STATE WRESTLING: Pedro power
DES MOINES – Pedro Gomez got his redemption.
After missing out on the 2012 state wrestling tournament, Gomez not only returned in 2013. He took care of all competitors in his way and a 5-2 victory over No. 6 Zach Renshaw of Council Bluffs Lewis Central was the defining moment in a memorable season for the top-ranked Gomez.
The victory gave Gomez the 2013 Class 3A 285-pound title at the Iowa State High School Wrestling Championships on Saturday night.
And the feeling was the best in the world, according to the 13th state champion in MHS history.
“It’s definitely the best feeling in the world,” said Gomez, who finished off his 2013 campaign with a 37-3 record. “The feeling when I got that last takedown was awesome. I knew I had it.”
Gomez led 1-0 after an escape in the second period. Renshaw tied it with his own escape to start the third period.
Gomez though regained the lead with a clinching takedown with 53 seconds to go in the match.
“That takedown put the pressure right on (Renshaw),” said MHS coach Mike Mann. “I was nervous when he grabbed at our feet there late, but we got through it. It’s awesome, and I am almost speechless.”
Renshaw made a last-ditch effort at a takedown late in the match, but Gomez fought through it, grabbing the legs of Renshaw and spinning around him for another takedown. That made it 5-2 with only a few seconds left on the clock.
Let the celebration begin.
“We thought he could knee snatch him at some point,” Mann said of the first takedown. “I haven’t talked to Pedro yet, but I imagine he just thought he would have one good chance at that move at some point and he went after it there with 50 seconds to go. It didn’t matter that we let him go because I knew Pedro wouldn’t get taken down.”
Gomez said he was not worried when Renshaw went in for a potential winning takedown. He had coaches in practice every day that spent a lot of time diving at his feet.
“They do that to me every day,” Gomez said. “I just went for his legs and sat down. Then I was able to get around him for that last takedown. I knew then that I had just won a state championship.”
Gomez is the 13th champion in Marshalltown High School history and the first since Chase Rogers won the heavyweight title in 2003.
“I just put the past behind me,” Gomez said of his academic troubles last year that kept him out of the 2012 state tournament. “Things happen for a reason. I could have been a two-time champion. But being a one-time champion feels good, too.”
Mann preached “finish” to his team all season. There was no better way to finish the season than with a state championship for Gomez.
“You couldn’t ask for a better way to maybe fuel the fire to some of the other guys,” said Mann, who crowned a state champion in his first season as head coach. “This is a great experience for Pedro and for the entire team. Not many wrestlers can say they were on a team with a state champion.”
Gomez came three victories shy of the 100-win plateau. Renshaw finished second for the second year in a row. He was the 220-pound runner-up in 2012. Gomez finished fifth at state his sophomore year. Mann played down the fact that he had coached a state champion in his first season at the helm. “Things just kind of fell into place,” he said. “I knew we had a chance with Pedro. He is that good. But I never really imagined having a state champion in my first year.” Southeast Polk locked up the team title early in the day on Saturday. The Rams finished with 180.5 points and won their second team title in school history. The first came a few days earlier when they claimed the state duals title. Bettendorf was second in the Class 3A standings with 134.5 points, while Cedar Rapids Prairie (96), Waverly-Shell Rock (92) and Linn-Mar (83.5) rounded out the top five.