Green Devils crown three champs

By Kristi Nixon

DES MOINES — Blake Fox earned his first title as a freshman.

Tucker Stangel completed an undefeated season as a junior.

Your 2023 Class 2A state champion individual tournament team, Osage. The Green Devils scored 175.5 points for the title. EJ Photo/Kristi Nixon

And, last, but certainly not least, Nick Fox became a four-time state finalist and two-time state champion to cap what was already a foregone conclusion that the top-ranked Osage wrestling team had won the Class 2A team title.

The Green Devils scored 175.5 points to win it all, one of the best team scoring totals in history.

Head coach Brent Jennings’ team scored 175.5 points to dominate the Class 2A field and brought home eight individual medals in making history by bringing home both the dual and individual tournament titles for the first time in a very storied school history.

“This team came together really well this year,” Jennings said. “And I’m really proud of them. They put in time and effort over a lot of years. This doesn’t happen in just a year or two. This happens over many, many years . . . They make Osage community proud and Osage wrestling program what it is today.”

Blake Fox got takedowns in the first and third periods over Glenwood’s Vinny Mayberry on the way to an 8-2 decision in front of a roaring sea of green surrounding him.

“It’s amazing,” Blake said. “I’ve dreamed of these moments as a freaking little five-year old kid. I just made it happen.”

There had been no sign of nerves from the freshman throughout the entire tournament, and he credits wrestling at the Well for AAU so often.

“I probably wrestled AAU state here five-six times,” Blake said, “and it just makes me so much more comfortable here the whole stay and everything.”

Tucker Stangel improved from a consolation championship to winning it all despite an early deficit on a takedown by Sergeant Bluff-Luton’s Ty Koedam, ironically, the brother of whom Stangel defeated for third in 2022. He won by 7-6 decision.

“I knew that I had a good gas tank, so I could wrestle the whole six minutes,” Stangel said. “He took me down in a minute, so I thought, ‘I’ve got five minutes to wrestle.’ So, I never got down on myself, I just knew that I could do it.”

And Stangel nearly got taken down again late in the match that would have denied him his first title. However, the takedown was ruled out of bounds after some discussion.

“I knew I made a bad decision there throwing that headlock,” Stangel said. “I knew that there was more time on the board, so I could have gotten out, but I was fortunate enough that they called it out of bounds.”

He was caught gazing with a far-off look on his face as he stood on top of the podium awaiting his championship medal.

“I was just soaking it all in . . .” Stangel said. “It’s the pinnacle of Iowa wrestling. Everyone wants to be there. I was soaking it all in because I know it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Obviously, a lot of off-season work went into Stangel’s improvement to land on top.

“Really, freestyle and Greco that helped me because I got really stingy with freestyle and Greco I learned how to use my upper body and wrestle through those tough positions I don’t like to be in,” Stangel said. “I had a great off-season, and I think that’s what really sparked this state title.”

Nick Fox earned a 3-1 decision over previously-unbeaten Sioux City Heelan’s Ethan DeLeon with a late third period takedown even though he had DeLeon in a pinning position that the referees did not see shortly before that. The UNI-bound wrestler was thinking about his team and his future at hand.

“I have teammates who didn’t get their goals tonight, got to feel for them,” Nick said, “but yeah it’s pretty cool to get my goal of another state title.

It’s pretty cool. Little kids are going to look up to me for a long time for that, but it’s cool. I’m ready for bigger things, college . . .”

The full story and more photos are in the Feb. 22 print and e-editions of the Enterprise Journal.

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