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Remember The Wrestler: Maurie Tomke; Burlington HS/West Liberty HS/SC Bishop Heelan HS/Morningside College


Maurie Tomke was right in my back yard in his HS days.  In fact, his mother was a music teacher at my HS. A very respectable wrestler from a good family. He actually came from a family with some pretty rich wrestling history. His uncle John Yoder is in the Hall Of Fame and his sons (Maurie’s cousins) Cory and Colby Yoder were absolute hammers in their day as well.  Maurie actually didn’t get started until rather late, for he didn’t hit the mat until he was a 7th grader, which makes his already very respectable wrestling career, that much more respectable. He had a pretty unique HS wrestling experience, for he wrestled at 3 different high schools in 4 years. These schools included Southeast schools; West Liberty and Burlington HS and then he moved to the opposite corner of the state (NW) to Sioux City where he wrestled for Bishop Heelan. He graduated in 2004 from Bishop Heelan… this is who he competed for when he qualified for state as a Senior.

Since Maurie’s competitive days, he has coached at a variety of schools in both Head and Assistant roles at both the HS and collegiate level and I’ve heard nothing, but good things about him in this role from those who wrestled for him or know someone who did. 

What clubs, schools, etc. did you wrestle for?

Burlington HS- 2000-2002

West Liberty HS- 2002-2003

Bishop Heelan HS- 2003-2004

Morningside College- 2004-2005


Sioux City Bishop Heelan– 2005-2006

Sioux City East/Morningside Raiders WC- 2007-2009

Bridgewater State Univ.- 2009-2010

Ellsworth Comm. College- 2010-2018

Waldorf Univ.- 2020-2021


What year did you graduate?

2004- Bishop Heelan (Sioux City) HS

2009- Morningside College

2014 & 2020- Concordia Univ.-Irvine


Who or what encouraged you to give wrestling a try?

My Uncle, John Yoder (Long time coach at Belmond-Klemme, 2003 Inductee, National Wrestling Hall of Fame, Lifetime Service to Wrestling) and cousins, Cory and Colby Yoder (B-K State Placers). Also, a friend of mine growing up, Andrew Lundgren (Current Spirit Lake HS Head Coach) was a good wrestler. His dad was the high school head coach.


Do you have any family who wrestled or wrestles currently? Parents, children, brothers, etc.? How did they do?

Like previously mentioned, my uncle and cousins, the Yoders. My dad grew up in Eagle Gove, but was a basketball player, but he would always talk about how great the wrestling was there when we would go back for family holidays. My unlce John wrestled for Eagle Grove, placing a couple times, and went on to be an All-American for Wayne State College. Both my cousins, Cory and Colby placed at state a couple times. Cory was an All-American runner for Northwestern College, and Colby wrestled at Wartburg, and finished at Buena Vista.

What were your youth results? Any rivals there?

I didn’t really wrestle youth. I maybe wrestled 9 matches before hitting 7th grade/middle school.

What was your record in HS?

99-50, with 62 pins.


How did you place at state every year?

I only qualified as a senior at 119. FR– 103 & SO– 112 year, Jake Halverson- Iowa City West (State: 103-1st & 112-2nd) & Cody Smith- Iowa City High (State: 103-6th & 112-5th) qualified out of my district. JR- 112, I fell in the sectional semi’s to my rival that year, Jeremiah Barr, 2-1. He didn’t even make it out of districts, as Jace Kuhlman, Maquoketa (State- 3rd) and Mark Beatty- Maquoketa Valley (State-4th) qualified through our district. Year I qualified, I went 0-2…


What were some of the most notable adverse challenges or moments you experienced in wrestling and how did it turn out?

Loaded question!

Well, I was the only freshman on varsity my first year. To be expected when you are one of 2 guys that can make 103. I hit a growth spurt with one month left in the season, and really struggled to keep making it down.

Junior year we moved to West Liberty, and I happen to fit into the line-up at 112. Had to cut some weight, but I was not big enough for 119, and we had Chuy Lira there to fill that spot. I dislocated my shoulder at the end of football, so I struggled with that all season, and right after Christmas, my dad lost his job, the reason we moved to West Liberty. That was really tough on me. I carried that baggage with me more then I should have, but when you are 17, you don’t know how to deal with those things. I felt it was my job to keep his spirits up by winning. Had my “best” season, going 29-6 w/ 20 pins, but I feel like I choked in the Sectional semi’s.

Senior year, we moved again, and I had my pick of any weight from as low as I could cut to 135 at Bishop Heelan. I started at 125, but got mono, and couldn’t keep my weight up. Ended up wrestling 119 as I could barely get my weight above 122 on a normal day until I got over it. I ended up dislocating my shoulder again, right after Christmas break, and this time it was bad enough I had to sit out for about two and half weeks. I finished out the season, won the conference, qualified for state, and then fell apart at the state tournament. Had shoulder surgery that summer to put 4 screws in to hold it in place.

I was overly accident prone through out my entire athletic career. Still am a bit today!


How would you describe your wrestling style?

Very funky and unorthodox. I remember a handful of the Mepoguys would call me Gumby , like the cartoon cartoon.(My mom taught at Mepo, so they would talk wrestling with her.) I would put myself in positions that seemed wrong, but would come out on top or put the other guy on his back. Sometime it didn’t work! Live by the sword and die by the sword my dad would say.


How many guys in high school did you go back and forth with or exchange wins with?

Brandon Garrett from Muscatine. I won the first one by pin… I was losing, for some tournament championship. He got the next 3, by 1, 2, & 3 points, in that order. We trained together the summer going into our Senior year. Good guy, just after wrestling each other so much, he really started to pull away from me.

Jeremiah Barr from Mount Vernon. My Junior year I only had 6 defeats… and 4 of them came from Jeremiah, other two were to Brandon Garrett and Brock Reiter- Union, LaPorte City. Barr gave me my first (12-5, worst loss of the year.) and second (9-4) losses back—to-back match, and my fifth (8-6) and sixth (2-1) losses, again, back-to-back matches (Conference finals and sectionals semi’s). He just had my number.  


Who was your most influential coach?

Mike Richart at Burlington is the first! He still impacts me today. Great role model, mentor, and example of what an impactful coach is supposed to be like.

Morgan Deprenger at West Liberty. He really gave me the confidence and help me adapt my style so I could be more successful. He was the right kind of tough on me.

Lyle Lundgren at MOC-FV. He was just a great role model, who kept telling me that I would be a wrestler some day. Doing most of my growing up in Orange City, I truly thought a short kid like me could defy the odds and make the basketball team. Coach Lundgren knew better!


Was your team competitive in HS/college?

FR and SO Burlington teams were pretty competitive. My Freshman year we went 17-1 in duals and finished 3rd in the district. Sophomore year we were still tough, I believe we beat Keokuk 73-0. I believe we won a couple tournaments both years as well. I had guys like Ross Patton, Adam Roberts, Philip Klees, Riley Ball (Main workout partner, or guy who put a whoopin’ on me most days!), and Ryan Phillips.

JR West Liberty team- we won the conference (9 finalists), and finished second in the sectional. We were a much stronger dual team. We won a few other tournaments that season as well. We had hammers like, Kurt Simon, Robbie McIntire, Brett Simon, Rubin Chavez, Chuy Lira, and Jovani Galvan.

SR Bishop Heelan team was very young and inexperienced. A lot of older talent had graduated from the 2002 state dual team, before I moved in, so we were not very good. Having to move up to wrestle our 135 and 140, who were both state qualifiers/placers, was a daily chore just to get a decent workout in. I had never won my match and the team lost the dual until that year. It was a weird year.


Who was your most influential wrestler that you looked up to growing up?

My uncle John and cousin Colby mostly. “You didn’t win them all, so you can always do more.”


Who would you consider the GOAT Iowa HS wrestler?

Gable, hands down.

Are there any wrestlers you’ve seen, past or present that you would compare your style to?

I may be way off on this, but I would say Ben Askren. I did things that don’t make sense, and looked liked they shouldn’t work, and they did… most of the time.

What are some interesting hypothetical matchups between guys from different eras that you would have been interesting in seeing?

There is always the debate of Dan Gable vs. Cael Sanderson. I would even say Gable vs. Spencer Lee, or Lee vs. Sanderson. If they were all on the same weight.


Who are some wrestlers that you had an immense amount of respect for?

I had a lot of respect for Ryan Phillips. Worker! Head down and get to work. Prove it on the mat! Wneh I was a freshman I asked him why I didn’t wear his medals on his letterman’s jacket like a lot of the other guys did. He said, “Two things freshman, 1. I people know how good I am when I beat them on the mat. 2. If I put my medals on my jacket, it would be too heavy to wear!” And he laughed. He was not cocky about it, but simple was telling me to just work hard and wrestle.


Who are some of your favorite current wrestlers?

Currently, I have like following some of the recent 3xer’s and 4xer’s.

What music would you listen to back in the wrestling days?

I couldn’t listen to music. I needed quiet to keep my mind focused. Riley Ball tried getting me to listen to Three 6 Mafia a couple times. I would get too pumped up, warm-up super hard trying to match the intense music, and would be dead tired before the match started. It was worth a try!

What was the most upset you ever felt after a loss?

When I choked at state senior year. Was up 7-2 end of the 1st period. Lost 17-13… I didn’t know how to stop attacking. The guy figured out how to counter me a couple times, I kept trying to score, and next thing I know the match is over and I lost. Followed that up with my next match with getting put feet toback for 5 in the final 20 seconds, lost 8-5, went 0-2, and finished with 99 wins on my career.

If you could go back and change one thing about your wrestling career, what would it be?

Focus more on year-round wrestling. I saw I made big jumps my last two summers (Basically when I was at West Liberty.) I usually lifted and tried giving my body down time. I was not good on my feet, and my style was bad for Freestyle. I should have developed that instead of staying away from it.

What was your best wrestling memory or accomplishment?

First, making the state tournament. Even though it didn’t go as planned, I still made it!

Second, coaching my first National Champion. As a coach, that is such a cool moment.

Who were some of your most notable competitors in high school? College?

Gannon Hjerleid from Wapello, JJ Krutsinger, Waterloo Columbus, Andre Avila, Dav. Assumption to name a few. All high school matches.

Did you wrestle all year or was it seasonal for you?

I was primarily in season. I started doing summer workouts when I moved to West Liberty, but I was so new to freestyle and Greco that I only did one freestyle tournament.


How would the guys from your day stack up against the guys today?

Technique, I feel like guys today have the edge. But when it comes to grit and toughness, guys from my days have it all the way.

Did you wrestle after high school?

I technically did not. I had shoulder surgery summer after I graduated high school. Didn’t really get to practice until the season was done due to recovery, you could call it a redshirt year. Second year, I got through pre-season, and the first week we were to compete, I reinjured the same shoulder and hung up my shoes. Had surgery again later that year. That’s when I got into coaching.

What other sports did you play?

I played football, and ran track. Ran in the Drake Relays and State Track. Senior year, track team finished second in the state in 3A.

What are your favorite sports teams?

Iowa Hawkeyes, and I don’t really follow pro sports. I enjoy the Olympics. Weightlifting, Track and of course wrestling.

What are your hobbies other than wrestling?

I love music. Was actually on a partial wrestling and music scholarship in college. I love Legos. Now that my daughter is getting older, she plays with me.

How good does it make you feel to give back to the sport?

I love it! I have been blessed to have coached at least one athlete at almost every level (Youth-Senior), I have had the privilege of working national events for USA Wrestling, and I am usually the Tournament Director for the Iowa JUCO wrestling conference, the ICCAC, National Qualifying Tournament. Anything wrestling I love it!


How has wrestling shaped you as a person to this day?

I don’t give up. Sometime to a fault, but I just refuse to give up. That’s what I learned in wrestling. If I am not mistake, about 1/3 of the pins in my career were when I was losing, by a lot. I learned to just keep going, because you never know when you make the right move and you come out on top!

What do you do now?

I am the Department Chair and Asst. Professor of Sport Management at Waldorf University. Also, I am a husband and a father to two wonderful kids. Charlotte, 4, and Jacob, 1 ½. This last year I was the Interim Head Men’s Wrestling Coach. Helping fill the position while the head guy volunteered for a deployment overseas.

Are you still involved with wrestling?

Like I mentioned, I was Interim Head Coach this past year. When I have time, I stop in and help the men’s and women’s program here at Waldorf. Also, I run the ICCAC Conference/National Qualifying Tournament each year as the tournament director. I try to get to USA Wrestling events when I can, and work them in what capacity they need help.

Any advice for upcoming wrestlers?

Keep balance in your life, but focus on being your best! You never know when an injury might end your career, or it just stops being fun. So, go for your peak performance so you have nothing to regret.


Any chance we see you wrestle again at an Old Timer’s tournament?

I have done two of them. Took 2nd at the Omaha Tournament of Champions a few years back, and then 3rd at another one somewhere. After two shoulder surgeries on my right shoulder, just had one on my left shoulder from coaching this past season, and a torn MCL in my left knee from a few years ago… I will answer how my wife does, “The hell you are wrestling anymore after this last year!”.


Would you like to give a shout out to anyone you wrestled with, against, coached, etc.?

Cole Spree, Head Coach at Indian Hills. I coached with him at Ellsworth CC. He is the reason I was successful. He pushed me to be a better every day as coach and professional.

Mike Richart, for giving me the love of wrestling and believing that this scrawny short kid could be a key piece to his team. He never let me get too down on myself.

Vince Pederson, former head coach at Sioux City East. Vince really gave me a love of coaching. Tough love guy, who would go the extra mile for his team and assistant coaches.


Do you have anything to add? Funny/interesting stories? Trivia? Etc.

To say the least, I have been very VERY lucky with my wrestling and my coaching. I can only thank God for his blessings to let me do what I do. My body hurts every day, I can’t get back the time away from family, and it has been really tough when I look back. With all that, I would not change a thing. Greatest sport ever, and I appreciate what wrestling has done for me!

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