McGeough is state Greco champion

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MFL MarMac junior Gabe McGeough recently won an Iowa Junior Greco-Roman State Wrestling Championship at 160 pounds. He is the school’s first wrestler to do so in 16 years. (Submitted photo)

By Audrey Posten, Times-Register


MFL MarMac junior Gabe McGeough is the state’s newest Greco-Roman wrestling champion at 160 pounds. His title at the May 9 Iowa Junior Greco-Roman State Wrestling Championships is the first achieved by an MFL MarMac wrestler since Steve Crozier in 2005.


“I think it’s super cool to be associated with Steve Crozier,” said McGeough. “It shows that it takes a lot of hard work to do that. I’m very grateful to be able to do that for the school and put our name on the map.”


McGeough is no stranger to success. He’s twice medaled in Class 1A at the Iowa High School Athletic Association state wrestling tournament, including a third place finish in February. Near the end of middle school, though, he made the decision to continue wrestling outside the traditional season.


“In the summer, the U.S. does freestyle and Greco, which is a different style of wrestling. It’s what they wrestle in the Olympics, and not our main high school affiliated style. Some kids who want to do some extra wrestling, this is what we train in the spring and summer,” he explained. “I knew wrestling was going to be a big part of my life, and I had goals. If I wanted to reach them, I knew I had to do extra.”


Although some younger kids in the area participate, McGeough said he’s the only high school-age wrestler doing freestyle and Greco.


“There’s not a lot around here, but more in the bigger cities,” he said. 


Transitioning from folkstyle wrestling to freestyle and Greco was a bit of an adjustment.


“It was almost like learning a new sport,” noted McGeough.


Freestyle is more like folkstyle, he said, but any type of back exposure is worth points.


“It’s a little more action packed,” he added.


But Greco is especially different. It involves only waist-up attacks. Wrestlers can’t grab their opponents’ legs. 


“It’s more throws and different positioning. You’re standing more straight up,” detailed McGeough.


He’s enjoyed learning new positions and scoring, and said moving between styles can prevent burn out.


“The different types of wrestling are also going to help your other styles of wrestling,” he said.


McGeough has been training at Combat Wrestling Club in Blue River, Wis., under the direction of coach Lucas Steldt. After taking a six-week break following the high school season to help heal a back injury, he got right back into training and lifting in preparation for the May 8-9 junior freestyle and Greco-Roman state championships.


USA Wrestling puts on the event, said McGeough, with the first day focused on freestyle and the second on Greco. Most wrestlers participate through a club.


“The kids doing this are tough. This was a lot of 2A, 3A kids, and every kid I wrestled either placed at state or was a state qualifier,” he said.


Saturday’s freestyle event didn’t go as well as McGeough had hoped. He placed fourth after losing to Robert Avila Jr. and Graham Gambrall.


“But I knew I could make some small adjustments for Greco on Sunday,” he said. “I’d also been training that more recently than freestyle, so I was more confident and knew I could win the bracket. I just had to wrestle smart and not get caught in anything stupid.”


McGeough’s confidence was well founded. He defeated Gambrall 10-0 in the semifinals, then bested Avila, a three-time state champion, 10-4 in the finals.


“I kind of shocked everybody else, but for me, I did what I knew I could do,” McGeough said.


He described every match that weekend as an opportunity to improve.


“It was fun with that level of competition, and being able to win those matches was definitely a confidence booster,” he shared. “I started to turn a corner, beating a couple big name guys. I know what my capabilities are now, and my goals are becoming real—I just have to keep training and can hopefully wrestle in college.”


McGeough said the weekend was especially meaningful because he experienced it with his dad, Chip, in his corner. He even wore Chip’s 1992 singlet in the finals.


“A lot of kids down there had multiple coaches and multiple guys in the corner,” he commented. “But this was just me and my dad, and it was a really good time with him.”


The state championship doesn’t mark the end of McGeough’s wrestling exploits this spring and summer. He’ll compete in the individual national tournament in July, in addition to wrestling with an Iowa Greco team in Tulsa, Okla., in June.


“The competition doesn’t stop, basically right up until football,” said McGeough. “So I’ll be training and lifting until then.”

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