While it was a team double dual Thursday night and Senior Night at South Tama County, Erik Lux stole the show with a rematch of last year's state title bout.
STC's star senior was one of five wrestlers honored Thursday, but it was his match with Denver's Chase Shedenhelm that grabbed the attention of the entire gymnasium. He was also one of four STC wrestlers who won both matches, helping the Trojans finish 1-1 on the night. STC beat Denver 45-31 before losing to Union 40-31.
"I realistically thought we might be coming out of there 1-1," Van Dyke said. "Union has been one of the top two teams in our conference for quite a while and I knew Denver was beatable, but I didn't think we'd kind of blow them out like we did. So that was nice and we hoped to wrestle close to Union.
Five South Tama County wrestlers and two STC wrestling cheerleaders were honored Thursday night during the Trojans’ Senior Night. The five wrestlers were, from left, Lucas Shope, Erik Lux, Levi Kaufman, Daniel Garcia and Bryce Climer. Seniors Riley Craun and Nicole Berry were the two cheerleaders honored.
"Then when it comes down to it, we could have beat them," he said. "We lost by nine and that's a match or two. Maybe a guy gets pinned, but if he could have won, that's nine points right there. We are kind of disappointed with that and in a couple of individual spots in that dual. We haven't beaten Denver in a long time and Union is the team to beat in our conference right now."
Lux put his undefeated senior season on the line by competing against Shedenhelm. Lux moved up from his usual 170-pound weight class to wrestle at 182 pounds against the Denver star whom he defeated for the 160 lbs. state championship a year ago.
"I could tell a little bit," Lux said of wrestling a heavier opponent. "My muscles fatigued a bit faster.'
The Trojans coach was proud of his senior for wanting to wrestle the match.
"Lux wanted to wrestle up, even though he's giving up 12 pounds," Van Dyke said. "He did a nice job with it, but it's a gutsy move when you're undefeated. He put that on the line. When you're at that level, sometimes you don't get a lot of opportunities to wrestle good competition. I think it's going to help him a lot by the time he gets down to state."
The match grabbed the attention of the entire gym and had moments that caused fans to holler and yell about calls made by the official. Lux grabbed a lead in the third period and hung on to win 9-5.
"It felt good to get a good win over a ranked opponent," Lux said. "He has definitely gotten a lot better. His shots are a lot better and he's better on the bottom position. We've both made jumps and it made for a good match."
Seven other South Tama wrestlers won their match against Denver. Freshman Bailey Chyma started the night for the Trojans with a first-period pin. Following a loss, the Trojans won four-straight matches. Senior Levi Kaufman won by forfeit, junior Kolton Smith pinned his opponent in 51 seconds and sophomore Kyle Llewellyn won with a second-period pin before Lux's victory.
Junior Dalton Vest helped the Trojans by pinning his Denver opponent in 59 seconds. STC lost the next three matches. Then junior Jake Thiessen and sophomore Kade Steuhm pinned their opponents late in the second period.
"It's still a good night," Lux said. "We beat Denver and we haven't done that in a long time."
South Tama grabbed a lead against Union after both squads went back and forth winning matches early in the dual. Smith recorded the first win for the Trojans with a 5-1 win. Lux followed it up with a 17-4 dominating victory against a scrappy Union opponent who wouldn't let Lux pin him.
"I wrestled all right," Lux said. "I could have done better, but I could have done worse in some areas, too."
Senior Bryce Climer and Vest followed Lux with wins. Climer trailed 6-3 in his match before quickly scoring a reverse and pinning Union's wrestler in the second period. Vest won his second match by forfeit.
The other STC victories came in the 106 and 120 weight classes. Freshman Jaret Probasco won the 106 match with a late first-period pin. Thiessen won his second match with another pin for the Trojans.
"Kolton Smith looked tough," Van Dyke said. "He beat a kid with one loss. The kid from Union had one loss that I saw. Climer is coming around. He's a senior who wrestled tough on senior night. He wrestles tough against a kid with a better record than him for Denver and then he came out and got a huge win against the kid from Union. That was a huge match. Jake Thiessen is having a very good year. He already has several more wins than he did all of last year."
Seniors Lux, Climer, Kaufman, Lucas Shope and Daniel Garcia were honored with their parents before the Union dual. It was the final home dual for the seniors. However, they will compete at home on Jan. 26 when STC hosts the North Iowa Cedar League meet.
This week, the Trojans compete in Oskaloosa on Thursday night before going to East Marshall on Saturday.