STC stomps Marion on Senior Night
TAMA — South Tama County senior Isaac Judge has experienced quite a lot in his wrestling career, but on Monday night he and the rest of the Trojans senior did something they will never do again.
Judge, who is currently the top-ranked wrestler in Class 2A at 152 pounds, earned the 164th victory of his career by pinning Marion’s Ben Gibson in the second period during STC’s 60-18 dismantling of the Indians on Monday night, and that match only went as long as it did because Judge allowed it to continue.
As for why he didn’t quite want to finish off Gibson as quickly as he could, Judge said he was savoring the victory, for it would be his last in his home gym.
“I wanted to enjoy the moment a little bit, that’s why I scored a little bit more, but I love the crowd, I love Tama and I love the organization,” Judge said at the conclusion of the No. 13 Trojans’ win on Senior Night. “That’s why I moved here, I just love the wrestling here. It’s tough, the coaching’s tough and the teammates are great, I’m going to miss it.”
Judge was one of seven seniors to win his match against Marion, and the only senior who didn’t come away victorious was Mario Moncada, who wrestled up in the heavyweight division against an opponent who severely outweighed the usual 220-pounder.
Trojans head coach Nate Van Dyke said this meet was a good tuneup for the postseason that starts on Saturday, and it was still a good way to send out the seniors.
“This is just kind of a step along the way, what we are really looking for is this Saturday and the Saturday after that and the week after that, but it’s a special time for these seniors,” Van Dyke said. “When you graduate 12 seniors off your wrestling team, that doesn’t happen very often, and it’s probably more than we’ve ever graduated. When you look at the accolades of these guys and the championships they’ve won, it’s pretty impressive. It’ll be a tough group to see leave, but we aren’t done yet.”
The Trojans really couldn’t have looked much better in their final win, as they won 10-straight matches after freshman Brody Knode lost the opening match at 120 to Ismail Havyarimana by a tight 4-2 decision to start off. Van Dyke said even factoring in losses like Knode’s and Moncada’s, he was thrilled with how his guys looked.
“I think Brady Knode started off well, he’s only won two varsity matches all year and his opponent was pretty tough, to keep that to a decision was pretty good,” Van Dyke said. “Then we got rolling with our seniors, we had about six or seven in a row and they are all tough and they’ve all been battle-tested. That second-to-last match with Mario, he’s giving up a lot of weight but he competed well and I think that’s something we can build off going into the postseason.”
All season, Van Dyke said he’s prepared his team for one thing, to be as competitive as possible once the regular season ended. After Monday’s meet, the regular season is officially at an end for STC, and Van Dyke — a former Trojan state champion himself — said his guys are ready to start working toward the ultimate goal.
“We wrestle for the postseason, really this stuff is all preseason to us because this is where we want to peak,” Van Dyke said. “That’s what you remember for the rest of your life or for the whole next year, so this is what we are aiming for and we’ve been talking about it for a long time. We just talked about confidence, that’s the No. 1 thing going into the postseason, if you think you can beat somebody then you have a chance.”
Though that pressure has been there to build towards a strong run at state, Judge said even while he’s working on defending his state title from last season, it hasn’t been a stressful year because of the laid-back atmosphere on the team.
“It was a lot of fun, our team has a ‘Hakuna Matata’, hang loose kind of mentality,” Judge said. “I don’t really worry about being No. 1, I feel like I’m No. 1 and if I wrestle my way I can win it, just like I thought last year. That’s just the way I am now, no pressure, just have some fun and the wins will come if you wrestle the way you do.”
Of course it’s easy to continue being relaxed when you continue winning like Judge and the other Trojans have. Even with just nine competitors at the WaMaC Conference meet on Saturday, they finished in ninth place. Judge and fellow senior Colton Vest won their brackets at 152 and 145 respectively, while fourth-ranked Brady Fritz finished second at 132.
On the way to that victory, Judge defeated Mitchel Mangold from West Delaware, the No. 3 wrestler in his weight class, so Judge said his confidence is predictably high heading to the postseason.
“I’ve felt really good throughout the season just because I put in work in the offseason,” Judge said. “My confidence level after beating Mangold, it was a good confidence builder but I thought I could win, I knew I could win. It was a good match, I would have liked to push the pace a little more and score a few more points before I pinned him, but it was good, I liked it.”
Van Dyke said the way his guys have wrestled the last couple of days has been good, but they need to take it to a new level before sectionals on Saturday.
“We beat some teams without guys, but not everybody wrestled their best so we are working on fixing some things and getting everybody on point coming into sectionals because there will be some tough battles and nothing is a given going into that situation,” he said.
South Tama start the postseason when it heads to its 2A sectional in Williamsburg on Saturday, starting at noon.
South Tama 60, Marion 18
120–Ismail Havyarimana (M) dec. Brady Knode 4-2; 126–Brayden Smith (STC) pinned Tirth Patel 2:55; 132–Brady Fritz (STC) won by forfeit; 138–Tanner Probasco (STC) pinned Braden Garringer :59; 145–Colton Vest (STC) won by forfeit; 152–Isaac Judge (STC) pinned Ben Gibson 3:21; 160–Pedro Rodriguez (STC) won by forfeit; 170–Josh Theisson (STC) pinned Nate Miller 3:03; 182–Uriel Martinez (STC) won by forfeit; 195–Dalton Rosenberg (STC) pinned Joey Pearson 1:58; 220–Cael Kellogg (STC) pinned Carter Martwig :24; 285–Carson Webster (M) dec. Mario Moncada 3-2; 106–Niyo Gady (M) pinned Brody Chyma :59; 113–Levi Murphy (M) won by forfeit.