DES MOINES — The final two minutes felt like an eternity to Andrew Foutch and Taylor Curtis.
The Underwood seniors practically grew up on wrestling mats. Both agonized through third-place finishes last season. Both built sizable early leads in their Iowa Class 1-A state finals matches Saturday night.
Both end their prep careers as state champions.
“This is everything,” said Foutch, a 126-pounder. “This is everything I’ve been working for since I was 5 years old. It’s better than I expected.”
The top-rated Foutch jumped to a 10-1 lead in the first period and cruised past Woodbury Central’s No. 4 Lane Nichols 14-3 at Wells Fargo Arena. The No. 2-rated Curtis shut out unrated Wilton freshman Tanner Greenwald 4-0. They become the program’s 11th and 12th champs, and first since Scott Hazen in 2005.
Some state history accompanied Foutch’s crown. His 208th career win eclipsed the 207 collected by Centerville’s T.J. Sebolt from 2003 to ’06. The Underwood standout held the record by himself for about half an hour before Denver-Tripoli’s Brandon Sorensen (145, 2-A) tied the mark en route to his fourth state title.
Underwood coach Joe Stephens figured Foutch felt good when he and teammate Riley Klein dumped a bucket of ice water down his back while in the hotel hot tub earlier Saturday.
“They were pretty loose,” Stephens said. “I think we were in a good frame mentally.”
Foutch didn’t leave any doubt in his big moment. He bagged a takedown in the first 10 seconds and added a three-point near-fall shortly thereafter. Another takedown and more back points staked him to a lead he wouldn’t come close to surrendering.
The St. Cloud State recruit caps his career with a 208-13 record, including 53-0 this winter. He finishes as a four-time state medalist, including a second-place showing in 2011.
His 125 career pins are among the top 10 in Iowa state history.
Curtis set the tone to open the tournament finals. After spending part of his day watching the movie “Miracle” — and feeling a little inspired — he got in on a single leg against Greenwald midway through the first period. He added another takedown in the second to go up 4-0 and methodically rode out his opponent late.
“I never intend to look at the clock or anything,” Curtis said. “But I felt like I was riding him for a long time.”
Set to wrestle in college at Southwest Minnesota State, the lightweight began his freshman prep season on the junior varsity squad. He ended his senior year at the top of the podium in Des Moines with a 50-2 record.
Curtis spent much of his childhood in the Underwood wrestling room when his father, Lewis, was coach in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He watched firsthand as some Eagles went to state and did well.
“I was always the little kid they liked to pick on,” Curtis said. “I was kind of wild running around and my dad sometimes yelled at me, ‘Taylor, knock it off, I’m trying to coach here.’”
Mark Lander — a 2000 state champ and current assistant coach — always called Taylor Curtis “the baddest man in the state.” He told the youngster he would one day own a state title.
Curtis was convinced.
Stephens, whose four years as head coach overlap with Foutch and Curtis, said the end is fitting in more than just a wrestling sense. The duo that starting going to school together in kindergarten are simply easy to root for.
“They’re good kids,” Stephens said. “They have a lot of fun; you don’t have to worry about them. I get compliments all the time of how nice your boys are, then they go out and kill people on the mat.”