the second round consolation didn’t go as planned, as Decker narrowly lost, 8-7, to Bryce McDonough of Central Springs.

 

“He had the kid on his back and lost by a point,” Bachman said. “He was really close to getting a medal.”

 

Decker said coming up short is tough, but the experience serves as good motivation.

 

“It hurts,” he acknowledged, “but next year I’ll be back down there. I stack myself up really close against all the other kids.”

 

For Decker, this season taught him how to overcome adversity.

 

“I had a couple injuries this year I had to battle through, and I had some losses I had to fight back from,” he said. “I just had to keep moving through it and not let them get to me.”

 

That, paired with goals to improve his shot defense and, offensively, get better shots for himself, have him excited for his junior year.

 

For McGeough, 2021 also marked a return trip to the state tournament. He placed fifth at 145 pounds a year ago.

 

The junior won his opening match by fall over Garrett Quirk of East Sac County, then followed it up with an 8-6 overtime victory against Northwood-Kensett’s Drake Tiedemann in the quarterfinals. McGeough wrestled Hudson’s Tate Entriken in the semifinals, with a trip to the championship match on the line. Unfortunately, Entriken got a double on him late in the final period, winning 3-2.

 

“I got out really fast, but there was probably 17 seconds left when I got out,” McGeough explained. “I got in on a shot with about three seconds left. A couple more seconds and I’m in the finals.”

 

The consolation semifinal was the following morning, but McGeough didn’t stew over the loss that night.

 

“I knew, if I got too down on myself, I wasn’t going to be able to come back,” he said. “In 10 years, I want to be able to look back and say I got the next best thing, so that’s all I could think about. Cowboy up and get back on the horse.”

 

It’s important to learn from losses like that, Bachman noted.

 

“It’s hard,” he said, “but you’ve got to learn from a one-point loss and try to change it the next time you go out there. There’s a lot of kids who will fold. They’ll be like ‘My dream’s over, I don’t care anymore.’ That’s not what it’s about. A true champion will come back and battle and get the next best thing.”

 

McGeough had no trouble bouncing back, pinning Kole Reis of Kingsley-Pierson in just 16 seconds. He visualized that scenario before even taking the mat.

 

“I told the coaches before I wrestled, ‘I’m going to go out and pin him,’” McGeough recalled. “My body was aching, and I wanted to get it over quick, so I was coming out with under hooks trying to make something happen.”

 

The win put McGeough in the third-place match against a familiar foe: Casey Hanson from Lake Mills. The two had just wrestled each other in the state dual tournament on Wednesday, with McGeough losing 7-4 in overtime.

 

He was excited to get a second chance at Hanson.

 

“Obviously, I wanted to avenge that loss. I kind of let that match slip away from me on Wednesday,” he said.

 

Avenge it he did, defeating Hanson 3-2.

 

“I’m proud of myself for finishing that match strong with my family there cheering me on down by the mat,” McGeough said.

 

He attributed the win to some slight adjustments.

 

“I put together six minutes,” McGeough explained. “The first time I wrestled him, I got sloppy at the end of the match. This time, I kept my feet moving and kept my pace high. I was ready to go through hell to finish that match with my hand raised.”

 

“Now I can say my three losses [this season] were to two state champs and one kid I avenged the loss,” he added.

 

Bachman relished the victory too.

 

“We got beat, but then you beat his butt in the end,” the coach quipped.

 

While he hoped to finish on the top of the podium, McGeough is grateful—grateful for a season, grateful to God that he was able to compete through a back injury. 

 

“You never know when it’s going to be over,” he said.

 

He’s already looking ahead to next year.

 

“Right after I lost, there were a couple seconds where I was like, ‘Man, this really sucks. Is it worth putting all that in?’ But that didn’t last too long,” McGeough shared. “I’m ready to work like hell to get on top of the podium next year. I’ve got one last go, and I’ll give it everything I’ve got.”

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