Fatima duo medals at state wrestling tournament

Posted 3/1/23

Fatima duo medals at state wrestling tournament

Two Fatima grapplers came home from last week’s state wrestling tournament with hardware, as junior Cody Strope  (126) earned third place …

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Fatima duo medals at state wrestling tournament


Fatima duo medals at state wrestling tournament

Two Fatima grapplers came home from last week’s state wrestling tournament with hardware, as junior Cody Strope  (126) earned third place and sophomore Alek Tune (113) finished fifth.

Coach Kurt Strope said he’s pleased with their performance, noting it’s especially sweet for Tune, who claimed his first All-State medal.

“Alek wrestled his butt off,” said Strope. “He was on fire the first day, and I believe if they had continued wrestling, he would have won it all. Unfortunately, he ran into a buzzsaw against the kid from Tolton in the semifinals. Alek had an excellent tournament.”

Tune lost by fall (1:59) to eventual state champion Christopher Ankenman of Father Tolton Regional Catholic, but he didn’t give up.

“I knew I had to keep fighting if I wanted to be on the podium,” said Tune.

A year after missing the medals, Tune entered this year’s competition with the goal of standing on the podium. “I believed I could do it because I had faith in myself,” said Tune.

Over the two-day tournament, Tune said he blocked out the crowd noise and remained focused on his task. “There’s more adrenaline, so you just don’t really hear it,” he said. “It was pretty exciting to be on the stand.”

Tune won the first two matches before he lost, then battled back through to the fifth-place match.

He claimed the first win by major decision (15-1) over Christian Noble (Lift for Life Academy Charter) and then defeated Brayden Sullard (Lawson) by fall (2:51) in the quarters.

In the consolation semis, Tune beat Brandon Brewer (Versailles) by decision (7-2) and then met Mason Grosz of Knob Noster in the fifth-place match.

Tune is very proud of that win because he entered as the underdog. Grosz won their district match, but Tune claimed the best revenge, winning by fall (4:29) at state to earn the fifth-place medal.

Overall, Tune is happy with the season as he went 41-11 and is glad to win his first state medal.

Meanwhile, Cody Strope (52-6 on the year) finished second in his freshman and sophomore years and was unaccustomed to competing in the wrestle backs.

He defeated Butler’s Preston Mallatt by major decision (12-0) to claim third after a difficult path to the match.

In the first match-up, Strope lost to Frank Ruether (Father Tolton) by fall (4:16), but he kept his composure.

Coach Strope was pleased with his drive. “He didn’t pout or get upset,” he said. “Cody just put his head down and went back to work.”

Strope defeated Ruether earlier in the year, so this was an upset, but the Fatima junior continued to battle.

Strope kept his eye on the prize and beat the next five wrestlers he faced, scoring 42 points and allowing only three along the way.

“My family kept telling me to fight back, and after I beat some people, they kept saying to go for third,” he said. “It was different, definitely newer than what I usually do. The chance of getting knocked out and not placing is not really good for me. I wanted to place higher.”

Strope has a lot of family history in wrestling, but that didn’t enter the equation when he was on the mat. “I just focus on one guy at a time,” he said. “I try to get through him and on to the next one.”

On the road to the podium, Strope won by major decision over Finn Simmons of Priory (14-0) and then defeated Augustus Heintz (Rock Port) 8-1. In the third round of consolation, Strope won by decision over Mason Rongey (Trenton), 7-0, and then defeated Ruether, the Father Tolton wrestler — who had knocked him out of the winner’s bracket — by major decision, 13-2, to reach the third-place match.

“It was nice to see Cody get some revenge on the kid who beat him early,” said Coach Strope.

A third trip to the state tournament and a third straight top-three finish is the culmination of a lot of hard work. Strope said his year started slow but improved as the season progressed. “I’m happy with my season,” he said.

In the 215-pound division, Trevor Herzing (45-11) lost his first match by fall (5:27) to Fisher Nixdorf (Penney) but won the first round of consolation by fall (1:16) over Owen Willers (Bishop DuBourg). He finished his state tournament with a 4-1 loss to Charlie West of Notre Dame (Cape Girardeau).

“Trevor rolled his ankle at districts but still did pretty well,” said Coach Strope. “Hopefully, he’ll be healthy next year and earn a spot on the podium.”

Also earning a win at state was junior Skyla Schroeder (135), who won by decision (5-1) over Teighan Carson of Osage.

In the quarterfinals, Schroeder lost a 1-0 decision to  McKayla Knight (Lathrop) and ended the year with a second-round consolation loss to Ariaha Mcillwain of Marshfield by fall (3:48).

“Skyla had high expectations after she finished first at districts, but we couldn’t carry that momentum into state,” said Coach Strope. “She has a taste for it now, and that will push her. Skyla is already the first Fatima girl to get to state; now we want her to be the first to place.”

Schroeder finished with a 36-14 record.

Freshmen Tucker Tune (30-17) and Nolan Laux (34-22) did not win a match but gained a lot of experience. “It’s good for them to see it, and like Alek last year, I hope it pushes them to a top finish next season,” said Coach Strope.

Tune lost to Andrew Garcia of St. Pius X (Kansas City) in the first round by fall (1:42), and in the consolation wrestle back, lost by fall (2:32) to Caleb Moore of Central (New Madrid County).

Laux, meanwhile, lost to Dillan Chisam of St. Pius X by fall (1:49) in the opening match, and then after a second-round bye, lost to Tennison Nixdorf (Penney) 11-4.

Coach Strope is happy to see six wrestlers make it to the state tournament and believes the team will benefit.

“Everyone returns next year, and we have some talented younger kids joining the team,” he said. “I look forward to seeing the improvements they make in the off-season. I’m pushing for the entire team to be on the podium next season.”

Fatima scored 33 points as a team to finish 20th among 53 schools.


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