Often in individual sports like wrestling athletes are measured by wins and losses. But in one Siouxland match earlier this month, an unexpected pairing led to an unforgettable finish for KTIV's SportsFource Champions.
West Point-Beemer 8th-grader James Meiergerd was preparing to hit the mat Monday afternoon at Oakland-Craig. It's a sports he calls "fun".
"He's just out there to wrestle and have a good time," West Point-Beemer Head Coach Jason Redmond said.
On another mat, Wisner-Pilger 8th-grader Gunner Labenz sticks his man for a victory.
Prior to last week's Wisner-Pilger Invite, Gunner and James had never faced each other. Originally, the two were paired separately at the meet, but due to a roster mistake by one of the participating squads, the brackets had to be re-seeded.
"When the second brackets came up, I saw that I was going to wrestle him and I decided what I was going to do then," Gunner said.
"I just didn't know he was in his bracket and Gunner came and talked to me about it, " Wisner-Pilger Head Coach Andrew Schweers said.
"I just thought everyone needed a chance to win," Gunner added.
James and Gunner locked horns until the final whistle of the third period. The impact of their match, would be felt far beyond the mat.
"Gunner would take a shot and James would block and spin just like you're taught to do."
By the end of the first period James held a slim 6-4 advantage.
"They went back and forth on take downs," Schweers continued.
After the second period, James was still leading 8-6.
"He was just going out there to wrestle another match and he really made James work for it, you know," Redmond said.
"You could tell at the end he was getting a little tired and I don't think he realized he was winning," James' mom Karen said.
James was victorious, 13-11. It was his first win of the year.
James said his coach was happy and told James he was proud of him.
"He really made him wrestling and earn his victory," Redmond said. "It was pretty cool."
"Seeing the smile on his face and the excitement when he raised his arm," Gunner said.
"It kind of hits you in the heart there," Schweers added. "The ref came over and said he had a tear after that."
"It brought tears to my eyes because they all stood up and it was amazing," Karen said. "Just to see that look on his face. It's priceless."
James also won a match during Monday's Oakland-Craig Invite.
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