PCM wrestling makes history, sets high goals for future

by Kinsey Phipps

“I’ve left my mark on a community that has shown nothing but support towards my dreams as well as my family,” junior Lucas Roland said.

In the history of PCM wrestling, there have been multiple medals earned, a remarkable amount of strong teams formed and numerous State Finals appearances. There has never been a champion, however, until now.

“Relief,” assistant coach Matt Teeter said with a laugh. This was the feeling that overcame Teeter after witnessing the first Mustang wrestler claim a title.

Lucas made history at the Iowa High School Athletic Association State Wrestling Tournament by becoming the first Mustang to stand at the top of the podium.

All season, Lucas had been working toward this goal. His work ethic was unwavering, and Lucas wasn’t settling for anything less than best.

“Most of the work Lucas does for wrestling, no one sees but Lucas. What we see is about 25-percent of the work he puts in,” Teeter said. “He is a self-made wrestler. He has turned himself into a good wrestler by all the hard work, hours put in, and the determination to want to be the best.”

Roland was fighting for more than just a title this year; he was fighting for his mother. Jeri Roland was diagnosed with breast cancer in October of 2017, and the PCM wrestling community has shown their support for the Roland family by sporting their “PCM Takedown Cancer” shirts. Walking around the State tournament, spectators saw a crowd speckled with pink shirts in support of Jeri.

Lucas’ best friend since childhood, junior Aden Reeves of Albia, wore his shirt at the State tournament for warmups everyday. During an interview with IAWrestle, Reeves explained the meaning behind his attire, stating he was supporting the family he had grown up with and loved as his own. Reeves was supporting Jeri.

After Reeves’ interview, news stations from all over drew attention to Lucas’ story. Each day, citizens from across Iowa tuned into their local evening news and were given updates on how Lucas was doing in the tournament. When State Finals came, all of Wells Fargo Arena was rooting for the 170-pound wrestler from PCM whose story had captured their hearts.

“Winning this year was especially important because of my mom’s diagnosis. It’s my junior season, and the chance to achieve my goal and stand on the top of the podium was dwindling away. If I was going to do it, now was the time,” Lucas said. “I know how hard of a time my mom is having and how hard she is fighting to support me in achieving my goals.

This made me push myself even harder because I knew that my commitment would translate into her fight with cancer.”

Lucas faced senior Kolton Bartow of Dubuque Wahlert, an opponent who defeated Lucas twice last year at the State tournament. This year Lucas dominated the whole match, winning 5-1 in a historical victory. With a standing ovation from Wells Fargo Arena, Lucas got his hand raised and ran to an emotional hug with his family.

“The standing ovation made me very thankful because it just goes to show how supportive the entire wrestling community is, and my mother as well as my entire family will not be alone in our fight,” Lucas said. “When I was hugging my family, I was thinking about how thankful I was for them as well as the unmeasurable amount of support that they have given me over the many years I have spent going after my dream.”

After the emotional victory, members of the PCM wrestling community gathered together to organize a parade and pep rally to celebrate Lucas and the valiant effort made by the 2017-18 Mustang wrestling team.

“Parents and coaches started making calls to the Prairie City and Monroe fire departments, and we shared it all over social media. Everything came together, and it was quite an amazing view. I’ve never seen anything like it,” Amber Wallace said.

Dozens of cars lined up at Casey’s in Prairie City at 10:30 p.m. on Feb. 17. Honking horns in cheer, the parade of cars and emergency vehicles went to PCM High School where students, parents, and wrestling fans alike were waiting to greet their champion and the rest of the State qualifiers.

Lucas said, “The community helped by showing unconditional support for our entire team this season. Their support has helped our team push limits to have an extremely successful season, and they encourage us to set the bar even higher for next season.”

PCM wrestling became District Champions for the first time in program history, sending six to Wells Fargo Arena to compete in the State tournament: senior Chase Shirk, juniors Wes Cummings, Lucas, and Jarron Trausch, and freshmen Landon Fenton and Colby Tool. Placing along with Lucas was Cummings and Tool, each earning a fourth-place medal. PCM placed fifth in the State tournament, higher than ever before. Crowning a champion and claiming a top-five team finish was incentive for recruitment and reaching very high goals next year.

“Getting our first State champ and a top-five finish means a lot to our program. No longer is it something that we just talk about, but it becomes a very real thing that can be achieved with hard work and dedication. Lucas’ teammates felt the energy and how special that night was, and many of them want that for themselves now. Between this and the great season we had, I believe we will get more kids out for wrestling. Word has traveled around the community on what we have going on in our wrestling program, and success is fun to be a part of,” head coach Jeff Nicholson said. “Come join us, you won’t regret it.”