SIMPLY THE BEST

DES MOINES – The finality of it all hit Dan Brodie like a ton of bricks as he walked off the mat beside his prized pupil one last time.

Four years. So many victories. So many celebrations.

It was over in the blink of an eye.

“Oh man, it flew by,” Brodie, South Hamilton’s head wrestling coach, said as his emotions got the better of him Saturday afternoon. “Watching him grow as an individual has been a pleasure.”

JD Rader, go ahead and take the bow you so richly deserve.

The Hawks’ 132-pound senior didn’t bring home the state title that he coveted more than anything in his sport of choice, but a fourth Class 1A medal to add to his collection isn’t exactly chopped liver.

“It’s been a blast, that’s about the only way I can describe it,” Rader said after wrapping up a 5-1 week and third-place finish at the 2015 Iowa High School State Wrestling Tournament inside Wells Fargo Arena. “Obviously it’s not how I wanted to finish and not how I pictured myself finishing, but third is a lot better than a (did not place).

“(Winning four state medals) right now is kind of like ‘whatever,’ but I’m sure I’ll look back at it and think it’s pretty cool.”

Cameron Olson’s status as South Hamilton’s only state wrestling champion is safe for at least another year, but it’s hard to look at Rader’s rsum and say there’s been a better grappler to ever put on a Hawk singlet.

“I think he’s the best wrestler that’s ever walked South Hamilton’s hallways,” Brodie said. “There’s a decorated list of state place winners, but by a total body of work, JD takes the cake.”

Already the program’s all-time wins leader, Rader completed his career with an overall record of 155-16 – a staggering .906 win percentage. He never won fewer than 36 matches in a season and reached or surpassed 40 as a junior and senior while compiling an 81-4 mark.

He’s the school’s only four-time state place winner. His 22 state tournament matches and 14 victories are records as well.

The accolades go on and on and on.

“It’s been fantastic to watch,” Brodie said.

Rader’s best state tournament concluded with a 3-1 decision in sudden victory over once-beaten Jake Hunerdosse of Southeast Warren, a four-time state qualifier and three-time state medalist. After fighting off a takedown attempt at the end of regulation, Rader hit an arm drag and notched the winning takedown in the final 30 seconds of the extra period.

And for just an instant, he looked up, took in the scene and smiled.

“I figured it was going to be close because we kind of wrestle the same style,” Rader, who finished the campaign at 41-2, said. “He controlled most of the match with his ties, but I was able to fend off everything with my defense.”

“It’s fitting that was the last one because those two are about as even as it gets,” Brodie said.

Rader’s quest for gold came to an abrupt end in Friday’s quarterfinals when two-time state champion Hunter Washburn hit a quick takedown and scored the fall in just 1:18.

“His shot caught me off guard and I just had a mental lapse after that,” Rader said of the loss to Washburn, who went on to place second.

“Rader quickly regrouped and rattled off three straight dominant performances to reach the third-place match.

He dismantled Riverside’s Tucker Bluml, 12-2, to assure himself of a top-eight finish. A pair of takedowns pushed him to a 5-3 victory over Woodbury Central’s Lane Nichols, and Dike-New Hartford’s Trent Johnson was no match in a 7-0 shutout.

“I’m proud of how I came back and wrestled on the back side (of the bracket),” Rader said. “It takes a lot of guts and a lot of mental toughness.”