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Celebrities Who Wrestled: Jason Newsted (Former Bassist for the Band, Metallica)

There are a ton of wrestlers out there who are Metallica fans. I know this for a fact. I have completed “Remember The Wrestler” articles on hundreds of you and in every article I ask the question, “what kind of music did you listen to during wrestling?” And roughly 98% of you have listed Metallica as being one of your primary “go-to’s” that you put in your “Discman” to prepare for a match.  Now, considering what the title of this article is, I am 100% certain that AT LEAST 99.9 % of you raged-out wrestler-Metallica junkies out there have already run out of your house in a frenzy, trying to find me so you can spladle me while informing me of a common belief amongst many Metallica fans, that “Jason Newsted isn’t Metallica’s REAL bassist, but will always be the guy that replaced Cliff Burton.” But for the .01% of you who have been patient enough to read to this point, I would like to first, thank you for your patience and second, inform you that Jason Newsted actually wrestled when he was in school! I don’t know how long he wrestled, when he wrestled or how well he did in wrestling, but he did it at one point or another in the Niles, Michigan region in which he grew up. So CHILL OUT, YA LUNATICS! AND GIVE A FELLOW WRASSLER THE RESPECT HE DESERVES!!! JEESH! I mean, what did you expect the man to do? Turn down the chance to play bass for Metallica because someone else did it before him? Lol, get real. 

So yeah, Jason Newsted joined Metallica in 1986 when former Metallica bassist, Cliff Burton passed away in a tragic accident. He was the bassist for Metallica for their self-titled album Metallica (1991) aka “the black album,” which is the best-selling Metallica album to date, as well “Load” (1996), ReLoad(1997), and Garage Inc (1998). Jason was also a member of metal bands Echobrain and Voivod and actually toured with Ozzy Osbourne. He was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2009 as a member of Metallica.


The Most Respectful Wrestling Siblings I’ve Ever Encountered At A Wrestling Event; The Braunagel Brothers; Jarrid, Danny, Zac and Joe of Althoff Catholic HS (IL)

If you are a wrestler from my area (Southeast Iowa), there is a very high likelihood that your wrestling journey during the regular season wasn’t limited to only competing exclusively against other Iowans. The chances are likely that you’d collide with a guy from the border state to the South (Missouri) as well as guys from the border state that is located to the East (Illinois) at multiple points during the season. Kind of like how Council Bluffs region guys battle Nebraska and Mizzou, NW guys battle Nebraska and South Dakota, Dubuque guys wrestle Wisconsin and Illinois, etc. In our case, my brothers and I grew up literally just a mile or so from the Illinois border and only 45 minutes or so North of the Missouri border. So we ran into a TON of Missouri and Illinois guys from youth all the way through HS. Heck, my first ever wrestling match as a 6 year old in 1989 was against a kid from Quincy, IL…my 2nd match ever was that same day and was against a kid from Hannibal, MO. And this was at a tourney that was located in Iowa. I never even faced an Iowan until my 3rd match ever… I had full-fledged rivals from Illinois and Missouri growing up. So did pretty much everyone else on my team… and it was the same way 12-14 years later when my way younger brothers, Shea and Brennan took the mats. From the time I can remember, it has been common for SE Iowan wrestlers to encounter foes from anywhere North of St. Louis, MO, all the way to the QC Area of Illinois. Hannibal, Macomb, Triad, Mt. Zion, Quincy, Dixon, West Hancock, etc… we factored wrestlers from every one of those clubs into pretty much every tournament we attended besides districts and state.

Just East of St. Louis, MO on the Illinois side of the border is a high school called Althoff Catholic in Belleville, IL. This school has been home to several great wrestlers over the past couple decades. If memory serves me correctly, they had their own feeder program called Crusaders Elite or something along those lines and in Shea and Brennan’s age group, those guys along with West Hancock were the two toughest Illinois squads that we encountered at youth tourneys. They were a team that our Mediapolis squad encountered usually once or twice a year from youth tourneys all the way through HS in which they were Mepo’s toughest competition in the team race every year at one of the biggest tournaments we competed at for over 20 years… The Quincy Invitational. Quincy is located in Western Illinois and served as a perfect location for an Iowa-Illinois-Mizzou annual tri-state throw-down. There was something like 25-30 teams at this tournament. Winning it was a big deal. Heck, I placed higher at state my Senior year than I did at Quincy that same year and that was not a rare occurrence. And I don’t know what it was, whether it was the unfamiliarity that everyone had with each other or the border-state competition factor, but it brought out a lot of our uncharacteristic “chippy” sides.  The most “smack-talk,” fighting, bickering with officials, etc. that we ever encountered or engaged in every year would usually always take place at the Quincy Invite. Heck remember that video I posted that I found of myself flexing in my opponents face after a last-second win? I don’t remember that match AT ALL and it was uncharacteristic of me to behave cocky like that and the only thing I know for a fact in terms of where that match was or who it was against was that it took place in the Quincy HS gym at the Quincy Invite. Typical. Apparently that tournament brought out my cocky side as well as everyone else’s. Well… almost everyone. It sure as heck didn’t bring these sides out of the Althoff Catholic squad.

As mentioned, Althoff Catholic was one of the toughest squads we faced at Quincy in the 2010’s and a few of the toughest members of their squad that we encountered for years was a trio of brothers with the last name, “Braunagel.” There were 3 of them (at the time). Oldest brother Jarrid was in my brother Shea’s grade (‘16) and twins, Zac and Danny were in my youngest brother, Brennan’s grade (‘18). They also have a younger brother named Joe Braunagel who graduated HS in the 2020 range. They might as well be quadruplets, because they all look so much alike. You can see one of them for the first time and know that it’s a Braunagel brother just by looking at them.

Here is a rundown on how good these guys were based on their results to this point:

Jarrid Braunagel: 4X placer/1X Finalist who was in the top 3 all 4 years of HS, I believe. I want to say he went 3-3-3-2 at the Illinois HS State Tournament. He went on to wrestle collegiately at McKendree.

Dan Braunagel: 2X State Champion/3X State Finalist in Illinois. Super 32 All-American. 2X NHSCA All-American, 2X D1 National Qualifier for Illinois who is still currently competing. Was 5th at the U23 World Team Trials a couple weeks ago at 79 kg.


Zac Braunagel: 3X Placer/2X State Champion in IL. Greco State Champ. Freestyle state runner-up. Fargo National Champion in HS. A 2 or 3 time D1 NCAA Qualifier.

Joe Braunagel: 2X State Champion in IL. He currently competes at IL as well. He is the youngest.

Not a shabby wrestling tradition they’ve got going on in the Braunagel Family, eh?!

From youth through HS, the one Braunagel brother that both of my brothers met up with the most was the oldest brother, Jarrid. Jarrid beat Shea a few times in youth and once at the Quincy Invite. Jarrid wrestled Brennan once in youth at a USA sanctioned event when they were really young (like 7 and 9 years old I bet) and Brennan pulled a headlock out of his butt to win that one, but Jarrid beat Brennan in a close match the one time they met up in HS at the Quincy Invite. I want to say that Brennan wrestled one of the twins as a really young kid (Danny, I think) as well, but the twins ended up out-growing him from the time they were 10 years old or so until Danny and Brennan were eventually at the same weight again as Seniors in HS, which was ironically the first year that Mepo got out of the Quincy Invite, so they never met up in HS. That would have been a good one. All 3 of the Braunagel brothers were just insanely good wrestlers that we had an immense amount of respect for. Athletic, good motors, great technique, unshakable, aggressive… they were great wrestlers as well as FUN to watch. About as technically sound as they come.

So the respectful encounter in which this article pertains to took place at the Quincy Invite in 2016 when Jarrid and Shea were Seniors and Zac, Danny and Brennan were Sophomores in HS. The conversation took place precisely right before the round in which Jarrid and Brennan met up at Quincy, which was for 3rd and 4th place at 138 lbs. They had a bit of a weird bracket that year… There were 3 returning Quincy champs who ended up in the same bracket at 138 that year… Brennan won Quincy as a Freshman at 120 the year before. Jarrid won it as a Junior at 132 the year before, I believe and Brennan’s DC Elite club practice partner, Will Lucie won it at 126 the year before by defeating Shea in the finals. Jarrid was seeded 1st, I think and was expected to waltz his way through the top half of the bracket where he would likely meet the winner between practice partners, Will Lucie of West Hancock and Brennan. Will ended up beating Brennan in OT, I think. Either OT, or a 1 point match that came down to the wire. The bracket buster of that weight class however was when a kid from Quincy named Peters who wasn’t projected to place higher than 4th ended up upsetting Jarrid in the semis. That Quincy kid ended up putting a cherry on top when he defeated Will Lucie in the finals to take home the Quincy Invite championship. I don’t know if that kid even qualified for state later that year, but coincidentally enough, Will Lucie ended up defeating Jarrid in the 1A State Finals later that year. Anyways, Jarrid and Brennan met up for 3rd and 4th place at Quincy that year and prior to that match taking place, I overheard a conversation between the 3 Braunagel brothers that impressed me so much that I have followed their careers and rooted for them ever since despite not even knowing them personally. Here is what happened:

So prior to the final rounds at the Quincy Invitational, I was loitering in the hallway, trying to find a reliable stream for the NFL AFC Championship game between my favorite team, the KC Chiefs and the detestable NE Patriots. If any of you don’t know, I am arguably as much of a Chiefs fan as I am a fan of wrestling. Anyways, I found this bench in the corner of the hallway that received a good signal, so I sat there watching Alex Smith dink and dunk his way to another Chiefs playoff loss while the Quincy Inv. continued to unfold. I was at a place that was more or less isolated and away from everyone, therefore I could whine and yell as much as I wanted while the Chiefs inevitably laid an egg against the Patriots…that is until I heard a few people take a seat on one of the benches behind me. It was the 3 Braunagel brothers; Jarrid, Danny and Zac. I don’t think they realized that I was sitting near them, for there was a bench that was stacked between our two benches that we were sitting on. They came back there for a “pre-finals” siblings meeting. As mentioned, Jarrid was set to face Brennan for 3rd place at 138. Danny was set to face 4X Mediapolis placer, Mason Buster (placed 3-4-3-3 at state in HS) at 145. Zac was set to face a guy from Triad named Cole Witzig in the finals at 170.  When I noticed that these guys were there specifically to have a private discussion about the competition they were set to face, my usual response would have been to get up and leave out of respect for their privacy since they didn’t seem to notice me sitting there, but since my brother was facing Jarrid soon, I decided to purposely continue to go unnoticed by them while they had their discussion, for I wanted to hear what they had to say about our guys. I was officially Curious Josh in that moment, itching to hear all the nasty things they had to say about our Mepo guys. Kind of lame of me… So sue me. 🤷‍♂️ And what I heard from them was nothing like what I expected coming from 3 of the toughest pound-for-pound guys at the most “chippy” tournament that we competed at.

Jarrid initiated the conversation by asking Zac and Danny who they had coming up in their finals matches. Danny replied, “Mediapolis guy.” Zac replied, “Witzig.” Jarrid asked Danny if the Mediapolis guy he had (Buster) was any good and Danny said something along the lines of, “yeah he’s good. A good scrambler.” Jarrid then said something along the lines of, “yeah, Mediapolis. All of those guys are good. They are a great squad.” One of them asked Jarrid who he had and he responded, “I also have a Mediapolis guy. Won it last year. Has a great carry series and cradle. I’ll have to wrestle tough because he’s a tough kid. We all 3 will have to wrestle tough.” They discussed their opponents in the most respectful way that I’ve ever heard. Most guys, especially in a private situation like that will use the opportunity to run their mouths and talk as much smack as they can about their opponents when no one else is listening, for even if they don’t believe the smack they talk, they can at least try to convince themselves they do in an attempt to make themselves feel confident…or at the very least, they can come off as cool and confident to their friends. So many wrestlers, myself included are raised/coached to approach matches in a matter in which you have absolutely no respect for your opponents prior to facing them, for respecting them is supposedly the mindset of a wrestler who is mentally weak and already defeated. This is a questionable train of thought, but very common. The Braunagel brothers however debunked that line of thinking completely in their approaches in which they discussed and prepared for their opponents in a manner where the mission to win was clear as day, but the respect they genuinely possessed for the opposition was also clear. Openly discussing positive things about their opponents did not seem to sway them from feeling confident about their own ability to win their matchups. They all 3 indicated having belief in their ability to win their upcoming matches and they all had a mutual confidence in each other to win their matches as well. I couldn’t have been more impressed.. I felt like a dork for not leaving once I heard the Braunagel bros conversing, but I was glad I didn’t, for there I was, a 33 year old at the time, silently and literally learning life-lessons from 3 respectful, mentally mature and elite HS wrestler-siblings who were obviously wise beyond their years.

They ended up wrapping things up with a prayer, which opened with the same prayer I heard at church every weekend growing up, the “Hail Mary” and concluded with them asking God to give them the ability to perform to their capabilities and to protect themselves AND their opponents from injury in their matches. I couldn’t believe my ears. They didn’t ask God to give them the strength to “win,” but to just perform to their capabilities. They didn’t ask God to ensure only THEIR safety, but their OPPONENT’S safety as well. There I was, 33 years old and watching my KC Chiefs on my phone while avidly fighting off thoughts of wishing Tom Brady would get sacked so hard by Tamba Hali that his ears and arms would switch places and here were 3 of the best pound-for-pound HS wrestlers in the entire tournament praying for the safety of not only themselves, but their opponents. Lesson…learned. You are probably 10X more likely to have a fight started with you by an opposing wrestler in that hallway at the Quincy Invite than you are to over-hear them praying for your safety. Heck, I almost got into it with a guy from Matoon (IL) when I was in HS in that very hallway.

You have some wrestlers who go out on the mat and try to execute any cheap little tactic they can in attempt(s) to physically hurt their opponents, increasing their own likelihood of winning. They want to hurt people and have no problem doing so. And then you have people like the Braunagel siblings in which winning is just as important to them as it is to anybody, but not at the cost of someone else’s physical health and safety. It was one of the most mature and impressive conversations I’ve ever heard between wrestlers at an event and likely always will be.

Jarrid would beat my brother Brennan in a close match for 3rd place. Zac ended up losing via decision to Witzig. Danny Braunagel ended up with one of the biggest wins of the tournament in his finals match. He pinned Mason Buster (Senior of Mepo) in the first period and was up big when he did it. I’m not sure if Danny realized how good Mason was, but I obviously knew Mason well since he started as a 1st grader and he is one of the best guys our team ever produced… I mean, heck…placing 3-4-3-3 at state is an indicator of someone who consistently shows up in big matches and also knows how to bounce back from heartbreaking losses. In 3 of those seasons, he was in the running to win the bracket until the semifinal round. In 10+ years of watching Mason wrestle, I never, EVER saw him take a loss like the one Danny gave him. Generally the matches he lost in his career (which didn’t happen much) were decided by a point or so. Never saw him dominated by someone, let alone pinned like he was in the finals at Quincy against Dan Braunagel. It was probably the most impressive performance of the entire tournament. If the 138 lb champion wasn’t a hometown Quincy guy, the OW award probably would have been given to Danny Braunagel that year.

As mentioned earlier; Zac, Danny and Joe Braunagel still currently compete at a high level, for they are D1 standouts on the University Of Illinois wrestling team. I’ve watched them all compete since their HS days at Althoff Catholic and unless they are competing against my brother Brennan or one of his teammates at Iowa, I will for sure be rooting for them. I mean, how can you not root for someone that you heard praying for your own family member’s safety before competing against them? Kind of crazy how one “accidentally overheard” conversation can have such a lasting impression on someone and it is a nice knowing and having it confirmed to you, the maturity that is genuinely possessed by the individuals that the sport of wrestling regularly produces.

Much respect and best of luck to you, Braunagel fam! If this story I wrote is an accurate depiction as to what you guys are like at all times (as I’m sure it is), then you guys are an absolutely great look for our sport. Your parents obviously did a great job raising you guys!

*** If you like the content that is regularly produced by The Pin Doctors and would like to donate to ensure that it is here to stay, you can do so via Venmo or PayPal. My Venmo  business username is @thepindoctors and my personal  Venmo is @ricoswaff. My PayPal username is rico_swaff@yahoo.com. Thank you for following and supporting The Pin Doctors!!


REMEMBER THE WRESTLER: James Nicholson; Des Moines Roosevelt HS/Rider Wrestling Club/Old Dominion University/Al Garrison Trained

James Nicholson is without a doubt one of my favorite people I’ve met in my Pin Doctors adventures. It is a rare occasion to encounter someone better on the mat than James and it is also a rare to encounter someone who has such a broad understanding of the mental approach to not only wrestling, but life. And he is 100% forthcoming and selfless in “spreading the wealth” of wrestling and life lessons, for if others are succeeding and attaining happiness from it, then he is genuinely happy for them. It’s the way he is. I think that old 70’s band, Boston made a valid point in one of the lyrics to their song, “peace of mind,” when they wailed, “people living in competition.” It’s true. For so many of us, the competition doesn’t end once a person steps off the mat… it continues…and as a result, sometimes it feels as if we are living in a “dog eat dog” world where you can’t trust anyone, for them being better than you in all areas of life is a priority to them.  James Nicholson totally contradicts that notion, and goes out of his way to ensure that a person’s life-path be as clutter-free as possible if he can and if these people do indeed want/need the help.  I know this for a fact. He has helped or has offered to help me in various aspects of my own life in the limited amount of time that I’ve known him. Genuinely wants me to succeed and has offered to help me, free of charge… I don’t encounter that often.

James had great mentors in his life and he bought in 100% to everything they had to say and it affected him in a positive manner to this day, for some of the philosophies that he uses in approaching life are a spectrum of various skillsets and insights that he learned from his mentors. And he comes from one of the most unique wrestling squads that our state has produced… The Des Moines Roosevelt squad of the mid-to-late 2000’s. Those guys were not only very, very well-coached, but they were coached in a different manner than any other squad…a manner that is truly unique to them.  And some of the results that they put up speak for themselves. If there was a team or wrestler back in those days that had a reputation of being unstoppable world-beaters, Roosevelt would be the team that would produce guys who wanted to conquer not only the wrestling “world,” but the entire universe … and they would do it. They walked that walk.

Another thing that needs to be mentioned about James is that he is an example of a person who had his heart broken by wrestling when the D1 College he competed for, Old Dominion, decided to put a stop to their wrestling program. If you’ve ever put your heart and soul into something while representing a certain team, school, squad, etc. that became just as much of a part of your identity as the sport itself, it probably feels like a slap in the face when it’s not only taken away from you, but canceled altogether, as if all the hard work and determination you put into it for years to not only improve yourself, but to maintain the heartbeat of the program meant nothing. Some may understand his pain with this and it’s a shame that anyone needs to endure this situation. Thank goodness he is James Nicholson, for that in itself should indicate that he will be tough enough to get through it… at the same time, though, a weaker-willed person may not be as adversely affected by something like this because they didn’t work as hard at it as James likely did. One of those double-edged swords that is handcuffed to our sport and with that said, please read James’s thoughts regarding this situation very closely, for it may inspire you to aid to a great cause, which would be SAVING OLD DOMINION WRESTLING!!! 

2005 3A 112

1. Russell Weakley, Jr., Fort Madison

2. Kody Pudil, Jr., Iowa City West

3. James Nicholson, Jr., Des Moines Roosevelt

4. Barak Davis, Sr., Council Bluffs Lewis Central

5. Mike Mille, So., Waverly-Shell Rock

6. Brent McDonough, Jr., Des Moines Lincoln

7. Lars Ellingson, So., Decorah-North Winneshiek

8. Jon Simmonds, Jr., Clinton

2006 3A 119

1. James Nicholson, Sr., Des Moines Roosevelt

2. Nate Moore, So., Iowa City West

3. Russell Weakley, Sr., Fort Madison

4. Mike Miille, Jr., Waverly-Shell Rock

5. Josh South, So., Johnston

6. Brent McDonough, Sr., Des Moines Lincoln

7. Aaron Sturtz, Sr., Prairie Cedar Rapids

8. Chris Gansen, So., Epworth Western Dubuque

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

-HS: Des Moines Roosevelt

Kids Club: Rider Wrestling Club

HS Club: Rider Wrestling Club, Al Garrison Trained

College: Old Dominion University

RTC: Virginia Beach Regional Training Center

PINDOX: What year did you graduate?

-HS: 2006

College: 2011

PINDOX: Who or what encouraged you to give wrestling a try?

-We had family friends tell our mom, “You need to get your son’s into wrestling.” The rest is history. We loved to compete, hated to lose, and were rough-housers. Wrestling was a perfect sport for several members of my family.


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

-Jason Nicholson – (older brother), John Nicholson (2x Iowa State Champ, 2009 3A State OW award, 2nd at Senior nationals, D1 NQ), Joseph Nicholson (IA state place winner)

Jason, John, and I all started at the same time—9th, 6th, and 3rd respectively are the grades we started wrestling.

PINDOX: What were your youth results? Any rivals there?

-I started wrestling in 6th grade and I don’t remember much. Those first few years were rough. I was there for the games and the fun. I got more serious in HS.

PINDOX: What was your record in HS?


PINDOX: How did you place at state every year?

Freshman – DNQ

Sophomore – DNQ

Junior – 3rd

Senior – 119 State Champ

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

-I can think of two vividly. Both happened my RS Junior year:

  1. Cliff Keen Invite in Vegas around Nov/Dec. I’m upset on the championship side by Michael Martinez from Wyoming. I was so distraught and distracted. I wasn’t supposed to lose. I was holding my weight for the next day and I hit a brick wall in the match. I lost it mentally. I was cussing like a sailor. Kicking stuff. I told Coach Martin to pull me because there was no point to compete anymore. I didn’t get a chance to wrestle any of the seeds higher than I was. I missed out on my opportunity to wrestle Robles, who I prepped 4 weeks for. Basically, I was throwing a tantrum like a 2 year old. Martin made me wrestle. I told him I was going to lose and I didn’t care. Well, he made me wrestle. I went out there. Got taken down twice just messing around. Then I got mad and threw my opponent in an uchi mata and pinned him. I had a mental composure breakdown mid tournament. The only thing that pulled me out of the funk was my absolute hatred to lose. I cut the weight, wrestled all the way to 3rd and avenged my loss from the day before.
  2. Jan 31 – ODU vs CMU – I’m ranked 7th in the country and I’m wrestling Matt Steintrager, who is #10. We had a barn burner match. I won in double OT 3-1 with a reversal and a ride out. I go do my cooldown and I have this pain that I didn’t think anything of above my left scapula. The trainer checks me out, gives me ice, and I don’t think anything of it. The next morning I couldn’t lift my arm more than 2 inches from my thigh. I was in excruciating pain. I thought my season was over. I skipped all my classes. I just slept and stayed in my room to myself. I missed practice. Coach Martin came over after practice and talked me out of my mental funk. I didn’t wrestle most of Feb. Dresser thought I was ducking Garnett not knowing I was injured. The year didn’t end the way I wanted, but at least I had the opportunity to complete at nationals.

PINDOX: How would you describe your wrestling style?

-I’m a hammer with a scalpel attachment for fine technique. I have that Iowa style hand fighting with a Granby twist. Tactical execution.

PINDOX: Who was your most influential coach?

-That is tied-Jay Groth and Al Garrison

PINDOX: Was your team competitive in HS/college?

-We placed 6th overall as a school my senior year, mostly because of me and Montell Marion.

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

Cael Sanderson

PINDOX: Who would you consider the GOAT Iowa HS wrestler?

-John Meeks

PINDOX: What would you say was your best skill that enabled you to win a state title?


PINDOX: One of the most memorable matches in Iowa state wrestling of the past couple decades is when you defeated Nate Moorein the state finals. Several people across the state considered it an upset… DM Roosevelt didn’t see it that way, did they?  Who played roles in motivating you to work hard and helping you to formulate a game plan that worked successfully against Moore?

-Oh, please. Ask anyone who coached me who the hardest worker in the room was… ME. I didn’t see time in the wrestling room. That was my happy place. I’d go to Rider Wrestling Club’s practice organized by Groth followed by private training from Al Garrison. If Al charged me $50 an hour, I would owe him at least $60,000 from lessons steaming from March 2004 until I left for college. No one knew the amount of time I put in besides Roosevelt. Some of them didn’t even know because you have to be in the room.

I had my doubts about the match, but I also wasn’t going to let a sophomore influence my athletic career. I needed a scholarship and this was my chance. I thought about cutting to 112 mid year. Groth looked at me and said, “why? You can win at 119.” That’s all I needed to hear.

Nate Moore had flaws and I exploited them. Our gameplan was executed to a T and most don’t get to appreciate that process. I remember vividly telling Al to stop the film and rewind it. I saw how comfortable Nate was reaching with his right hand when I initiated contact on that side. I set him up perfectly in the first period. I initiated the shot with enough time left to scramble, but not enough time for him to escape my death grip. I scored my 2 points, road him out in the 1st period, and held superior position the majority of the match. In the 3rd, the ref watched Nate hold my singlet for about 5 seconds before I pointed it out to the ref. I seriously don’t think the ref was going to call the penalty until I pointed it out. Regardless of the penalty point or not, I knew I broke him.

People say it’s an upset because Nate Moore wrestled kids club and had a national champ as a coach. They didn’t see the countless hours and days I put in. They didn’t see how often I was in the room.

PINDOX: How confident were you prior to wrestling big matches?

-I never listened to music. I liked to simulate what it was like to compete. I got lost in my own mind at times and I would have to refocus. I had butterflies and ice cold hands, but when I stepped on that line and the whistle blew, nothing else existed.

PINDOX: Who are your favorite current wrestlers?

-None, I don’t follow it after ODU cut the program. I have a love/hate relationship with wrestling.

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

-Rock, techno playlist, country, anything that the other teammates put on. I didn’t have a preference.

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

-Say yes to Cael even though they had no money. I was poor. I took the scholarship and the financial security. They spent the money on Sebolt instead. That worked out well for them. I bet Cael wishes he could go back and give me the money instead.

PINDOX: What was your best wrestling memory or accomplishment?

-My favorite memory is earning All-American status as a freshman. I was wrestling in the round of 12 versus Rollie Peterkin. I gave up a takedown with 4 seconds left in the first period to go down 2-0. I chose down second period and I struggled to escape. Peterkin had well over a minute of riding time built up before I escaped. Peterkin chose down in the third and escaped to stop riding time at 1:24. I went after him the entire period. I took him down with an underhook throw-by with :27 seconds left on the clock. At that point I knew I had him. The match went to overtime where I scored off a front head lock go behind. The highlight of that entire tournament was my brother John sprinting past security guards to come give me a hug and congratulating me on the comeback win. I still think about that moment to this day.

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

-A kid from Lincoln in HS. He was my rival.

I wrestled Garnett from VT a ton. He was my rival in college. I never lost. He always kept it close.

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

-It was seasonal 6-8th grade. Freshman going into sophomore year is when I switched gears to year round.

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

-Oh goodness. The sport is so different. Which rule set are we using, the newer ones or the old ones? That 4 pt near fall sure would have been nice.

PINDOX: Did you wrestle after high school?


PINDOX: What other sports did you play?

-Baseball for 7 seasons. Football for a couple.

PINDOX: What are your favorite sports teams?

-I don’t watch sports. I’m a USA fan though.

PINDOX: What are your hobbies other than wrestling?

-Mountain biking, gaming, rock climbing. Anything with danger that is stimulating.

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

-Well, I just retired from coaching. It felt good prior to ODU cutting the program. Now, I’m just bitter. I spent a decade of my life building something for others to admire. My legacy was boxed up and sent to me without any bubblewrap or newspaper or any care. That’s the value I was provided after all I did for that school. Now, I’m giving all the time I dedicated to the sport back to myself. I’m free. I’m sure this will subside one day, but, currently, I’m leaving wrestling alone.

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

-Do you want honesty? I felt like I owed wrestling after all its giving me. Well, it’s also taken a lot from me as well. Wrestling has hardened my mind and my body. I see something I want and I relentlessly pursue it.

PINDOX: What do you do now?

-I’m on vacation.

PINDOX: Any advice for upcoming wrestlers?

  1. Don’t listen when a coach blocks a resource that may be beneficial to you. Too many coach’s coach with ego and don’t know how to get out of their own way for their athletes.
  2. 10 minutes a day for a year of stance motion is ~61 hours of basic movement. Don’t miss a day. Since I no longer coach, here’s my blueprint:
  3. My rules to wrestling
    1. Simplicity. Wrestling is a battle of balance. Nothing more. Nothing less. If you are grounded at all times, no one can surprise you.
    2. Efficiency. Move with purpose and intention. Don’t waste energy just to move because your coach yelled from the corner. Angles make us more efficient at moving opponents. Chase angles relentlessly.
    3. Coordination. The more times you train your brain to fire different motor skills, the more your neural network develops. You have to be malleable and take what’s there not by force, by flow.
    4. Breathing – Don’t just run harder, breathe better. Think about it. Imagine if you had 10-15% more lung capacity and you never restricted airflow. If you don’t have a gas tank, you better start building one.
    5. Drills elevate skills and build confidence. Live tests those skills and solidifies confidence. Finding the proper balance for your skill level is the key to exponential growth.

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

-Not unless I get 3 new discs in my back or stem cells injected.

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

-Shout out to Montell Marion for being my teammate in HS. The same goes for Kyle Hutter in college. I’d like to shout out to anyone that had an impact on my athletic career. I’m so grateful I was surrounded by so many influential men. This country needs more like you.

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

-Yeah. Does anyone have $25M laying around? I’ll get back into coaching if someone wants to endow the program at ODU.


PinDox Profile: Christian Stanek; CR Xavier HS ‘22/Big Game WC/Iowa State Cyclones (Committed)

I don’t know if this is true or not, for I’ve only heard this story via “hear-say,” but word is, this kid went out for wrestling inadvertently as a young kid and essentially started wrestling because of a mistake. I heard he brought home a flier from school that he thought was for boxing or Karate, but it was actually for wrestling and he didn’t know this until he attended the practice. Thank goodness he apparently liked the experience, for the 2022 Iowa HS Graduating Class Of Wrestlers would be incomplete today if it didn’t have Christian Stanek in the mix.

Out of all of Iowa’s “in-state” Division 1 recruits/commitment to take place in this 2022 graduating high school class, Christian is one that sticks out to me as being a “sneaky-good” pick-up and potentially a “steal” of a recruit that the Iowa State Cyclones received a commitment from in late November this past year… This kid isn’t regarded by the wrestling recruiting pundits/die-hard fans as being any sort of a “can’t miss blue-chipper recruit” as of yet. To this point, he hasn’t really ventured out to the national level in terms of competing and what-not. Also, he semi-recently finished a HS career in which unfortunately, never resulted in him standing on top of the Iowa HS State Wrestling podium, for he was a 4X placer in HS going 8-6-3-3. In fact, a lot of Cyclone wrestling fans may have perceived his recruitment as one that may have been made only to provide the Cyclones with depth or “room guys” considering the fact that he does not fit the typical profile of the standard “can’t miss blue-chipper” recruit who is flourished with a full-ride and what-not. BUT HEAR ME OUT… Christian Stanek epitomizes the type of college wrestling recruit in which if you were to predict how he were to do based on his HS wrestling stats/resume, your prediction(s) may be way off, for Stanek’s HS wrestling does not tell the whole story with him… Not at all. I’m not sure if some fans realize how much potential this kid actually has.

So to start and as mentioned, Christian Stanek came into CR Xavier HS as a highly-anticipated Freshman, for he was an AAU State champion as an 8th grader and he lived up to the expectations, for he became a 4X HS Placer. I don’t know what your standards may be for wrestling, but with my own standards, being a 4X placer is GREAT. He placed 8th at an upperclassmen-infested 3A 132 as an undersized Freshman in 2019 and finished with a record of 33-12. He was 6th as a Sophomore at 3A 138 in 2020 and finished with a record of 39-8 that season. Christian was 3rd at 3A 145 as a Junior in 2021 and finished with a record of 38-1, his only loss that year coming to Dreyzon Phillips of Fort Dodge at the state tournament. He was 3rd again as a Senior at 3A 160 this year and finished with a record of 37-5 with his 5 losses coming to a combination of one 3-2 loss to 3X State Champ, Robert Avila (IC West), two to 2X state champ Aiden Riggins (W-SR), 2X 3rd placer in 2A Allen Catour of Assumption and 2A State Finalist, Garrett Seaba of Clarion-Goldfield. He had a career record of 147-26. On top of this, Christian won the very tough MVC Conference Championship Tournament at least twice, maybe two times.

As mentioned, to my personal standards, Christian Stanek put together an outstanding HS wrestling career. A 4X placer who started out at 132 as a Freshman which included two performances in which he only lost one match at the tournament?! To me, that’s great, but of course I only placed once myself. However, some of your more cynical wrestling critics may have had him written off as a legit D1 recruit from the moment they read that he didn’t win state or didn’t do as much at the national level as the typical “blue-chip D1 recruit.” If you are swaying near that side of the fence, I’d like to ask you again to please hear me out on this kid.

Christian was/is a member of one of the toughest wrestling “super-clubs” in the state…Dylan Carew’s Big Game Wrestling Club. While he hasn’t competed in as many offseason wrestling events compared to most of the kids who are part of that club, the fact that he routinely attended those practices says a lot in itself, for Christian is a wrestler who can be classified as a type that is becoming somewhat of a dying breed in our sport the more time goes on… the multisport wrestler. This is the type that my entire family would probably be classified as, so I have a personal affinity for these types of wrestlers, especially in this day and age when being a multi-sporter wrestler is to a certain extent is discouraged by many and a large percentage of these guys can be disregarded/ignored on the recruiting trail. These days, most elite-level HS wrestlers with serious D1 wrestling collegiate aspirations are encouraged to specialize in only wrestling if they have any realistic goals of competing at the that level, especially when it comes to 3A wrestlers, like Christian. While some of Christian’s workout partners at Big Game WC were able to focus on wrestling and only wrestling, all-year-round, before, during and after practice, Christian on the other hand would attend the same workouts, but AFTER he was finished with football or baseball practice. Which leads me to reason number 1 as to why I believe Christian Stanek may be a sleeper recruit at the D1 level… Which is the fact that he has great athletic versatility/adaptability and has absolutely proven it. Christian was very involved in multiple activities in HS along with wrestling and has succeeded/performed at a high level at everything he has done in HS. He is a high honor student, a standout on the baseball diamond and an absolute FORCE on the football field. Christian was part of a 2021 CR Xavier football team that was 2nd at the state football tournament this year in class 4A and was a triple-OT finals loss to CB Lewis Central away from winning the championship. Stanek was absolutely one of the most important components which led this team to these great heights. Christian was a nightmare to opposing football teams, for he had to be accounted for on almost every play of the game, for he was outstanding on both sides of the ball. He was 2nd team all-state LB on defense and was a TD-scoring machine as RB on offense who had scored something like 7-8 touchdowns combined in the 3 games leading into the state finals. If an opposing team failed to pay close attention to Stanek when they played CR Xavier, he would create a plethora of problems for them. In fact, he had the ability to create a plethora of problems for opposing teams when they DID keep a close watch on him, for he is just that good of a football player/athlete. And he is obviously held in high regard by his teammates, for he was voted as a team captain, to boot! That speaks volumes as well, for it indicates that he has a good head on his shoulders and is respected by his peers/teammates. That can go a long way and not all high-level athletes can say they accomplished that feat. Ok, so what if Christian didn’t beat a bunch of world-beaters at Fargo Nationals over the summer… he obviously was making the most of his time away from events like these at football practice. Not like he was at home twiddling his thumbs. He was working on other goals and ACCOMPLISHING THEM as well! So what if he wasn’t a Preseason National Tournament champ. Can you really knock the kid for that, considering that while PSN and other tournaments like it were unraveling, Christian was helping lead his HS football team to a runner-up finish at state?! I doubt Christian would trade that experience for a dozen PSN titles… I know I wouldn’t. You only get one time in your life to experience those moments with your friends. The fact that this kid accomplished what he has accomplished in multiple sports besides wrestling does not indicate to me that he isn’t a viable recruit due to not being a full-time wrestler in HS, like most D1 recruits. To me, it reflects his athletic versatility and makes me wonder how much more he could accomplish once he gets on a full-time wrestling schedule. Nothing wrong with a guy who has PROVEN tremendous athletic upside.

My 2nd reason for believing this kid has potential for a high ceiling at the D1 level is because since the first time I have watched him wrestle, he has simply passed my personal “eye test” as being a wrestler with a TON of talent. For whatever that’s worth… lol, maybe not much, but 🤷‍♂️. I did the 3A rankings for The Predicament during Christian’s Freshman season in 2019 and he was one of the first lower-middleweight Freshmen that caught my eye that year… He may have been the first non-lightweight Freshman that I ranked that year and when I ranked him, I was razzed by a couple of my wrestling junkie friends for ranking a Freshman 3A 132 lber so early in the season and for the remainder of it. One of my friends told me I was “crazy” for thinking he would place that year. I even received an email from an upset coach who basically called me stupid for having Christian ranked above his guy… You can imagine how good it felt to rub it in their faces when this kid went on to place at state! Anyways, the first time I saw Stanek was at his high school’s tournament, The Doug Phillip Duals at CR Xavier. I go to that one as much as I can, for not only did Mepo go there for years, but the man that the tournament is named after, Doug Phillip, was a CR Xavier stud in the early 2000’s and was one of the first two friends I made at Loras College my freshman year along with a 2X placer from Clinton named Josh Peterson. Doug tragically passed away during our first semester at Loras by means of an accident… I was nearby when this accident took place and even hung out with him the evening it occurred. It was a terrible ordeal. A great soul was lost that night, and nowadays, I try to make that tournament when I can, simply to pay homage to Doug. In 2019, I attended this tournament and at one point was starting to drift off and almost fell  asleep when something wild caught my attention… the CR Xavier kid on the mat in front of me recorded a :06 pin. In 30+ years of going to wrestling events, that pin is tied for the fastest pin I have ever seen in person, in my entire lifetime. I saw Drew Foster do it for Mepo as a Freshman in 2011, recording a :06 pin that broke the previous Mepo Wrestling fastest fall record that was set 33 years earlier in 1978. The guy who held that record for so long…Mark Swafford, my dad. And who was in Drew’s corner when he broke  the record? You guessed it, my dad was in Drew’s corner. That pin and the one that happened in front of me at the Doug Phillip Duals by the CR Xavier kid are to this day, the fastest falls I ever witnessed in person. In the 1000+ matches I competed in myself, I never came close… and I held the career and single season falls record at Mepo for a couple seasons. Closest I came prior to college was a couple of 10 second pins. In college, somehow I pulled off an :08 second pin one time… With any fall I ever recorded in the 10 second range, it felt like I did it so quickly, that there wasn’t any way possible that I could have pinned a guy any quicker. :08 seconds seemed like the absolute quickest I could possibly ever pin someone… In fact, it felt like my opponent helped me accomplish it. I felt like I should have thanked him when we shook hands. The thought of pinning a guy in :06 seconds is just incredible to me. That is fast. Naturally, after witnessing this, I looked up who it was that did this and to my surprise it was a Freshman…Christian Stanek. I’ve tried to catch his matches when I could ever since and not only is he a fun wrestler to watch due to being so explosive and mat-saavy, but he is just REALLY talented in almost every facet of the game. He operated like an upperclassman as a 132 lb UNDERSIZED Freshman and has done nothing, but continued to build from there. He stays in great position. He has a nice offense and defense. He has a slick shot that seems to improve every year as his strength increases. He is quick. He is a good scrambler. He is able to detect when a guy is out of position and rarely fails to capitalize on it. The talent/potential is THERE with him. Sure, he has taken some losses the past few years that have been a bit ugly at times on paper, most notably the couple losses he took to Aiden Riggins of Waverly-Shell Rock this past season. However, every area that he may have been lacking that interfered with his ability to go with a guy like Riggins is 100% correctable as long as the guy has the work ethic and athletic talent to do so… Stanek for sure has the athletic ability and all sources seem to indicate that he has the work ethic to continue to grow as a wrestler as well. To me, it appears that for Christian to lift his game to the next level, it’d be a matter of a few things. One would be fine-tuning a few things with his technique, particularly set-ups from the feet to where he can flow and chain-wrestle confidently at all times. Another thing that needs to happen for him to succeed is that he needs to continue to “let it fly” when he finds himself in a wrestling situation where he may be uncomfortable or unfamiliar. In some of the matches where he has struggled, it seemed as if there would be brief pauses in certain situations he would get into, in which he appeared to be distracted and/or thinking too much about what to do instead of just continuing to let loose and his opponent would capitalize on the brief lapse. The more Christian builds upon his technique arsenal, the less he will experience these brief lapses. His athletic ability alone would be enough to see him through most of these situations if he wanted, but that’s easy to say when you aren’t in the heat of battle. The more he builds upon his technique, the easier it will be to flow from every situation/position. And the more he starts noticing his own improvement in these areas, the more confident he will become. Mark my words… when we start seeing a more technically fine-tuned version of Christian Stanek take the mat, equipped with 100% unwavering confidence throughout the entirety of every match he competes in, every guy at his weight will be put on notice, for that could be the start of something special if and when it happens. He’s right there. Christian has never been a full-time wrestler as a competitive athlete like most D1 recruits are and I feel that when he makes that transition with some of the nation’s best wrestling minds guiding him, look out! Because this kid’s ceiling is limitless, IMO.

To any of you Cyclone fans who may be reading this, if you are unfamiliar with Christian Stanek, I’d be excited about what he can do! He could be the low-risk/high-reward type of recruit, similar to another guy from the 80’s who placed 3rd at state as a Senior and never won state. His name was Eric Voelker and he became a 2X D1 National Champion for the Cyclones… Do NOT sleep on this kid. There is a ton of reason for optimism with him.

Props to CR Xavier HC, Ryan Chambers for producing the hammers that he has over the years.

Congrats Christian on a great HS career! You may not have won a state championship, but you did enough to convince me that you are one of the best wrestlers in your grade!

2019 3A 132

1 Joe Pins of Dubuque Hempstead

2 Ben Monroe of Ankeny Centennial

3 Brock Espalin of Des Moines East

4 Evan Yant of Waverly-Shell Rock

5 Caleb Helgeson of Johnston

6 Conrad Braswell of Prairie, Cedar Rapids

7 Sam Kallem of Ankeny

8 Christian Stanek of Xavier, Cedar Rapids


2020 3A 138

1 Caleb Rathjen (Jr) Ankeny

2 Dreyzon Phillips (Jr) Fort Dodge

3 Carter Martinson (So) Southeast Polk

4 James Edwards (Sr) Johnston

5 Grifen Molle (Jr) Notre Dame/W.B./Danville

6 Christian Stanek (So) Xavier – Cedar Rapids

7 Dylan Whitt (So) Cedar Falls

8 Leo Blawou (Sr) Des Moines – Lincoln


2021 3A-145

1st Place – Joel Jesuroga of Southeast Polk

2nd Place – Dreyzon Phillips of Fort Dodge

3rd Place – Christian Stanek of Xavier, Cedar Rapids

4th Place – Peyton Westlin of North Scott

5th Place – Josiah Schaetzle of Dubuque Hempstead

6th Place – Leland Evans of Oskaloosa

7th Place – Brent Slade of Ames

8th Place – Ethan Emmick of Sioux City West


2022 3A-160

1st Place – Aiden Riggins of Waverly-Shell Rock

2nd Place – Carson Martinson of Southeast Polk

3rd Place – Christian Stanek of Xavier, Cedar Rapids

4th Place – Jackson Helmkamp of Ankeny Centennial

5th Place – Brayden Broderick of Waukee Northwest

6th Place – Gabe Carver of Urbandale

7th Place – Kael Scranton of Iowa City, West

8th Place – Cole Rutter of Spencer


PinDox Profile: The Jones Brothers; Glynn and Chuck of Cedar Rapids Washington ‘73

In the 60’s and 70’s, Cedar Rapids Washington consistently sent out some awesome crews that were always in the mix to do some damage in the team race. As a team, the CR Washington wrestling team placed in the top 4, five times and even won it one year. Here is how they did in those years:

1972 (2nd)
1971 (3rd)
1970 (1st)
1967 (t-4th)
1963 (t-3rd)

In that time they produced the following state champions:

1960 HWT – Larry Conway
1963 154 – Richard Bleakley
1965 180 – Pete Kohl
1966 154 – John Newmesiter
1967 127 – Landy Waller
1970 154 – Gary Menefee
1970 180 – Charles Smith
1971 119 – Karl Waller
1973 112 – Glynn Jones
1973 119 – Chuck Jones

Since the 70’s, CR Washington has won the following state champions:

1984 3A 112 – Gary McCall
1984 3A 119 – Gary McCall
1989 3A 145 – Jamie Byrne
2009 3A 285 – Brandon Burrell

Gary McCall has more or less achieved “legendary” status with his accolades on the mat for CR Washington as well as collegiately for the Iowa State Cyclones, where he was a multi-AA and had wins over some of the best wrestlers ever in his career. He has also been a universally respected individual as a coach for multiple squads. Gary comes from a family with rich wrestling tradition. His brother, Tyrone was a state placer, placing 5th at state one yet. And about a decade before Gary began reeling in the gold at state, his two cousins also made their way to the top of the podium. Their names were Glynn and Chuck Jones and they also wrestled for CR Washington.

Glynn and Chuck Jones  were in the same graduating class of 1973, but were not twins. And as close as they were in age, the trajectory of their wrestling careers were pretty close to each other as well. As juniors, both Chuck and Glynn only lost one match at state apiece, with Glynn placing 3rd at 3A 105 and Chuck finishing 2nd at 3A 112. The loss that Glynn suffered at state that year was his only loss of the season and was the last loss he would ever suffer in HS. Glynn Jones would go on to become an undefeated state champion as a Senior the next year at 3A 112. He defeated Keith Mourlam of Webster City by the score of 7-0. Mourlam was also undefeated on the season coming into that match. Chuck Johnson lost during the regular season his Senior, but put it together at the right time, by defeating Dan Wilkerson of Ottumwa by the score of 3-2. Chuck finished his Senior season 27-1-1 and the 1973 3A 119 state champion. So in 1972 and 1973, the two Jones brothers had 4 combined trips to state, 4 combined trips to the podium, 4 combined top 3 showings, 3 combined trips to the State Finals and 2 combined state championships. The Jones brothers would have been Freshmen in 1970… with that said, the CR Washington wrestling team finished 1st, 3rd and 2nd in the years that the Jones brothers were in HS and Glynn and Chuck are huge factors that played a role in the success of those squads. Glynn Jones was also an All-American at the national level when he was in HS. Glynn was also named a scholastic All-American. He finished with a career record of 75-4, with only one of those losses coming in his last two years of HS.


1972 3A 105

1. Dave Cunningham, Waterloo East
2. Keith Mourlam, Webster City
3. Glynn Jones, Cedar Rapids Washington
4. Mike Land, West Des Moines Valley
5. Dennis Moser, Cedar Rapids Kennedy
6. Keith Carlson, Ankeny

1973 3A 112
1. Glynn Jones, Cedar Rapids Washington
2. Keith Mourlam, Webster City
3. Doug Teach, Cedar Rapids Prairie
4. Craig Andersen, Harlan
5. Mike Vasquez, Southeast Polk
6. Randy Runyan, Indianola



1972 3A 112

1. Chris Larson, Urbandale
2. Chuck Jones, Cedar Rapids Washington
3. Duane Boos, New Hampton
4. Charles Wheatley, Ankeny
5. Randy King, Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson
6. Craig Anderson, Harlan

1973 3A 119
1. Chuck Jones, Cedar Rapids Washington
2. Dan Wilkerson, Ottumwa
3. Jeff Morse, Mason City
4. Pat Ribbey, Webster City
5. Mike Land, West Des Moines Valley
6. Wilbur Smith, Waterloo East


WHO IS THE IOWA HS WRESTLING GOAT?!?!!?! The case for Dylan Peters: Denver-Tripoli HS ‘12/UNI Panthers/Cedar Valley Mat Club

Wait a sec, Dylan Peters is a 3X state champ, not a 4Xer… how can he have a case for being the Iowa HS Wrestling GOAT?! Well, to start, he finished with a career record of 199-1 and his one loss was in the 2A 103 state finals as a Freshman in HS when he was rumored to be weighing 85 lbs on full-feed when he wrestled his finals match…and he only lost that match 8-4 and was starting to storm back at the end of that match and had the crowd all pumped up…That was his ONLY HS loss…. Catch your attention yet?

Dylan Peters was very good on the youth scene. I don’t remember why specific stats, but I do remember him winning youth state multiple times. He was a product of Cedar Valley Mat Club. That wrestling club was responsible for producing a TON of talent. Some of the wrestlers (and I know I’m forgetting several) included; Brock Sorensen, Blake Sorensen, Brandon Sorensen, Craig Sorensen, David Sorensen, Eric Thompson, Logan and Ryan Mulnix, Spike Welter, Garrett Smith, Levi, Ivan, Oz and Gunnar Wolfensperger, Brennan Pruisner, Blake Pruisner, Chase and Izaak Shedenhelm, Anthony Hable, Cole Deike, John Simons, Sean Weber, Gary Urban, Terry Stover, Dylan Wrage, Bubba Hilmer,  Jordie Rinken, Greg Freshwater, Tylor Johnson, etc. Dylan Peters is one of the top guys the Cedar Valley Mat Club ever produced. THAT is saying something!

Dylan Peters wrestled for HC Chris Krueger at Denver-Tripoli HS. Dylan really didn’t have any noticeable flaws. I can’t think of one thing in his game that he wasn’t just absolutely top-notch with. He was one of the strongest guys for his weight ever. He was quick. He had a great gas tank. He was always prepared and has a good head on his shoulders. He was smart and always knew the match situation. He was ALWAYS in great position. This guy… he was just deadly. He was really good at this “pancake/whip over” throw and if he were to catch someone in that move or heck, in a scramble/situation where he could even attempt that move, it was like a death sentence for the other guy. It was like Mike Tyson’s right uppercut. Game-over most the time. He set that thing up and timed it perfectly. Every guy he wrestled knew he had that and just couldn’t stop it for he was so good at it. There wasn’t much they could do…. An opponent of Dylan would only have one hope of not putting themselves in a situation where he could hit that move… and that’s by just running away the entire time. It was unavoidable, for Peters could hit that move from so many different situations. And when he’d bury someone out there, the crowd LOVED it. He is one of the biggest crowd-favorite Iowa HS wrestlers ever. There seemed to be a mob of people who just loved watching him wrestle… from all over the state. Which was impressive, for usually people are fans of HS wrestlers from their own geographical area. Peters’s style was so lethal, so dynamic, so fun to watch, that when he wrestled, a ton of people would drop what they were watching before so they could start watching Dylan Peters wrestle because they knew that over 90% of the time, he would just bury whoever he was wrestling and would look like a monster in the process.  He was like an executioner out there.

So Dylan came into HS state wrestling in 2009 at 2A 103 weighing 80-something pounds on full-feed and had a 47-0 record coming into the tournament. It was 50-0 when he took on Alex Spooner of Forest City, a full-sized Junior 103 lber. Dylan got behind early in this one and spent a lot of the match trying to come back… in which he did start gaining some momentum towards the end of the match, but there wasn’t enough time left. He lost 8-4. This was first and only time Dylan Peters ever lost a HS match. He won the rest of them along with 3 state titles and looked like a buzz-saw in doing so.

2009 2A 103:

1. Alex Spooner, Jr., Forest City

2. Dylan Peters, Fr., Denver-Tripoli

3. Dalton Kingery, Fr., PCM (Monroe)

4. Matt Paulus, So., New Hampton

5. Alex Brown, So., Hampton-Dumont

6. Kody Krenz, Fr., Louisa-Muscatine

7. Isaac Lundgren, Fr., Emmetsburg/A-R

8. J.C. Vercande, Fr., Williamsburg

As a Sophomore, Dylan won his first state title and was 51-0 in doing so. He defeated Colton McCrystal of Sergeant Bluff-Luton in the finals in a dominant victory. Two guys on the stand with him that year were multi-state champions… McCrystal won 2 and 7th place Doug Miner Of Spirit Lake Park won 3.

2010 2A 103
1st: Dylan Peters, Denver-Tripoli SO 51- 0
2nd: Colton McCrystal, Sergeant Bluff-Luton FR 51- 5
3rd: Pryce Creighton, Dallas Center-Grimes JR 41- 7
4th: Mitch Funk, MFL/Mar-Mac/Central JR 41- 5
5th: Jimmy Scieszinski, Van Meter SO 42- 3
6th: Devon Pierce, OA-BCIG SR 33- 13
7th: Doug Miner, Spirit Lake Park FR 31- 6
8th: Patrick Rooney, Bondurant-Farrar FR 26- 6

As a Junior in 2011 at 2A 112, Dylan won his 2nd state championship and finished 50-0 on the season. He beat Colton McCrystal in the finals again and was dominant in doing so again. He beat him 13-4. That was a pretty big deal for McCrystal really started to step things up and catch fire in his wrestling game when he hit HS and it seemed liked he was beating everyone…dominating most… except for when he’d run into Peters. Those 2 state finals wins that Peters had over McCrystal were very impressive.

2011 2A 112
1st: Dylan Peters, Denver-Tripoli JR 50- 0
2nd: Colton McCrystal, Sergeant Bluff-Luton SO 46- 2
3rd: Zach Skopec, Spirit Lake Park FR 40- 6
4th: Tanner Cowan, Centerville SO 27- 6
5th: Leighton Gaul, New Hampton SO 39- 8
6th: Dustin Horne, South Tama County SR 31- 9
7th: Kyle Springer, Assumption Davenport SO 28- 8
8th: Mitchell Broer, Ballard FR 37- 10

As a Senior, the Dylan Peters train was in overdrive. He was dominant as usual during the regular season. It seemed like at that point, you rarely heard of him going a full match. Seemed like he was pinning everyone. He got to state with a 44-0 record and pinned his first opponent quick, which set up a quarterfinals match with a guy named Sawyer Farris of New London. This match was very highly anticipated by the wrestling community, for Farris, a Senior, was a 3X placer/2X state finalist/1X state champion coming into that match.  Peters at this point had developed a reputation as being someone who seemed borderline unbeatable. However, Farris was a former state champ and was held in high regard himself, especially in SE Iowa. There wasn’t ever anyone who went out and destroyed Sawyer Farris when they wrestled him. He was a fiery competitor who gave anyone he wrestled all they could handle. And while there were a lot of wrestling fans who assumed he would be dominated by Peters, it was certain that Farris didn’t think so. He always took the mat with a ton of confidence and carried himself as if there was no doubt in his mind he was going to defeat whoever he was facing. The match between these two ended up being one that people still talk about today. It is widely considered one of the best matches of all time. I consider it to be the best match I have ever witnessed and as far as I know, the best match that’s ever been wrestled at state. To summarize, there were a ton of scrambles and exchanging of points and the match went into OT, which was rare for Dylan Peters. Dylan ended up winning this match in OT. This was a rather impressive feat for Peters, for he was not used to being in an OT situation, for it was rare for him to ever face someone capable of keeping it close against him…. It was impressive that he was able to maintain his composure and concentrate enough to walk away victorious. Here was the interview with Peters after the match…Dylan gave Sawyer Farris credit by referring to him as his most intense match he ever had:


Dylan proceeded to pin Oscar Ramirez of Estherville-Lincoln Central in the 2nd period of the semis and then pinned Tony Devriese of Assumption in the finals in the first 40 seconds. Made it look easy. Peters secured his status as a 4X finalist/3X state champ and had a career record of 199-1

2012 2A 120

1st: Dylan Peters of Denver-Tripoli 48-0, Sr.
2nd: Tony DeVriese of Assumption, Davenport 45-6, Jr.
3rd: Sawyer Farris of New London 47-1, Sr.
4th: Cole Erickson of Mediapolis 40-4, Fr.
5th: Matt Bieber of Clear Lake 33-8, Sr.
6th: Oscar Ramirez of Estherville-Lincoln Central 36-7, So.
7th: Chase Goodman of South Central Calhoun 54-6, Jr.
8th: Blake Luna of Clarinda 43-5, So.

Peters also had a great deal of off-season success. He won Northern Plains Regionals in both Greco and Freestyle multiple times. He won state Freestyle and Greco multiple times. He placed at Fargo Nationals multiple times… as both a Cadet and Junior and in both Freestyle and Greco including two 3rd place finishes in Freestyle in 2010 and 2012.

Dylan Peters went on to wrestle D1 for the UNI Panthers and to absolutely no one’s surprise, he had success there. He was a 4X national qualifier at 125 for the Panthers and was a 2X AA. He finished with a collegiate career record of 85-26.  He is also 5th on the all time list of UNI Panthers with 38 career falls.

Dylan is now the head coach at D3 Simpson College. They have a star-studded staff at Simpson that includes the likes of Dylan and 4X undefeated state champion/Iowa Hawkeye great, Jeff Mcginness of IC High. Two of the greatest Iowa HS wrestlers of all time on that staff. Amazing.

Does Dylan Peters have a case for being considered the Iowa HS wrestling GOAT?!

You bet he has a case. He’s certainly one of the best I’ve ever seen.


The Legend of Bob Nadler: Clarke-Osceola ‘85 (RIP)

The Legend of Bob Nadler: Clarke-Osceola ‘85 (RIP)

I actually wrote this one last year, but now that the following for this page is 3X the size it was when I published it as well as this story being one of my personal favorites, I wanted to re-post it with some of the tributes that people wrote about him in the comments section. The tributes will be posted towards the bottom.

One of the most amazing clips I have seen while going through all the wrestling film that I have was from the 1985 State Finals on IPTV. It was the small clip of Bob Nadler from Clarke-Osceola scoring a pin in his  2A Sup HWT Finals match. Back then, you had HWT’s which had a weight limit, but there was also a Super Heavyweight division, which was also known as the “unlimited” division…because there was no limit in how much a wrestler could weigh opposed to nowadays where 285 lbs. is the cutoff. As you’d guess, this meant the heavyweights in those days were much bigger than they are today.

The biggest Super Heavyweight that I have come across was Bob Nadler of Clarke-Osceola. He weighed 440 lbs. when he pinned Dave Saxson of Emmetsburg in the first period of the state finals. Dave Saxson was a big man himself and actually won the Super Heavyweight division the following year in 1986, but he appeared to be half Nadler’s size when he locked up with him. Nadler was a massive, strong man. And what amazes me about the match is that you see Saxson lock up with Nadler and try to trip him to his back, which he did, and since Nadler was so big all he had to do was push him up and roll him over to his back and it was over…It looked like Saxson just bounced off of him. When he locked him up and put all his weight on him, it was over. Saxson didn’t stand a chance at that point and it’s hard to think of many other guys who would.

You can watch the YouTube video of this clip at this link:


Anyways, I read that Bob Nadler actually passed away in April of 2018 at the age of 51. When he passed, a Clarke-Osceola legend passed, for that’s exactly what he was. Bob was the first Osceola student ever to win a State Championship of any kind. Thereafter, the first Monday in March was designated “Bob Nadler Day.”

After High School, Bob attended DMACC and became a diesel mechanic technician. Bob was a man of many talents. In addition to his reputation as a great mechanic, he was known for his wonderful cooking. He was also an avid gardener and in the fall he enjoyed canning the fruits of his labors with Laura.

Here are some stories that were posted by friends and family in the comments section of Bob’s article last year:

Laura Nadler (Bob’s Wife): “Thanks for the lovely tribute to Bob…He was my Gentle Giant for 27 years. I asked him once what he did to win all his matches, he told me he never had a losing attitude. He went into each match knowing he was going to win. 90% attitude 10% skill.”

Mike Bowlin: “Bob and I were friends for a long time. He went to middle school at Indianola when I did. Then moved to Osceola. We also went to the North South Dual in 85 after we both won state titles. Wish I could find those pictures it was a great time with him and Bubba. RIP old friend.”

Brian Reece (2X State Champ/HC at Clarke Osceola): “Great guy. He truly was a gentle giant. I still remember that match. I tried to model my style after our first champ.”

Doug M: “At the John J Harris tournament in Corning, they took Bob to the CO-OP to weigh him. He was a big man! The tournament was held in the old armory back then and that place was packed so full, the inside of the building would sweat. But when the super heavyweights were on the mats the floor shook and moved! RIP Bob…….. as far as I can remember he was a gentle giant

Shannon D: “Today it’s 3 years since Bob left, much too soon. Laura shared this posting. I always knew Bob was the 1st state champion for Osceola, and that he was a legend. Bob and Laura told a story about going to pick up a new puppy. On the way home the vehicle overheated and they had to call for a tow. When the tow truck driver, a younger kid, arrived he was amazed that he had “THE” Bob Nadler in his truck. And he called some of his friend ms to say “You are never going to guess who I have in my truck.” It had to have been 20ish years since Bob graduated and strangers still knew the legend. (I am thankful that I met and got to know Bob. He was a gentle giant. He got me out of situations that I wouldn’t have been able to get out of by myself. Bob and Laura have definitely been a blessing in my life. I never thought Bob would leave so soon.”

RT: “My dad was one of Bob’s instructors at MACC and said he was an outstanding Tech and human being.”

Barry S.: “I graduated in 85 and remember Bob well he was definitely a gentle giant! RIP.”

Lori S: “I grew up with wrestling, 1st going to watch my cousin, Ron McDowell then my brother Greg Kindred and then my boyfriend Donnie White. I was a wrestling cheerleader and truly loved it. I remember when the Nadlers moved to our school district and Bob quickly earned the name of “Big Bob.” He was a gentle giant except for on the wrestling mat. One of my dad’s favorite stories was to tell how the school scales weren’t enough to weigh “Big Bob” and every time he had to weigh-in, he had to go to the local Co-Op. The anticipation of waiting until the very end of the meet for Bob’s match was always great. His matches usually didn’t last for more than a few seconds. The minute Bob would set foot on the mat, the whole stands would be on their feet because they new it would be a quick victory! An Osceola legend!”


PinDox Profile: Mike VanArsdale; Waterloo West HS ‘83/Iowa State Cyclones/Waterloo Boys Club

Mike VanArsdale was one of the premier wrestlers to come from one of the premier wrestling clubs of the 70’s/80’s…The Waterloo Boys Club. The Waterloo Boys Club was a wrestling club that was run by a man named Bill Tate Sr. This club produced talent ranging from state placers to NCAA Champions such as Johnny Scott, Bill Tate Jr., Tim Klinghammer, Jeff Gard, The Sallis brothers, Stewart Carter, Mark Kay, Donny Delong, Chuck Pearson, Marcus Mangum, Todd Elson, Rusty Horn, Brandon Tate, Ray Cole, Tony Hanson and of course, Mike VanArsdale.

Mike was a 3X state qualifier/2X state finalist/1X state champion in HS. His first trip to state was his Sophomore year in 1981. He qualified at 3A 138 with a 20-5 record and was defeated first round by DJ Kline, a Senior out of Mason City with a 10-3 record. He finished the season 20-6. Chalk that one up for experience.


In 1982, Mike VanArsdale officially put himself on the map. He won a loaded bracket that had AT LEAST 3 state champions in it, including himself. The other ones were Bill Tate Jr. of Waterloo Columbus and John Hughes of Clinton, both who would win state the following year. Mike defeated Kevin Lunn of Fort Dodge, Steve Crew of Fairfield, Jim Fox of Marshalltown and John Hughes of Clinton en route to winning the state championship that season. 3 of his 4 wins at the tournament placed 2nd, 3rd and 5th. He finished the season with a record of 28-2.

In 1983, Mike entered the state tournament with a record of 23-2-2 and made the finals again. When you look at who he had to beat in order to make the finals, it is pretty wild. First round, he defeated Chris Geneser of Dowling by a point or two. Geneser would go on to become one of the best wrestlers to never win state. He wrestled D1 for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish where he was a 3X D1 National Qualifier. Next round, he faced Scott Diviney of Muscatine. Diviney was also one of the best wrestlers of that era to never win a state title. VanArsdale defeated him 7-2. Diviney went back to place 3rd and ended up becoming a 2X National Qualifier for Drake University. In the semifinals, VanArsdale defeated Randy Ewing of Fort Dodge by the score of 4-0. Randy would go on to become a state champion himself a couple years later as well as a teammate of Mike’s on the Iowa State Cyclones. In the finals, Mike was defeated in OT by criteria or referee’s decision against an opponent who he probably spent more time competing with/against than anyone else in his life… Bill Tate Jr. of Waterloo Columbus. Bill was the son of Bill Tate Sr., Mike’s club wrestling coach at the Waterloo Boys Club. Bill Jr. was a longtime practice partner of Mike’s and those two had competed against each other in more matches than most people could count throughout the years. Tate would become a teammate of Mike’s and AA at Iowa State.

Mike had a big summer after graduating HS in 1983. That summer, he became Junior National Champion as well as a Junior World Runner-Up.

Mike went on to compete for the Iowa State Cyclones, where he started off in good form by being named a 1st Team Freshman All American. He followed this up sigh a 25-10 campaign as a Sophomore that concluded with a 6th place finish at D1 Nationals. He continued to build from the year before as a Junior when he finished 3rd at NCAA Nationals with a record of 28-7.

As a senior, Mike was the 1988 Division 1 NCAA Champion at 167 lb, capping off one of the best Folkstyle wrestling careers that anyone from Iowa has ever put together to this day.

After college, VanArsdale won a World Cup Championship in 1991, a CISM (military) World Championship, was a two-time Olympic alternate and was a six-time member of the National Freestyle Wrestling team.


Following his wrestling career, VanArsdale pursued an MMA career in which he started out in the no-rules, International Vale Tudo Championship, which was a tournament in which VanArsdale won three consecutive fights in one evening to claim the title. With a record of 7–1, VanArsdale signed with the UFC and made his in 1998 against Joe Pardo, defeating him via submission. Van Arsdale won  his next bout via unanimous decision over John Marsh.  His next appearance was at UFC 54 in 2005 vs. UFC Hall Of Famer and former Oklahoma State NCAA runner-up, Randy Couture, in which he was defeated via submission in the third round. Mike lost a few fights via submission before going into coaching, in which he was the head coach for the “Blackzillians” when the team was initially formed in 2011. He has since moved on from that team and it was rumored that he started another club in Arizona.

Mike has one of the most decorated resumes out of any wrestler to come from the State of Iowa. He was inducted into the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2011.

1982 3A 145

1. Mike VanArsdale, Jr., Waterloo
2. John Hughes, Jr., Clinton
3. Jim Fox, Sr., Marshalltown
4. Brian Hampton, Sr., Davenport Central
5. Kevin Lunn, Sr., Fort Dodge
6. Steve Anderson, Jr., Mason City

1983 3A 155

1 ) Bill Tate, Sr., Waterloo Columbus
2 ) Mike VanArsdale, Sr., Waterloo West
3 ) Scott Diveney, Muscatine
4 ) Bill Peters, Sr., Newton
5 ) Bill Whitters, Sr., Cedar Rapids Prairie
6 ) Randy Ewing, So., Fort Dodge


PinDox Profile: Eric Whitcome, Waverly-Shell Rock ‘02

Waverly-Shell Rock… just when I think a wrestling program and the individuals affiliated with it can not possibly out-do itself or merely “add on” to the accomplishments that they’ve already had their names stamped on for years, the Waverly-Shell Rock wrestling team reminds me on an annual basis that there are still pages in the history books that they have yet to be written. I mean, this is a team that set the scoring record with 225 points at the state tournament in 2008. This is a team that has won what, 8? wrestling team titles as well as 5 state dual titles? Something crazy like that. It’s become difficult to keep track of. It had gotten to a point where you catch yourself thinking, “what more could they possibly accomplish?” a long time ago. Yet, here we are in 2022 and the Go-Hawk wrestling team out of Waverly-Shell Rock, led by HC, Eric Whitcome continues to prove that there is still a lot left to accomplish that hasn’t been done before. Their most recent accolade occurred this past weekend when Waverly-Shell Rock became the first team ever to qualify all 14 guys in their lineup to the Iowa HS State Wrestling Tournament.

So… where to start?

Eric Whitcome qualified for state as a Junior in HS in 2001 at 3A 152 with a 25-9 record for the Waverly-Shell Rock Go-Hawk wrestling team which at the time was led by future HOF coach, the legendary Rick Caldwell. That year, Eric was in one of the toughest quarterfinals of the entire tournament. I was at the same weight that year, but in 2A, so I would know… I wrestled all of these guys. He drew Marshall Marquardt of SE Polk first round. To give you an idea how good Marquardt was… 2 weeks after the state tournament, Marquardt placed 2nd at the Mick Pickford Tri-State Freestyle Tournament, in which I placed 3rd in after having one of my best ever outings of my own wrestling career. This was roughly a 50-man bracket that consisted of 7-8 Iowa/Illinois/Mizzou state champs in it as well as a couple 3Xers. And as good as I felt my weekend was, Marquardt’s was better! Marquardt became the only opponent I ever faced to ever hit a 5-point suplex on me. He was one of the best wrestlers I ever faced in HS. He probably beat 4 state champions that weekend. And that’s who Whitcome drew first round at state as a Junior. And the winner/loser of that match got to face the winner/loser of eventual 3Xer, Johnny Galloway of IC West and returning 3rd placer, Anthony Briebriesco of Bettendorf. I don’t know who won and loss between these guys with an exception of Galloway winning both matches, but I am sure there were some battles. Needless to say, Whitcome did not place as a Junior that year. However, he did get to witness one of his teammates, Travis Behrends win a state championship at 3A 189. In doing so, Behrends became the first state champion for the Go-Hawks since 1990 when Justin Greenlee won the 3A HWT title. I’m not sure who may have known or expected it coming at the time, but this championship that Behrends won was the first “sign” of a spectrum of accolades to come for Waverly-Shell Rock wrestling and Eric was right there from the beginning.

In 2002, Eric qualified for state at 3A 152 again, but this time with a record of 32-2. He won a competitive quarterfinal that included Adam Ward from Pleasant Valley, who placed 6th as a Junior the year before. However, Whitcome fell in the semifinals to Travis Paulson, who was en-route to winning his 3rd state title that weekend. That is the 2nd year in a row that Whitcome had a 3Xer on his quarter or half of the bracket. Whitcome bounced back in style, for in the semi-consolations, he defeated Omar Maktabi of IC West who would place 2nd at state the next year and defeated Blake Livingood of Decorah to take 3rd place. Also in this tournament, Eric’s little brother, Clint Whitcome placed as a Freshman in HS at 3A 112. This was the first of what ended up being 4 trips to the podium for Clint, who became a 4X placer/1X finalist.

2002 3A 152
1 ) Travis Paulson, Sr., Council Bluffs Lewis Central
2 ) Ben Stedman, Sr., Sioux City Heelan
3 ) Eric Whitcome, Sr., Waverly-Shell Rock
4 ) Blake Livingood, Sr., Decorah
5 ) Omar Maktabi, Sr., Iowa City West
6 ) Cole Farver, Sr., Newton

Eric Whitcome went on to play rugby at UNI and I don’t know if it was during college or after, but I believe he helped as an assistant coach at Waverly-Shell Rock for a few years around this time, before becoming the Head Coach at Knoxville in the late 00’s/early 10’s. He was HC at Knoxville for 3 years before coming back to Waverly-Shell Rock. He took over the role of Head Coach for Waverly-Shell Rock in 2012, a role that had been occupied by Hall Of Fame coach, Rick Caldwell who retired after one of the most dominant runs ever, in which he led the Go-Hawk wrestling team to 5 team state championships in 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 as well as several State Dual titles. Some rather large shoes to fill… and luckily enough for W-SR wrestling, when it comes to the wrestling mat, Eric’s shoe-size rivals that of Shaquille O’Neal’s size 23’s…

Since 2012, Eric has coached Waverly-Shell Rock wrestling to six top-4 finishes at state. He led them to team state championship titles 3 of those years in 2019, 2020 and 2021. He has led them to the State Duals in all, but 2 of those seasons and has led the team to 2nd place twice, 3rd place three times and last year, won the school’s 5th State Dual championship in program history. Whitcome and his staff were honored in 2014 as the Iowa High School Class 3A Head Coach and Coaching Staff of the Year. Prior to this postseason, Whitcome had coached 89 state qualifiers, 65 state medal winners, 23 finalists and 12 state champions. He also coached a spectrum of wrestlers who have brought home hardware at the national level in the Freestyle/Greco scene. Several of his wrestlers have gone on to have success at virtually every college level, including D1.

And as mentioned earlier, the 2022 Iowa HS State Wrestling Tournament does not begin for another couple days, but Whitcome is already off to a great start, for his 2021-22 W-SR wrestling team became the first team ever to qualify all 14 guys of their lineup to the tournament. They are; Alex Hornyak, Zane Behrends, Braxton Westendorf, Sam Hornyak, Carter Fecht, Ryder Block, Bas Diaz, Cayden Langreck, Aiden Riggins, Sean Mwangi, Robert Poyner, McCrae Hagarty, Layne McDonald and Jak Walker. Just think about that for a second… That speaks VOLUMES for the W-SR staff’s ability to prepare their wrestlers, for all 14 of their guys were prepared well-enough to where they at least qualified for state. not one single guy on the team had the usually inevitable “bad day” that usually at least 1-2 guys will have at the wrong time, no matter how deep or good the team. All 14 guys showed up and punched their tickets. 11 out of the 14 won district titles. This is an absolutely unbelievable accomplishment to add to the rest of them.

And it doesn’t end there… In 2019, Whitcome began Waverly-Shell Rock’s girls wrestling program and it has since gone on to win the State Team Championship in 2019, 2020 and 2021. At this point, he has coached six girls state champions, 12 finalists, and nine place-winners while being named NWCA’s Iowa Girls Wrestling Coach of the Year.

What’s impressive is how vocal Eric’s supporting cast of assistant coaches are in terms of the respect they have for him. Most of these coaches would have success if they were to be the head coach of their own squad, but they choose to go to war with Eric Whitcome instead. Guys like Mike Schwab, Brett Wheelan, Alino Djoimessi, Brett Behrends, Nick Sand, Josh Meier, etc… They are all a part of something so special and what they bring to the table is immeasurable, as well!

As a guy who remembers Eric from being around the same age and weight-range as me in HS, it is really cool to see this guy represent us “early 00’s” guys by so quickly becoming this generation’s version of Al Baxter. This man is not even 40 yet and is already a legendary Iowa HS wrestling coach. It’s crazy to think that he will likely still be coaching for decades to come!


The Gauntlet That Was The 1996 2A Wilton District

The Gauntlet That Was The 1996 2A Wilton District

One of the toughest districts that I recall watching as a kid took place at Wilton in 1996. There were a plethora of former and eventual state qualifiers and placers who didn’t even make it out of this district that year due to it being so tough. I decided to break down some of the numbers as well as listed each qualifier from the district and some of the numbers do not surprise me, but they are still extremely impressive.


West Liberty


*Out of the 26 guys who qualified for state in this district, 4 of them won state the next week.

*Out of the 26 guys who qualified for state in this district, 9 of the 26 made the state finals.

*19 of the 26 state qualifiers placed at state (top 6) the next week.

*22 of the 26 state qualifiers from this district would make it to the top 8 in their bracket.

*24 of the 26 state qualifiers in this bracket would win at least one match while competing at state the next week.

*This district includes a wrestler (Eric Juergens) who would win his 4th state title the next week and cap off an undefeated high school career.

*10 of the 26 state qualifiers were state champions at one point or another in their HS career.


#2 Justin Stanley, Wilton
(Top 8 ) Adam Hutchinson, Mepo

#5 Matt Pasvogel, Wilton
#1 Nick Marin, West Liberty

#2 Marc Juergens, Maquoketa
#5 Les Hollingsworth, Wapello

#1 Eric Juergens, Maquoketa
#2 Mike Corsiglia, Assumption

#2 Ben Scorpil, West Liberty
#5 Corey Stanley, Wilton

(0-2) Cory Snodgrass, Camanche
#3 Ben Shirk, Wilton

#4 Rocky Hamilton, Wapello
(1-2) Pat Kennedy, Monticello

(0-2) Mike Hainstock, Maquoketa
(1-2) Lucas Luensman, Monticello

#3 Kyle Hansen, Wilton
(Top 8 ) Lucas Kluever, Maquoketa

#4 Matt Gravert, Assumption
#1 Chad Rowson, Dewitt-Central

#3 Brandon Cummings-Mepo
#5 Jim Bark-Dewitt-Central

#4 Kory Manternach- Cascade
#1 Chad Morrison- West Liberty

#2 Josh Liddle, Camanche
(Top 8 ) Marshall Wirtz, Assumption


Wrestling Opponents Who Hated My Guts: Blake Edwards, IC West

Wrestling Opponents Who Hated My Guts: Blake Edwards, IC West

Blake Edwards was fun to have around. Even if he was popping you in the nose after your match with him ended, followed by him calling you a mouth-breathing gay slur of some sort, which happened more often than not. However, he still made things entertaining. That dude was a tough, raw nerve type of guy who hated to lose and was not afraid to elbow you in the mouth or even punch you if you ended up beating him. Before I ever wrestled him, I used to watch him compete and thought he was entertaining to watch, for not only would he brashly cheap-shot his opponents like it was a natural reaction to him, but he’d also talk some of the funniest smack I ever heard while wrestling. Usually he wrestled against my practice partner, Adam Roberts. He would get chippy with Adam, but not too bad. Not NEARLY as bad as he would get with me when he and I started wrestling everywhere we went.

I wrestled Blake for the first time ever at AAU State as a 7th grader. I showed up sporting the world’s most inappropriate-looking singlet at that tourney. It was a leopard singlet that was wayyyyy too low-cut. As in, my butt-cheeks would be hanging out of it. I didn’t anticipate this when I ordered it for $6 in a magazine and when it arrived, it was immediately abundantly clear that I would have to wear tights underneath it, for I wasn’t about to go out there wrestling in what was basically a skimpy swimsuit. Wearing the tights underneath did not help matters much, for that basically just made me look like I was wearing some kinky, smooth, lingerie suit that women order from Victoria’s Secret magazines. I had no idea until years later, just how stupid I looked wearing that “get-up.” I looked like I belonged on The Jerry Springer Show.

Anyways, I beat Blake like 4-0 that match. I was happy with that because he was good and I was stoked about reaching the semis… However, after the final whistle of the match blew, Blake elbowed me extremely hard in the mouth. My mouth was bleeding profusely. He then called me a word that starts with a “P” and rhymes with “wussy.” I was ticked and was always willing to throw down and fight in situations like these, but my lip was bleeding all over the place. In hindsight, I probably should have expected something like that considering the fruity singlet and tights I was wearing. I’m guessing Blake probably figured that I was used to being pimp-slapped like that anyways, considering I resembled a lady of the night out there.  I looked so dorky and in a way, I don’t blame him one bit. I would have been ticked off myself if I had lost at state to a guy who was dressed like Cher in one of her aerobics videos.

A few weeks later, I went to a freestyle tourney and was paired with Blake first round. I rocked the “leopard lingerie suit” at this tourney as well. The end result was basically the same thing. I beat him by a couple points and after the match was over, he hit me hard in the nose and this time, he called me a word that begins with an “F” and rhymes with “Saget.” I was ready to scrap this time, though. I decided to get super street with him and I pushed him as hard as I could and was all like, “what?! What?!” Then he pushed me back and we had to be separated by the referee.  It probably appeared ridiculous. It probably looked as if some street pimp got mad and “pimp-slapped” his leopard-print-wearing “lady of the night” in which the leopard lady had enough and fought back. Of all people he could have done this to, he probably didn’t expect the guy who wore the leopard-lingerie-looking singlet to fight back, but welp… I guess he just didn’t know how crazy and gangsta I was. Ya see, similar to how the Bloods wear red, I rolled with a very rowdy gang who wore leopard. We were called “The Leopard Fruitcakes.” Yeah, you didn’t wanna cross one of them Leopard Fruitcakes. You may end up getting scratched or something. Anyways , when the ref brought Blake over to shake my hand, I saw his face and I’ll never forget the little smile he had… like he was thinking, “I can’t believe this tranny-looking guy just snapped back at me.” Because of that, I walked off the mat pissed off and still wanting to scrap, but couldn’t hate the guy because it was undeniably funny.

I wrestled Blake 2-3 times after that, but with a different singlet and we had scraps after the match each time. This dude HATED me it was basically inevitable every time we wrestled that we would scrap with each other at the end of the match.

I ended up being in the same freestyle wrestling club as Blake a couple years later. I had outgrown him by like 50 pounds by this point. When I got to know him a bit, I discovered that Blake and his brother, Ty were a couple of the funniest dudes I ever met through wrestling. So Blake was a funny guy and fun to hang out with, but he was just a hot-head who really didn’t like losing to a guy who looked like he was dressed for a photo shoot for a lingerie magazine. I don’t blame him. Blake if you are reading, hope all is good, man!

On a side note: My friends and I and even a lot of Mediapolis’s next generation had a lot of fun with that singlet over the years. Sometimes in HS when my brother Justin and my best friend, Aaron Drain and I were super-bored, we’d go to Hy-Vee or Wal-Mart or something wearing our singlets. Every time, it was a given that the ok’ leopard-singlet would be worn by one of us. And a few years after that when my younger brothers, Shea and Brennan’s age group started hitting the scene, some guys in our team would wear that singlet in the finals at big tournaments. Some of the guys who I believe wore it at least once included; Cole Erickson, Steve Holloway, Shea Swafford. Adam Drain and Drew Foster. It was a lot of fun… made me that much more happy that I ordered the silly thing.


PinDox Profile: Pat Rial; Fort Dodge HS ‘99/UNI

PinDox Profile: Pat Rial; Fort Dodge HS ‘99/UNI

Pat Rial… I remember him very, very well, for he was always around the same weight as I was, but 2 grades above me. In HS, he was 3A and I was 2A, so we never met up, but I was very well-aware of how he did most seasons, for I always seemed to have a longtime club practice partner from Burlington HS who was at his weight and 3A. Not to mention, he and I wrestled a lot of common opponents throughout the years. He had a few matches where he absolutely dismantled guys that would give me fits. So let’s just say, the fact that he and I never met up was not something that made me sad, by any means. He was a tough, tough dude and had a great career, qualifying for state 4 times, placing twice and making it to the finals his Senior season. And despite putting together a respectable career like that in which thousands of wrestlers could only dream of having, I can’t help, but point out that he endured some agonizingly frustrating moments as well. We will get to that.

So Pat is the youngest brother of the 3 Rial boys. Sons of longtime Iowa wrestling advocate, Mike Rial. All 3 brothers were hammers! Matt was the oldest and a state runner-up. Mark was the middle sibling and a 2X state champion. And then Pat finished off the Rial trifecta of “Dodger-badassery.” “Dodger” as in “Fort Dodge.” The Rial’s are to this day one of the most synonymous names with “Fort Dodge wrestling.” Which is a pretty big deal given their rich history. Fort Dodge has a state-wide reputation of being tough on the mat and off of it as well. Not to say that Fort Dodge are the type of people who start fights, for I’ve never noticed any of that. It’s just that they will always speak their mind, stick up for what they feel is right at all times and regardless of who is around, have each other’s back’s, and they will always be real with you no matter if it’s something you want to hear or not. And while they don’t typically start fights, it’s surely not a good idea to start one with one of them. Being “real” is a way of life to the Dodger community. Some Fort Dodge people refer to it as being “Dodgey.” They are one of my absolute favorite subcultures in the state of Iowa, without a doubt. And the Rial’s are a big piece of the Dodger wrestling pie…how cool is that?!

Pat had a lot to live up to being the youngest of 3 Rial brothers, but he lived up to it well and did so from a young age, for I believe he won AAU Youth State at least a couple times.  The only bracket/podium picture with him that I could locate was from his 6th grade year, in which he placed 2nd to David Brown from Le Mars, which ended up being kind of coincidental for reasons that you’ll read about later. And man, that year he won a couple huge matches to reach the finals. Most notably, he defeated future NCAA Champion for The Hawkeyes, Cliff Moore, who had just defeated a future NCAA runner-up for the UNI Panthers, Dylan Long from Creston the round before. Even back in AAU, it was rare to see Dylan or Cliff ever lose, so it was a big deal for Pat to win that quarter he was in. Brown beat Rial by 1 point in the finals.

In HS is where things got a bit frustrating for Pat. To start, you know what the difference between Pat being the 2X placer he was and a 4X placer he was close to being? 1999 (his graduating class) and 2003. The 2 years Pat didn’t place, he did make the top 8, but sadly, they didn’t place the top 8 guys until 2003. Only the top 6 made the podium in those days. Makes you wonder how many guys who wonder about all the guys who have placed 7th/8th multiple times since 2003…

As a Freshman in 1996, Pat Rial came into state and drew Tony Brown from SC Heelan first round and was defeated 5-4. He then picked himself up and won the next two matches over Jay Bollman and Chad Gotto before being eliminated by future state runner-up, Bobby Duggan of Muscatine. A top 8 finish as a Freshman… I’m sure it’s not what he wanted, but it wasn’t a bad showing at all!

As a Sophomore in 1997, Pat qualified at 3A 112 and was defeated first round by the guy he beat in the consolations the year before, Chad Gotto of Western Dubuque. And despite being presumably frustrated out of his mind, he bounced back and won 3 close matches on the back side to reach the top 6 where he was stopped by a familiar foe in the consolation semifinals, David Brown of Le Mars. Brown was the guy who beat Rial in the finals at AAU State a few years before that. I am guessing those two wrestler 50 times in their careers. Pat ended up settling for 5th.

As a Junior in 1998, Pat Rial came into the state tournament at 3A 130, sporting a flawless record of 34-0 and made it to the quarterfinals where he was stopped by another undefeated wrestler, Eric Sinclair of Cedar Falls. Pat won his next wrestle-back, but was beaten in the blood round for the second time in 3 years to that point. Tim Ironside from CR Jefferson won that bracket… that’s a great dude/great wrestler right there.

I remember Pat’s Senior year at state in 1999  vividly. I watched a lot of the matches in that bracket, for my longtime youth practice partner and best friend, Adam Roberts of Burlington was in the same bracket as Pat and on the same half. Pat picked up some nice wins, a couple in which he looked straight-up dominant against 3 good wrestlers in John Gabrielson (IC High), Justin Scott (Osky) and Jim Kennedy (Dubuque Senior). To someone who just walked in and saw only Pat wrestle those matches, they’d likely assume that he was in the process of bulldozing his way through the tournament in dominant fashion. However, the state wrestling tournament landed on Groundhog Day for Pat that year, for he had a familiar foe who had given him fits for years…David Brown of Le Mars. I remember looking out there and seeing those two on the mat and remembering the success that I had seen both of them have since we were little kids and just couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that one of them would not become a state champion in HS. David Brown had also come close in years prior, but was still working on his first HS title. Those two had a pretty decent match in which it seemed like there was a lot of battling for positioning and control and ultimately it was Brown who came out on top of the scrambles they had and won his first state title. Pat wrapped up a very impressive HS career as a 2X placer/1X finalist who had won enough big matches over highly ranked competition to get himself ranked in the top 30 nationally at his weight by Intermat.

Pat went on to wrestle for the UNI Panthers. He has since done some coaching, I believe at a variety of schools such as Saydel, Davenport West and I THINK Fort Dodge.

Great career, Pat!

1997 3A 112

1. Cliff Moore, So., Dubuque Hempstead

2. Jeremy Hendricks, Jr., Marshalltown

3. Tony Brown, Jr., Iowa City High

4. Gabe Capps, Jr., Indianola

5. Pat Rial, So., Fort Dodge

6. Dominique Carter, Sr., Davenport North


1999 3A 135

1. David Brown, Sr., LeMars

2. Pat Rial, Sr., Fort Dodge

3. Justin Scott, Sr., Oskaloosa

4. Johnny Galloway Jr., Fr., Waterloo East

5. Brandon Winkey, Jr., Ames

6. Jim Kennedy, Sr., Dubuque Senior


PinDox Profile: Dominic Lopez; New London HS ‘23/DC Elite

PinDox Profile: Dominic Lopez; New London HS ‘23

New London HS has a guy who is shooting to become a prestigious 4X state champion and is on pace to do it this year, for he is a Senior. His name is Marcel Lopez and you will likely hear of him on this site after the state tournament, for a GOAT article will be in store, as they are for all 4Xers. If Marcel does this, he will be the first 4X state champion in SE Iowa history. And this kid has his younger, but bigger (in weight) brother help push him through to this pinnacle of HS wrestling.  And his brother is putting together an absolutely great career himself! His name is Dominic Lopez.

Dominic, like his brother Marcel, had some success at the AAU level and everything seemed to kind of hit an uphill trajectory at the right time, which was later in his youth career. It seems like this kid has raised his game to a higher level every year without fail for at least the past 4-5 years. He started out blazing as a Freshman, for he put together a phenomenal season in which he finished the year 50-4 and locked up 4th at state at an upperclassmen-heavy 1A 138 lb. weight class. Phenomenal way to kick things off.

He continued to build upon his amazing Freshman season by putting together an even more impressive Sophomore season in 2021. He placed 3rd at state last year at 1A 145 and finished with a record of 59-3. 2 of these 3 losses were to phenom (and another Senior in pursuit of 4 titles), Robert Avila of Lisbon. Dominic gave Avila 2 of his closest matches of his entire HS career… Avila generally destroys everyone. Dominic was able to be competitive against Robert, who is an all-time great already.  His other loss was at state to Cael Rahnavardi of Don Bosco. He lost 1-0. Cael is now wrestling D1 for UNI to shed some light on his talent level.

And how are things going for Dominic Lopez this year so far?! Well, coming into sectionals, he’s 44-0 and has won several downright impressive matches this season. He hasn’t even begun the postseason of his Junior season yet and he already has a career record of 153-7. Pretty wild for a guy who started out at 138 lbs as a Freshman!

2020 1A-138

1st Place – Cael Happel of Lisbon

2nd Place – Logan James of Underwood

3rd Place – Heath Moyer of North Linn – Troy Mills

4th Place – Dominic Lopez of New London

5th Place – Jace Mulder of Western Christian – Hull

6th Place – Karter Krapfl of Hudson

7th Place – Trae Ehlen of Mount Ayr

8th Place – Jordan Khommanyvong of South Central Calhoun

2021 1A 145

1 Robert Avila Jr, Lisbon

2 Cael Rahnavardi, DBosco

3 Dominic Lopez,N.London

4 Nick Hageman, Beckman

5 Jerret Delagardelle, Jesup

6 Trae Ehlen, Mount Ayr

7 Garrett Sarringar, Sib-Och

8 Alex Beaty, Lake Mills


Remember The Wrestler: Terry Cook; Spencer HS ‘84/University Of Nebraska

Terry Cook is one of the all-time Iowa HS greats as far as I’m concerned. Some of you may have read the PinDox Profile article I published on him a few weeks ago…A lot of this intro will consist of cliff-notes from that.

Terry Cook had one of the most head-scratching, not to mention, borderline tragic Iowa HS wrestling careers that I’ve ever come across. And even with that being said, it was still a GREAT career that most wrestlers could only dream of putting together.  He accomplished a lot of great things and did so while never being on the receiving side of catching a break. He was a 3X placer/2X runner-up who placed 2nd, 3rd and 2nd in that order. Now, since there are 4 years in HS, I am guessing that most of you are going to assume that those placings BEGIN his Sophomore year, but they don’t. They begin his Freshman year. He placed 2nd as a Freshman, 3rd as a Sophomore, 2nd as a Junior and…did not qualify as a Senior in 1984. This was because he got injured right before districts his Senior year and couldn’t compete. And get this stat… In Terry Cook’s entire HS wrestling career, he didn’t have one single regular season loss. NOT ONE. The only losses he ever took came at the state tournament…And he never lost more than one match per year at state… Isn’t that incredible?!

Terry had some great moments in the off-season/Freestyle scene as well. Most notably, he won the Fort Madison Tri-State Freestyle Tournament, which was a qualifier for Nationals and he defeated phenom, Steve Knight from Clinton HS to do it. Terry was named the Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament…a tournament that included the likes of Mark Schwab, Mark Sindlinger, Terry Schmuecker, Royce Alger, Tim Krieger, Kirk Azinger, etc. just to name a few.

Terry went on to wrestle for the University of Nebraska where he was a letter-winner and put together a very respectable collegiate career. While there, everything I come across seems to indicate that he continued to fight the injury bug.

Terry Cook… he’s one of the all-time greats! Here is what he had to say about his wrestling journey!

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

-Spencer YMCA, Little Joe’s Wrestling Club (Omaha, NE), Spencer High School, University of Nebraska.


PINDOX: What year did you graduate?

-Spencer High School 1984, University of Nebraska 1990.

PINDOX: Who or what encouraged you to give wrestling a try?

-Growing up watching my two older Brother’s wrestle.

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

-Both Brothers were Lake Conference Champions with a lot of talent and drive. Both of my Nephews, Josh and Ryan Pratt were State qualifiers and State place winners.

PINDOX: What were your youth results? Any rivals there?

-When I was wrestling in my youth I won most of the tournaments that I wrestled in. I won the Tulsa Nationals in the late 70’s which was the granddaddy of all tournaments back then!  In those days you had 16 to 32 man brackets so it was much harder to win, compared to most tournaments today that are 4 man brackets.

PINDOX: What was your record in HS?

-I went 99-3-1… The 2 losses were at state and 1 was an injury default my Senior year I tried to wrestle in districts but ended up hospitalized. I also had 3 forfeits that were not counted for my career record. So my career record should be 102-3-1.

I’m not counting my finals loss to Jeff Gibbons as a loss to this day.


PINDOX: How did you place at state every year?

-2nd, 3rd, 2nd… The year I placed third, the opponent I beat in Districts was on the other side of the bracket and placed 2nd.


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

-Junior year in high school state finals vs. Jeff Gibbons of Ames… The official made the wrong call and I actually won that match and it was taken from me. This motivated me even more to come back and win it my Senior year.

My Senior year I was undefeated and was injured two days before districts, I tried wrestling but ended up in the hospital, this motivated me to wrestle at Nebraska to try to win a National title.

My Junior year at Nebraska I was ranked 4th in the Country, broke my thumb, had two pins put in it, cut the cast off and still made it to the National tournament.

My Senior year at Nebraska, I was ranked in the top 5 of the country and at Christmas time I was told by my Doctor to stop wrestling because of a ruptured disc in my neck. I still tried wrestling in the National tournament and because it was so difficult, I made it to the round of 12.


PINDOX: How would you describe your wrestling style?

-Very aggressive with the intent to never give up or quit.


PINDOX: There was obviously a great deal of controversy in your Junior year state finals match vs. Jeff Gibbons your senior year. Decades later, does that match still bother you as much as it did back then?

-Yes and No. Yes, because I know in my heart that I was a State champion. No, because I realize it was just a small chapter in my life and it doesn’t define who I am today.


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

-There really wasn’t any because I only lost a couple times total.

PINDOX: Who was your most influential coach?

-Mark Cody because he was such a positive and uplifting motivation to all of us at Nebraska and Coach Neuman because he brought so much energy to the wrestling room.


PINDOX: Was your team competitive in HS/college?

-My Senior year in HS we were ranked #1 in the state of Iowa. The year before I came in at Nebraska they finished 4th in Country. We kept that legacy going from there.


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

-Jeff Kerber from Emmetsburg, Iowa. I would travel there to workout at his house with the Ehawks.  He was the 2nd guy to be a four time State champion and he was the first to be undefeated in doing so.

PINDOX: Who would you consider the GOAT Iowa HS wrestler?

-That’s a loaded question but I’d have to say Jeff Kerber. He set the bar. He’s undefeated and dominated everyone he wrestled in High School.


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

-In High School I would compare myself to the Brands boys like they were in College. When I was in College I would compare my style to Jeff Kerber because of his technical style but not near as dominant.

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

-I would’ve loved to have seen Randy Lewis wrestle Thomas Gillman since they have Gillman ranked ahead of Lewis as “All time greats.” I’m not sure Gillman would like that match as much as people may think! Another would be Andre Metzger and Lincoln Mcllravy. Grab your popcorn!

PINDOX: Who are some Iowa HS wrestling guys from your era that you have an immense amount of respect for?

-Tim Krieger, Joe Gibbons, Timothy Klinghammer.

PINDOX: Who are your favorite current wrestlers?

-Jordan Burroughs, David Carr, Spencer Lee

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

-Foreigner, AC/DC


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

-State finals my Junior year.

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

-If I was much more healthy, the titles would’ve came.

PINDOX: What was your best wrestling memory or accomplishment?

-When I won the Tulsa Nationals because I’ve never seen my Father so proud.

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

-None really stood out to me in that way. I respected all of my competitors.


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

All year round.

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

-As Michael Jordan would say “It’s hard to compare eras.” I feel very confident that the guys back in the ‘80’s would be able to compete with guys today.


PINDOX: Did you wrestle after high school?

-Yes, University of Nebraska

PINDOX: What other sports did you play?

-Just wrestling.

PINDOX: What are your favorite sports teams?

-Nebraska Cornhuskers.

PINDOX: What are your hobbies other than wrestling?

Golfing and hiking.


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

-It was a big part of my life when I got done competing. I helped a couple wrestlers win a couple State titles. I helped the University of Iowa raise roughly a quarter of a million dollars in the last 12 years for the Hawkeye wrestling club. I helped the Iowa State wrestling club raise money for the CRTC.


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

-Astronomically-life is so much like wrestling. There’s so many highs and lows and every day you have to prepare yourself for the day, prepare yourself to win. Some days you win and some days you lose. No matter how many times you get knocked down you’ve got to get back up because each day is a gift.

PINDOX: What do you do now?

-At the age of 25 I set goals for my life instead of wrestling.  I wanted to be a millionaire at the age of 40 and retire at the age of 50. I achieved both goals and am retired now and enjoy competing at the game of golf.


PINDOX: Are you still involved with wrestling?

-I help raise money for both the Iowa and Iowa State wrestling programs.


PINDOX: Any advice for upcoming wrestlers?

-Set goals, be disciplined and don’t be discouraged if you don’t reach your goals because it will not define who you may become.


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

-Zero chance-my body is too beat up!

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

-I don’t want to single anyone out-I feel that everyone I came in contact with in the sport of wrestling whether it was a teammate, opponent or coach they all made a significant impact on my life in some way.

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

I wish I could but it isn’t PG rated…lol



PinDox Profile: Pat Vogel; Benton (Van Horne) ‘77

PinDox Profile: Pat Vogel; Benton (Van Horne) ‘77

In 1977, one of the most loaded weights in the entire state tournament was undoubtedly 2A 119. This weight included the following:

Clark Yoder (FR), Sigourney HS: He became a 3X State Champion in HS.

Dave Lott (SR), Denver HS: He was a returning 1X State Champion/2X State Finalist.

Mark Niblo (SR), Winterset HS: He was a returning State Runner-Up

Mark Kerber (SR), Emmetsburg HS: He was a returning runner-up.

Jim Vogel (JR), Camanche HS: He was a returning 6th placer.

Kelly Griffin (JR), Laurens-Marathon: He was a Returning 6th Placer.

Mike Mayer (SR), Riceville HS: Returning 3X Placer

Dave Peno (SR), Carlisle HS: Returning 3rd Placer.

Curt Nelson (JR), Corning HS: Returning 2X State Qualifier.

Jon Wing (JR), Roland Story HS: 27-3 Season Record Coming In.

Rob McReynolds (SR), Dewitt-Central HS: Came in with a 29-1 Season Record.

Brian Swafford (SR), Mediapolis HS: My Uncle Brian Came in with a 25-2-1 Record.

So as you can see, 12 of the 16 competitors in this weight class were either returning state champs/finalists/placers/qualifiers or had close to zero losses on the season. One would assume that one of these guys would be the one who graced the top of the podium when all was said and done, but that’s not how it happened. As it turned out, there was a guy who made his first appearance at the state tournament that year and sported a season record that was littered with a handful of losses who’s hard work that season paid off at the right time, for he caught fire and stunned fans when he won this gauntlet of a bracket. His name was Pat Vogel out of Benton (Van Horne).

So let’s start at the beginning… Pat Vogel started wrestling in 7th grade, but did not wrestle in 8th grade. In fact, he did not go out for wrestling until after Christmas his Freshman year in HS after his Coach had an in-home visit with his Dad over Christmas Vacation. So he got off to a late start in his career. Had to play some catch-up in his first 3 years of HS, but as a Senior, he qualified for state for the first time with a respectable record of 22 wins and 5 losses. At least 2 of these losses were to Freshman, Clark Yoder of Sigourney. Yoder was a future phenom who ended up winning 3 state titles by the time he was finished.

Pat ended up catching fire at the right time, for he defied spectator logic by winning all 4 of his matches at the state tournament. And he beat some absolute HAMMERS in doing so. Heck, you’d have to considering how deep that bracket was. Word is, Pat won 3 out of his 4 matches at state in OT, although I’m not for certain which ones those were First round, Pat defeated Mike Mayer of Riceville. Mayer had placed 3rd twice and 4th once in his first 3 HS seasons. 2nd round, Pat defeated Dave Peno of Carlisle who placed 3rd the year before. In the semifinals, Pat defeated Jay Nance of Eldora which put him in the finals vs. returning state runner-up Senior, Mark Niblo of Winterset. This match was so close that it was decided in OT via referee’s decision. The referees declared Pat Vogel the winner and state champion.

Pat’s story is a story of an extreme underdog who had to overcome a lot just to be able to go out for wrestling and through sheer will and crazy work ethic, brought home a state title when nobody expected him to. His story is not one that reflects flawless domination as much as it is a story of hope and timely perseverance and any current wrestler with a few blemishes on their record could utilize his story as something that inspires them and in turn, believe in themselves in their own wrestling journeys despite the fact that they may be labeled by the pundits as “underdogs.” Anything is possible with an exceptional work ethic and Pat Vogel is proof of this.


-Oddly enough, there were two Vogel’s in this bracket…Pat Vogel and Jim Vogel of Camanche.

-My uncle Brian Swafford was in this bracket. I heard about this weight class several times at family get-togethers a growing up.

-Pat had a son named Chris who was an incredibly successful wrestler out of Wisconsin. I’m not sure how he did in HS, but I remember hearing that he was recruited by Dan Gable, so he must have been awesome. He wrestled collegiately at UW Platteville before transferring to Loras College as a Senior where he was teammates with… Freshman me. There have been several times where I have referred to not having my priorities straight when I competed at Loras College and Chris was another guy that I was lucky to have as a teammate who was a great leader that led by example and should be considered a great role model to everyone who was on that team at the time. He was an incredibly hard worker who put up some great results to boot!

1977 2A 119

1. Pat Vogel, Benton (Van Horne)

2. Mark Niblo, Winterset

3. Jon Wing, Roland-Story

4. Jay Nance, Eldora

5. Dave Lott, Denver

6. Rob McReynolds, Central DeWitt


The Notre Dame-West Burlington HS Wrestling Team Is Having A Dominant Season

To say that Burlington, Notre Dame HS wrestling has epitomized sheer dominance this year would be an understatement. They have been good this year…really, really, REALLY good. Good as in if there was a video game for wrestling, they would be putting up “Madden cheat-code” stats. I knew for the most part that they were having a great season, but wasn’t totally blown away as I am now until I looked at it a bit closer.


-ND is coached by longtime dynamic duo, Bill Plein and John Siegel. 1990 New London state champion, Damon Loyd also coaches there.  Both Siegel and Plein are in the Hall Of Fame. Those two coached together for years and had tons of success at Columbus Jct.  Plein was there for decades. Along with Columbus Jct. John Siegel has also coached powerhouse wrestling teams at Morning Sun, Wapello and New London.

-This season, Notre Dame has won the following tournaments: The Alburnett Invite, The WACO Warrior Invitational, The Farr Jebens Invitational, The Fort Madison Invitational and the Cliff Keen Independence Invitational.

-ND has 5 Returning State Qualifiers: Sam West, Blaine Frazier, River Belger and CJ Walrath. Tate O’Shea qualified for Keokuk last year. All of them won at least one match at state.

-They have 2 returning state placers; Blaine Frazier and CJ Walrath. Frazier placed 2nd last year for the 2nd time and made the podium for the 3rd time in his career. Walrath placed 3rd.

-They have 7 total ranked guys on their squad as of right now. Carter West (#5 at 2A 106), Blaine Frazier (#1 at 2A 132), Tate O’Shea (#12 at 2A 138), Isaiah Fenton (#6 at 2A 152), Sam West (#9 at 2A 160), River Belger (#11 at 170) and CJ Walrath (#1 at 2A 182). These 7 guys have a combined record of 198-16.

-The two #1 ranked guys, Blaine Frazier (132) and CJ Walrath (182) have a combined record of 67-0. Frazier is 33-0 and Walrath is 34-0. Blaine Frazier has scored bonus points in every match he has wrestled this year except 1, which was a 3-2 win over the defending state champion who beat him in the finals last year, McKinley Robbins of Greene County. He has 3 major decisions and 1 tech fall. The rest of his wins have been pins with a couple forfeits. All, but one of these pins have come in the 1st period. Walrath has scored bonus points in every match he’s wrestled except for 2 decisions against high quality wrestlers. One was a 3-2 decision over former state champ/2X finalist and Hawkeye commit, Mickey Griffith of DM Lincoln. (So if you previously had the “who have they wrestled?” narrative in your head before reading this, you can stop with that now). The other was a 5-0 win over returning state qualifier, Joshua Glendening of New London. He also recorded a major decision over Glendening. Those are big wins, for Glendening is a wrestler who is absolutely on the rise right now and is going to open some eyes in the postseason this year…I would bet money on that. Walrath also has 1 tech fall and 28 pins…It appears that every one of these pins have come in the 1st period.

-106 lb. sophomore, Carter West is currently 33-1 and his only loss was a 6-5 decision to #5 ranked Freshman, Aidan Serrano of Carlisle. That was the first week of the season. Carter West has won every match this year since the first week of the season.

-Carter West’s older brother, Senior Sam West is 31-4 currently with all of his losses coming to high quality wrestlers who have had postseason success prior to this year. He has given some top-notch wrestlers some close matches and has beaten some great kids as well. Sam is a returning state qualifier, look for him to build on that this year. Sam is named after who I believe is his father. Sam West was a 3X State Qualifier/1X State Placer who graduated in 1986 and wrestled for Burlington.

-They have an unranked Freshman at 2A 120 named CJ Davis who is currently 25-3. He isn’t ranked yet, but he’s getting there and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him do well in the postseason this year.

-#11 ranked at 2A 170, River Belger has only lost to two guys this year. He has pinned literally everybody else he has wrestled according to trackwrestling. He has wrestled at both 145 and 170 this season, which is a bit uncommon, but sometimes happens when you have a deep lineup as Notre Dame has.

-#12 ranked at 2A 138, Tate O’Shea is a Junior this year and returning state qualifier. He won a match at state last year… look for him to build from that this year… If he has a similar trajectory to his older brother, Brant O’Shea, you could see him make a splash at state this year. Brant was a multi-placer and a runner-up at state for Keokuk at 2A 132 in 2017.

-#6 at 2A 152, Isiah Fenton is currently sitting at 29-5 on the season, but it appears that 2 of these losses were medical forfeits. 2 of his losses were to returning 3rd Placer, Dominik Lopez of New London… Lopez pinned Fenton the first time, but the second match was won via ultimate tie-breaker, 2-1. 26 of Fenton’s wins were pins and the other 3 were technical falls.

-ND’s 145 lber, Blake Wilson is not ranked, but has to be close. He is a very talented Freshman. I want to say he is the son of 90’s standout wrestler from Morning Sun/Wapello, Brock Wilson, but I could be wrong. He has a very respectable record of 12-3 right now.

-They have a talented Freshman 113 lber in the lineup named Kayden Dietzenbach, who was a placer at AAU Youth State last season. He was out of the lineup for the first half of the season, presumably due to injury or something, but came back recently. He is currently 5-0 with 3 pins and 2 technical falls.

*** Apologies in advance for anyone I may have left out or if there are any stats that have changed since the last time I took note of them. Hopefully I am at least close with these and to anyone I may have forgotten, I promise it was a simple oversight.



Remember The Wrestler: Nolan Hellickson; Southeast Polk ‘15/Harvard/Ubasa Wrestling Academy

I watched Nolan Hellickson wrestle since  around the time he was having battles with Carter Happel (Lisbon) and Ryan McDaniel (Marshalltown) as a 2nd or 3rd grader. He was in the grade above my brother, Shea and they also were around the same weight. In fact, when Nolan won his 6th AAU title as an 8th grader, my brother placed 7th in that bracket. It was a pretty cool thing for Shea to be a part of considering Nolan made AAU Youth wrestling history that year, for winning 6 AAU titles means that you won it every year since you began the “A” division, which is 3rd and 4th grade. Essentially, a 6X AAU Champion is the youth wrestling equivalent of a 4X state champion in HS.  And that’s what Nolan was. He was an unbelievably fast-paced, well-balanced, intelligent wrestler, who from a young age, always seemed to have an instinct for being aggressive and scoring points and always simultaneously knowing what the match situation was, which ensured that he routinely made the correct decisions and consistently won in convincing fashion. A highly technical kid who trained with the “Ubasa” wrestling club, which is a wrestling club that is run by former Iowa Hawkeye, Pablo Ubasa and has produced some of the highest caliber wrestlers that the state of Iowa has produced these past few decades. Pablo’s guys seem to be very intelligent wrestlers with an abundance of  “mat-sense” and have a collective knowledge of the “fine-tuned,” minuscule wrestling techniques and tactics that sometimes differentiate the great wrestlers from the elite wrestlers. Nolan Hellickson epitomized this. For the overwhelming majority of his career, he was an elite-level wrestler from a technical and mental standpoint, especially when compared to other guys in his age group.

Nolan Hellickson is among the best pound-for-pound wrestlers of the new millennium. He’s also one of these guys who would have benefited from having a 98 lb. division, like they did prior to the 90’s, for he was fairly undersized as a Freshman at 106 and his results were affected to a certain degree his first year of high school. However, once  he grew into the 106 lb. weight as a Sophomore, it was on. The adversity he endured as an undersized Freshman obviously made him hungrier and in turn, tougher and when it was his time to compete as a full-sized wrestler at the high school level, he was unquestionably one of the best at his weight class every year that followed. By the time he was a Senior in HS, there was not one wrestler in his grade, pound for pound, who could be considered better than him. He’s one of the best to ever do it, IMO and the line that separates him from being the 1X state champion that he was in HS from being a 4X state champion is razor thin and dependent on just a couple outcomes that could have gone either way, not to mention circumstances that were beyond his control.

The responses to the questionnaire that Nolan sent back to me contains some of the most well thought-out, inspirational, introspective, educational wrestling insight that I have ever read, not only for this series, but for any wrestling-related article, interview, etc. that I have ever seen published. Nolan Hellickson is an incredibly gifted, hard-working individual who has wrestling down to both a science and an art form. His parents and coaches have got to be so proud of how he has turned out on and off the mat and any parents of current/upcoming wrestlers should have their children read this, for Nolan reflects an elite standard in which upcoming athletes should attempt to strive for if future success (on and off the mat) is something that is prioritized and important to them. Nolan is going to accomplish some great things in his future. I have never been more confident about anything…and wrestling has played a sizable influence in this.

2013 3A 106
1st Place – Henry Pohlmeyer of Johnston 37-5, So.
2nd Place – Jacob Schwarm of Bettendorf 23-2, So.
3rd Place – Nolan Hellickson of Southeast Polk 48-1, So
4th Place – Chase Lynn of Dubuque, Senior 40-3, Jr
5th Place – Tanner Rohweder of Dowling Catholic, WDM 38-8, So
6th Place – Colton Clingenpeel of Council Bluffs, T Jefferson 44-9, Fr
7th Place – Sam Uthoff of Prairie, Cedar Rapids 32-9, Fr
8th Place – Erik Birnbaum of Fort Dodge 37-9, So.


2014 3A 120

1st Place – Alijah Jeffery of Linn-Mar, Marion 41-0, Sr.
2nd Place – Paul Glynn of Bettendorf 39-12, Jr.
3rd Place – Nolan Hellickson of Southeast Polk 44-2, Jr. o
4th Place – Michael Zachary of Dowling Catholic, WDM 36-9, So.
5th Place – Trevor Murano of Dallas Center-Grimes 43-4, Sr.
6th Place – Sam Uthoff of Prairie, Cedar Rapids 39-11, So.
7th Place – Kyle Briggs of Cedar Rapids, Jefferson 27-14, So.
8th Place – Skylar DeJong of Oskaloosa 34-11, Jr.

2015 3A 126
1st Place – Nolan Hellickson of Southeast Polk 43-0, Sr.
2nd Place – Skylar DeJong of Oskaloosa 44-2, Sr.
3rd Place – Sam Uthoff of Prairie Cedar Rapids 43-4, Jr.
4th Place – Jackson Gallagher of Bettendorf 41-9, Jr.
5th Place – Joel Shapiro of Valley, WDM 41-9, Fr.
6th Place – Darien Collins of Pleasant Valley 16-6, Jr.
7th Place – Joe Howard of Indianola 40-12, Jr
8th Place – Keenan Cook of Fort Dodge 34-13, Jr.

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

– I wrestled for Ubasa Wrestling Academy growing up, then went to Dowling for my freshman year of high school before transferring to Southeast Polk for my final 3 high school seasons. I wrestled at Harvard in college.

PINDOX: What year did you graduate?

– I graduated high school in 2015 and college in 2020.


PINDOX: Who or what encouraged you to give wrestling a try?

– I was competitive and hyper as a kid, so my parents thought wrestling would be a good sport to burn off steam and be in a competitive atmosphere. I was 4 years old when I started out and about 35lbs. I lived in Cedar Rapids at the time and began at Cedar Rapids Washington’s youth program.


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

– My dad wrestled until his senior year of high school. He had a decent amount of success but ended up playing football and baseball at Drake University.


PINDOX: What were your youth results? Any rivals there?

– I had a good amount of success as a kid. I won Super-Pee Wee State in 2nd grade and competed up in the 3rd and 4th division and placed 3rd at 50lbs. That’s when my parents realized I was pretty talented and so the next year I joined Ubasa. Wrestling for Pablo (Ubasa) was instrumental in my development from that point on. I ended up winning 6 AAU State Championships and placed regularly on the national circuit.

In the state tournament I always had tough matches with Henry Pohlmeyer and Murano. Those guys were probably my main two rivals. Over the course of the year, I’d go up in weight and wrestle against Hunter Washburn, Carter Happel, Noah Ajram, and Ryan McDaniel.


PINDOX: What was your record in HS?

I was 135-3.


PINDOX: How did you place at state every year?

– Fr. – NA, So. – 3rd, Jr. – 3rd, Sr. – 1st


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

– My junior year of high school I broke my thumb in the State Duals semi-finals vs. Waverly-Shell Rock. I immediately went to the hospital to get it checked out. The doctor told my parents first, and my dad – knowing that I’d compete regardless, relayed the information to me by telling me it was just some strained ligaments so I could keep a level head. We went straight back to Wells Fargo just in time for the finals vs. Bettendorf. I squeezed out a win vs. Paul Glynn in my match, but we lost the dual. I wrestled the state tournament with a broken thumb and just taped it to my hand. It wasn’t ideal for gripping, but I could easily wrestle. I ended up losing to Alijah Jeffrey in the semi-finals in ride-outs and came back to place 3rd.

Fracturing my back in two places my freshman year of college was another huge adversity to overcome. I truly didn’t think I’d be able to return to the sport given the severity of the fractures. Thankfully, I had a procedure done and was able to avoid a spinal fusion. It took me just over a year to fully come back to the sport after spending 5 months in a back brace and going through physical therapy. I’m proud of the dedication and perseverance I exhibited to make my return and compete at a high level.

My senior year of college I broke my hand in February and had to get a plate and 8 screws in my hand. After the surgery my hand looked like a softball. It was very rough timing and tough to deal with. I had an amazing support system around me and fantastic doctors that helped me get to a spot where I could attempt to come back for the conference tournament in early March. I couldn’t sweat for 3 weeks, so my weight management and conditioning took a hit. I tried to compete at EIWAs, but unfortunately did not perform up to standard.

Despite the obvious disappointment in each of those three scenarios, those are the times I learned the most about myself – my will to win, my commitment to excellence, and my ability to overcome obstacles. These adverse moments shaped me into who I am today, and I believe they happened for a reason.

PINDOX: How would you describe your wrestling style?

– Offensive, aggressive, technical, and crafty.


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

– I always had tough battles with Henry Pohlmeyer, we knew each other’s wrestling styles like the back of our own hand since we trained at Ubasa together in middle school and wrestled in probably 100 matches over the course of our careers. I also wrestled Schwarm quite a bit even though we were different weights our junior and senior seasons.


PINDOX: Who was your most influential coach?

– I was fortunate to have great coaches and mentors throughout my career, and each of them helped my development in unique and different ways.

*Pablo Ubasa was a huge influence from 3rd grade on – he was a tremendous mentor and molded my wrestling style from the ground up. He’s not only a coach and mentor, but also a close friend. I remember going through some of the toughest workouts of my life with Paul Glynn, Phillip Laux, and Logen Rodriquez over the summers growing up. When I moved to Des Moines, he opened up a Des Moines location and held practices their 2-3x a week. He constantly exhibited amazing commitment to my development.

*Coach Christenson and Jessman at Southeast Polk (and the rest of the staff) helped me develop drastically from my sophomore year on from both a technical and mental standpoint. I became a more explosive and dynamic wrestler, and always felt like I had an edge against my competition based on our preparation in the SEP room. They were also unbelievable at getting athletes to peak at the right time and knew how to mold daily training to the individual wrestler.

*Al Garrison broke down technique so intricately and precisely. I was able to make very small technical adjustments thanks to his help and grow my ability to think critically about various wrestling positions, as well as how to wrestle through them. He unfortunately passed away in 2013. He had a profound impact on the careers of many Des Moines area wrestlers.  

*Nate Gallick was instrumental in helping me prepare for college wrestling. I started working with him the fall of my senior year. He opened me up to a wide range of top techniques and made key adjustments to how I penetrated on my leg attacks.

*Jay Weiss and the rest of the Harvard staff (Muzaffar Abdurakmanov, Jimmy Sheptock, Johnni DiJulius, Sean Harrington, Vic Avery) were and remain influential in my development as a person, they not only stressed hard work and performance on the mat, but also had a critical focus on character development. They invested in me as a person and emphasized building my skillset to lead others around me and become an effective communicator. They motivated me to push through barriers, overcome mental blocks, and make critical technical changes to adjust to collegiate wrestling. They showed me the importance of waking up every day with a purpose and doing everything possible to optimize for three days in March. Yet when it was all said and done, Coach Weiss was the first to say that wrestling was a vehicle to teach lessons that will carry forward through the rest of my life. The lessons learned, the friendships made, and the many great memories will be cherished for the rest of my life.


PINDOX: Was your team competitive in HS/college?

– In my 3 years at Southeast Polk we won 2 State Dual Titles and 2 State Tournament Titles. We were ranked around 10th in the country both my sophomore and senior years. We finished second to Bettendorf in each competition my junior year.


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

– The most influential wrestler to me really evolved over time. In middle school it was probably Matt McDonough. I went to the Iowa Wrestling Intensive camps each summer in middle school, and he was my coach /counselor for each one. He was a former Ubasa guy and took me under his wing. I also had a lot of respect for his work ethic and mentality towards the sport.

By my freshman year of high school, I became close with some of the seniors at the time. I trained over the offseason with John Meeks, and also became very close with the Miklus’s and Meyers. I had a lot of admiration and respect for John, Willie, and Alex as they strived to accomplish great things at the next level.


PINDOX: Who would you consider the GOAT Iowa HS wrestler?

– I can’t really pick one – I’m biased due to some of my relationships with the individuals…. I’ll say it’s either Jay Borschel, John Meeks, or Cory Clark.


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

– I had a similar style to McDonough in terms of hitting singles to both sides and finishing backside well.


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

– I would have loved to see a battle between SEP’s best teams. A three-way dual between the 2012 team that got 2nd (156.5 points), the 2013 team that won (180.5 points), and the 2015 that won (193 points).

Gary Miklus would always poke at Willie, Tim, and I and ask us who we thought was the best team. We would argue and go through the hypothetical matchups at each weight, I’d always argue for the 2013 or 2015 team.


PINDOX: Who are some Iowa HS wrestling guys from your era that you have an immense amount of respect for?

– I have a lot of respect for Paul Glynn. We trained together regularly and have stayed close over the years. He is extremely diligent and was one of the hardest workers I trained with. He didn’t have a ton of youth success, but was able to surpass a lot of competition by working harder than the field. He pushed me to work harder day in and day out.

Phillip Laux is another guy I hold in high regard. Like Paul, he was one of the hardest workers I’ve been around. He held himself to a high standard on and off the mat and always handled himself with class. He was a source of advice and counsel throughout my high school career and is a close friend to this day.

I also admire and respect all my SEP teammates. From the senior class that I looked up to when we won state my sophomore year (Dylan Blackford, Tim Miklus, Bryce Fisher, Dylan Buchheit) to my graduating class (Aaron Meyer, Keegan Shaw, Briar Dittmer, Deion Mikesell, Jacob Marnin, Joel Stenseth). We were all on a mission to pursue excellence and held each other accountable to live the right lifestyle. I’m proud to be a part of a group that went on to do amazing things after high school and after wrestling.

PINDOX: Who are your favorite current wrestlers?

– I’m a homer so for college it’s the current Harvard guys: AJ Jaffe, Phil Conigliaro, Yaraslav Slavikouski, Leo Tarantino, Michael Jaffe to name a few.

I still follow Southeast Polk closely and have been fortunate enough to go back into the room over the course of my college career and wrestle with the guys. I really enjoy watching the former SEP guys that are now in college (DeVos, Runyon, Anderson, etc.), as well as the current SEP wrestlers.


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

– I’d listen to a mix of Pop and Country. We had an eclectic group of guys at SEP and during high school practices we would listen to country one moment and Katy Perry the next.

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

– Most likely my loss to Schwarm in the State Semifinals at 106 lbs. my sophomore year of high school. I was undefeated and had just beaten him in State Duals two days prior. I was on a mission to win state and was supremely confident in my ability to do so having already knocked off nearly everyone in the field. Pressure and nerves got to me, Schwarm had a great game plan and out wrestled me in that match. I was extremely devastated to not reach my goal. I vividly remember hopping in the van to go back to SEP to cut weight that night, the coaches knew I was struggling with the loss and tasked Coach Koch with trying to get a smile on my face. He cracked joke after joke and finally got me in a good mood and looking on to the next best thing.


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

– Focus on the process and not the result. I put a lot of pressure on myself to achieve specific results and that was always at the forefront of my mind. I wish I would have instead had a mental focus on scoring the next point and letting the result be a byproduct of the work that was already done through constantly looking to score and doing the small things right in matches. I believe this not only would have bettered my performance but also made the sport more enjoyable in the moment.

PINDOX: What was your best wrestling memory or accomplishment?

– I can’t really boil it down to just one as I appreciate many of the little moments with people close to me. A few of my favorites are:

*Winning a state championship my senior year after barely falling short the previous two seasons. I remember hugging my coaches then running into the stands to hug my parents and crying as I embraced them. My parents sacrificed so much, and it was an amazing experience to be able to have that moment with them knowing the early mornings, late nights, and extra work after practice were well worth it.

*Winning the state dual championship over Bettendorf my senior year. I was the last match and following my win, I was hoisted up by my entire team as we celebrated and looked out to the stands full of Rams supporters. An unreal experience to accomplish a team goal thanks to every single person in the room.

*Placing at Midlands my senior year of college after failing to do so the previous couple years. Harvard had a fairly strong performance with two other placers, Cade DeVos placed and we had just been practicing together back in the SEP room a few days prior while back for Christmas break, plus I wrestle two Iowa guys along the way (Biscoglia and Schwarm).

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

– Some of my main competition in high school was Jacob Schwarm, Henry Pohlmeyer, Trevor Murano, Tanner Rohweder, Alijah Jeffrey, and Michael Zachary. I also had really tough matches at Gardner Edgerton and the Cheesehead each year.

I didn’t wrestle a ton of guys multiple times. But always ran up against tough opponents from other EIWA schools. We always went to CKLV and Midlands so was able to wrestle against a host of guys from Big 10 and Big 12 schools as well.

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

– I started wrestling year-round in about 6th grade. I had always gone to summer camps, but it was then that I started wrestling freestyle and going to more camps. I also began staying at Pablo’s place for roughly a month each summer, along with guys like Phillip Laux, Paul Glynn, Zach Barnes, Logen Rodriguez, Jake Kadel, among others. It was an amazing environment to not only develop technique, train hard, and form strong friendships, but also build great habits off the mat.  Pablo would take us to Coach Gable’s where we would sauna, chop wood, and talk for hours. Gaining those amazing insights into the core drivers of success on the mat and the sacrifices necessary to achieve greatness in this sport allowed me to hone in on my goals and exercise extreme diligence and dedication at a young age.


PINDOX: How would the guys from your day stack up against the guys from your dad’s day?

– That’s tough to say, I think technique developed drastically over the years and the ability for wrestlers in my era to have access to nearly every technique online allows for a much better proliferation of wrestling knowledge. Moreover, athletes today benefit from a more scientific approach to nutrition and recovery. A long-winded way of saying that most likely wrestlers today are more technical and likely better trained.


PINDOX: A lot of people will make the comment that “youth wrestling results or accolades” don’t matter, which I always take objection to, considering I remember how hard I worked to accomplish what I did myself at the AAU State Tournament and you would have never convinced me at the time that the work I put in doesn’t matter. With you winning a 6X AAU State champion, it makes you one of the best ever youth wrestlers to go through the state of Iowa, to this day. Is that something you are still proud of? What are your thoughts on youth wrestling? Does it matter?

– I can see both sides of the argument. I don’t believe youth wrestlers and coaches should be overly worried about results, but they are a byproduct of how you train, your dedication, and your lifestyle. I’m definitely proud of my youth career and my success enabled various opportunities. I’m a big believer in path dependence from an individual decision, so who knows where I would be if not for having a high level of success as a kid. If not for a great deal of success in 2nd grade, I may not have joined Ubasa and been exposed to many invaluable lessons that inevitably drove success and life-changing decisions that put me on a unique pathway.

At the end of the day, I do believe results matter and you obviously strive to win regardless of the level, but the end result should not really be the driving force. It’s important to love the process because everybody loses and very rarely will someone end a competitive career on a high note. That’s why I truly believe the most valuable parts of wrestling do not come in the form of wins and losses, but instead in the impression you make on others and the person you become.


PINDOX: Did you feel a lot of pressure to win state as a Senior in HS considering how close you had come in previous years? If so, how did you manage that stress? How did it feel when you officially won state?

– I felt tremendous pressure. It had been a goal of mine since I was a little kid and I believed I was going to win the tournament in both my sophomore and junior seasons. I was always pretty laser focused throughout my career, so nothing really changed in terms of my preparation. My coaches kept telling me to go out and wrestle like it was practice. I knew if I just wrestled for 6 minutes that I’d end up on top. I was about as calm as ever before my finals match – I had a great warm up, blew out my lunges, and played some 9-circle with my teammates before going out to the arena floor. Once out on the mat I just tried to soak up the moment and make the most of my last 6 minutes in the SEP Rams singlet. I felt pure joy after I won – it was a culmination of many years of hard work and dedication from both myself and my support system.


PINDOX: Considering the fact that you wrestled at Harvard, it goes without saying that you are a very intelligent, studious person.  Did wrestling help you with your work ethic in the classroom? Did some of your academics help you with your wrestling?

– My parents always stressed the importance of academics from an early age. I strive for excellence in whatever I do and I’m fairly intellectually curious. Wrestling provided structure to my life and flexed my ability to be diligent and exercise delayed gratification. Most good things in life don’t come easy and I learned that at early age thanks to wrestling.

My commitment to academics forced me to live a very structured life off the mat, which led to good lifestyle habits. I also believe being intellectually curious benefitted me greatly in wrestling. I was able to pick up new techniques and break down things into small, nuanced details. On the flip side, I had a habit to overthink, which can be a hindrance, so I tried to have the right balance between the two.


PINDOX: You had to have wrestled Henry Pohlmeyer (Johnston) 100 times growing up, it seemed like. One of the first things I think of with him is how he used to stare guys down before matches… did you get the stare down treatment with him or would you say that you to wrestled enough to the point where that didn’t happen? Was he one of your best opponents of your career?

– I don’t really remember the stare down that much. We wrestled all the time in competitions and in practices. He was difficult to finish on, a very crafty scrambler, and tough on top. I always knew I’d need to get a takedown or two in the first period to be in a good position to dictate the match, easier said than done given his leg defense. He was definitely one of my best opponents I faced regularly. It was almost like we were destined to wrestle in every event – we wrestled in the SEP vs. Johnston dual my senior year because he was down at 126 for a few competitions before moving up, we’d travel down to Tulsa and somehow find ourselves wrestling in the finals or a placing match, and always battled at AAU state or other local tournaments. It was nice to be at different weight classes in college so when we’d see each other at tournaments we could root each other on instead of being rivals.


PINDOX: Did you wrestle after high school?

– Yes, I wrestled at Harvard.


PINDOX: What sports did you play?  How did you do in each of them?

– I golfed until 6th grade and played soccer until 8th grade. I also played baseball and football as a kid. I was pretty good at both golf and soccer – I placed at state in golf and my team won a few state championships in soccer.


PINDOX: What are your favorite sports teams?

– I’m not really a fan of any specific pro teams. My cousin pitched in the MLB for the Rays, Phillies, Diamondbacks, Orioles, and Nationals, so I would switch allegiance to whatever team he played for at the time.


PINDOX: What are your hobbies other than wrestling?

– I enjoy golfing, fishing, and going on hikes.

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

– I love giving back. I’ve worked a few of Pablo’s summer camps and also tried to get back into the SEP room any chance I had in college. I feel so fortunate to have amazing coaches and mentors that guided me throughout my career and set me up for success, so I hope to provide a similar impact to those coming up the youth circuit and in high school.


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

– When I look back at certain attributes I developed or decision’s I’ve made to get me to where I am today – it essentially all ties back to wrestling. Because of wrestling I’m comfortable being uncomfortable, I’m used to overcoming hardship and loss, and I’m experienced in sacrificing greatly for an end goal. In my opinion wrestling is the greatest teacher of delayed gratification – the ability to postpone an immediate gain in favor of greater and later reward. It is powerful skill and pays enviable dividends in life.

As I stated earlier, the path dependence from wrestling has been substantial. Thanks to wrestling I was able to attend college at Harvard and go into the career I sought after. In addition, nearly all my closest friends are wrestlers, largely due to the bond we formed through supporting each other to overcome obstacles – celebrating the successes together and picking each other up during the losses.


PINDOX: What do you do now?

– I’m a Private Equity Associate at Luminate Capital Partners in San Francisco.


PINDOX: Are you still involved with wrestling?

– Work keeps me busy, but I’m helping out some in my free time at San Francisco State.


PINDOX: Any advice for upcoming wrestlers?

– Control what you can control. There’s so much that goes into the sport that is out of your control – referees, seeding, injuries and sickness. Inevitably the end result of a match is out of your control, you can’t stress or worry about these things. Focus on development, competing as hard as you can, and scoring the next point. Doing the right things in the moment will yield great outcomes and if the result doesn’t end up in your favor, you can hold your head high knowing you did everything in your power to achieve an optimal outcome.

In addition, cherish every opportunity you have to put it on the line – both in practice and competition. Wrestling is special and one day the time will come to an end where you can spend all weekend competing and every day practicing your craft. It’s temporary and there is a life past wrestling so be thankful for the opportunity to do what you love and pour yourself into it.


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

– Possibly, tough to say with work. Would love to wrestle in one of the Stalemates Street League events, but living in San Francisco doesn’t lend well to that being practical at the moment.


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

– Giving a shout out to some of my main training partners and teammates throughout my youth and high school career. A few guys that pushed me to become a better wrestler and person include Paul Glynn, Phillip Laux, Noah Ajram, Logen Rodriquez, Zach Barnes, Willie Miklus, Tim Miklus, Dylan Blackford, Aaron Meyer, Alex Meyer, as well as the rest of my SEP teammates – I’ll forever cherish the memories we made winning state championships and putting together dominant performances.

I also want to give a shout out to my teammates / mentors at Harvard. When I arrived at Harvard and started as a true freshman, I was forced to adapt extremely quickly to the rigors of Harvard academics and D1 wrestling. Thanks to Todd Preston, Patrick Hogan, Jeff Ott, and the rest of the upperclassmen at the time, I was able to mature and find success at Harvard. As I grew through college, my peers became mentors and people I sought advice from. Hunter Ladnier and AJ Jaffe were instrumental in helping me keep perspective and think outside the box. I was continuously pushed by them to raise the bar.


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

– Wishing the best of luck to the current SEP and Harvard wrestlers this season!


Matt Darrah; Dowling HS ‘85/Northwest Missouri State/Clarinda Academy (Coaching)/East Atchison (Coaching)

HUGE PROPS to East Atchison HS (Missouri) Head Wrestling Coach, Matt Darrah! Tonight, his team won a dual 30-12 resulting in his 200th career win as a coach!!! That is a HUGE accomplishment!!! Prior to assuming the role of HC at East Atchison, Matt coached at Clarinda Academy, where he has spent the majority of his coaching career. He also coached at the D2 level at Maryville University and also spent some time as a volunteer coach at Dowling.

Matt wrestled for WDM Dowling HS and was a 2X State Qualifier and 1X State Placer, placing 3rd as a Junior at 3A 98 in 1984. In that tournament, he defeated a Junior National Champ (Sean Watt of Ames) AND a future 2X state champion/3X D1 AA (Gary Steffensmeier of Fort Madison HS/UNI Panthers) to place 3rd… 4X undefeated State Champion, Dan Knight won that gauntlet of a bracket.

What makes this even more sweet, is that Matt is the son of a man who may very well be the all-time 🐐 Iowa HS Wrestling Coach…the late and great Bob Darrah, who was responsible for creating two of Iowa wrestling history’s all-time greatest dynasties at Morning Sun HS and West Des Moines Dowling HS. Bob put together a career record of 340-17-2 as a HS wrestling coach. His .950 winning percentage is the all-time best for an Iowa wrestling coach. He also had a record of 86-25-1 coaching at the D3 level for Simpson College.

Congrats, Matt!!! The apple obviously doesn’t fall far from the tree and I think it goes without saying that your father would be incredibly proud of the accolade you accomplished today!!!


It’s been way too long since I’ve published something from the “NAIA/D3/D2/JUCO Weighs In” series and I couldn’t think of anyone better to kick this stuff off again with then Alex Lozano of Loras College. Some of you have probably wondered how and why I decide the wrestlers to write about that I do and the most accurate answer for that is that it’s mostly random, but if I notice a wrestler, past or present who consistently gives The Pin Doctors love via liking my posts, sharing them, commenting on them, etc. then your likelihood of seeing a story on here about yourself multiplies substantially, for I definitely notice that, appreciate it and try to make it a point to support anyone who has supported me. And with that said, since Day 1, Alex Lozano has shown my site, my family, etc. as much or more support than anyone out there and I have always appreciated him for that. I have never met him in person, but I can just tell by the comments he has made on many wrestling-related articles that he is a good man who has a deep appreciation for wrestling and for that, I am truly honored to put this one together for him and am happy to learn about HIS wrestling journey after all the time he has spent learning and supporting others’ journeys.

And on another personal note, as a Loras Wrestling alum myself, it’s refreshing to see that Loras Wrestling continues to produce such great wrestling talent as well as wonderful people. 


PINDOX: Who or what encouraged you to give wrestling a try?

-To be honest, I actually started wrestling really late as opposed to others. I started when I was 15 in HS thinking it was WWE. I really had nothing else to go for at the time so I had nothing to lose giving it a shot. The rest is history

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

-Actually my family never played sports or weren’t the type to be involved and stuff which was fine, it let me solidify my own love for the sport as opposed to other parents who live through their kids. My cousin joined wrestling a year after I did and was a natural. He placed 6th at State his freshman year at 106. The following year he hit a growth spurt and wrestled 126, however fell in the blood round. He still loves the sport and keeps track of stuff going on. Besides him, no one else in my family really played sports, haha.

PINDOX: What was your record in HS?

-I actually never really kept track of my record, all I know was each year I was constantly improving day after day. I do know according to LAWrestlingNews my junior year record was 24-12 and my senior year record was 16-12. Since I was the only kid on the East Jefferson wrestling team my senior year, I couldn’t wrestle dual meets which was a huge chunk of matches, only tournaments. That year was rough, however I learned a lot about myself.

PINDOX: How did you place at state every year?

-Freshman year I didn’t place at state after a few weeks into wrestling. My Sophomore year I left wrestling out of pure frustration with life and the spot was given to someone else. I came back junior year with a new frame of mind and went 1-2. That summer I wrestled every week and lifted weights coming back senior year going up 2 weights with a 6th place finish at 160lbs. After myself, no one else placed at state from East Jefferson. I really do hope someone comes in and makes the finals or wins state for the program. It would be the first in over 30 years since Jim Ravannack (Former USA Wrestling President) and Craig Seals

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

-The most notable experience I had with wrestling was the summer of 18. After a rough state tournament I switched clubs and joined Scorpion Wrestling Club at the Louisiana South Regional Training Center. I had little to no money and my parents weren’t making much so I was worried about paying for proper training. However, the coaches took me in and trained me, fed me sometimes, and made sure I had the tools to succeed. That year I was exposed to training with notable wrestlers such as World Teamer Dalton Roberts, Olympic Trials Qualifier Austin Morrow, Kendrick Sanders you name it! I remember helping out at Jim Ravannack’s house and he had Jordan Burroughs staying at his place. I turn around and the kid inside me was like “Oh my goodness I’m in the same house as JB!”. It was also his birthday, overall it was a great experience. I got to connect with many of my teammates from Team Louisiana; many wrestling in college today. Two of them are my teammates in Luke Battaglia and Dylan Lauriano. I gained a ton of confidence and belief in myself most importantly that summer. Coming off a rough state tournament; I was taking down some guys who placed at state or made the finals. It just shows you have to believe in yourself and trust your training.


PINDOX: How would you describe your wrestling style?

-I’d say I’m very explosive and love to come in your face all the time heavy and smart. A lot of my teammates tell me I’m very explosive and I was like “wait really?” haha.

PINDOX: Who was your most influential coach?

– I’ve had lots of coaches over the years however the coach that really stuck out to me was Patrick Ritchie. So after my junior year of high school I joined Scorpion Wrestling Club. Patrick Ritchie is the head coach of the club and helped me tremendously that summer. He still today is helping me mentally and physically getting better at wrestling and being a better person. You know as a teenager I wasn’t the best at making decisions; sometimes I made decisions that costed me tremendously like having bad grades/ACT and a lot that could’ve been avoided such as family and wrestling stuff. Overall it was his love for wrestling and making me a better person in life that struck me. Sometimes coaches really only care about wrestling most of the time which is understandable, however Pat always made sure that I was a great human being and ready for life. I consider Pat basically like a father that I never had because he took so much time to make me a better person and wrestler even his own sons who wrestle for Scorpions consider me their brother and that really touched my heart. Throughout the years I felt tremendous love and that love still fuels me today as I try to get better each day. That’s when I learned that sometimes life is more than just wrestling. It’s about the relationships you build and the person you become. Patrick Ritchie wrestled for Archbishop Rummel in the 90s and was a state champion. He then wrestled for Colby Community College with Daniel Cormier and numerous others such as Chad Boudreaux who wrestled at UNI. After graduating from Colby, he went to the University of Nebraska Kearney where he wrestled 125 and represented the college at conference. I still keep in touch with Ritchie today and he’s a huge reason why I’m still wrestling because at one point when I was at my lowest of lows after my senior year, I really had nothing going for me at the time besides a dead-end job, unhealthy lifestyle, and some mental health issues going on. He was the one who convinced me to give it a shot and said if things don’t go right you can always go back to a community college back home. Little did I know once I left Louisiana it was history and now I never wanna leave Iowa haha, but yeah the joining SWC and partnering with Coach Ritchie changed my life for the greater good. I hope to one day give back to someone like Ritchie did to me in probably my toughest moment of life.

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

-So after my sophomore year, I came back to wrestling with a new frame of mind after numerous family issues were getting in the way of my education and wrestling. I had a very great year coming into state with a winning record, feeling I did everything right. After day one I went 1-2 and did not place at state. I remember just leaving the mat crying in tears and locked myself in a closed room. I was just disappointing in myself and kept telling God why. I did everything right, I ate clean, I slept good, I made sure I had great management why. Then I realized God had a better plan. Sometimes I thank God for the loss and not placing at state; sometimes not even winning state because I know I wouldn’t be able to handle that kind of success at the time. I would’ve been really cocky, arrogant , and that’s exactly not who I want to be. Had it not been for not placing at state junior year, I probably wouldn’t have met Coach Ritchie and maybe even switch clubs because I would’ve been too complacent; so sometimes I like to believe there’s a blessing and I truly believe everything happens for a reason in God‘s plan.


PINDOX: Was your team competitive in HS/college?

-My high school team was not really competitive in high school. My freshman year we did ok placing top 12 at the state which was good for the program at the time, however as the years went by people started quitting and leaving the team so basically I was the only one scoring points for the team at state my senior year. Back in the 80s however East Jefferson used to be a powerhouse in Louisiana wrestling with guys such as Craig Seals, George Trygg, and Jim Ravannack who formally was the USA Wrestling president from Louisiana. Iowa Lakes was competitive with guys on the team who had enough talent to go D1 and a few guys who had what it took to win NJCAA and All-American. The room was just really tough and it was hard nosed, gritty, basically everything you could think of an Iowa wrestling room. Coming from Louisiana to a solid JUCO program was a HUGE level jump and that year I saw what it took to be successful in college wrestling. At NJCAA nationals we did place top-13. After graduating from Iowa Lakes I transferred to Loras. Rankings aside, I consider Loras the number one team in NCAA D3 right now. The room is super tough, technical, and they just do everything right here. I truly trust Coach TJ Miller and Coach Jeren Glosser that everything they put us through is for our good to be ready. Overall it seems to be paying off as we are currently working towards a national championship in March. The difference between the programs is that winning is expected at Loras and we’re expected to be champions on and off the mat.

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

-Believe it or not a lot of people may say Jordan Burroughs or Cael Sanderson haha however, I really loved watching Brian Realbuto. He wrestled for Cornell at 157 and had a really wild match against Ian Miller in which he made the finals. The thing that struck me the most of his style was his scrambling ability and the way he moves in his stances. Also his attacks are super crisp. Seeing him wrestle 157 and bumping up to 174 still wrestling very well showed me you really don’t have to cut much weight to be successful in this sport. I sometimes wish I could get in touch with him and pick his brain for a little bit. The closes connection I may have is Byrd graduate from Louisiana Jacob Yawn who’s also at Cornell haha.

PINDOX: How do you feel your skills have changed since going to Loras?

-Since coming to Loras, I actually started believing in myself a lot more and truly believing that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to because I’m surrounded by absolute monsters in this room. I told myself that every day I’m training with possibly the best wrestlers in the country in this division and I’m just as prepared to dominate in a match. One thing that gave me confidence was TJ Miller reached the pinnacle in this sport in this division winning the NCAA championship and Jeron Glosser wrestled for possibly the best team in America right now in the Iowa Hawkeyes and he truly wrestles at an NCAA Champ level. I believe there any drill practice work out that Miller put his true is exactly what we need to reach our goals to be an all American national champion or even when the team title. Not only that, but the love the team has for each other, the camaraderie, the brotherhood; that love fuels us and it reminds me of the same love that brought back my love for wrestling to compete in college when I went through a rough patch after my senior year. It’s something I needed and it’s a fuel in the fire that helps me get out of bed. I know that when I’m wrestling, I’m fighting for everyone on the team, for my brothers so that we can be successful and bring back the NCAA team championship to Loras where it belongs. I’m getting goosebumps right now thinking about it. Being a part of something great is a blessing.

PINDOX: How did you end up at Loras?

-So I actually wanted to be a Duhawk my junior year of high school. I was pretty close to 2x All-American Eddie Smith and his best friend Keegan Gilligan who also wrestled back in Louisiana for Airline High School. Fast forward one more year, I got a low score on the ACT and had no choice but to go community college because I couldn’t afford to go to even a college back home such as Loyola or LSU (both don’t have wrestling programs). After my freshman year of college I took a visit to Loras and I really enjoyed it. I didn’t commit right away or even a month after. I waited over half a year to make sure if this was really what I wanted and one day I called TJ Miller and told him I was in; the rest being history. I made sure that no matter what happened at Iowa Lakes, I needed to get that degree which I did in 2021 which solidified my spot into Loras with a good transfer scholarship.

PINDOX: Does D3 have potential to grow the fan base?

-I truly believe D3 with new podcast coming out, personalities being shown, and just more exposure that there is a possibility to grow the fan base to even the wrestling fan who possibly just watches D1 or Senior to watch D3 and knowing these guys can compete and are just as tough as a D1 wrestlers. It’s going to take some time however in 10 years or maybe even less I think D3 will have more notoriety.

One guy from Loras in particular is Shane Liegel. I truly believe he has the talent to be successful in division one and he’s an example of someone you want to be on and off the mat.

PINDOX: Who was the fiercest competitors you have faced at the D3 level?

-One semester into Loras I haven’t had much matches however I had a rematch from two years ago against the Luther starter at 174 who beat me pretty good my freshman year and this year I had a close match. Just made a few minor mistakes however I know next time I I’m gonna beat him and that includes everyone else I have to wrestle knowing the confidence I have wrestling for the best team in the country.


PINDOX: How do some of the D1 and D3 guys compare to each other from your experience? Do you feel some D3 guys can compete at that level?

-Yes, I 100% believe D3 guys can compete in the Division I level. I see guys like Shane Liegel, Jacob Krakow, Brady Vogel, and a lot of others who can make some noise in the D1 level. That also includes D3 wrestlers from other colleges. I know they have what it takes to do well in all levels.

PINDOX: Where was your best performance this year?

-Overall my best performance was probably the toughest tournament of the year in CUW open. I went 3-2 against tough competition and I remember Coach Miller saying the day before that some All-Americans and good wrestlers will go 0-2 so that gave me a ton of confidence going into these next few competitions that I can wrestle at this level and make a name for myself. Having a great warmup was key.

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

– Honestly, if I could go back and change some thing it would just be to implement more mental training and start believing in yourself. This means visualizing your moves, your warm-up, and your technique. Mark Schwab came and spoke to us last week about inches and ounces which can mean some matches are won through little things that make a huge difference. I’m doing it now every morning, however, I wish I would’ve start visualizing at least 10 minutes a day early in my career. I’m seeing the difference it’s making now just mentally and physically in my performance.


PINDOX: Do you see yourself coaching someday?

– Similar to how Ritchie did for me, I see myself working a job possibly back in the NOLA area and coaching for Scorpion Wrestling Club. Not sure if I will have the time to commit to a high school, however I just want to help everybody from all ages and levels for free just like the SWC coaches did for me. I feel a huge barrier to coaching is that some coaches are over priced and will charge a tremendous amount of money which can leave kids not getting the consistency of training they need. My goal would be to mold great human beings and wrestlers. I want them to succeed in the classroom and be great people, wrestling success will come naturally through consistency.

PINDOX: What is your best wrestling memory/accomplishment? How hard did you work?

-My best wrestling memory was probably winning my quarterfinals my senior year knowing that I’m going to be on the podium after four years of falling short and not even coming close. That feeling has not been felt in a long time and that summer being exposed to high-level wrestling helped me tremendously working a job, wrestling numerous hours a week, and lifting a lot of weights around the time. I learned a lot about myself and I love how you get what you put in the sport of wrestling.

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

-I usually wrestled all year. I really had nothing else to do after school, maybe work twice a week occasionally, so I would practice, coach, and compete when I could. Just making the best of my time.

PINDOX: What other sports did you play?

-When I was a kid, I used to play football however, I kind of lost interest realizing that I wanted to control my own destiny. That’s what wrestling allowed me to do. Occasionally I will do jujitsu at NOLA MMA, but besides that just grappling. Maybe MMA in the future? No one knows haha!

PINDOX: What are your favorite sports teams?

-My favorite sports teams are the Loras Duhawks, New Orleans Saints, and New Orleans Pelicans. Fun fact I live down the street from the Saints/Pelicans training center.

PINDOX: What are your hobbies?

-My hobbies will often include reading, listening to music, watching movies, and hiking occasionally. I just enjoy going outside and especially in Iowa with the snow it’s amazing because we never got snow in Louisiana. I also do enjoy comedy as sometimes the team considers me a very funny person haha!


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

-Wrestling taught me humility, how to handle failure, how to handle success, and staying healthy. Wrestling taught me that you can control the controllables in what you do day in and day out. It gave me the discipline needed to get stuff done such as schoolwork, workouts, and even work situations that I don’t feel like doing. I learned that you’re feelings are irrelevant and you have to get stuff done. Wrestling also taught me to give back to the next generation just like the generation before me helped me. Lastly wrestling taught me that hard work, boy oh boy, hard work sure does pay off!

PINDOX: Any advice for upcoming wrestlers?

-Don’t cut a lot of weight especially when you’re young. Focus on developing and loving the sport. Take it day by day and know that in God’s perfect timing, things will work for the best. Don’t worry about rankings, just focus on what you can control.

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

-Shoutout to Coach Carlos Bertot (Veteran), John Kent (Greco), Patrick Ritchie (UNK), KeVon Powell (Ohio U), Jeren Glosser (IOWA) , TJ Miller (Loras), Cody Alesch (Wartburg), Jerry Crump, Ryan Kline, Nick Micheal (Wartburg), my team at Loras and anyone I’ve been teammates with. I love every single one of you!

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

-So after practice the team at Loras went out to eat breakfast. I got my pancakes and I proceeded to put syrup and ketchup on my pancakes. The team was in shock and they joked about it pretty good, but in my book it tasted pretty great haha!

Fun Fact: I was the first college wrestler from EJ in over 30 years since Craig Seals and Jim Ravannack.


PinDox Profile: Justin Koethe; IC West HS ‘12/Wisconsin/Grand View University

I remember in 2012, at 3A 160, the overwhelming favorite to win that bracket (according to people from Eastern Iowa anyways) was a fellow Senior named Justin Koethe. However, Koethe was beaten by a guy from SW Iowa who had his foot on the accelerator of his own HS career named Zeb Wahle from Lewis Central (who I’ve got one of these in the works for)… Wahle was a placer the year before and went on to have an incredibly decorated career at the D2 level. He beat Koethe in a hard-fought, 3-2 nail-biter in the state finals which was their second meeting of the season, the first one going in Koethe’s favor. Anyways, Justin Koethe seemed to be the unanimous pick to win that match to Eastern Iowans who weren’t familiar with Zeb Wahle and for good reason. The guy placed 4th, 3rd and 3rd the years leading to his Senior season, not to mention, he won a variety of big tournaments during the off-season including Cadet Freestyle Nationals, Preseason Nationals, The Intermat JJ Classic, ASICS FILA Junior Nationals (Greco), Northern Plains Regionals, State Freestyle/Greco, placed at Fargo Nationals in both styles, etc as a Junior… the list goes on. The kid brought home an incredible amount of hardware. He’s one of the best Freestyle and Greco wrestlers this state has EVER produced. Not to mention, he was a Fargo National runner-up in Greco and 3rd place in Freestyle as a Senior after the finals match with Wahle took place. The guy finished with just a phenomenal HS wrestling resume with the only thing missing being a state title.

The vibe around Justin Koethe, amongst Eastern Iowan wrestlers anyways, was that he was so explosive, intense and well, good, that he was intimidating. I remember guys around that age group being straight-up fearful of approaching him off the mat. I can’t imagine what guys were feeling when they went on the mat with him. There was absolutely an element of fear associated with him and in my opinion, the officials may have caught on to this to an extent for every once in a while, there seemed to be one who would call a match with Koethe a magnifying glass as if they were expecting fireworks. Get this…he was sent to the consolation side of the bracket as BOTH a Sophomore and Junior due to being called for an illegal slam. The 2nd one, I watched probably 100 times and I just can’t fathom how on earth he was called for that. It looked like the common “blast double” to me. I mean, if that was a slam, I can’t count the amount of times I got away with uncalled slams of my own when I wrestled. It should be noted that I am not a certified official and therefore, my opinion doesn’t mean much regarding this topic, but this call came off as so bad to me that it almost seemed as if the official was waiting to call it… as if it were anticipated that something vaguely resembling a slam would occur. I’ve seen guys get away with “slams” that were 5X as bad as the one he was DQ’d for as a Junior without being disqualified. I don’t know if anyone could ever convince me that the “slam” that was called that year should have been called a slam and if it WAS technically a slam according to the rule book, then I hope that rule changes. Moving along, Koethe went on a rampage on the consolation side of the bracket to lock up 3rd place both years that he got called for an illegal slam. He seemingly went out there with so much anger from the way things went on the front side of the bracket those years that he just dismantled some really good wrestlers as if it were easy. It was impressive. In fact, he recorded the 2nd fastest fall in the history of the Iowa HS State Wrestling tournament in 2010 when he recorded a :07 pin after being called for his first state tournament slam. He had several quick pins at state. As a Senior, to reach the finals, he recorded falls in :11 seconds, :44 seconds and 2:18. It took him a whopping 3 minutes and 15 seconds total to dispose of his opponents and make the state finals as a Senior. He was something else. The :11 pin is tied for the 7th fastest fall in state tournament history. Incredible to be in the top 10 twice.

Justin Koethe is one of the best guys ever to not win a state title. No question about it.  Incredibly fun for fans to watch, yet a straight-up nightmare for guys to compete against. A Mark Reiland and I BELIEVE Pablo Ubasa product.

Justin went on to wrestle at The University Of Wisconsin for a bit before transferring to Grand View and won some nice matches and a couple Open Tournaments before injuries derailed his career. I know he made a comeback at Grand View as recently as last year and has spent some time coaching girls wrestling at Iowa City West and by all accounts has done a great job there.

Koethe comes from one of the most “sneaky good” wrestling last names in the history of Iowa HS wrestling. His cousin, Marshall Koethe wrestled for Akron-Westfield and was a 4X placer/3X finalist/2X state champion. Justin has been quoted as referring to Marshall’s success as being an inspiration for him to start wrestling as a kid. Also, his cousins Jake and Jack Koethe were standouts for Valley, West Des Moines. Jack placed 3 times and qualified 4. Jake won state one year and made the finals at least 2-3 times total, placing in the top 3 at state every year he was in HS. The Koethe’s are one of my absolute favorite wrestling families ever.


2009 3A 135

1. Jake Ballweg, Jr., Waverly-Shell Rock

2. Zach Witte, Fr., Cedar Rapids Prairie

3. Elijah Sullivan, So., CB Lewis Central

4. Justin Koethe, Fr., Iowa City West

5. Josh Pirtle, Sr., Indianola

6. Bill Borseth, Sr., Southeast Polk

7. Anthony Olalde, Sr., Clinton

8. Gustavo Martinez, Jr., Marshalltown

2010 3A 152
1st: Michael Kelly, Cedar Falls SR 36- 1
2nd: Joey Trizzino, Bettendorf SR 36- 3
3rd: Justin Koethe, Iowa City West SO 31- 2
4th: Andrew Cartwright, Fort Madison SR 36- 7
5th: Ben Swalla, Ames JR 39- 6
6th: Alex Meyer, Southeast Polk SO 33- 10
7th: Peyton Wagner, Prairie Cedar Rapids SO 28- 8
8th: Ryan Sheldon, Cedar Rapids Kennedy JR 33- 13

2011 3A 160
1st: Taylor Berger, Carroll SR 40- 0
2nd: Ethan Lara, Sioux City East JR 22- 5
3rd: Justin Koethe, Iowa City West JR 44- 3
4th: Dominic Chase, Bettendorf SR 29- 5
5th: Alex Meyer, Southeast Polk JR 38- 5
6th: Colbey Vance, Pleasant Valley JR 47- 8
7th: KC Groomes, Cedar Falls SR 35- 10
8th: Klint Forristall, Lewis Central SR 43- 11

2012 3A 160
1st: Zeb Wahle of Lewis Central 50-2, Sr.
2nd: Justin Koethe of Iowa City, West 53-2, Sr.
3rd: Brady Letney of Pleasant Valley 39-14, So
4th: Nick Hagedorn of Cedar Falls 19-9, Jr
5th: Max Krieger of Mason City 43-7, Sr.
6th: Clint Underwood of Valley, West Des Moines 39-13, Sr.
7th: Isaiah Patton of Dowling Catholic, West Des Moines 24-22, Fr.
8th: Duke Egli of Fort Dodge 33-9, Jr.


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PinDox Profile: Mick Harding; Emmetsburg HS ‘85/SD State

PinDox Profile: Mick Harding; Emmetsburg HS ‘85/SD State

After posting the 1985 Lakes Conference Champions picture, a comment posted by Mick Harding caught my eye:

MICK HARDING: “All state champions or multiple in front row (except me though rated #1, and that sucks).”

Breaks my heart… I understand those thoughts/feelings, in fact, a sizable portion of the motivation for starting this site can be connected to my brother Justin and I trying to accept/cope with our own shortcomings in wrestling after decades. So naturally, after reading this comment, I decided to research how close Mick was to achieving his goal of winning state in HS…and holy cow, was he close.

Mick Harding was a 3X state placer for Emmetsburg, placing 6th at 2A 98 as a Sophomore in 1983, 3rd as a Junior in 1984 and 3rd as a Junior in 1985. On top of this, I know he won the Lakes Conference at least twice as a Junior and Senior, maybe more than twice. The Lakes Conference was no picnic back then… in the two pictures I’ve seen of the champions from that conference, the majority of the champions went on to win state.

Mick Harding made his first trip to state as a Sophomore in HS in 1983 at 2A 98. He had an unblemished record of 26-0 coming into the tournament. He won his first match via major decision when he defeated Pat Harris of Bellevue by the score of 11-0. This set up a quarterfinals match between he and fellow Sophomore, Scott Mangrich of Don Bosco. It appears as if Mangrich defeated Harding 6-0 in OT. Mangrich went on to win the bracket. Since Mangrich made the finals, Harding was allowed to wrestle back and won his first consolation match before falling to Brett Sweeney of Osage and Eric Hansen of Perry to finish 6th place. Not a bad showing for his first trip to state, but considering how close he was to defeating the guy who won the bracket, he likely went home with a lot of “what if’s” on his mind. He finished his Sophomore season with a record of 28-3.

As a Junior, Harding came in to the state tournament with a record of 26-1 and drew an upcoming talent from the opposite side of the state (E) as him named Randy Vogel, a Freshman from Camanche who had a record of 26-2 coming in. Harding beat Vogel 10-5 in this match and followed this up with a 6-4 win in the quarterfinals over future state finalist/HOF coach, Brent Jennings of Clarinda who was 28-0 himself coming in. Jennings would become a state finalist a year or two later and is currently in the HOF for his work coaching at Osage HS. It should be noted that both of Harding’s first two wins at this tournament were over guys who would later become state finalists. In the semifinals, Harding met up with eventual 3X state champion and future NCAA D1 National Champion, Jason Kelber of State Center-West Marshall. This task would be daunting for any wrestler at the tournament, for Kelber had already attained a reputation for being one of the best pound-for-pound wrestlers in the state. And Mick Harding fell just barely short to him, losing a 2-1 decision. Harding bounced back and defeated Lee Hilligas of Brooklyn, BGM and then defeated Scott Mangrich of Don Bosco for 3rd and 4th, avenging a quarterfinals loss he suffered to Mangrich the year before. 3 out of the 4 wins that Harding notched at state that year were to state finalists with one of them being a state champion. Mick finished the season 30-2.

Mick came into the state tournament at 2A 112 as a Senior sporting a 29-1 record and had the same first round matchup that he had the year before. Randy Vogel of Camanche, a Sophomore. As noted, Harding defeated Vogel 10-5 first round as a Junior, but Vogel flipped the script this year and won this match 7-6 in OT. Vogel ended up making the finals, so Harding was allowed to wrestle back and in doing so, he had to defeat a guy from Perry who was undefeated coming into the tournament named Jack Stewart just to reach the top 6. And he did it… and he followed this up with wins over Doug Meyer of Winterset and Steve Swenson of Humboldt to finish 3rd place. He finished the season 32-2.

Mick Harding was a 3X state placer in which the 3 losses that sent him to the consolation side of the bracket were decided by a one point match to Kelber and OT matches to Mangrich and Vogel. That’s how close he was. And two of those 3 guys (Mangrich and Kelber), Harding had beaten at the state tournament at one point or another. In Harding’s last 3 seasons, he had a combined regular season record of 81-2 and a total record of 90-7 in those last 3 years of HS. With all that noted, Mick Harding is up there with the best Iowa HS wrestlers to not win a state title. He was RIGHT THERE…

Mick Harding went on to wrestle D2 collegiately for South Dakota State University and sadly, a shoulder injury derailed his career… another reminder for wrestlers nowadays to be thankful for the advancements made over the years in surgical repair, for back then, if you suffered a severe injury to your knee, shoulder, etc., sometimes it meant the demise of your career.

Mick Harding… The man had an awesome wrestling career!

1983 2A 98

1. Scott Mangrich, So., Don Bosco
2. Jason Kelber, Fr., State Center-West Marshall
3. Mark Pogge, So., Tri-Center Neola
4. Brett Sweeney, So., Osage
5. Eric Hansen, So., Perry
6. Mick Harding, So., Emmetsburg

1984 2A 105

1. Jason Kelber, So., State
Center-West Marshall
2. John Ites, Sr., Iowa Falls
3. Mick Harding, Jr., Emmetsburg
4. Scott Mangrich, Jr., Don Bosco
5. Dan Sinnott, So., Albia
6. Lee Hilligas, Sr., Brooklyn-BGM

1985 2A 112

1 Terry Schmuecker, Benton, VH
2 Randy Vogel, Camanche
3 Mickey Harding, Emmetsburg
4 Steve Swenson, Humboldt
5 Bill Bollman, West Union-NF
6 Doug Meyer, Winterset


Remember The Wrestler: Manolis Galanakis, Nodaway Valley ‘00 (RIP)… Commentary Provided By His Brother, Mario and His Mother, Joni I know a lot of you know the Galanakis family out of Greenfield, Nodaway Valley! Parents, John and Joni as well as their children, Tony, Mario, Manoli, Maria, Gabe and Dino. They are a very well-liked family in the Iowa wrestling community. I’m sure a large percentage of wrestling fans in Iowa know and/or remember Mario Galanakis, a 2002 graduate from Nodaway Valley. Mario was a 4X placer/JUCO National Runner-Up and D1 National Qualifier for the Iowa Hawkeyes. He was one of the best of his era and undoubtedly a crowd favorite. He had a TON of fans… some who didn’t even know him, just liked watching him. He was a pretty big deal and interestingly enough, while he had a household name for many fans, for me, it took a long time to not think of Mario as “Manolis Galanakis’s brother.” That’s how big of an impression Manolis left on me the one time I ever encountered him. Manolis was Mario’s older brother. He and I wrestled once. He beat me in the consolation semis at USA State as a third grader. I remember my match with him vividly. He was a total HAMMER who had a response for everything I threw at him and it was just impossible to score points on him. He beat me by a few points and I remember thinking to myself while walking off the mat, “well that kid is a future star.” And to my confusion, I never saw him again after that. I never even saw or heard the last name, “Galanakis” again until 3-4 years later when Mario beat one of the best guys in our youth club, Chris Johnson (WB-ND) at AAU state. He reminded me a lot of his brother.  INSANELY tough to score on and equipped with an even more dangerous, not to mention, lightning-quick offense in his arsenal. Just an incredible wrestler similar to how I remember Manolis. It was obvious that “Manolis Galanakis’s brother” had a bright future and I was right about that. And Manolis played a huge role in Mario’s successes on and off the mat. Here is what Mario had to say in an interview for an “Inside The Rivalry” article I wrote a couple years ago about growing up wrestling with Manolis:

MARIO GALANAKIS: I wrestled for the first time when I was four years old. My older brother, Manolis started doing it when he was five and I was immediately on board. My dad didn’t know anything about the sport at first so it was always my mom waking us up at five am traveling to all the local little kids meets. A few years went by and Manolis and I were making a name for ourselves around the area. My dad caught the wrestling bug and started making my mom stay at home so he could take us. We were both very successful at a young age. We both made it to state every year. The best I ever got was second at state, losing to Trent Paulson. Manolis always did really good at state tournaments too. Having my brother, Manolis as someone to look up to and us two always trying to out-do one another is something that I believe made us both very good! We were both very competitive with each other, but always the biggest fans of each other. We wanted each other to win every bit as much as we wanted ourselves to win. He made me tougher and had some funny tactics in making me that way, but they worked! I remember if he thought I wasn’t working hard enough, he’d call me “Marsha,” and that’s all it took for me to get mad, shape up and start training like a mad man.

So what was it that for the Galanakis boys to fall in love with wrestling to the point where it became literally a part of their identity? Obviously, their father must have wrestled, so he got his kids to do it, right?! WRONG… The Galanakis boys got started with the encouragement of their mother, Joni. This is what Joni had to say about raising her boys as wrestlers:

JONI GALANAKIS: I was introduced to wrestling at a young age by my sister Vickie. She was married to a man named Doug Abel and would have to drag me to wrestling meets if she wanted to go because my mom and dad were strict. Anyways, Mike Abel, Doug’s younger brother, was the most awesome kid to watch out there. He was the most loving, kind-hearted person I knew. Their brother, Jeff wrestled too, but Mike was the best on and off the mat!! God rest his soul, Mike passed in a freak sledding accident. So when I had 5 boys, because of how much I loved watching Mike Abel wrestle along with the good-hearted people wrestling produces, I decided to introduce my boys to wrestling. And immediately, Mario and Manolis loved it. And they impressed people right away. My brother in law,  Danny Hayes said Manolis was a natural. He was really good and the sky was the limit for him. Anyways, that’s how I started loving wrestling and because of me liking it, that’s how the Galanakis wrestling tradition started…and it all gets traced back to Mike Abel.

If it’s one thing that Joni’s brother-in-law, Danny Hayes knows more about than almost everyone, it’s wrestling. So for him to refer to Manolis Galanakis as a natural, that’s a huge compliment coming from him. I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought that.

DAN HAYES: I saw Manolis make a future 2X state champion/NCAA D1 Runner-Up come to tears many times when they were kids!

So when I started seeing Mario make waves at the youth state level, every year I would look around for Manolis and I never saw him. I figured that he just quit… A lot of good kids do. Sadly, Manolis‘s journey was much more tragic than that. When I was a Sophomore in HS, one of Mario’s best friends at Nodaway Valley named Kirk Whipple moved to Mepo and became one of my own best friends. He filled me in on everything there is to know about Creston and Nodaway Valley wrestling. Naturally, one of the first questions I ever asked him was, “what ever happened to Manolis Galanakis? He was an awesome wrestler who just vanished.” When I asked that, Kirk’s facial expression indicated that I had just inquired about something that wasn’t good. He told me that Manolis had gotten into a terrible accident while he was in Greece and almost died. The accident was so bad that impacted what he was able to do physically and it also changed his personality and behavior due to the damage done to his brain.

JONI GALANAKIS: Manolis was in Greece working and he fell two stories off a building. He was hurt extremely bad. He was actually pronounced dead at one point and the doctors encouraged us to pull the plug and take him off life support, but I wouldn’t accept that. I made the decision to travel to Greece myself and I stayed with him in the hospital for 3 months. He ended up regaining consciousness so I brought him back to the USA. Manolis was so damaged from the accident, that he had to learn to walk, talk, pee, poop, etc. all over again.  He couldn’t feel pain, he didn’t know if something was cold or hot. He couldn’t cry. He couldn’t do a lot of the things he used to be able to do.  He did graduate with his class, though. He worked hard for that. The worst turning point in his recovery was when he went to a dentist and the guy put him on Vicodin. This ended up multiplying his problems and eventually led to his passing in 2003. He was 20 years old.

When Manolis passed away, Mario was competing in college and naturally, the loss was so catastrophic to him that he had to take a break from wrestling for a while.

MARIO GALANAKIS: I took a year off my second year, though, for my family endured a catastrophic loss. The week before regionals, my brother Manolis lost his life. He and I were close and had so many wrestling memories growing up, that it was hard to see a wrestling mat without thinking of him and realizing that this person, my brother, who meant the world to me…was gone. I had to take a break.

The wrestling world lost a good one when Manolis passed. If he hadn’t gotten into the accident, there is no telling how much hardware he would have brought home from wrestling events. He was so talented that the sky was genuinely the limit for him. And by all accounts, not only was he great on the mat, but he was a great person off the mat as well. Here is what his mother had to say about Manolis as both a person and a competitor:

JONI GALANAKIS: We called Manolis “ice cube.” He was a stubborn lil baby right off the bat, but when he got a little older, he did a U-turn. He was a skinny lil’ thing. When he was in jr. high,  I had to make him eat ice cream and steak and noodles to get UP to weight! He was the most loving, kind, thoughtful and caring lil boy you’d ever meet. He hated bullies. He would always stick up for any kid that was poorer, chubby, etc. We got called a lot from school because Manolis would always stick up for the less fortunate and get in trouble. It didn’t matter the bullies’ size,  Manolis would take em’ on and that started at a young age and it continued all the way until the end! Also, he loved racing four wheelers and family time, but wresting was his favorite! And let me tell you, there was NO MERCY on the mat when Manolis wrestled! Even if he had to wrestle a friend he wanted to be the best wrestler and he set high standards for himself. He was a very, very quick learner. He loved teaching Mario new moves and was alway eager to go to practice! He learned a lot from his uncle Danny Hayes. The boys started wrestling when they were 5 and 7 years old, which was when we owned a nightclub.  Sometimes I didn’t get off work til 3 am, which made for a long day when you had to drive 2-3 hrs to wrestle, but was sure worth the loss of sleep for me when I saw their lil faces light up on the mat. And big brother, Gabe didn’t mind. He loved watching them and cheering them on. And as for lil sis, Maria, she learned fast that she had to go and basically didn’t have a choice, but to like it. Manolis was not a good loser but he never threw a fit. He’d shake the hand of the kid and the other coach and then you wouldn’t see him for about a half hour after for he would just contemplate about why he lost. He loved to win and he loved to see his team and family win. He was always was there for Mario, coaching and screaming for him all the way to the end. Manolis got to wrestle in high school his freshman year before his accident and he didn’t do too bad! Teammates; Bill Brown, Tom Martin and Aaron Benton loved Manolis as they were seniors and loved his enthusiasm. Manolis was full of piss n’ vinegar and if you ask anyone to this day, they will say that Manolis was an awesome young man! Manolis was in 7th grade and probably weighed a tiny 65 lbs. Anyways, there was this kid that had to wrestle a girl and his weight was 170 and he refused to wrestle her. Then Manolis begged the coach to let him and the coach said, “Manolis your gonna get smashed!” Manolis bugged him until finally he gave in! Manolis put her in a Saturday night ride and that was it, she didn’t wrestle again! Lol, poor lil girl manolis was like, “I told ya, Coach!” 😆 😆😆

Manolis Galanakis… although his life was tragically cut short, the impact he made was felt by many and the positive influence he had on people in his short time on this earth will always remain…

MARIO GALANAKIS: The bond we had was as strong as a brother’s relationship can possibly be. He will always be one of the most important people in my life and I would not have been the wrestler I was if it weren’t for him or the man I am off the mat.

JONI GALANAKIS: Wrestling was extremely important Manolis. And he worked so hard at it! After his accident, he always said, “Mom, if something ever happens to me, I want my wrestling memories to not ever be forgotten! I’m sure Mike Abel and Manolis wrestle in heaven from time to time!

As a guy who competed against Manolis and remembers vividly how tough he was, I must say, it is an absolute honor to help keep Manolis’s legacy alive. He was a warrior!


PinDox Profile: Terry Cook; Spencer HS ‘84/Nebraska

Terry Cook; Spencer HS ‘84/Nebraska

Terry Cook has one of the most head-scratching, not to mention, borderline tragic Iowa HS wrestling careers that I’ve ever come across. And even with that being said, it was still a GREAT career that most wrestlers could only dream of putting together.

Ok, so Terry Cook was a 3X placer/2X runner-up who placed 2nd, 3rd and 2nd in that order. Now, since there are 4 years in HS, I am guessing that most of you are going to assume that those placings BEGIN his Sophomore year, but they don’t. They begin his Freshman year. He placed 2nd as a Freshman, 3rd as a Sophomore, 2nd as a Junior and…did not qualify as a Senior in 1984. Word is, he was injured right before districts his Senior year and couldn’t compete. This guy, considering some of the guys he defeated in his career as well as some of the accolades he reeled in, is one of the absolute best wrestlers to ever compete at the HS level in our state… One of the 🐐’s. And he just happened to have terrible luck with the injury bug right before the postseason of his Senior year in HS after 3 years of falling just short of winning state. I seriously can’t even wrap my head around how unlucky that is.

To start, get this stat… In Terry Cook’s first 3 years of HS wrestling (and maybe Senior year, I do not know), he didn’t have one single regular season loss. NOT ONE. Isn’t that incredible?!

Terry came into state as a Freshman with a 25-0 record at 3A 105 and defeated Mike Franken of IC West, Marty Hug of CB Thomas Jefferson and Mike Froeschle of Davenport Assumption to make the finals where he faced returning state champion, Mike DeBartolo, where he was defeated. Terry finished his first year of HS as a state runner-up with a 28-1 record. Not too shabby!

As a Sophomore in 1982, Terry qualified for state at 3A 112 lbs with a record of 20-0 and waltzed his way into the semifinals after defeating Justin Reinert of CR Jefferson and Greg Blount of Clinton. In the semis he met up with a phenom out of Waterloo West named Tim Klinghammer. Klinghammer had won state in 1980, but transferred schools and had to sit out the 1981 season. Therefore he was going for his 2nd state title in 1982, but likely should have been going for his 3rd if it weren’t for the transfer rules. Some of the guys who have described Klinghammer as one of the best ever include greats; Jim Gibbons (Ames/Iowa State), Mike VanArsdale (Waterloo West/Iowa State), Mike Schwab (Osage/UNI) and Chuck Yagla (Waterloo Columbus/Iowa). He defeated Terry Cook 8-1, it appears. Cook fought back and won two nice matches over Larry Shepherd of Ottumwa and Craig Cervantes to place 3rd. He finished the season 24-1. His career record at this point stood at 52-2 with both losses coming to a pair of 2X state champions at the state tournament.

Terry came into the state tournament as a Junior with another undefeated record. His record was 21-0-1 (1 tie) coming in to the tournament that year and prior to the finals, he had his most impressive run at the tournament to date. First round he pinned Chris Young of Dubuque Senior. This set up an epic showdown between Terry and returning 2X state champion and Junior Freestyle National Champion, Cory Mills of Waterloo East who was just a Junior at the time. How did this go?! Terry defeated Cory by the score of 4-1… squashing Cory’s hopes of becoming a 4X state champion. Terry still had his work cut out for him, however, for he had to get by the guy he defeated for 3rd and 4th at state the year before, which was Craig Cervantes of Bettendorf. Craig was also in that upper tier with the rest of these guys and if he didn’t win against someone, he at least kept it close. And it was no different against Terry Cook, for Terry advanced to the finals for the 2nd time in his career after defeating Cervantes 9-6. This set up a finals matchup that became one of the darkest, saddest moments of Iowa HS State Wrestling history. He faced returning state runner-up Junior, Jeff Gibbons of Ames HS. Both guys were under an immense amount of pressure to win this match. For Terry, he had been to state twice already and had only lost one match in each tournament, placing 2nd in one of those years and it was a long time coming for him. For Jeff, he was the youngest of 4 brothers who just happened to be the most decorated wrestling family to come out of our state at the time, with all 3 of his brothers winning state at least once and the oldest (Jim) winning 3 and the 3rd son (Joe) being a 4X state champion. And Jeff was a Junior that year and still working on his first title in hopes of not becoming the only Gibbons brother to not win a state championship. The pressure was on Jeff Gibbons before he began his HS career, simply because he was a Gibbons. And the match between Terry and Jeff was a nail-biter all the way until literally the last microseconds of the match. Jeff held a 4-3 lead and they were on their feet with time winding down, when Terry hit a shot that put Jeff to his butt and it appeared that Terry had secured the takedown just barely before the time ran out… When the whistle sounded, Terry celebrated, for he thought he had just won his first state title against a guy from one of the state’s best ever wrestling families in heroic fashion. However…there was a catch… right when Terry took the shot, the official ran to get into position to make the correct call and when he ran, he got away from the towel-boy, who was trying to “bop” him to indicate the time being out. So with that said, the towel-boy was not able to “bop” the referee until a couple-few seconds after time had run out. The question was, “did time run out before or after Terry covered Jeff’s hips for the potential takedown?” The official made the decision that time had run out and Jeff was declared the winner. The entire place erupted. I’m sure some were cheering, but it was mostly boos. Things got ugly when they received their awards. When the medal was placed around Jeff’s neck and he was announced as the 1983 3A 119 state champion, a moment that should have been the best moment of his life considering he had just joined his 3 older brothers as a state champion, was sabotaged by one of the loudest eruptions of boos that ever went through Vets. Jeff Gibbons went from being on “cloud-9” a couple minutes before while he was being interviewed by IPTV to appearing utterly heartbroken the moment he received his gold medal due to the booing that polluted the place. And there was Terrr Cook standing next to him, obviously looking devastated himself…He was so heartbroken that all he could do was look at the ground while standing on the podium. It’s a difficult thing to watch and I hope that anyone there who booed Jeff thought about it some more after the fact and regretted it. Because it was ugly. One of, if not the darkest moment for the Iowa HS State wrestling tournament ever. And before anyone starts thinking that I am slamming Spencer wrestling fans, I want to make it clear that I am not, for I don’t believe they should be blamed for this. The Spencer wrestling community is a good one from my personal experiences. I had a couple college teammates from Spencer. GREAT people! Were there Spencer wrestling fans who voiced their displeasure with the outcome? Well yeah, I assume so.  But the booing that took place in that moment was too loud to be just the Spencer wrestling fan base. It sounded as if it was coming from every section of the auditorium.  My guess is that given Jeff’s last name, the crowd had considered Jeff the heavy favorite to win the match considering the Gibbons brothers had a combined record of something like 34-1 at the state tournament, coming into that state finals match. People love to witness an upset and will root for the underdog to pull one off, regardless of whether or not they know the guys competing or not. So I think that is part of the reason why the crowd seemed emotionally invested in Terry Cook. Another reason could be because of his older brothers achieving success for the Iowa State Cyclones at a time where Iowa Hawkeye wrestling was on a steep incline in terms of popularity. So a lot of Hawkeye fans could have been upset with the outcome. Whatever the case, it sure was unfortunate.

Video to that match:

Terry Cook had some great moments in the off-season/Freestyle scene as well. Most notably, he won the Fort Madison Tri-State Freestyle Tournament, which was a qualifier for Nationals and he defeated phenom, Steve Knight from Clinton HS to do it. Terry was named the Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament…a tournament that included the likes of Mark Schwab, Mark Sindlinger, Terry Schmuecker, Royce Alger, Tim Krieger, Kirk Azinger, etc. just to name a few.

Terry Cook went on to wrestle for the University of Nebraska where he was a letter-winner and put together a very respectable collegiate career. While there, everything I come across seems to indicate that he continued to fight the injury bug.

Terry Cook… he’s one of the all-time greats!


Remember The Wrestler: Phillip Roehlk, Durant HS ‘82

Phillip Roehlk was a very exciting, explosive wrestle who was fun to watch, for he wrestled at an upper-weight and could just launch his opponents who weighed 200 pounds plus. He came from a family of unbelievably great athletes and from a school with fantastic tradition. He was a big part of a Durant wrestling squad that made an incredible run in the wrestling scene back in the 70’s and 80’s… A run that was so impressive, that it is not uncommon to hear about them decades later. And to say that Phillip played an instrumental role in this squad is an understatement, for he was a state champ, so he was obviously a huge contributor to the accolades those Durant teams reached in his day. 

Here is the wrestling journey of Phillip Roehlk! 



PINDOX: Where did you wrestle in HS?

Phillip Roehlk: Durant HS. 1982 graduate.


PINDOX: When did you start wrestling?

PR: started about 3rd grade.


PINDOX:  What other sports did you play?

PR: I was involved in football, track and baseball.


PINDOX: Did you have any other family members who wrestled?

PR: My brother John was a 1979 grad who got 5th place at state.  He was also the 1983 Iowa football captain and is in the Arena Football Hall of Fame. My Brother Tony as well. He was a 1985 grad who beat State Champion Brett Stoneking in a dual meet,  but he couldn’t hold the weight as a freshman. He burned out and came back to wrestle as a senior.

PINDOX: Did wrestling come natural for you? How did you do in youth wrestling?

PR: I got 2nd at Bettendorf as an 8th grader, at least I didn’t go swimming! If you lost, you would go swimming, so it was fun anyway. I also got 1st at the Durant Junior Classic in 8th grade.


PINDOX: How did you do in HS wrestling?

PR: Freshman year was average, sophomore year I was JV until conference. Nobody wanted to wrestle HWT, so I was able to get 3rd at conference and 3rd at sectionals. Junior year was as a disappointment. I was rated 6th at HWT and choked in sectionals (3rd). Senior year I was State Champ.

PINDOX: What were some of the adverse situations you faced in wrestling?

PR: My challenges, just getting by. I never had to cut weight so I was lucky.


PINDOX: How would you describe your wrestling style?

PR: I was a thrower, no technical skills at all.


PINDOX:  Who were some of your most influential coaches?

PR: Besides Coach Rogers, I had Coaches Busby, Ronquillo and Reynolds.


PINDOX: Was your team competitive?

PR: They were very competitive. The teams were 33-3 in dual meets, but we always seemed to burn out at sectionals.

PINDOX: Who were some of your favorite wrestlers to watch?

PR: My brother Jon was always fun to watch, he was just a beast, no wrestling technique at all, but he was a pit bull going after a poodle.


PINDOX: Who is the Iowa HS wrestling GOAT?

PR: Greg Randall was in my class, but the last 2 years his brother Steve dominated.



Remember The Wrestler: Marcos Hayes; Waterloo East

Marcos Hayes… This man has had quite the journey…not only with wrestling, but life in general. However, as we all know, wrestling has a knack for impacting several aspects of life, and this claim is vibrantly reflected when reading the journey of Marcos Hayes. Marcos was born and raised in the traditional wrestling powerhouse of Waterloo, IA and he was a part of some of the most widely respected teams of his era (late 70’s/1980). Since his days of competing as a HS wrestler, Marcos Hayes has found success in the club wrestling scene in Texas, has fought in various Judo/Jiu Jitsu competitions, has coached HS wrestling, has taught martial arts, has trained stuntmen and stuntwomen for tv shows/movies and most importantly, has been a family man. And through it all, he never forgot the things that enabled him to achieve the accolades he has in life…most notably, The Waterloo East wrestling community. 

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

– Logan jr high and East Waterloo. Wrestled for the University of Texas “club” in Austin, Texas.


PINDOX: What year did you graduate?

-Never graduated College. Graduated Waterloo East in 1980.


PINDOX: Who or what encouraged you to give wrestling a try?

-Both of my brothers wrestled, had to learn to wrestle to survive life with them. Grew up in Dan Gables home town.

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

-My older brother Jeff Kay was better than me, he wrestled at East as well.


PINDOX: What were your youth results?

– In Junior high- (9th grade I was undefeated. In 10 grade I made varisty at East Waterloo. In 11th grade, I went 11-6 ( this was when there were very few tournaments (thank god) I was ranked 6th in the state I believe in my junior year.


PINDOX: Any rivals there?

– Well, the top guy at my weight Was David Morkel from west Waterloo. He was something like 25 – 0 with all pins I believe, He beat me 11-6.


PINDOX: What was your record in HS?

– Don’t remember total record.


PINDOX: How did you place at state every year?

– Never went to state, the year I was ranked I injured my knee and lost at regionals to a guy I beat easily in the dual meet.


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

– The most challenging part of wrestling was always the weight cut. Back then, there was no supervision, only pure starvation and desire to make weight and make your competitor pay. In my junior year I would weigh around 155 on a Tuesday and on a Friday morning would make 138
How would you describe your wrestling style? Pure strength for 6 minutes LOL.

PINDOX: Who was your most influential coach?

– So many coaches. Obie Sadler, Mr. Harris, Punchy Sallis, the boys club coaches and all of the older wrestlers who would come to practice to share their knowledge.


PINDOX: Was your team competitive in HS/college?

– My team was competitive but do not remember the record.


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

– Dan Gable.


PINDOX: Who would you consider the GOAT Iowa HS wrestler?

– Dan Gable, Barry Davis are there any wrestlers you’ve seen, past or present that you would compare your style to? Nowadays, I am a mix of power and tenacity of an Iowa wrestler with John Smith slickness.


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

– Joe Hatchett versus Dan Gabel or Lee Kemp vs. Joe Hatchett.


PINDOX: Who are some Iowa HS wrestling guys from your era that you have an immense amount of respect for?

– Joe Hatchet, Kirk Salis, Tony Hughes, Randy Creighton and more.

PINDOX: Who are your favorite current wrestlers?

– David Taylor, Jorden Burroughs, Spencer Lee.


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

– We had 45’s we would always play “Grooveline” by Heatwave or “Hollywood Swinging” by Kool and the Gang or “Always and Forever” by Heatwave.

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

-Endurance and diet training!


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

– These were wrestlers in my city. Joe Gibbons, David Morkel. John Diagicomo, Tony Hughes, Kirk Sallis.Tim Klinghammer, Ted Keys, Wendel Leflore, Wayne Love. Sydney Simpson, Denny Boy, Bob C. and More.


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

– Wrestling was seasonal.


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

– They would beat them Im sure. In Waterloo there were/are world class wrestlers everywhere. Tim Klinghammer, Stuart Carter, Kirk Salis, Tony Hughes, Monty Sproles, Joe Hatchett, Jim Gibbens, Dan Gable, Chuck Yagle, the Morkel Brothers, Kyven Gadson is from my highschool, Johnny Galloway Jr. wrestled at my High school.


PINDOX: Did you wrestle after high school?

– I continued to wrestle in Texas. I won the Texas takedown tournament 5 years in a row. I won the Texas collegites at 158 pounds. I’ve won Judo tournaments and several martial art matches.

PINDOX: What other sports did you play?

– I played football until 12th grade. I quit football to start my own gymnastics team. I placed 6th in the state my first year on the rings.

PINDOX: What are your hobbies other than wrestling?

– Martial arts.


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

– I taught wrestling for over 25 years here in Austin Texas. I was a high school coach for 2 years. I love to give back to the sport.


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

– I used my wrestling experience to assist me in a career as a professional stuntman for the past 30 years. The discipline you learn as a wrestler prepares you for the Kaos of life.


PINDOX: What do you do now?

– I teach private martial arts and seminars realted to takedowns for martial artist. Mainly for people training in Ju Jitsu. I just finished training an actress for stunt fighting in a new TV series. I am a licensed real estate inspector in Texas. Also, I’m a grandfather (this is the best thing).


PINDOX: Any advice for upcoming wrestlers?

– Endurance training, Discipline, and diet.

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

– Would love to I am at 155  Would you like to give a shoutout to anyone you wrestled with, against, coached, etc.? Shout out to my teammates, Ted Keys, Mark Loftus, Wendal Leflore, Jeff Ott, Ricky Ceaser, Rusty Allen, Jimmy Jewel, Joe Hatchet, Woody Rogers, Randy Finger, Punchy Sallis, Kirk Sallis.


PINDOX: Funny/interesting stories?

– One time, I went to West Waterloo High school to watch a dual meet, Barry Davis was wrestling, He was in such incredible shape he wore his opponent out, and at the start of the 3rd period the guy didn’t know where he was, Barry Davis Slapped him and pulled him to the center position. I thought I hope I never wrestle that guy!


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