PLEASANT HILL, Ia. — The walls inside the Southeast Polk wrestling room are decorated with the program’s successful history. Each nameplate, banner, plaque and picture tells a story, some of triumph and others of failure.
On a recent Monday afternoon, Gabe Christenson is walking through the room, pointing to the walls, telling stories. The Rams once went 29 years between individual state champs, a stretch that included eight runner-up finishes.
That’s a hard fact to believe now — since 2013, nine Ram wrestlers have won state titles — but the lesson, Christenson says, is bigger.
“It’s important to know the history,” he continues. “It kind of teaches us that if we keep showing up, if we keep giving everything we’ve got, you can find success.”
This wrestling room is not unlike others around the state, with past accomplishments on display. But at Southeast Polk, wrestlers are taught their program’s history to show how far they’ve come and inspire them to add to it.
Southeast Polk has recently been one of the state’s most dominant programs. Over the last decade, the Rams have nine top-four finishes at the traditional state tournament, including four team championships.
The Rams are well-positioned to add another this season. Anchored by three top-ranked individuals — Christenson (195), Lance Runyon (152), and Cade DeVos (160) — Southeast Polk opened the 2018-19 season as the unanimous No. 1 team in Class 3A and is ranked No. 14 nationally by Intermat.
“I’m really pleased with where we’re at right now,” says head coach Jason Christenson. “We still have a lot of things to do, to clean up and get better at.
“We talk about how you can’t win a state title today, but you could lose it. So being smart, taking care of things — that’s the focus.”