COUNCIL BLUFFS | It is difficult to get coaches in any sport to talk about anything beyond the next game or match. It is a mindset they want their athletes to adhere to and a tactic some of the most successful use.
For one week that does not apply.
For the Siouxland wrestling teams heading to the Council Bluffs Classic on Friday and Saturday the talk as already begun, and for good reason.
Prep wrestling in Siouxland only rarely has marquee matchups where top talent square off, and it is even more rare for two truly elite wrestlers to face off. However, there is a good chance that Saturday night those in attendance at the Mid-American Center in Council Bluffs will see something likely never seen before in Iowa prep wrestling history.
A pair of three-time state champions, each with an unblemished Iowa high school career record, could face off in the finals of the tournament. Underwood's Alex Thomsen, a senior who will wrestle at the University of Nebraska next season and Fort Dodge's Brody Teske, a senior who is heading east to join Cael Sanderson's juggernaunt at Penn State, both won their respective tournaments at 126 pounds last Saturday and their teams are heading to Council Bluffs.
"My guys have been talking about it," said Sergeant Bluff-Luton Coach Clint Koedam on Monday. "I admire both of them for not moving a weight class because I am guessing one of them could go up and win that weight bracket too in some efforts protect the high school career record.
"High school kids, at some point, always think about their record, but both of these guys have confidence that they are going to win. Wrestling great competition is more important to them than the loss one of them is going to end up having."
Woodbury Central coach Jake Thomas has heard the buzz in his own room as he prepares to take his Wildcats to the always challenging tournament this weekend.
"To see young guys look at that match, draw attention to it, it helps them look at the sport in a different level," Thomas said. "It is in those guys' hands and for them to want to have that match is what makes them who they are."
Wrestling is a sport that is always looking to get more attention when, to be honest, basketball draws more interest both in Siouxland and nationwide all the way up to the NBA.
Saturday gives wrestling the chance to be the biggest thing in this state. I am sure their are several big basketball games -- both boys and girls -- across Iowa on Saturday, but on one mat in Council Bluffs two of the most accomplished and respected wrestlers this state has ever produced could grab the headlines not just in their local paper, but in every paper.
"We are always trying to draw positive attention to our sport and we are always trying to find a way for the wrestling article to be front page of the newspaper whether it be the (Sioux City) Journal, the Omaha World-Herald, the Des Moines Register," said Koedam who will bring his Warriors team to Council Bluffs to compete. "It is stuff like this that draws that positive attention and you can guarantee that will be on the front of somebody's sports section.
"Folks that aren't as familiar with wrestling ... even those people are going to read that, and that brings more attention that there are some pretty talented wrestlers, talented athletes and it speaks volumes for the sport that we don't walk away from things."
While credit is due to both wrestlers for taking on the challenge of facing one another, Koedam makes the strong point that the reason that both are in this position is because they have never shied away from tough competition. Teske and Thomsen have lost matches in offseason national tournaments, but it is that willingness to seek out the best opponents that have put them in this position.
Having talked to Iowa High School Athletic Association information guru Bud Legg he could not find another instance of two such accomplished wrestlers with perfect records facing off at this point in their careers in state history.
These are the kind of matches that make wrestling great in this state and will make both wrestlers much bigger in the history pages of this sport than their 126 pounds suggest. It is quite likely that Teske, a Class 3A wrestler, and Thomsen, who wrestles in Class 1A, will each win state title No. 4 in February -- becoming the 26th and 27th wrestlers in state history to become four-timers -- but years from now it is exceedingly likely this is the match that will be talked about.
If the match materializes -- and as everyone involved in the sport of wrestling will tell you nothing is guaranteed -- for six minutes, and maybe more and maybe less, the eyes of the Iowa prep wrestling world will be focused on one of 10 mats.
The biggest thing in Iowa sports for one Saturday is taking place in western Iowa.