McCrady will ref state finals
DES MOINES — Hundreds of wrestling officials take the mat nightly in the state of Iowa to call the action.
Fort Dodge native and St. Edmond graduate Jesse McCrady is one of them.
McCrady recently got a call every referee dreams about, as he was tabbed a state wrestling finals official for this Saturday night.
“It’s very humbling,” said McCrady, one of 24 officials selected to call the championship matches from inside Wells Fargo Arena. “I started this so long ago to be part of the sport and stay around it.”
A former wrestler for the Gaels, McCrady knows that his lone job is to “get it right.”
“I know how hard these kids work,” he said. “Some spend their whole lives to be in the finals. So, although the nerves will be intense, I have to remind myself that it’s all about getting it right.”
McCrady, who first was selected to work state in 2016, will be officiating matches throughout the tournament while also helping with weigh-ins when he is off the mat. A total of 96 officials are selected for sectionals, 80 for districts and 45 for state out of almost 300.
For four seasons, McCrady competed for St. Edmond, reaching the state meet his senior year. The sport, though, was one he picked up years after many of his fellow competitors.
“I didn’t start until eighth grade,” he said. “My freshman and sophomore years, I got beat up pretty good. My junior year, I qualified for districts, and my senior year, I reached state. I didn’t win a match (at state).”
While being on the mat for the state finals will be memorable, it will be just one of several moments McCrady has experienced in a ref shirt. That includes his first state meet which involved Fort Dodge Senior High.
“I was assigned state duals and my first dual was Fort Dodge vs. North Scott,” he said. “I was too new to know that I should probably not have taken the dual, but I was also too awestruck to say no.
“Let’s just say it didn’t go well, The Dodger crowd knew me and didn’t think I did a good job, so they let me know about it. But that experienced helped shape me into who I am today. I left feeling bad, but it’s not about me, it’s about the kids.”
McCrady admitted there are “too many” people to name that helped shape his career, but did point out his brother, Mason, as a key influence.
“He got me started in 2001 reffing intramurals at Iowa State and Ames at the middle school level,” said McCrady, who now lives in Ankeny. “It was the only way I would hav ever truly got into it.
“I’ve met so many of my truly good friends officiating wrestling. There are a lot of guys that took me under their wing and helped me including Shawn Angell, Lanny Brand, Jim Torvik and Brian Coppess. There were also legends that I looked up to like Dale Acheson, Jim Christensen and Jim Bruck.”