STATE WRESTLING: Underhills celebrate one last run with 6th-place medal

DES MOINES – East Marshall/GMG coach Troy Underhill knew the day was coming. He just wasn’t quite ready for it to come.

The final day when dads get to coach their sons is always emotional. That was no different for Underhill on Saturday as his son and senior Zach Underhill wrestled the final matches of his career at the Iowa High School Wrestling Championships at Wells Fargo Arena.

The good news is, both were able to celebrate one last time Saturday night when Zach climbed up the medal stand for the first time. The Mustang senior lost both of his consolation matches Saturday morning but still finished in sixth place in the Class 2A 126-pound bracket.

And for dad, that was good enough.

“He had a good tournament,” said Coach Underhill. “He was 3-3 down here this week and the guys he lost to are all near the top of the rankings and I am proud of him.”

Zach Underhill had a goal of placing when the tournament began. Then, when he clinched his first-ever state medal on Friday, the next goal was the walk further up the steps.

Unfortunately, Underhill lost a 5-3 decision to sixth-ranked Sam Phillips of West Delaware and a 6-2 decision to fourth-ranked Mason Miller of Winterset.

He got down 2-0 early in both matches. And admitted afterward that, while it didn’t decide the match, the fact that the other guys were ahead was definitely to their advantage.

“That was huge for sure,” Underhill said. “It gives them more leeway and you can definitely get into a different gameplan when you’re leading.”

Coach Underhill didn’t think the early leads were that big of a deal, other than it could have given the opposition a little more confidence moving forward.

“I am not really sure what the advantage was because Zach has been down before,” said Coach Underhill. “The one thing it does do is help with confidence. It’s always easier to wrestle when you’re ahead than when you’re down.”

Phillips grabbed a 5-0 lead on Underhill (47-10) in their consolation semifinal match. Underhill got his first point off an illegal hold and then scored a reversal late in the third period but ran out of time to mount any more of a comeback.

Against Mason, Underhill trailed 2-0 in the first period again. The lead grew to 4-0 after an attempted shot off the second-period whistle was countered by Mason (27-5). Underhill scored two escapes in the match and lost 6-2.

“I don’t fault him for being aggressive, ever,” said Coach Underhill. “We thought we needed to turn things around and it just didn’t work out. Zach had gone pretty quick in the first period, too, so he was likely ready for the move.”

Notebook

Underhill will attend Hawkeye Community College in Cedar Falls for next two-and-a-half years and take part in the Department of Natural Resources program there. He plans on attending Iowa State after that. Top-ranked Shadow Leshen was upset in the semifinals by third-ranked Darrian Schwenke of Atlantic and settled for third, beating Phillips in their consolation final. Schwenke beat Brady Jennings of Osage in the championship match. Miller took fifth, while fifth-ranked Caleb Coleman of Bondurant-Farrar was seventh and unranked Efrain Azua of MOC-Floyd Valley was eighth.