Strub, Keehner advance to state wrestling tournament

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MFL MarMac senior Chase Strub (top) advanced to the state wrestling tournament after claiming the 195-pound title at the IHSAA 1A Dist. 3 tournament Saturday. Strub, who has been unbeatable in the last two months, said his key to victory will be staying on offense. (NIT file photo)

Bulldog senior Gatlin Keehner (top) finally punched his ticket to the state wrestling tournament after placing second in the 285-pound bracket at Saturday’s district tournament. Keehner competed at districts two other times throughout his career, but came up short. (NIT file photo)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

MFL MarMac wrestlers Chase Strub and Gatlin Keehner are headed to state. Strub was the IHSAA 1A Dist. 3 tournament champion at 195 pounds, while Keehner placed second in the 285-pound bracket, on Feb. 14.

“Chase Strub started off the day with a pin and ended the day with a pin,” said head coach Chet Bachman. “Chase wrestled well all day long. He seemed determined and focused and was aggressive, which is how you become the district champ.”

Strub, a senior, has been unbeatable since the start of the year, racking up several tournament wins and reaching the 100 career victories plateau. While he wrestled well throughout the season, Strub said it was after the Elkader tournament, Jan. 3, that things just started to click. 

“I need to stay on offense,” Strub commented in regard to what he needs to do to come out on top at state. “I don’t wrestle well when I’m worried about what the other guy’s doing. I have to stick to my game plan. The big, important thing is to stay in position for six minutes.”

Strub said heading to state leaves him with a good feeling.

“It means a lot after all the hard work I’ve put in,” he said.

Keehner also listed staying on offense as one of his keys to victory.

“Sometimes I wait too long,” he added. “I need to stay active during the match.”

Also a senior and a 100 match winner, Keehner has made two other trips to districts, but came up short of state. It was nice to see him get the job done, said Bachman.

“Keehner had a tough first-round opponent,” Bachman said. “He wrestled smart and had a nice tie-up, which fell our way with about 20 seconds left, and we got the pin. Keehner faced another foe in [Kyler] Schott [of North Linn] whom we’ve seen before. He again wrestled smart and nearly pulled off the win with a tilt at the end of the match, but Schott got his hips out and around us and pulled out the win.”

Keehner also got off to a strong start this season, but then missed some time due to illness. 

“I battled back, and I’m happy to make it to state,” Keehner said. “There’s not really words to describe it. It’s a good feeling, just fighting and coming back after almost making it before.”

State tournament action will begin at 6 p.m., on Thursday, Feb. 19, at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.

Three other Bulldogs, Chelbe Feuerhelm (106), Bryce Decker (145) and Hunter Fletcher (160), came up short at the district tournament, each placing fourth in their respective weight classes.

“Chelbe started out the day wrestling the second ranked kid in the state, but bounced back and gave her all in the second match, almost catching the kid with a headlock,” Bachman explained.

Decker also faced a number one ranked opponent right out of the gates.

“He put up a good fight,” Bachman said of Decker, a senior. “He ended the day really going after it, facing Joseph Bebber from Clayton Ridge. We almost had the kid about four times, but he muscled us through on each attempt. I’m proud of Bryce’s effort and career.”

Bachman said Fletcher faced a tough ride from Maquoketa Valley’s Trevor Koopman, the eventual champion, but battled back against Ben Meyer of South Winneshiek, who narrowly beat Fletcher for third place.

“This should be a learning experience for Hunter,” Bachman said, “something he can chew on in the off-season.”

The wrestling team ended its season Feb. 10 after falling to Sumner-Fredericksburg 27-44 in the Class 1A Regional Dual at Alburnett. 

Fletcher (160) and Strub (195) pinned their opponents, while Keehner picked up a 6-4 decision over Dustin Lenz.

Bulldogs Kordell DuCharme (113) and Brady Olson (120) picked up wins via forfeiture.

Chase Stubbs (126) was pinned by Sumner-Fred’s Carter Seitsinger, while Bulldog Bobby Lang (152) was pinned by Isiah Brandt, Brayde Miller (182) was pinned by Derek Kohlmeyer and Feuerhelm (106) was pinned by Cordell Cannon.

Riley Doeppke (132) lost a 6-2 decision to Sumner-Fred’s Carter Matt. Bulldog Andrew Zeeh came out on the short end of a 5-0 decision to Derrick Lenz.

Decker (138) lost a 11-3 major decision to Karsen Seehase, while Bryce Burke (145) lost a 20-5 technical fall to Blake Meyer and David Bradford (170) lost a 17-2 technical fall to Trevor Pagel.

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