Pape, Bachman advance to Girls State Wrestling Tournament

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MFL MarMac wrestler Kadence Pape last week punched her ticket to the first sanctioned Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union Girls State Wrestling Tournament. (Photos by Audrey Posten)

Pape advanced to state after placing first at 120 pounds.

Mackenzie Bachman also made it to state with a second-place finish at 135 pounds at the Jan. 27 regional qualifier at Luther College in Decorah.

Danice Frieldlein won one match regionals, but was not able to advance further.

Audrey Ruff competed in two matches, but did not place, at regionals.

By Audrey Posten, Times-Register


MFL MarMac wrestlers Kadence Pape and Mackenzie Bachman last week punched their tickets to the first sanctioned Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union Girls State Wrestling Tournament.


Pape placed first at 120 pounds and Bachman second at 135 pounds at the Jan. 27 regional qualifier at Luther College in Decorah.


As a senior, Pape has participated at the state level for two years, placing twice, and Bachman wrestled last year as a freshman. This season, though, all wrestlers had to earn their way to state by placing fourth or higher at regionals. 


“It feels awesome to actually earn it this year, that I placed first at the first regionals in the state of Iowa,” Pape shared.


“I feel like it’s really special,” Bachman added. “Last year, I would tell people I’m going to state wrestling and they’d be like, ‘Oh, you didn’t even qualify.’ Now, people will realize how much work it is to get here and that girls wrestling is just as big a sport, just as hard a sport, as any other sport. It’s the real thing.”


After byes in the two opening rounds, Pape blew through her competition, pinning Kate Kotta of Mason City in the quarterfinals and Preslee Dickman from West Fork, Sheffield in the semifinal match. It was a similar result in the first place bout, where she won by fall in 2:42 over AP-GC’s Grace Storjohann, who came into the match with just five losses.


“What went well is I came in here knowing I wanted to get to state and that I wanted to do well in my matches to get good seeding in the state tournament,” Pape said. “I really wanted to get first, but it’s mostly about seeding and going into that state tournament with a good place in the bracket.”


The success was just as special for MFL MarMac coach Brent Pape, Kadence’s father. He said a text message from a friend helped him put the day in perspective.


“He said, ‘Enjoy the moment. Step back and take it all in. Don’t take it too seriously and enjoy watching your daughter wrestle today,’” B. Pape shared.


He also had words of wisdom for his daughter: “I told her today, ‘You know what, this could be your last go round. Go out and have fun. The community is still going to be behind you. Your coaches love you, we love you.”


K. Pape said her previous state experience will be important this time around.


“It’s going to help me be a little less nervous and help guide some of the other girls, like Mackenzie. I’m going to help her as much as I can my senior year,” she said.


B. Pape said his daughter has to continue putting her nose down to reach the top of the podium. He’s confident in her capabilities, especially as a senior.


“When she goes into the third period, I don’t worry as much as I used to. Now, she’s trained where she can make it through three tough periods,” he said. “She’s wrestled smart this year and kind of opened up her offense. That makes me happy because I never know what kind of move she’s going to hit next.”


Bachman opened up her regional run with a 38-second fall against Savannah Pierce  of North Butler-Clarksville. Then, trailing Ava Mehlert of Union, LaPorte City late in the quarterfinal, she pulled off a fall at 5:29 to advance to the semis. There, she dispatched of North Fayette Valley’s Leslie Graves. The first place match put Bachman against Decorah’s Anastasia Simon, who ground out a 9-2 decision victory.


Bachman was admittedly nervous before the regional tournament began. Getting the first win helped, growing her confidence in her takedowns. The second match, where she secured the late pin, was the make or break one of the day.


“Going into the next match, I knew I had to battle it out because that was the match that was going to continue me on. It wasn’t going the way I wanted it to go...I headlocked her in the third period, which I usually don’t do unless you’re behind by a lot. I knew that I had that move and could hit it on her,” Bachman recalled.


The sophomore’s success wasn’t a surprise to B. Pape.


“She can hang with anybody in the state. It doesn’t matter their ranking. Every time Mackenzie Bachman is on the mat, she’s in the match,” he said. “She had me on my heels a little bit there. But she’s pulled those out in the season when she’s been down, and I know she’s got those moves in her bag. I never count her out.”


Like K. Pape, Bachman was lucky to have her dad, long-time MFL MarMac boys wrestling coach Chet Bachman, in her corner.


“I can tell how much he believes in me and how much he cares about me and knows I can win any match. That means a lot to me,” she said.


Bachman’s goal now is to place at the state tournament.


“That’s been my goal all season, and it’s something I’ll be chasing,” she quipped.


In addition to Pape and Bachman, two other MFL MarMac wrestlers competed at regionals last week. Freshman Danica Friedlein went 1-2 and did not place at 145 pounds, while sophomore Audrey Ruff lost two matches and did not place at 155.


“Audrey did a nice job and got her two matches in. Dani’s got stuff she can build on for next year. She’s come a long way since we had her in seventh grade,” B. Pape said.


The Girls State Wrestling Tournament will take place Thursday and Friday, Feb. 2-3 at Xtreme Arena in Coralville. Pape, now with a record of 37-2, is seeded third in the 120-pound bracket. Bachman is 28-9 and seeded 19th at 135 pounds.

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