Nearly 130 schools across the state of Iowa, in class 1A, were in preparation for setting the stage to what would be the final step of the season. According to Executive Director of the Iowa High School Athletic Association, Alan Beste, Iowa hosts the largest state wrestling tournament in the nation. Nearly 75,000 fans fill Wells Fargo Arena every year for the state tournament. The state of Iowa’s wrestling tournament is not only one of the largest state tournaments in the nation, it is without a doubt one of the most competitive and deepest. In reference of the Des Moines Register, the state of Iowa is the only state to have four schools win the NCAA Division-I team title. The word wrestling derives from quite a past time of history and tradition within our state!
For those of you who follow our wrestling program, will also understand that some of our recent Pirates state champs have created a bit of history of their own. In just the past four years, the Pirate wrestling program has been able to watch three individuals became state champions. Cam Fulcher became that third state champion this past Saturday with one of the most exciting and memorable matches of the state tournament. In the past ten seasons, the Pirates have had 4 finalists, 18 qualifiers, and 11 medalists. There is no doubt, that when the Pirates hit the mat at Wells Fargo, anything is possible!
This season was no exception. Ethan Fulcher, a sophomore at 160 lbs., captured his first state tournament appearance, as well as, his first medal. Ethan’s state tournament was highlighted by not just his 5th place finish as a sophomore, but his avenging of two previous previous losses to Ebaugh of Denver and Rasing of Rockford. Ethan really excelled in his ability to maintain his focus and desire throughout the three day weekend. Sometimes there is so much going on and so much emotion, you have to compose yourself within minutes to prepare for the next step. Ethan did just that, finishing a tremendous campaign that featured a 39 win season. Ethan has already captured 76 wins in his first two seasons as a Pirate. Anytime you can win three matches at the state tournament as a sophomore, you know you have had a great tournament. Ethan defeated the #8 and #2 ranked wrestlers on his way to a 5th place finish. So proud of this young man’s determination this past weekend.
Senior Wes Geisler also excelled in just his 2 ½ seasons with the Pirates. Wes is a bit of an anomaly, due to his natural strength and demeanor. In just those 2 ½ years with our program, Wes was able to grab himself two state place finishes, over a hundred wins, and a ton of respect from his Pirate teammates and coaches. Wes captured his 113th victory of his career this Saturday, not too shabby considered his short time with our program. Even with dropping a heart wrenching first round match, Wes was able to get back on track with three consecutive wins to put him in position to be a top six place finisher. Not only does that take extreme determination and guts, but also an unbelievable amount of fortitude. Wes has always been a leader by example during his wrestling career with the Pirates. He is someone you can always depend on in any given situation, to be the type of guy to be there ready to do whatever is necessary. Wes’s 6th place finish marked his second consecutive medal performance at 195 lbs. Wes finishes his career with a 113-20 career record and 80 falls. The 80 falls puts him 4th all-time. It was another great run for one of our seniors that will be very much missed next season.
Our other senior to finish their Pirate wrestling career this past Saturday night, Cam Fulcher, did something extraordinarily special. His special accomplishment……..winning an individual state championship. I have been in the coaching ranks for nearly 20 years and can honestly tell you that what Cam did this weekend was truly a story that I will be able to share for the next 20 years. Coming into the 2nd half of the season this year, Cam had not officially stepped on the mat for the Pirates until mid-January. Cam had a slight meniscus issue that needed to be scoped. Cam had to catch up fast. After managing to get back into our room and back to our routine, he only lost one match the remainder of the season. Cam managed to capture the last four tournament titles of his career: NICL conference, Sectionals, Districts, and State. In addition to catching up a bit, in terms of mat time, Cam also entered the state tournament as unranked in some rankings (10th in the Predicament rankings). We all know rankings don’t really matter in reality, but when it comes to mentally prepping to win a state tournament—they sure do offer a glimpse in the road to get there. Cam defeated the #8, #7, #5, and #1 ranked wrestlers in route to his state title at 220 lbs. It was a very special night for our Pirate program. What made it even more special, was watching Cam utilizing his “lat-drop” signature move. I had always referenced to Cam all season…that he was always a lat-drop away from winning every match. Even after being behind 8-6 with 30 seconds left in the period, nothing was going to stop his destiny of finding a way to use his go-to move.
Nothing truly prepares a wrestler for the state tournament. Any dual meets or tournaments throughout a season, in the big scheme of grappling, really equates to practice. You take each step at a time. For all of you young Pirates reading this….take note of this interesting note on Cam Fulcher. His freshmen year, he won just 14 matches. He weighed 145 lbs. soaking wet and probably did not imagine that his last career match as a Pirate would be on Prime Time television in front of 18,000 fans at Wells Fargo——–as a STATE CHAMP!
Can’t thank our coaching staff enough. Truly enjoyed working with Coach Ryan Johnson, Coach Scott Knudtson, and Coach Shay Ingles. We had a tremendous rapport as a staff, as well as, a tremendous time this past weekend. Thank you to our entire team….even though not every Pirate made it to state, their hard work in the room helped pave the way for those that did. It takes an entire team to have the type of weekend we just had! Thank you also to our cheerleaders and managers! Finally….thank you to all of the Hudson community members who made the trek to Des Moines to support your Pirate wrestlers!!!!