FEB. 20 HOME STRETCH COLUMN — PETE TEMPLE, SPORTS EDITOR
In 1966, Chuck Hubbard was in a similar situation to the one Logan McQuillen found himself in during Saturday’s State Wrestling Tournament Finals.
Close match, time running out, state championship on the line.
“Except my 17 seconds didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to,” Hubbard said by telephone from his winter home in Pensacola, Fla.
Hubbard recalls his opponent scoring a reversal in those closing seconds.
“I couldn’t recover from that fast enough,” he said.
Nevertheless, Hubbard was Monticello’s first state finalist, going 23-2 that season and taking the runner-up spot in at 180 pounds in the Class A State Tournament, held in Waterloo.
Hubbard said he is “thrilled” for McQuillen, who became Monticello’s first state wrestling champion in the 50 years of the program.
“Man!” he said. “Finally!”
Now 64, Hubbard remembers being on the first Monticello Panther wrestling team, as a freshman, under coach Darold Albright.
“It was a new sport, a new focus and direction,” Hubbard said. “We learned the hard way, watching old black-and-white films.”
Three years later, under coach Willliam Schwartz, the Panthers sent five wrestlers to the state tournament, and placed sixth as a team. Getting to State was significantly tougher in those days; there were only four Class A districts statewide. And only eight made it to State in each weight class.
Dick White placed third at 127 pounds that year. Three others – Rusty Orcutt at 95, Don Behrends at 138 and Bernie Barker at heavyweight – also qualified.
Hubbard remembers how his wrestling experience helped him in his days as a Navy pilot.
“Many time, you’re by yourself up there,” he said.
He also believes McQuillen’s experience will help him later in life.
“Confidence is the thing that makes or breaks you,” Hubbard said. “There are a lot of challenges out there, and he’s going to be ready for it.”
The former Panther, who lives in Denver, Colo. the rest of the year, is also excited about the implications for Monticello’s program.
“The whole bottom line is this: You’ve got to think about the program,” Hubbard said. “You’ve got to look at those sixth and seventh graders who are thinking, ‘Hey, we’ve got something to shoot at now.’ ”