DES MOINES | Jarel Arbegast didn't want to let go. The West Fork senior has spent many a night envisioning a moment like this.
Seconds after the biggest win of his career, away from the thousands of people watching the state wrestling tournament, he grabbed his dad and coach, Jared, and squeezed. When dad pulled away, Jarel reached for him again.
"We did it," they told each other.
Friday night a dream was realized for the Arbegast family. West Fork has its first state finalist. All it took was points at the buzzer in a match the family will never forget. When the clock struck zero, Arbegast had secured a wild 10-8 victory over Alburnett's Tanner Sloan, a defending state champion. The younger Arbegast went wild. So did his father.
"It’s the greatest feeling in the world,” Jarel Arbegast said. “We’ve worked for this since Kindergarten, man. I can’t believe it’s finally here.”
All the trials and tribulations of the last four years suddenly seemed worth it for the father-son duo in this moment.
There was the time doctors told him he may not wrestle again. There were surgeries. There was time away from competition just to preserve a potential injury. There has never been anything, though, as memorable as this.
“It’s unbelievable,” Jared Arbegast said. “You dream about it, you think about. I can’t say enough about the kid.”
He can say for certain that his boy is a state finalist. He will wrestle Hudson’s second-ranked Taylan Entriken for the title.
“I can’t believe it’s here,” Jarel said. “I can’t believe this happened.”
The dream of competing on the state’s grandest stage became reality Friday night.
Quietly, Jared Arbegast had prepared for this moment. It’s a tradition that coaches of a wrestler who competes for a state title wear a suit on Saturday night.
Arbegast packed a suit this week. He just kept it in the Suburban.
“I guess I’ll have to go out and get it now, and that’s awesome,” he said.
Earlier in the day, West Fork’s Jacob Hansen became the school’s first four-time state placewinner. Although he was bounced from the front side of the bracket in Friday night’s semifinal round, he did something that nobody else in school history can claim.
“That’s a good thing that I wanted to get out of the way,” Hansen said Friday afternoon. “I knew with one more win I’d be guaranteed being a four-time placewinner and a podium spot.”