Keaton Subjeck didn’t win his weight class at the Walsh Jesuit Ironman Tournament in Ohio, but a fifth-place finish at 170 pounds is quite an accomplishment and the lessons he learned along the way will only make him a tougher opponent later this season.
Subjeck enters his senior year coming off a fifth-place finish at last year’s state tournament, an improvement after finishing eighth as a sophomore. He kick-started his season with a strong performance at the highly-respected Ironman Tournament, winning four of his six matches.
“I knew it was a tough tournament, but I still expected to do great in it and believed I could win and take first,” Subjeck said. “I went into it taking one match at a time. I thought I did pretty well. I had a couple bad matches, but it was a good opportunity to learn what I needed to work on.”
Subjeck had a first-round bye before defeating his first opponent by major decision, 10-2. He then pinned his next opponent in 19 seconds before earning a hard-fought 7-5 overtime win over Quinton Hiles in the quarterfinals.
“I was leading 5-3 in the third period and got called for stalling twice and that tied the match,” Subjeck said. “I kind of was, but I didn’t think the ref would call me on it twice in the final 19 seconds. I knew I had to fight through it in overtime and I eventually took a shot and finished it and won 7-5. It was kind of scary and it wasn’t one of my better matches of the tournament.”
Now in the semifinals, Subjeck dropped a 9-3 decision to Zach Epperly.
“I was now in the semifinals of the Ironman so I had nothing to lose,” Subjeck said. “He was a solid kid and was tough to score on. I made a couple little mistakes. I was down 7-3 in the third period and was just going after him. He was a solid kid, but I thought I could beat him.”
In the consolation semis, Subjeck lost his second straight match, this time to Corey Griego of Sultana (CA), 3-2.
“This was definitely my worst match of the tournament,” Subjeck said. “It was really frustrating. I was down 3-2 and I couldn’t get off the bottom in the third period. I kept getting up and he kept returning me to the mat. He’s from California so I’ll probably see him again before the season is over.”
Subjeck finished the tournament with a rematch against Hiles in the bout for fifth place. With the match tied 1-1 in the third period, Subjeck made his move.
“He was pushing into me and I got him in a head and arm and threw him,” Subjeck said. “It was the perfect throw and I put him right on his back and pinned him. It was the highlight of the tournament for me.”
Oak Ridge wrestling coach Casey Rhyan was happy with Subjeck’s performance.
“He did a great job placing fifth in one of the toughest tournaments in the nation,” Rhyan said. “Making the semis was huge and to lose to the number-three kid in the nation, obviously he was a very good wrestler. To pin his opponent in his last match for fifth place, that was a great way to end the tournament. It was pretty exciting and one of the best throws I’ve ever seen.”
Subjeck hopes to improve on his fifth-place finish at state last year by winning it this year. He’s got the natural wrestling ability, but he’s always worked hard to improve.
“Winning state is definitely my goal,” he said. “I worked out a lot in the offseason and did a lot more wrestling than I normally do. I trained with a lot of former college wrestlers. The whole thing is about working harder than the other guy and making sure I keep working to be successful.”