The IHSA State Wrestling Competition didn’t go as Waterloo junior Pat Bieber had set in his sights. But with defeat came new motivation for the wrestler.
“The way I look at it, there are so many seconds, hours and minutes in a year,” Bieber explained. “I am going to do everything I can to make myself better in each of those seconds, hours, minutes.”
Bieber competed in the 182-pound weight class at the tournament, coming in ranked No. 9 at that weight in the state, according to Illinois Matmen. He had the chance to meet the top five wrestlers in the state.
“It was a great experience,” WHS wrestling coach Pat Stewart said. “It was definitely special, no doubt about it.”
Bieber took to the mat Thursday as the only Waterloo wrestler to ever compete at state, defeating unranked opponent Terryon Bradley of Chicago’s Uplift in the preliminaries, 2-1, in overtime.
“He wrestled well his first match up there at state,” Stewart explained.
Friday, Bieber then faced unranked Colin Carr of Washington and fell 5-2.
“The pressure got to me a little bit,” Bieber said. “Going out there and realizing how much everything meant to me… it wasn’t easy to keep my eyes on the prize.”
But Bieber did have one more shot at the prize, because he won his first round match the day before. That guaranteed him two matches after Thursday.
Just one match away from the semifinals and 1-1 at state, Bieber faced the No. 1 ranked wrestler in the state — Chris Giatras of Lemont. Giatras was coming off a first-round upset to Bieber’s previous opponent — Carr.
“If you lose in the first round just like Giatras, if the person who beat you wins again then you are back in,” Stewart explained.
So, it came down to just seconds for Bieber. Just seconds for him to have a shot at the state semifinals.
“I froze,” Bieber explained. “That one split second cost me.”
Giatras pinned Bieber in 36 seconds, ending the match and his state title hopes.
Bieber says that is a feeling he never wants to have again, a burn that has motivated him for next season.
“(The experience) helped a lot,” Bieber said. “Now I know what I can do to prep before those state matches next year.”
Because, if you ask him, Bieber will be back next year. No doubt about it.
The state tournament also allowed Bieber to tie the Waterloo wrestling record for most wins in one season at 34. But Bieber has already set the bar at Waterloo, and has to aim higher to go further.
“I am not judging myself off Waterloo’s records,” Bieber explained. “I’m judging myself off everyone else’s,” in the region, the state and the country.