By: Nathan Bloechl — firstname.lastname@example.org
Des Moines, Iowa — On the precipice of crystallizing himself among Humboldt’s all-time greats, Joey Busse has one thing on his mind.
Just look at the Wall of Fame at Humboldt High School and some of the names that Busse could join by claiming an individual state title: Jeff Dreyer, Kevin Dresser, Tony Ersland, Jamie Heidt and so many more.
It’s wrestling immortality, the elitist fraternity of high school sports, and he’s earned the opportunity to join them today.
Just writing and reading that makes it so surreal.
The undefeated senior 145-pounder is looking to become Humboldt’s first state champion wrestler since 2008, when Tanner Kampen claimed his piece of history — ironically in the same weight class.
A technical assassin, Busse clawed his way past top-seed Colby Tool of Prairie City-Monroe Friday night, who tied it up — albeit on a controversial call — late in the third period at two.
Busse continued wrestling his pace, his match, and didn’t back down despite the bright lights and the magnitude of what one simple mistake would mean.
There was no fear.
Busse went after something he’s wanted for so long, and for all intents and purposes got a small taste of last year when he finished 6th.
When Busse ended up taking down Tool in overtime, which secured his place in tonight’s 145-pound state final, you could almost hear a collective gasp from the hundreds of Wildcat onlookers who trekked south from their homes.
“It’s the best feeling in the world to have,” said Busse.
“I’ve never had goosebumps like that; getting the two, hearing the ref blow the whistle and hundreds of people going crazy — there’s nothing like it.”
Asked if he’ll be nervous for tonight’s bout, he calmly explained that while, yes, of course there’ll be some nerves — why wouldn’t there be? — he’ll continue wrestling as he’s done all year.
“[I am] going to get my offense and push the pace.”
A palpably wired Chad Beaman, Humboldt’s head coach, has been side-by-side with Busse over the last four years here at the state capital, watching him grow from a gangly freshman boy, to the chiseled and svelte senior young man he is today.
What’s the major difference over the years?
“Joey is just doing the basics really well right now” Beaman explained. “In the past, he’s been really confident scrambling with kids, rather than being in good positions and making them really earn points. I think getting back to good, sound, fundamental wrestling is where he’s changed this year.”
Beaman, a veteran in his own right — he’s coached seven state champion wrestlers in his time with Humboldt — didn’t have any special last moment words for his senior. But left me with this:
“We’re very proud of how we’ve competed down here, it’s great for the program, it’s great for the community, we need to really get Humboldt wrestling back going again.”
“This is a proud start.”
I think everyone back home would agree, Coach.
Busse will wrestle his final at approximately 6:45 p.m. this evening. You can hear it right here on the Bolt.