Decker gets second chance at Upper Iowa - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Decker gets second chance at Upper Iowa

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FAYETTE (KWWL) -- Justin Decker doesn't seem that much different than your average dairy farmer.  He's lifetime small-town Iowan, and like many others he was a former high school athlete where he starred on the wrestling mat and the football field at West Central High School.

The mat was where he truly excelled, and that earned him a scholarship to wrestle for Jim Zalesky at Iowa.  It was a short trip, however, as he quit the sport after his sophomore season.

"It didn't hurt to lose like it should have," says Decker, "It didn't feel so good to win anymore.  I was maybe just a little bit burnt out on the sport."

After returning to the farm the wrestling bug didn't die, and Decker would soon start coaching eventually moving into an assistant job at Upper Iowa 2 years ago under head coach Heath Grimm.

"As a coach for 2 years, he got up close and personal with it, with the program, believed in it, believed in these guys, believed it what these guys could do," says Grimm.

In fact, he believed in this year's team so much that at 33 years old he decided to help with more than just his knowledge for the sport. Now, this 33 year old dairy farmer, who's married with 2 kids and another on the way, is also a 33 year old collegiate wrestler.

"They had to dig pretty deep in the handbook to find the exact situation where I could actually be eligible again," recalls Decker.

Not only is he eligible, with a very respectable 15 - 6 record in matches this season, he's been a big boost to an already stacked team that's currently ranked 6th in the nation.  A team that's likely to move up after defeating 4th ranked Minnesota State on Thursday.

"I think we've got a heck of a team this year," says Decker, "and that's probably what's driving me the most to be part of it."

Although it may have seemed strange at first, his much younger teammates were on board from the very beginning.

"I was excited cause I know how good Justin is," says Travis Eggers, the #2 nationally ranked 165 pounder, "and I knew right then this year was going to be big."

"I've lost a few steps.  There's no doubt about that.  Don't quite have the horsepower I did back in the day, says Decker,"

It appears the steps he lost, however, were pretty small.

Online reporter Mark Woodley

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