SHENANDOAH, Iowa — With a hard-fought, six-minute match on Saturday, Atlantic/CAM senior Chase McLaren placed himself in some elite company.
The Trojan battled past Council Bluffs Lewis Central’s Tanner Higgins 12-6 in the 138-pound final at Shenandoah High School, becoming the 19th wrestler in league history to win four Hawkeye Ten Conference championships.
That victory also was the 200th in McLaren’s career. When the season began, only 20 wrestlers in Iowa history had won 200.
“I’m a little at a loss for words,’’ McLaren said. “Four conference titles and 200 wins in the same match, that’s really cool. It’s almost like it was meant to happen that way.’’
Atlantic registered only its third team title in the 46-year history of the event, scoring 224 points to outdistance Harlan Community (195.5) and Lewis Central (193). The Trojans won team honors for the second time in three years, following their only other victory in 1980.
Atlantic crowned three other individual champions: Joe Weaver (120), Connor Pellett (152) and Cale Roller (220). Finishing second were Garrett McLaren (106), Aybren Moore (113) and Kadin Stutzman (145).
“It’s a great accomplishment for us,’’ Atlantic coach Tim Duff said. “It’s always a traditionally strong wrestling conference, so we were pleased that we put a number of guys in the finals and crowned four champs.’’
Chase McLaren said he was about a .500 wrestler until the fifth grade, when he started training intensely with some Underwood athletes and finished seventh in the state that year.
“That’s when I realized that this is what I want to do,’’ he said. “I realized the best thing about the sport is that if you put more work in than your opponent, you’re going to win. I just loved that feeling.’’
McLaren had to earn his victory in the finals over Higgins. He came away impressed with his opponent.
“If he wrestles like that again, I’ll bet he’ll be a state medalist,’’ McLaren said.
Harlan turned in its top team performance in coach John Murtaugh’s 16 years at the helm. The Cyclones crowned three champs. Ethan Lemon at 126 won his second title and Oscar Olmos (145) and Derec Weyer (285) won their first.
Olmos edged Stutzman of Atlantic, 3-2.
“I was happy for Oscar, because he’s been in kind of a runner-up rut,’’ Murtaugh said. “It was good to see him come through.’’
Harlan informed Weyer that a victory in the day’s final match would propel the Cyclones into second place overall.
“We just said, ‘Don’t change your style,’’’ Murtaugh said.
Lewis Central matched Atlantic with seven wrestlers in the finals, but had only one champ, Tanner Wink at 106, who decisioned Garrett McLaren of Atlantic, 9-4.
In addition to Tanner Higgins, the Titans’ other runners-up were Taber Dominguez (126), Brian Paul (132), Jake Lear (152), Caleb Kingery (160) and Ryan Higgins (182).
Paul dropped a hard-fought 2-1 decision to Garon Wurster of Creston/Orient-Macksburg, while Kingery lost a 5-3 overtime heartbreaker to Red Oak’s Justin McCunn at 160. Kingery battled through some shoulder pain.
“Really proud of him,’’ Lewis Central coach Doug Kjeldgaard said of Kingery. “Everybody’s hurting at this time in the season. You just have to figure out what you can do. I think what we learned today is that he can wrestle through the pain.’’
Kjeldgaard said Wink “was the favorite coming in, and it turned out the way it was supposed to.’’
But the star of the day was Chase McLaren, who received a standing ovation from the Trojans after his historic match.
“He’s been the model of consistency,’’ Duff said. “He’s just really been a workhorse for us. He’s a good kid and he does everything right. He doesn’t overlook any opponents. He prepares every match to go out and wrestle his best.”
Team scoring: Atlantic/CAM 224, Harlan 195.5, CB Lewis Central 193, Glenwood 174, Creston/Orient-Macksburg 170.5, Carroll Kuemper 117, Red Oak 114, Clarinda 101.5, Denison-Schleswig 32, Shenandoah 31.5, St. Albert 0.
Championship match results: 106: Tanner Wink, LC, dec. Garrett McLaren, Atl, 9-4. 113: Benjamin Schmitz, Kuem, major dec. Aybren Moore, Atl, 12-4. 120: Joe Weaver, Atl, dec. Kaden Bolton, Cres, 8-2. 126: Ethan Lemon, Har, pinned Taber Dominguez, LC, 3:48. 132: Garon Wurster, Cres, dec. Brian Paul, LC, 2-1. 138: Chase McLaren, Atl, dec. Tanner Higgins, LC, 12-6. 145: Oscar Olmos, Har, dec. Kadin Stutzman, Atl, 3-2. 152: Connor Pellett, Atl, dec. Jake Lear, LC, 7-1. 160: Justin McCunn, RO, dec. Caleb Kingery, LC, 5-3 (OT). 170: Jackson Kinsella, Cres, dec. Carter Maynes, RO, 7-2. 182: Brett Mower, Glen, major dec. Ryan Higgins, LC, 15-5. 195: Noah Carter, Glen, dec. Crew Howard, Clar, 2-0. 220: Cale Roller, Atl, pinned Colton Kinnison, RO, 3:58. 285: Derec Weyer, Har, pinned Taylor Harrington, Kuem, 1:08.