Article by Matt Coss - Quad City Times:
DES MOINES — Fredy Stroker had one last opportunity to make a statement on the state’s biggest stage Saturday night.
It was quick and emphatic.
Already Bettendorf’s most decorated wrestler, Stroker added one more accomplishment to his storybook career.
Stroker became the school’s first three-time state champion after pinning second-ranked Aaron Meyer of Southeast Polk in just 43 seconds in the Class 3A 145-pound final at Wells Fargo Arena.
“If you would have told me when I was 8 or 9 years old I would do this, I’d say you’re crazy,” Stroker said. “I’ve made some leaps and bounds the last few years.”
Did he ever.
Stroker, a four-time state finalist, finished his career with a 196-4 record and became just the third Mississippi Athletic Conference wrestler to capture three titles joining his coach Dan Knight (a four-time state champion at Clinton) and Davenport Assumption’s Josh Watts.
“That (win-loss) record is going to stick for a while,” Knight said. “Back in the day, we didn’t travel like we do now. To have 196 wins against pretty much national competition, that is impressive.”
Teammates Jack Wagner (113 pounds) and Jacob Schwarm (120) earned state championships for the second consecutive year. They are the fourth and fifth wrestlers from Bettendorf to win multiple state titles.
“It feels awesome, almost as good as the first one,” Wagner said.
After a runner-up finish as a freshman, Stroker lost only two matches in the past three years. He was 15-1 at the state tournament all-time with 10 falls.
This one was the sweetest, his first pin in a state championship match.
Stroker recorded an early takedown near the edge of the mat, and then set up his cradle, his go-to move, to stick Meyer.
“Once he gets it, it is so tight it about knocks you out,” Knight said.
Stroker closes his career among the top 15 all-time win leaders in Iowa and in the top five with more than 135 career falls.
“It is bittersweet,” said Stroker, who will wrestle at Minnesota next season. “I was excited after the match, but almost sad as well that my high school career is over.
“It has been a great four years at Bettendorf. When we moved here my freshman year, they welcomed me with open arms. It is sad to leave, but I’m excited for what the future holds.”
Thanks to three first-period takedowns, Wagner posted a 9-4 decision over Fort Dodge’s Triston Lara.
“I felt good right off the bat,” Wagner said.
Minutes later, his workout partner, Schwarm, pinned West Des Moines Valley’s Grant Stotts in 2:58.
“It is surreal right now,” Schwarm said. “Hard work pays off.”
It was particularly rewarding since he and Wagner are best friends.
“They are inseparable,” Knight said. “They spend every day together, in season and out of season. They've made each other great."
After a scoreless first period, Schwarm cradled Stotts to become the first Bettendorf wrestler to record a fall in the finals since Paul Glynn in 1981. Stroker joined Glynn and Schwarm about 25 minutes later.
“It is exciting,” Schwarm said. “This is what we train for, and we got it done.”
Bettendorf had a couple heartbreakers, too.
Paul Glynn (132) settled for a runner-up finish for the second straight season after dropping a 5-2 decision to Dowling Catholic’s Michael Zachary.
Dayton Racer (160) suffered an overtime loss to Waverly-Shell Rock’s Bryce Steiert, 3-1. It came with controversy.
Steiert was awarded a stalling point with 31 seconds left in the third period, much to the dismay of Knight.
“It is a finals match and the two kids worked their butt off,” Knight said. “Let them wrestle it out. The ref should be invisible, not a factor.
“There was a half-shot (by Steiert) and he got a point for it. It doesn’t make sense.”
Both ranked in the nation’s top 10, Steiert avenged a 5-2 loss to Racer at the Keith Young Invitational in December. Racer was a Minnesota state champion before transferring to Bettendorf this season.
“We own this as our state,” Steiert said. “These are our gold medals.”
Beside its five finalists, Bettendorf had a pair of fourth-place finishers in junior Jackson Gallagher (126) and senior Jacob Woodard (152). In fact, Woodard medically forfeited his third-place match because of a shoulder injury.
The Bulldogs finished second in the team race behind Southeast Polk, 193-154.
In all, Bettendorf’s senior class captured four state team titles (duals and traditional tournaments) and had four runner-up finishes.
“That’s pretty impressive,” Knight said.