DES MOINES – The message was simple, yet so true.
“You are a state champion,” was voiced by a member of the Monticello coaching staff to senior Logan McQuillen after he claimed the 160-pound title Saturday night during the Iowa High School Athletic Association Class 2A state wrestling tournament at Wells Fargo Arena.
McQuillen (43-5) was all smiles while climbing to the top step of the podium, too. He had plenty to enjoy, becoming the Panthers’ first state champion in his first state tournament appearance. McQuillen scored a takedown with five seconds left to beat Mount Vernon’s Trey Ryan, 4-2.
“It is unbelievable,” said McQuillen, jumping into Monticello Coach Ryan Luensman’s arms to celebrate. “All my hard work paid off. Even with all the disappointments I’ve had it makes it all worth it.”
He just missed a takedown moments earlier, but it gave him confidence. He saw 17 seconds left on the clock, received some advice from coaches and went to work.
“I wasn’t going to stop and let go for nothing,” McQuillen said. “I was going to finish it.”
McQuillen’s run was highlighted by beating the top-two ranked wrestlers at his weight. Unranked McQuillen beat Albia’s No. 2 Brett Leshen, 8-2, in the quarterfinals before meeting the top-ranked Ryan.
“I always knew I should have been here (at state),” McQuillen said. “In the offseason, I went to all the big tournaments I could to prepare myself.”
When the last seconds elapsed, McQuillen had only one way to describe it.
“Pure joy,” he said.
Ryan finished 42-2 and became the Mustangs first state runner-up since his older brother, Jacob, was a finalist at 160 in 2007.
Here’s video of the final period and the celebration that ensued: