Sunday evening I settled into my seat near the front of Creston Strand Theatre to watch “Wrestling in Iowa” — a documentary by Ohio filmmaker Tim Jackson features the Panther wrestling team and Jake Marlin’s quest for four straight state championships.
With an oversized Dr. Pepper in the cupholder and drum of buttery popcorn resting on my left hip, I quickly scanned the crowd inside the dark Creston theatre.
More than 150 people — mostly consisting of the Panther wrestling family — attended the screening Sunday.
I never participated in wrestling as a youth or prep athlete, but I’ve always respected those who compete in the sport because of the obvious mental toughness and sacrifice it demands.
I recall sitting in the commons as a student at Creston High School eating salisbury steak and mashed potatoes while wrestlers around me could only allow themselves to chew special gum because they had to “make weight” before that night’s wrestling dual.
Several moments in this documentary stuck out to me.
There was a clip in the documentary where Marlin is standing on the scale in the Creston lockerroom. The number on the scale is about six pounds more than his wrestling weight.
Marlin tells the camera he was about to have “a five pound practice.”
Maybe that’s common for wrestlers, but to the common man or woman that’s a lot of weight to lose in one afternoon.
Another moment is footage of a conversation between Marlin and a CHS guidance counselor. His dedication to wrestling was affecting his performance in the classroom, and Marlin tells the guidance counselor he can either be a mediocre student and mediocre wrestler or truly be an an elite wrestler.
The guidance counselor said a lot of wrestlers — not just Marlin — struggle in the classroom during wrestling season.
The documentary also had lighter moments. I loved the conversations that took place at the Marlin home between Jake and his mother — especially about the 12 dozen cookies that needed to be made.
And, who couldn’t love the footage of Jake’s persistent younger sister who wrote notes to put in Jake’s lunchbox?
Of course, the best moment of all was Marlin winning his fourth state championship. You can see the weight being lifted off his shoulders when the referee lifts his arm and spins him around to see all of Wells Fargo Arena.
Like Jackson did, I want to thank the Marlin family for allowing this documentary to be filmed. And, I want to thank Jake for reminding us all that hard work is the most direct route to achieving our dreams.
For a feature story on the documentary by CNA Sports Editor Scott Vicker, turn to page 7A.