Logan Melby isn’t sure when he became his wrestling team’s old-timer.
The Logan-Magnolia senior often finds himself bringing up the past to younger teammates these days. Two seasons ago, he was part of a Panther squad that won the Iowa state tournament and state dual meet.
But now the 220-pounder is one of two Lo-Ma seniors in the varsity lineup. And only one other, junior 132-pounder Ridge Meeker, competed on that February day in 2011 when his school completed the historic state sweep.
Sometimes wide-eyed teammates ask Melby what the experience was like. At practice and competitions, he tries to show them.
“On that team you were expected to win, and if you were expected to win you were expected to pin,” Melby said. “You’re always supposed to win the match, and then when you have it won you’re supposed to pin the kid. If you didn’t, we always got on each other about that.”
The funny thing about Melby’s elder status is that he’s still figuring things out himself. He’s ranked No. 2 in his weight class, sports an 8-1 record and has wrestled since kindergarten, but he’s critical of his start for not putting opponents away sooner. And he’d like to be smoother on his feet.
Longtime Lo-Ma coach Kent Kersten sees a potential state title contender. Melby has already beaten two wrestlers he lost to last year. He won the Riverside Invitational last weekend and took second at the Dan Hill Invitational in Harlan behind Gretna’s Tanner Evans, a 2012 Nebraska Class B state runner-up, to open the season.
“Logan has put in the work,” Kersten said. “He’s a good leader in the practice room and works hard. It’s realistic to think that he can place pretty high out there (at state).”
Melby was fifth in Class 1-A at 220 a year ago with a 44-8 record. The top four finishers graduated.
The four-year varsity starter also has plenty to offer the underclassmen, who have helped the Panthers to a 2-2 dual record. Melby directs wrestlers with less experience to challenge more, push hard and stay sharp because anybody can be pinned at any moment.
And in a match, always go for the win by fall.
“If I can get these kids in the room right now to work really hard, I’m expecting them to be a really tough team in two to three years and expecting them to take a state title,” Melby said. “You just have to go out there and do it.”
Melby now has a buzz cut after sporting shoulder-length hair during the football season. As a two-way lineman, he helped the Panthers reach Class A’s state semifinal. Melby also plays baseball — he led a 24-6 team with six home runs last summer while hitting .430 — and throws in track and field.
“He does a good job,” Kersten said. “We just need more of him, I guess.”
If all goes well, Melby plans to play football in college for either Buena Vista University or Simpson College.
But Logan-Magnolia’s elder statesman isn’t in a hurry. He still has plenty of wisdom to pass along.
“I’m hoping we have a really good wrestling season,” Melby said. “Not just individually but as a team also.”