‘You wish you could just stop and hold on to that moment’

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The MFL MarMac wrestling team placed eighth in Class 1A at the state dual team tournament, held Feb. 17 at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. It was the Bulldogs’ first-ever appearance at the event. (Photos by Audrey Posten)

MFL MarMac seniors Jacob Trudo (left), Austin Nickolai, Koal Klenk and Logan Brown show off the team’s state participant trophy.

Bulldog junior Andrew Heins won two matches at state duals, including falls against Don Bosco and Lake Mills.

Senior heavyweight Jacob Trudo said the team was well prepared for state. “Everyone, from 106 to me, was really ready,” he said. “We just faced some really good competition.”

Freshman Holden Mathis (right) was one of two MFL MarMac wrestlers who won all three of their matches at the state dual tournament.

MFL MarMac’s first-ever appearance in state dual tournament is a memorable one


By Audrey Posten, Times-Register


“When you’re walking up with your team in the tunnel underneath Wells Fargo, it’s so unreal. You work so hard for that for so many years. You wish you could just stop and hold on to that moment.”


For MFL MarMac wrestling coach Chet Bachman, the team’s first-ever appearance in the state dual tournament didn’t disappoint. 


“It was a great experience for the wrestlers, the coaches, the fans,” he said.


The Bulldogs placed eighth in Class 1A at the event, held Feb. 17 at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. 


Bachman described the whole day as a battle, starting with the opening dual against top-ranked Don Bosco. MFL MarMac lost 64-15, with high points coming from freshman Holden Mathis and junior Andrew Heins, who earned falls in their respective 126- and 132-pound matches. Senior heavyweight Jacob Trudo won by a 4-3 decision.


“To start off wrestling probably the best team in the state, I thought we did what we could and moved on,” Bachman said.


MFL MarMac switched up its line-up a bit in this dual, giving some other wrestlers a taste of the state experience. 


“Collin Henkels is a JV wrestler, but a kid who works really hard, so it was nice to see him get a match,” Bachman said. “Kadence Pape, we squeezed her in. That was pretty cool because not too many girls get to wrestle down here.”


In the consolation semifinals, MFL MarMac took on Lake Mills, losing 45-27. Trudo, Heins (126 pounds), Karter Decker (138 pounds) and Austin Nickolai (195 pounds) all won by fall, while Holden Mathis secured a 7-0 victory. 


State individual qualifier Gabe McGeough lost a rare match, 7-4 in overtime, at 160 pounds. Kashton Mathis, wrestling at 145 pounds, also lost 7-4, and Bryce Radloff lost 8-0 in his 132-pound match. Koal Klenk (106) lost via technical fall, and Tristen Koehn (152), Austin Schlee (170), Michael Knickerbocker (182), Logan Brown (220) and Konnor Barat-Klimesh (113) were pinned by their opponents.


“Lake Mills—we were in that one,” said Bachman. “We had some good matches for people to watch.”


In the final dual of the night—the seventh-place match—the Bulldogs were edged by West Sioux, Hawarden, 42-33.


“This last one was tight. We came up just short,” said Bachman. “Things go our way in a match or two and we win that dual.”


The dual started well for MFL MarMac, as Koehn, Schlee and McGeough all picked up falls. However, West Sioux, Hawarden followed that with victories over Knickerbocker, Nickolai and Brown to cut into the lead. Trudo halted that momentum with a fall—his third win of the day.


Trudo attributed his success to good wrestling and listening to his coaches. He also thrived on little sleep.


“I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night, so I didn’t think that would be very helpful, but apparently it did help,” he quipped.


After Trudo, an injury forced Klenk from the mat and Barat-Klimesh was pinned. Then Holden Mathis scored a 9-7 decision win—also his third of the day—that knotted the teams at 27. The Bulldogs couldn’t keep pace, however. Heins lost by technical fall and Radloff by major decision. Although Decker kept it close with a fall, the night ended with Kashton Mathis getting pinned.


Trudo was proud of MFL MarMac’s efforts.


“The team was really well prepared. Everyone, from 106 to me, was really ready,” he said. “We just faced some really good competition.”


Bachman agreed.


“I thought our effort was tremendous. We didn’t back down from anybody,” he remarked.


Looking back to the start of the season, the coach admitted he didn’t picture this team wrestling in the state duals at Wells Fargo Arena.


“We were more worried about COVID, so just kept going about our day,” he said. “But that’s kind of the way things go. Sometimes they just happen. I love that the season went like that.”


Bachman said the team has a solid foundation with its youth wrestling program, which turned out state qualifiers like McGeough and Decker. However, some of this season’s key contributors, including seniors Nickolai, Brown and Klenk, didn’t start wrestling until they were in high school.


“We’ve got some experience mixed with a little bit of inexperience,” he said. “That’s what makes our team special.”


“It was a very memorable team just by the diversity of different athletes,” Trudo agreed.


Nickolai and Brown admitted the road wasn’t easy.


“I remember my first year in the sport, sophomore year, it was a complete learning process,” Brown detailed. “It’s just finding what works for you.”


“At first it’s hard, but when you get your mind set in the right place, then there are things you can do you never thought you could do,” Nickolai added. “I went out my freshman year and I stuck with it. That hard work paid off. To end it on this note, it’s something I’m not going to forget.”


Along with the wrestlers, Bachman credited the coaching staff, cheerleaders and managers, family members and fans for helping to bring this season’s success to fruition. As the team headed to state, the MFL MarMac Booster Club provided send-off baskets, and younger kids created good luck cards. Fisk Farm and Home donated drinks and the girls basketball team donated food. 


Now, he’s excited about what this opportunity does for the school’s wrestling program moving forward.


“It sets the bar and lets everyone know it can be done,” Bachman said. “It gives people excitement about what we can do.”

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