Nathan Bazata and Mike Shoff have met again.
But not at the state wrestling meet.
The two who squared off in the past two Class D heavyweight championship matches caught up with one another at a football game this past fall at South Dakota State, where Shoff was a redshirt freshman offensive lineman.
“I’ve talked to him quite a bit,” Bazata said. “I went up there and saw a game — he looks a lot bigger now.”
But they didn’t clear out the furniture and stage a rematch of their championship matches — Shoff won 4-3 last year and pinned Bazata in 3:28 in 2011.
How does one more chance sound?
“I wish,” Bazata said.
Bazata, an Iowa football recruit from Howells-Dodge, improved to 41-0 this season with quick wins Thursday at the state wrestling meet, advancing to the semifinals in the heavyweight division.
He pinned Clinten Fales of Anselmo-Merna in 24 seconds and Matthew Hessler of Morrill in 22 seconds.
“I thought it went pretty well,” Bazata said.
Bazata, who was fourth at 215 pounds as a freshman in 2010, had his next two seasons end in heartbreak with title losses to Shoff.
“The last couple of years it kind of sunk in that it really sucks losing in the finals at state,” Bazata said. “Last year it came down to the wire. I think I kind of proved to myself that I can be there.”
He set his sights on finishing things off in 2013, and then got an early-season wake-up call in the second tournament of the season that made him focus even more.
“I had a couple of close matches against some Class C kids, and that put it in my mind that if I want to do this, I’ve got to work harder and get in better shape,” Bazata said. “That’s what I’ve been trying to do the whole wrestling season.”
Twenty pounds of muscle (“I hope it’s muscle,” Bazata laughed) bigger than last year at 275 pounds, Bazata is about to shift gears and start training to play defensive tackle at Iowa.
“In early February they kind of clashed when I signed, but after that I kind of got refocused on my ultimate goal for wrestling right now,” Bazata said.
He’ll start his Iowa-issued training regiment next week and will continue working out at home until early July, when he’ll report to Iowa City.
Before all that, he’s set to face 34-8 Grant Clausen of Sumner-Eddyville-Miller in the semifinals.
“I haven’t seen him,” Bazata said.
Contact the writer:
402-444-1027, email@example.com, twitter.com/RWhiteOWH