DES MOINES - It’s was one of the rare things Anamosa senior Nathan Keating had never accomplished on a wrestling mat.
Winning at the state tournament.
Thursday, Feb. 18, competing in class 2A 195-pound bracket at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Keating was able to check that box off his list and add to his already decorated Raider wrestling career.
“That was an amazing feeling to get that win at the state tournament,” said Keating, who defeated Gilbert’s 10th-ranked Joe Larimore in a first-round consolation bout. “Getting to the second day was a dream come true, but I wanted more. I wanted to make the podium, and if I could have accomplished that I would have wrestled all three days at the state tournament.
“But I can’t complain, I was able to get a win and advance to the second day of the tournament. That’s a lot better than going 0-2 like I did last year.”
Keating opened his 195-pound state journey with a first-round loss against Davenport Assumption’s sixth-ranked Aiden Morgan, who handed the Raider senior a 3:23 pin setback.
“That Assumption kid was extremely athletic,” said Anamosa wrestling coach Bret Jones. “We were hoping to get to his legs and control things from there but he did such a good job of recognizing that and never allowed Nate to get in and start doing his stuff. The Assumption kid kept bailing out when he’d get into trouble and that made scoring a tough proposition for Nate.”
Morgan scored three first period takedowns before Keating followed with escapes after each one and trailed 6-3 after the first two minutes of action.
Morgan took control quickly in the second period, scoring another quick takedown just 30-seconds in, before turning it into a three-point nearfall and eventually the pin win.
“The Assumption kid was tall and lanky and I usually struggle with guys like that,” Keating said. “It was just not a good match-up for me from the start, but I tried the best I could to get my stuff going and just couldn’t seem to get any of it started. He also had a long reach and always seemed to be able to get out of any uncomfortable situation.”
In one of the most pressure-filled rounds of the entire tournament, the first-round win or go home consolation, Keating not only met the challenge but posted his first-ever state tournament win with the huge 3:42 fall over Larimore.
“I didn’t think anything about what this match meant, I just wanted to go out there and give it everything I had and have no regrets,” said Keating as he prepared for the match-up with the 10th-ranked wrestler in the class.
“This time, I was able to work my stuff and do the things I’m used to doing on the wrestling mat. I got off to a bit of a slow start, but as we worked into the match, I got more and more comfortable.”
It was Larimore who scored the early takedown and led 2-1 after one period before Keating, from the bottom position, began to take over in the second period quickly scoring a reversal before adding two-point and three-point nearfalls, the second ending the bout.
“Having my hand raised at the state tournament was an amazing feeling,” Keating said. “I got to move on to the next day and keep my dream alive.”
The state tournament run came to an end Friday, Feb. 19, with a wild 4:45 pin loss against a very familiar foe in Mid-Prairie’s Cael Garvey in the consolation second-round.
“I knew coming in that this was going to be a tough match,” Keating said. “I had wrestled him earlier this year and had even beat him at districts last year to go to the state meet. But in the end at state, he just wore me out. I got tired from being under all of that weight and he was able to get the pin.”
Early on it was Keating who appeared well in control of the match scoring two takedowns and a two-point nearfall all in the first period and led 6-3 entering the second.
That’s when the tide began to turn.
Garvey scored two two-point nearfalls before Keating was able to manage an escape, and the two were tied 7-7 entering the third and final period.
“Normally it’s me who is able to wear people out, but Garvey was able to do it to me this time,” Keating said. “I started out on top but he was able to get the quick reversal and that’s when it all started to go downhill for me.”
The loss closed Keating’s 2020-21 campaign with a 29-10 record overall, as he walked off the mat for the final time as a Raider.
“It was a sad moment,” he said. “Knowing it was over at the high school level. I just felt like I could have done so much better. If I could have won that match, I would have reached my goal of being on the podium, so to come so close to accomplishing that hurts too. But I’m proud I can say I made it to this level twice in my career. That’s something to be proud of.”
Garvey went on to place eighth in the class while West Delaware’s top-ranked and top-seeded Wyatt Voelker claimed the 195-pound class 2A state championship.
“I’m so proud of Nate for coming back after the first-round loss and beating the 10th-ranked kid in the state at the state tournament,” Jones said. “What a great way to end a great Anamosa wrestling career.”
Keating earned Anamosa three team points at the tournament enough to place the Raiders in a tie for 60th against the field of 74 schools represented.