Sports: Wrestling, cross country
Matthew Lewis can claim to have done something nobody else in the Iowegian area did this year, win a state championship.
The sophomore joined illustrious company this year. By winning his second state wrestling title, he joins four other Big Reds that have won multiple championships in Chad Zaputil (1987, 1988), Chase Zaputil (1993, 1995), Justin Brown (2002, 2003) and T.J. Sebolt (2003-06). The latter, being of significant importance to Lewis.
Not only does Lewis still have a chance to become Centerville’s second four-time champion along with Sebolt, he also has been a long-time member of the Sebolt Wrestling Academy. Lewis was humble at the thought of being in Sebolt’s company.
“It’s an honor. I wrestle for his dad and it’s great. I wouldn’t be where I am without it,” Lewis said after winning his second title.
Lewis didn’t waste any time getting his tournament started on the right foot as he needed only 30 seconds to pin Roland Story’s Joe Hovick (34-13) in the opening round to advance to the quarterfinals.
From there he picked up an 8-0 major decision over third-ranked Brayden Graff (50-6) of Sergeant Bluff-Luton to put him in the semifinals. Lewis would win his semifinal by injury forfeit but he was ahead of Center Point-Urbana’s Cole Whitehead 6-1 at the time of his forfeit.
In the finals, Lewis would shrug off a first round takedown by Independence’s Isaiah Weber (46-5). Lewis would start on top in the second round and would go to work on Weber, eventually getting his shoulders down for the championship pin.
Two straight championships are hard enough as it is. Add on to trying to win those titles when you are the top ranked kid with a target on your back, that makes it even more impressive.
“That’s hard when you have a target on your back with a lot of expectations and that can cause a lot of anxiety for some people. I think a lot of people don’t understand the pressure of these high school athletes. Matt has been able to handle it really well because he just takes that workmanlike approach that I’m going to work hard everyday, I’m going to try to improve and then the results will follow,” former Centerville head coach Matt Johnson said after Lewis’ win.
Lewis will now be a veteran of the room and should set a great example for the younger kids on how much work he puts in to be where he is today.
“Matt is one of the hardest workers and most dedicated wrestlers I’ve been around whether we are talking high school or college,” Johnson said. “That windshield is bigger than the rearview so we are going to look forward, and be happy about what we’ve done, but I know Matt is going to look forward and he understands it’s going to take a lot of work to be successful like this throughout the rest of his high school career.”
Lewis rolled through his opponents this year, winning the Willard Howell Tournament, Knoxville Tournament, Bobcat Jerry Eckenrod Invitational and the Southern Iowa Classic.
He finished the year 46-1 with his lone loss coming the championship match at the Lee’s Summit Holiday Tournament, which is a 24-team tournament in Missouri that features schools from three different states.
That loss would come to Lindbergh’s James Homfeld, who would end up finishing second at Missouri’s state tournament in Class 4A at 113 pounds.
When Lewis isn’t wrestling, which is something he does year around to stay in top form and continue to improve, he also runs cross country for Centerville.
But wrestling is his bread and butter. In his two high school seasons, Lewis is 82-2 with two state championships and possibly even more yet to come.