Still in the mix
Half of Marshalltown’s state qualifiers survive opening day
DES MOINES — When the four representatives from the Marshalltown wrestling team walked out on the mat at Wells Fargo Arena for warm-ups before the Class 3A portion of the Iowa High School State Wrestling meet on Thursday, they did so for the first time in their career.
While none of them had ever competed on a stage this grand, sophomore Zach Bitker and seniors Logan Baccam, Brian Trowbridge and Decker Mann all proved they belonged at state, even though only two of them made it past the first day of competition.
All four lost their opening matches of state, but they were all extremely close. Bitker started off by losing to Caleb Helgeson from Johnston by a 5-3 decision at 113 pounds, then Baccam lost at 138 to Drevon Ross from Fort Dodge by a 9-4 decision. Trowbridge had the closest match of the first round, falling to West Des Moines Valley’s Blake Underwood by a 3-2 decision at 160, then Mann also lost by a 3-2 margin to Jaden Heiden of Denison-Schleswig at 220.
Considering the Bobcats lost all four opening matches by a combined nine points, head coach Mike Mann said his guys definitely proved they belonged.
“We were competing very well today, it’s about matchups and if you are ready to go and being focused in that first match,” Mann said. “You can’t pick your first round matchups, but we gave everybody a good go today in the first round and then obviously have two in and two out right now.”
At times in all four matches, the lights seemed a little bright for the Marshalltown wrestlers, and Mann said when you’ve never experienced anything on this big of a stage it can be overwhelming.
“None of these guys had ever been here before, you try to get them mentally prepared and get them out in the atmosphere, and yet sometimes that rush just comes over you and it kind of drains you and takes the emotion away from you and you can’t do anything about it except experience it,” Mann said.
After gaining that valuable experience, the Bobcats looked ready to go in the consolation matches, and that proved to be the case as Baccam and Trowbridge each dominated their opponents to earn victories for MHS.
Baccam started the wins off with a 5-1 decision over Christian Simpson from Cedar Falls in a match that he controlled throughout. Baccam is generally a patient wrestler, as he prefers to wait for an opening form his opponent, but against Simpson he was the aggressor, earning a takedown in the first 10 seconds of the match. Baccam said his focus going into that match was to earn a win for his team and keep the Bobcats in the fight for podiums.
“I knew that I had to stay alive and keep going for my team,” Baccam said. “I just knew I was not going to lose in that match.”
Trowbridge also dictated the pace in his consolation match against Nathan Siegworth from Dubuque Senior on his way to cruising to a 6-3 win. He said once he got the butterflies out in the first round, he got back to what he does best on the mat.
“I felt pretty confident, I didn’t feel as nervous in the second match,” Trowbridge said. “I felt more at ease and I knew what to expect.”
Unfortunately it wasn’t all good news for the Bobcats, as Bitker and Decker Mann both failed to join Baccam and Trowbridge on the second day of action. Bitker once again lost a tight match by a 5-3 margin to Nick Walters from Sioux City North, while Mann fell to Isaiah Garman from Linn-Mar in a 6-4 decision.
Coach Mann said specifically Bitker wrestled well in his first trip to state as a sophomore and this will be valuable experience for him moving forward.
“Bitker wrestled fantastic today, but you can tell somebody that and it doesn’t make you feel any better when you lost,” he said. “Tough day for Bitker, but he wrestled well.”
While the goal of four podium finishes isn’t attainable now for the Bobcats, they still have a chance of bringing back two pieces of hardware. Baccam and Trowbridge will be back in action at 9 a.m. this morning at The Well for the second consolation round of the Iowa High School State Wrestling Championships.