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This will be a new series. What I am going to do is in every one of these, I will select 5 random 3X state champions and chronicle, to the best of my knowledge, what happened to them in the one year that they did not win state… I hope to cover every one of them by the time that I’m through unless I have a pretty good idea that a person doesn’t want to be reminded of it.

 

Brock Rathbun, Center Point-Urbana, 2016:

Brock won 3 titles as a Sophomore, Junior and Senior.  He placed 2nd as a Freshman to Junior, Patrick Woods of Manchester-West Delaware. Woods pinned Rathbun fairly quickly in that match, but Rathbun proved the next year as a Sophomore that not only did he belong in the finals, but he belonged in there with Woods, for he defeated him 1-2 times during the season and defeated him again in the quarterfinals at state as a Sophomore on his way to winning his 1st state championship.

 

Ryan Leisure, Clear Lake, 2017:

Ryan won 3 titles as a Sophomore, Junior and Senior and did so in rather dominant fashion.  The closest he got to losing at state in his last 3 years was in his finals match his Junior year against Wyatt Thompson from Creston.  In that match, Leisure infamously spladled Thompson in OT and pinned him.  Leisure was a funny dude and had epic celebrations. I miss having him around.  Oh yeah, the only time he didn’t win state was his Freshman year.  He finished 2nd to Brock Rathbun that year.

 

 

Ryan Morningstar, Lisbon, 2005:

Morningstar won 3 titles as a Sophomore, Junior and Senior. Out of everyone that I have written about or covered, he seems to be the biggest fan-favorite of his age group. Everyone around his age and younger seems to really look up to him and/or considered him to be an inspiration for their own careers.  His dad, Scott Morningstar won 4 state titles. How crazy is that? A father and son combo with 7 total state championships.  Nuts!  The only year Morningstar did not win state was his Freshman year in which he was in that bracket that Senior Mario Galanakis was the favorite to win, but was upset by Freshman, Chad Beatty.  Morningstar was defeated by Galanakis for 3rd and 4th that year. I want to say that it was Justin Bohlke from Kingsley-Pierson who put him on the backside, but I could be wrong.  Bohlke won that bracket that year, though.

 

 

Travis Paulson, Lewis Central, 2002: 

Travis is one half of the infamous Paulson twins, the other one being Trent. Travis won state as a Freshman, Junior and Senior.  He defeated the defending state champion, Brian Hessenius from Le Mars to win his first state title as a Freshman, which was a huge feat.  The only year he didn’t win state was his Sophomore year in which he placed 5th, I believe. I don’t recall who beat him in the consolation semifinals, but I know that the guy to put him on the back side was Cory Connell from IC High who defeated Travis by a score of 1-0.

 

 

Cullan Schriever, Mason City, 2020:

Cullan is one of the most technically sound wrestlers to ever come through the state of Iowa, IMO. One of the greatest to grace the mat in our state.  He won state titles as a Freshman, Sophomore and Senior.  He beat Drake Ayala from Fort Dodge in the finals his Sophomore season and if time sorts things the way I believe they will, that will go down as one of the best combinations of talent when you combine state champs with their runner-up counterparts.  Cullan was injured in the semifinals at state his Junior season and had to settle for 6th place.  I consider him to be as good as anyone who has ever wrestled in this state.

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I can be a pretty creative and imaginative guy for the most part, I think. With that said, I can list about 576 billion things that would be classified as a more pleasurable experience than wrestling Keith Pearl. That’s not because I am a creative and imaginative guy… it’s because there literally are AT LEAST 576 billion things that are more pleasant than wrestling against Keith Pearl. It really doesn’t take much creativity to come up with 576 billion of those… Heck, I bet the lead singer from Nickelback could pull it off.  Just watch Keith Pearl wrestle for a few seconds and boom, 576 billion things, right away.  When it comes to Keith, I had to go above and beyond to prove my creative and imaginative ways.  Like designing a headgear to be custom-made for the sole purpose of preventing concussions in case I ever wrestled Pearl and did what I did best against him…got KO’d.  

Keith Pearl was a West Liberty Comet… A comet is defined as a celestial body moving about the sun, usually in a highly eccentric orbit, consisting of a central mass surrounded by an envelope of dust and gas that may form a tail that streams away from the sun. And when a comet collides with something, say a planet, there are physical consequences. To put it lightly, things get destroyed by the comet. Now, there have been several West Liberty wrestlers in which, the word, “comet” is fitting, but I don’t think it can be more fitting than it is for Keith Pearl. The guy was ruthless. He was like a battering ram. Or more fitting, he was like one of those animal rams that butt heads with each other in an effort to display and maintain dominance over the other lowly rams who can’t keep up.  You think I’m exaggerating? I’m not. I wrestled Keith Pearl 4 times my 7th grade year… I got knocked cold in 2 of those meetings. Seriously KO’d… it’s probably why I am such a spaz today! And how’d this happen? Well, it wasn’t because Keith was a dirty wrestler, at all… both times this happened as a result of of both of us shooting in on each other at precisely the same time and we bonked heads. The incredible force of impact was enough to literally knock me out cold…twice. What did it do to Pearl? Haha, well, in the depths of my subconscious, I am able to pull vague memories of laying down on the mat like a sloth and looking at the rafters while Keith continued to pace around the mat and pound his own chest as if he were ticked off that I deemed myself worthy enough to dare try to shoot a shot on him. I should have known that was a bad idea!  I think it’s fair to assume that our head collisions did not do any damage to him.  After the second KO, my mom designed and created a head gear with this ugly, rectangular pad on the front of it, just in case I bonked heads with Pearl again. It was a standard black head gear with the white straps and we attached the pad to 4 straps from the side, which held it in place. Man did that thing look stupid. And to cap it off, my mom drew a pawprint and the words, “go Joshua!” on the pad.  And to think that I felt like I looked cool back then…. Well, rest assured, there is nothing that looks less cool that wearing a dorky headgear like that with the words “go Joshua!” written on it and being pummeled mercilessly by Keith Pearl.  And the singlet I wore to match it? Yeah, take a look at the icing on the dork-cake:

No, this is not lingerie that I bought from Joe Exotic. This is the singlet I wore as a 7th grader. That singlet and a custom-made Keith Pearl knock out proof headgear with the words, “Go Joshua!” Inscribed on it is how I rolled that year. Thank goodness I eventually developed a grasp of what “cool” stuff actually looks like and started wearing KC Chiefs robes! Otherwise, I would still be a huge dork! I have Keith Pearl to thank for being cured of my dorkiness.

A leopard singlet, tights, that dorky headgear… I can’t blame anyone for wanting to kick my ass at that age.. In retrospect, if I were Keith, I would want to kick my ass too! I most certainly was asking for it!!!

And to think that I was probably the biggest thorn in Keith’s side when I was a 5th grader and he was a 6th grader. I swear, he and I wrestled at every single tournament that year and I won pretty big in every match. I pinned him in 10 seconds once. It was kind of flukey, but it happened. I didn’t know that I would pay dearly for it 2 years later. I don’t know if it was an experience thing, or what, but I only lost to two guys that year; Cory Connell and JJ Butteris, so I was having a decent season, but after every time I beat Pearl that year, I always secretly hoped that’d be the last meeting for I could tell that he was athletic as hell and had potential through the roof. And he became incredibly ticked off every time, so I knew the fire was there. , I knew the potential for him to become a badass was pretty high. I would have preferred just taking my 10 cheap 5th grade wins and outgrowing him in weight so I wouldn’t have to deal with him again, but I am not a guy who gets lucky like that. Keith and I were at the same weight every year until we graduated and as expected, the dude unleashed fury on me every time we wrestled.  Just relentless. Power-shot after power shot after power shot… just kept coming at you. And don’t get me started about how frustrating it was having to ride him. I have seen him make claims that he wasn’t good on bottom and I know he is going to write something like that in his responses, but don’t believe that jazz! My best position was on top… I am the only “old-timer” who is still in the Mepo Wrestling record books to this day and that is for Single-Season nearfalls and Career nearfalls.  Every other guy from my era who held a record at one point were replaced by one of the Mepo guys from the 2010-2018 era. I am the only one still hanging on and we had like 15 matches less than them per year! See for yourself:   http://www.meposchools.org/programs/athletics/wrestling/2013-2014-season-leaders-and-school-record-holders/.   Since that was updated the last time, Brennan Swaff has since broken both the single season and career pins records, but didn’t get near the good ol’ Nearfalls records! I held the career pins record for 2 years as well until my brother, Justin broke it.  I was very, very good at riding and putting people on their backs. And Keith was one of the most frustrating people in the world to attempt to ride or turn. He was really good on bottom. He would do this thing where he posted his head in the mat on bottom, got in the tripod position and just spiraled in one direction forcing you to follow him and then like it was nothing, would stop all of his momentum and switch directions, forcing you to follow in the other direction. You couldn’t try to execute any pinning combinations or turns for you were too focused on trying to stay behind him… and the moment you got frustrated, BOOM! He reversed you. It was maddening…

I used to secretly love watching some of my friends get lit up by him when we’d play against West Liberty in football. It gave me some sort of sense of comfort that my friends, who didn’t wrestle, could finally relate to my pain with this dude. He put on some of the best hits I ever witnessed in football.  

Nicer than hell, too. I used to broadcast Mepo wrestling/softball events through something called The Dogcast and liked running in to Keith, for I believe he did some of the same stuff for an opposing school.  Keith Pearl…absolutely one of the best wrestlers from my era.  

 

 

 

Who or what encouraged you to give wrestling a try?

Jeff Wiele convinced me to join the Moscow wrestling club with him back in 4th grade.

 

Do you have any family who wrestled or wrestles currently?

Sean Pearl is my cousin and wrestled through high school and then for 4 years at Coe.

 

What were your youth results? Any rivals there?

I struggled for most of my youth career. I didn’t really make any noise until my 8th grade year, where I took 2nd place at AAU state. I think this was the first year I qualified for the tournament. I know you (Josh Swafford) and I wrestled almost every weekend in youth tournaments, along with Ben Kinseth and Cory Connell. It’s crazy how you go to these tournaments all over the state and you run into the same kids and get paired up in the same bracket every weekend.

 

What was your record in HS?

I don’t’ remember exactly, but somewhere around 125-10.

 

How did you place at state every year?

Freshman year I couldn’t make the lineup in West Libery. Sophomore – 5th, Junior – 3rd, Senior – 1st.

 

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

I couldn’t make the team at 112 or 119, so I tried to cut down to 103 pounds as a freshman in high school and broke when I was 2 pounds away. It was the Friday night before our first tournament of the year, and I just mentally gave up. Not my proudest moment and I remember the day like it was yesterday.

 

How would you describe your wrestling style?

I was never a very flexible guy during my wrestling career, so it was pretty much in your face with doubles and a high crotch. I was much better on my feet than I was on the mat. I often struggled to get away from bottom.

 

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

I really only had one guy that I exchanged wins with, and it was my Junior year. I lost to Corey Wilkens in the district finals, but I got revenge in the 3/4th place match at state.

 

Who was your most influential coach?

I had a ton of support over the years from the likes of Curt Diemer, Morgan DePrenger, and Rob Minnick. I remember Dennis Malone helping me a ton when I was in 7th and 8th grade.

 

Was your team competitive in HS/college?

West Liberty was always competitive while I was in high school. We always had a full lineup and tough kids. Unfortunately, we could never bring home any state tournament hardware.

 

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

Right before I got to high school, West Liberty had a couple multiple time champs in Ben Scorpil and Nick Marin. They got their names on the board in the room and we all looked up to that.

 

How crazy were some of your AAU brackets growing up?

I look back at some of the brackets that you post and it’s crazy some of the names that were in there and what they ended up doing in high school/college.

 

How cool is it being one of the best ever wrestlers from such a great squad in the state of Iowa?

I don’t think it about it like that. Yes, I had a good run and we had some great teams. I look at what some of the kids are doing these days with 3 and 4 time champs and these crazy stacked teams, and just can’t believe the amount of talent they are producing.

 

Who would you consider the GOAT HS wrestler?

I spent some time with Dan Knight while coaching with Bettendorf. Read his story and tell me he’s not the greatest Iowa wrestler. He’s a great guy and I really enjoyed coaching alongside him and his staff.

 

Who are your favorite current wrestlers?

Spencer Lee is just incredible to watch right now. I’ll bet he is just heartbroken right now, not knowing if he’s going to be able to complete the 4X national champion quest he was on. Kyle Dake is another that I really like watching. Was hoping to see him win an Olympic title this year.

 

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

This is a tough one. I listened to whatever was on. We listened to a lot of Guns N’ Roses in the wrestling room during practices.

 

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

See me note above about my loss at districts as a junior. I remember just being so upset that I lost that match. I think I stormed off the mat and remember throwing open a door outside the gymnasium that nearly took out one of the fans walking by.

 

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

I didn’t always put wrestling as the top priority all year around. I did it during the season and then would participate in a couple camps in the summer.

 

What was your best wrestling memory or accomplishment?

The moment of winning that state title is hard to beat. I remember the fans from West Liberty right on top of the mat and counting down to the end of the match. I also got the opportunity to wrestle inside of carver as a redshirt sophomore in college. I got my butt kicked and realized what it was like to be on the other side of the Iowa fan base.

 

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

I remember a match my freshman year in college against Luke Becker from Minnesota. We were at an open tournament just outside of the twin cities and he kicked my butt. He went on to win an NCAA title, so that softened the pain a little.

 

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

As I got older, I did a little more, but still didn’t commit as much as I should/could have.

 

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

This is such a tough one. I watch some of the kids today and think they are far better than we were, but I don’t think you’ll ever win this argument.

 

Did you wrestle after high school?

Yes, I went on to Northern Iowa and wrestled there for 3 years.

 

What other sports did you play?

Football and track (both kept me in good shape and helped me grow as a wrestler). I think playing multiple sports in high school is a huge advantage to staying in shape, and keeping athletes focus on their bodies.

 

What are your favorite sports teams?

Hawks and Cubs.

 

Did wrestling help you with your football game?

I think they both complement each other well. Wrestling helped me with some of the basic tackling skills, and football and track kept me in great shape for the upcoming wrestling season.

 

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

I did a bunch of coaching when I first got out of college, but now that my two kids have gotten older, I am not able to give back like I used to. I really enjoyed seeing kids progress through the year and accomplishing their goals.

 

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

I read so many articles about successful athletes that were once wrestlers. The sport provides so much self-accountability. From cutting weight, lifting weights, going to practices, and pushing yourself to the limits, this is the ultimate independent sport.

 

What do you do now?

I have been working in manufacturing for 15 years as a manager. Currently working for HNI in Muscatine.

 

Are you still involved with wrestling?

Not as much as I would like to.

 

Any advice for upcoming wrestlers?

I cannot say enough about how much the sport has helped shape my career and personal life. As I reflect on my wrestling career, I like the saying ‘trust the process’. Thinking about all the practices, travel, tournaments, making weight, etc., all of this was necessary to get me to where I am at today.

 

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

I did one in West Liberty back in 2010-2011.

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This is part 2… There are at least 3-4 more of these to come so please calm down if you still haven’t seen someone you know of, BUT please feel free to come at me with any wrestlers you know who fit this criteria (won a HS or Collegiate national championship, but did not win state).

Eric Voelker, Dallas Center Grimes: State place winner 3rd at 185 in 1984… 2x NCAA National Champion. Won NCAA Nationals at 190 in 1987 and 1989 for Iowa State University. Eric placed 3rd at nationals in 1988.

 

Tom Meester, Central Lyon 2001: State runner-up in HS, 2x National Champion for Augustana at 184 from 2004-2005.

 

Heath Ropp, Mid Prairie: Placed 3rd as a senior in HS, National Champion for Wartburg at 125 in 2003.

 

Zac Weiglein, New Hampton: State placer in HS, 2x National Champion for Wartburg at 125 from 1999-2000.

 

Nick Ackerman, Colfax-Mingo: Placed 6th in HS in 1997 at 152, National Champion for Simpson at 174. Winner of the Hodge Trophy in 2001.

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L-R: Cole Christensen, Brett Christensen, Tate Christensen, Chase Weller and Garrett Christensen. PLEASE CORRECT ME IF I’M WRONG ON THAT

 

I have never met Brett Christensen. I have certainly heard of him, though. One of those Lenox hammers. He hit my radar when he wrestled in the 2002 state finals at 1A HWT. His finals match was against returning state champ from Lisbon, Ryan Fuller. Brett gave Fuller a close match in which Fuller won via escape in double-OT.  This match always stuck out to me for a few reasons: 1.) I think that was the second year in a row that Fuller won 1-0 in the finals. I am not sure if that ever happened before. 2.) Fuller was GREAT. Wrestled some varsity for the Hawkeyes in college. Brett gave an elite guy a great match in that one.  And 3.) One of the most memorable moments at the state tournament for me was when Fuller defeated Christensen in the finals, his reaction was to sprint off.  I sort of knew Fuller through us wrestling Lisbon first dual of the year every year and I really liked him. Nice guy and a character and I am guessing his reaction to sprint off after the match was adrenaline-fueled.  The moment this happened, I remember getting the song “I Ran” by Flock of Seagulls stuck in my head and thinking it’d be pretty funny to play that song to a clip of Fuller sprinting off and make a video out of it.  18 years later, at age 37, I somehow did not forget about this and did just that… it’s on the YouTube channel…doesn’t belong in this article, but that’s how I originally knew of Brett… the guy who wrestled Fuller when that happened. Not to make this article all about one of Brett’s matches he presumably wishes he could get back. Brett was likely very confused when all this happened. That changed a bit when I saw Brett wrestle more in college. I went to Loras College and wrestled 174/184/197 and he went to Simpson and wrestled 285 and looked good against very good wrestlers every time I watched him, which was at least 10 matches.  I remember him wrestling against a couple of Loras 285’s over the years, both of which were guys I wrestled occasionally in practice.  I remember sizing him up and comparing his scores to the scores I would have against these guys in practice and it would crack me up because I was a 152 lber my Senior year in HS and I never would have imagined that just a couple years later, I would be sizing up common opponents that I had with Brett Christensen…who was a good-sized, strong-looking HWT in HS.  He was so impressive in college.  I felt that The Iowa Conference (D3) was very tough back then at the 285 lb. Division and Christensen managed to qualify for nationals all 4 years as well as AA two of those years. He accomplished all this wrestling varying types of D3 hammers and winning.  Very impressive. And better yet with Brett, he didn’t fit the mold of being one of the types of heavier guys who spend the majority of the time hand-fighting and content to win by scores of 1-0, 2-1, UTB, etc.  Every time I watched Brett he seemed to be working something and those “somethings” often led to him putting guys right to their backs. Fun to watch.

And the dude seems to be well-liked. He has actually been requested for one of these twice. One was by a college teammate who told me it’d be a great article because of his story being an interesting one as well as his personality being fun and entertaining. This guy said that Brett is the type of teammate who was liked by everyone on the team. The other person said that they “want to read a Remember The Wrestler article on Brett Christensen because he is such a great guy.” I took their word for it and am happy to learn about his journey and it makes me even happier that when I hear his name now, I will think of this article and not end up with “I Ran” by Flock of Seagulls in my head. 

Here is Brett’s finals matches from 2000 and 2002, He did lose these, but I wouldn’t post them in his article if I felt he had anything to be ashamed of.  He battled Underwood HWT phenom Mark Lander to a close match as an underclassmen as a Sophomore… Then as a Senior, he took on a legit D1 recruit and returning state champ and gave him what was presumably his toughest match of that entire season. Brett wrestled well. Not that anyone ever has an easy road at state, but the road for Brett at state wrestling in high school, couldn’t have more bumps given the depth and the talent he consistently faced and usually defeated.

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

We had a little kids program in Lenox when I was growing up where I rewrote the book on how bad a kid could be at wrestling. Lenox High School. Simpson College.

 

What year did you graduate?

Lenox High School 2002. Simpson College 2006.

 

Who or what encouraged you to give wrestling a try?

Growing up in the Christensen family really left you no choice, but to wrestle. Family gatherings were, and still are, chaos. You’d think with age would come calm, but no, not here.

 

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

My family is big into wrestling. From uncles on down to cousins, there were a lot of us that wrestled at some point. A lot of state qualifiers, state medalists, as coaches and wrestlers, in years prior and currently. My uncle Gary won a state dual team title at Winterset, my uncle Eddard took home a traditional 3rd place state trophy at Bedford, my uncle Jim is in the IWCOA Hall of Fame. My uncle Danny was head coach at Central Decatur for years. My uncles Tom and Lynn were coaches at Lenox. And my uncles Chris, Craig, and my dad wrestled in high school. As for cousins, my cousin Cory won 3 state titles for Winterset and my cousin Tysen won a state title for Lenox. And some of us were medalists. And the stat girl position has been held by many of my cousins too all over southwest Iowa.

 

What were your youth results? Any rivals there?

My early youth results were to walk on the mat, get dominated by some kid who felt sorry me, then walk off the mat. My only rival there was the poor guy who officiated the match and had to decide whether to call the fall in 7 seconds or let it last until 20 seconds. In my head I wanted them to call it, but as they do, they let it go for a little while before calling the fall.

 

What was your record in HS?

156 – 20 with 113 falls.

 

How did you place at state every year?

2nd my sophomore and senior year. 4th my junior year.

 

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

I tore my MCL and PCL in my left knee 2 weeks before sectionals my junior year and thought my season was done. But after talking to my coach we decided to give it a go.

 

How would you describe your wrestling style?

Early on it was strictly defensive but eventually I got to a point where I would call it opportunistically offensive. Yeah I’ll go with that.

 

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

Curtis Head from Shenandoah was always a tough outing. I split with Ryan Fuller of Lisbon at state, with him winning the one that mattered most our senior year though.

 

Who was your most influential coach?

All of them in some way were influential. Erin Maguire, my high school coach, was a great motivator. You just never wanted to let him down. My uncles Tom and Lynn always were good for some laughs during some grinding practices. Ron Peterson, my college coach, kept things fun, whether it was fun for us or for some practices, just fun for him. We never felt like we couldn’t go to him for anything. Jeremy Whalen, an assistant at Simpson, I swear would sit around and come up with new conditioning drills. But always kept pushing you. Ricky Schweitzberger, another assistant at Simpson, was just crazy. Never slowed down.

 

Was your team competitive in HS/college?

At Lenox we were 5th, 3rd, and 7th at state. At Simpson we finished 5th and 6th at Nationals and 3rd and 8th at National Duals.

 

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

I actually didn’t watch much wrestling growing up. Mainly just kept tabs on how my family was doing. So my cousins Cory, Tysen, and Josh from Nodaway Valley.

 

Who would you consider the GOAT Iowa HS wrestler?

Too many guys to argue for there.

 

Who are your favorite current wrestlers?

Any of the Olympians.

 

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

I just remember at Simpson our captain, and good buddy, Bart George hated the music we all played so one day he brought a Steve Earle CD and that CD was all we listened to one year. One time a teammate tried to change it and Bart issued the warning that if it was changed there would be problems. So we listened to Steve Earle. It was awful. Try getting yourself through a college wrestling practice with Steve Earle serenading the room with Copperhead Road or The Devil’s Right Hand. But it was listen to that or get beat up.

 

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

My senior year in the finals.

 

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

To pay someone to go steal that Steve Earle CD out of our practice room at Simpson.

 

What was your best wrestling memory or accomplishment?

Just the teams I was a part of at both Lenox and Simpson. We had a lot of fun together. There were teams better than us but no one had a better group of idiots. A lot of us are still close to this day.

 

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

I remember I wrestled a guy at the Buena Vista Tournament my freshman year at Simpson and after that match I thought I had made an incredible mistake wrestling after high school. It was like a high schooler wrestling a kindergartener. I think my coaches wished I had picked a different college at that point.

 

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

Seasonal

 

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

With the mindset of every wrestler, every guy thinks their era is the most dominant.

 

Did you wrestle after high school?

I wrestled at Simpson College in Indianola from 2002 – 2006. I was a 4X National Qualifier and a 2X All-American.

 

What other sports did you play?

Football and Track.

 

What are your favorite sports teams?

Pittsburgh Steelers, Michigan Wolverines, and the St. Louis Cardinals. I don’t actually watch any baseball, but my college roommate Cody Downing and the whole Downing family are die hard Cubs fans. I mean true die hard fans. And I have convinced Cody’s oldest son that I’m a huge Cards fan so now he is to. Why do I do it? Because I’m an idiot and it drives them all nuts.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: GO CARDINALS!!!! Although I do share Cody’s love of left-sided headlocks… 🙂 )

 

What are your hobbies other than wrestling?

Just hanging out with friends and not listening to Steve Earle.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Steve Earle and Eydie Gorme’s cover of Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” is pretty sweet. Never met another wrestler who knew who Steve Earle was! 🙂 )

 

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

I’m just a spectator nowadays.

 

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

As with everyone who sticks with this sport, it’s definitely given me a stronger mindset. And cauliflower ear.

 

What do you do now?

I work for the Downing Family in Creston, farming.

 

Are you still involved with wrestling?

I’m just a spectator now.

 

Any advice for upcoming wrestlers?

Wrestling not to lose is a terrible way to spend 6 or 7 minutes. And always go for the fall. Leaves more time to nap in between matches until the coach finally tracks you down and starts yelling at you wondering why you’re not warming up yet. One or both of these are me speaking from experience.

 

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

Absolutely not. In fact, years ago my cousin Q asked if I would want to wrestle in one and I asked him to fight for even asking me.

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

My parents Lary and Vickie, my cousins, and the rest of the family for making it a good time for everyone. Tysen Christensen, Seth Evans, Wade Samo for setting the standard in high school. Bart George and Clint Manny, for doing the same in college. My cousins Q, Cole, and Weller, who wrestled at the same time I did and together at Simpson, and who are responsible for 97% of my anger there. The guys from Bedford, Nodaway Valley, Central Decatur, Ogden, CAM, and too many others to name.

 

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

To end this I’ll tell you what type of teammates I had in college. My junior year after the Simpson Invitational, my cousin Q and roommate Dustin Brewer asked me later that night if I had to use the restrooms a lot that day. I said no. And I could see the disappointment in their eyes and asked why. They said they had put laxatives in my Gatorade that morning and were hoping it kicked in while I was on the mat. So either they were light on the dose, thank God, or at some point the Gatorades got switched and someone else had a real bad day.

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I have known about Adam for a long, long time. Heck, the Hargrave bros were on the same Freestyle team that I was on. Monster USA which is run by long-time Louisa-Muscatine HC and Hargrave’s HC, Tom Mashek… Great coach.  Anyways, Adam is an area guy for me being from Mepo. Straight out of the Southeast Iowa Superconference. We used to see the Hargrave family everywhere once they started wrestling. We would see them at local tournaments as well as the major tournaments that the serious youth wrestlers generally attend. Adam is 2 years younger than my brother, Justin, so we would see him go at it with guys that Justin would wrestle in even years and he would always do well against them.  Ever since the kid was tiny…5,6 years old or whatever…Adam Hargrave was always one of the best local kids in that grade.  

 

Adam was 4 years younger than me and jumped on the scene as a Pee-Wee wrestler when I was a 4th or 5th grader.  A couple years later, his younger brother Travis, who seemed much more animated out there than Adam, started wrestling.   There was the dad, Greg Hargrave, who was a youth coach for Louisa-Muscatine and a very nice guy and all business when it came to supporting his wrestlers. I don’t know Greg well, but Adam always reminded me of a mini-Greg Hargrave. Every time you’d see Adam at a tournament, he would spend a lot of time standing mat-side, appearing to be studying and taking mental notes to some of the matches that would unravel in front of him. He would always have a serious expression on his face, equipped with what I grew up calling a “corporate eyebrow” which means one of his eyebrows would be raised while the other rested, giving the vibe that he was analyzing the hell out of whatever wrestling match he was watching.  I have learned over the years that Adam is a very intelligent wrestling mind, so I was probably on to something there. On the mat, he was on a mission.  All business. Wasn’t cocky, wasn’t a poor sport…He just seemed wise beyond his years in several ways, really. 

 

It was my brother, Justin who pointed something out to me about Adam one time.  When Adam was in maybe 2nd or 3rd grade, he was sitting in a corner at a youth tourney helping coach Travis, who was tiny at the time.  Justin and I were standing right behind them the entire match. When the match concluded, Justin nudged me and said with a smile, “listen to this little Hargrave kid talk to his brother when he gets back to the corner.”  I had no idea what he meant by that at first, but did a few seconds later when Adam began giving Travis some elaborate, detailed and very good wrestling advice.  It cracked me up that a kid that young could know so much about wrestling and be able to effectively coach it already and it apparently cracked Justin up as well, for I am guessing he had noticed it before that match,

 

Nowadays, Adam continues to put his vast wrestling knowledge to use, for he is one of the best wrestling officials in the state.  This is not surprising to me at all given how he studied the sport from a young age and it makes me happy that we have officials out there who are as knowledgeable and passionate about the rules as Adam as well as the consistency he has shown in terms of ensuring that he makes the right calls, helps other officials with his own insight, treats people with respect even when being disrespected himself and most importantly, there will never be an arrogant vibe with him that will come off as if he feels like he knows everything there is to know about officiating, for he continues to be an active learner looking to improve his skills in the thankless world of officiating.  Few of us are courageous enough to enter the officiating world, let alone at a level that Adam has… It’s a comfort knowing that we have wrestling zebras like Adam who care deeply about what they are doing, are 100% fair and strive to be the best official they can be, not for the personal glory, but for the love of the sport and the athletes it produces.  

 

A lot of these questions will be directed towards Adam’s officiating career, for I know that he holds that in just as high of a regard/importance as he does his own wrestling career.  Iowa wrestling is lucky to have guys like him. He makes Southeast Iowa wrestling proud in several ways.

 

And to anyone reading who has the desire to try officiating someday, I would advise you to observe how Adam does things when you see him. He is a great example of the high standard that an aspiring official should shoot to reach someday and if you want or need any officiating advice prior to proceeding, Adam would be the perfect person to reach out to. He cares deeply about the officiating component of wrestling and will do anything to build on it.

 

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

Louisa Muscatine Youth Club. Monster USA Freestyle and Greco

What year did you graduate?

2005

Who or what encouraged you to give wrestling a try?

My dad.

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

My brother Travis-4th Freshman year, Sophomore year 6th,Jjunior year-8th, Senior year DNP. My dad who got 2nd at state behind Mark Schwab his Senior year.
My uncle Mike who was a state qualifier.

What were your youth results? Any rivals there?

During my youth days I would wrestle Gannon Hjerleid of Wapello, Creed Grimm of Wapello, Robbie McIntyre of West Liberty, Niles Mercer of Van Buren. Seth Pugh from Columbus Jct.

What was your record in HS?

I don’t remember. 120 something wins and less than 20 losses.

How did you place at state every year?

Freshman-qualify
Sophomore-qualify
Junior- 3rd
Senior- 3rd

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

The cutting weight part. We had a very good team when I was in HS and just to have everyone make weight was the key thing. I missed out on a lot of Thanksgiving Dinners, Christmas Dinners.

 

How would you describe your wrestling style?

Attack style. Try to tire your opponents out.

 

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

Seth Pugh, Niles Mercer, Eric Davis. I wrestled these 3 guys all the time it seemed like. All matches were close.

 

Who was your most influential coach?

My dad, Greg.

 

Was your team competitive in HS/college?

Yes, we went to Regional Duals all 4 years and state duals 3 years. We got 4th two years in a row.

 

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

Any of the Iowa Hawkeyes

Who would you consider the GOAT Iowa HS wrestler? Who are your favorite current wrestlers?

Goat- Jay Borschel because of the weight span that he accomplished his 4 time championships in.

Current wrestler- Graham Gambrall. Just knowing the family, they are awesome people!

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

Metallica

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

When I lost in the quarters at state my Junior and Senior years.

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

Winning my quarter final matches my junior and senior years.

 

What was your best wrestling memory or accomplishment?

Going to Fargo and placing in Greco(5th)


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

Year round.

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

A lot of the guys I know are coaches now days. I officiate, but more than likely can’t hang with them.

How much of an honor is it for you to officiate the state tournament?

It is one of the greatest feelings ever. Getting a chance to watch some of the greatest wrestlers come through and watch dreams come true. It is also an honor of how many coaches throughout the state have so much respect for me, well I think anyways….

(EDITOR’S NOTE: They most certainly do have tons of respect for him).

Since you became an official, are there things you discovered that you didn’t realize about officiating until you started doing it?

It’s tough, especially at the highest level of High school.

 

As an official, do fans ever thank you for the job you do?

From now and then. When someone does thank you, that is one of the best feelings in the entire world.

 

What are your thoughts on fans who disrespect the officials? How do we slow it down?

It is hard to slow it down. Until then they actually put on some stripes themselves. Fans and spectators need to realize that we are only human and we will make mistakes. And we as officials need to learn to admit when we are wrong and we need to make the situation right. Anyone that has an ego that gives them the false impression that they are always right, should not be an official. Officials need to watch, listen, and keep learning with the sport.

 

What other sports did you play?

Football

 

What are your favorite sports teams?

Baseball- Cardinals

What are your hobbies other than wrestling?
Camping, Fishing, Hunting.

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

I love giving back to the sport of wrestling. With out officials, there wouldn’t be any sports. I’m just glad I can give back this way.

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

I am a very motivated person.

What do you do now?

I work at Bayer Crop Division in Muscatine as a PLC Tech. Programable Logic Controllers

Are you still involved with wrestling?

Yes I officiate.

Any advice for upcoming wrestlers?

Love the sport for what it is…practice hard=compete hard!

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Josh Budke Weighs In On ESPN’s The Season

Several years ago, ESPN produced a documentary about Iowa Hawkeye wrestling called “The Season.”  I have always hated this documentary. I got the vibe that the footage/material was tailored to create a false impression to ensure that whatever narrative they had in mind was followed.  I have always been skeptical of that documentary’s intentions.  

The wrestler who had the most negative experience with this documentary was Josh Budke. Budke was in his final season of college and struggling to make the lineup for the Iowa Hawkeyes at the time. The ESPN crew caught him at one of the most stressful phases of his life. And with the skits they cherrypicked, I mean chose to use for the documentary, they painted this picture of him as if he never won any of the matches he wrestled (which wasn’t the case) and as if he were feeling sorry for himself. The part of the documentary that stood out to fans was Tom Brands’s thoughts on Budke and his situation. Here is a short clip of it. Brands is at the end.:

 

Budke took a ton of crap for that. Internet badasses freely and regularly called him names, disrespected him, disregarded everything he had done prior to that, etc. Not to mention, the overwhelming majority of people who watched it, couldn’t stop talking about how cold and harsh Tom Brands came off when he made the “I don’t feel sorry for Josh Budke. You get what you earn” comment. This wasn’t fair to Tom Brands either, for everyone seemed to not hear the part where he said he would want nothing more than for Budke to succeed. So it’s not like the man was trying to be cold and harsh for the sake of being cold and harsh to Budke. It came off to me as a “tough love” approach, which was not how it was perceived by the masses at all. Sometimes when either Brands says something that is down to Earth and/or moderately sensitive, it goes totally unnoticed due to being upstaged by their own intensity.

You do get what you earn and because of that, there’s no need to feel sorry for Budke. It is pretty hard to dispute that logic from Brands. However, I will freely admit that I did and still do feel bad for Josh Budke for a couple of reasons. 1.) I feel bad that Budke’s career ended in such negative fashion that it gave him a bitter taste in his mouth about wrestling. Budke had a brilliant career that he should feel proud of. It is so unfortunate that something like this documentary would put a wrench in his personal feelings for the sport. He deserved a better send off than that. Ok, so maybe he wouldn’t make the lineup, but the embarrassment he endured as a result of a documentary that aired on ESPN and prompted tons of fans to ridicule him for years? Come on. He didn’t deserve that. And 2.) I feel bad for him because I don’t think he knew what he had gotten himself into when he agreed to be interviewed. I don’t think he had any idea that agreeing to simply be interviewed by them would result in his entire career and reputation being tarnished to those who didn’t know better. It’s not right that so many wrestlers end on a sour note that sticks with them especially considering the blood, sweat and tears they sacrificed for years.. My brother Justin had a great career and he couldn’t talk about wrestling for 10 years due to how bad his ending hurt his soul. It’s sad that so many wrestlers experience this. When a guy like Budke, a 3X state champ, calls it quits, he should feel proud of what he accomplished opposed to ashamed of himself because of how it ended, but that’s likely easier said than done in his case, for his situation was laid out in a manner in which constant reminders of the dark phase is a certainty.

Budke was always one of my favorite wrestlers growing up and I have always refused to let “The Season” affect the way I perceive Josh Budke because I was always pretty confident that there was a lot of B.S. included to create dramatic effect. I felt like the entire Hawkeyes squad was misrepresented to some degree. I knew that team… knew many of them personally. Saw them all the time at college opens when I was wrestling at Loras. The Hawkeye wrestlers could most certainly be a grouchy crew at these events, but I don’t blame them for not wanting to discuss some forgotten AAU match they had from 1993 with some spazzy D3 guy that they forgot about. Outside these events though, every one of them that I ran into were fun to be around and good people. Not nearly as “robot-caveman” as the filmmakers would like you to believe. 

Josh Budke was nice enough to provide an inside look at his experiences while interacting with the crew who put The Season together. Josh Budke… a guy who dedicated a large portion of his life to wrestling and was sent off with media-ringworm. I think this man’s voice deserves to be heard. 

 

ESPN’s documentary on the Iowa Hawkeye wrestling team called “The Season,” depicted you in a manner that I assume was not flattering to you.  What was your experience with that? Did you feel like it depicted you accurately?

JOSH BUDKE: Yeah, not flattering is a nice way to say it.  My wife and I do not watch reality TV the same way now, that is for sure.  It was an interesting experience to be part of the process and aspects were accurate, but they also did a great job of making it very dramatic.  I can honestly say I did not realize the camera had followed me a couple times and you get used to them being around, so you are not looking for it either.  Nothing was staged so it was all real, but the documentary material that was chosen was certainly used to forward the story lines they wanted and put forth a certain narrative.

I can say honestly that it has taken me years of processing my failures at Iowa to be ok discussing this, but my hope is to answer some of the questions and comments I have heard over the years and maybe add some insight.  

If you watched it, you would swear I never won a match that year! After the first few weeks of the season and before tryouts I was something like 12-2.  One bad loss at a Missouri tournament and I ended up 3rd.   At the Omaha tournament I lost to Dylan Long from UNI in the quarters or Semi’s and ended up 3rd again. Bad way to start the year when you are looking to earn the starting spot.

A couple weeks into the season and it was the day of tryouts.  This is when the documentary gets underway and when I first knew what was going on regarding ESPN.  That day I walked out into Carver (Hawkeye arena) by myself just to get acclimated to the lights and space before the matches got underway.  Carver was empty other than a couple guys sitting there talking in the front row.  I just wandered over to make small talk and had no idea who they were.  One guy asks me some questions about who I was, and I just keep answering and chatting these guys up trying to keep my nerves in check.  Next thing he says is “Hey, we are from ESPN and we are following the team around this year”  “Would you mind if we ask you a few questions sometime, and we may follow you around a little and get some footage”  As a 5th year Senior, I had been waiting for a long time to be the top guy as I had wrestled only a couple varsity matches as a Sophomore, otherwise I was sitting behind Schwab and Zadick and TJ Williams.  So, I agreed.  In my mind it was going to be my spot that year and I was going to be an All-American and how cool was it going to be to have that documented by ESPN.  I thought about Jesse Whitmer and I was going to do the same thing he did. Never crossed my mind that it could go the other way.

So, I lose a very close tryout to Moffit at 141.  Crushed by that I go up the room to blow off some steam on the bike.  Zero clue anyone was around as tryouts are still going on at that point. No idea they captured that footage.   Not long after that Zadick gets banged up so I get to travel out East with the team in case I need to wrestle 149.  Zalesky never really tells me if I am wrestling or not but just to be ready.  Really bad wrestling strategy on my part with a ranked guy from Penn. That ended up being a really long weekend with some interesting footage for the show.

As the season progresses, I had my opportunities.   Whether at Midlands or other open tournaments to make my case for the starting spot. I never did that.

One funny side note.  Right after we get married my wife and I were watching it live the summer as it came out (she has never watched it since).  The last episode is closing out and all of sudden we see footage from our wedding.  A few upset phone calls later we found out that while we were on our honeymoon, ESPN reached out to our family and one of our parents sent the ESPN crew our wedding tape.   We had no clue.

 

 

After being on The Season, did you feel like your legacy was affected by it? Were there any long-term effects from it, such as people bringing that up to you before they do the high points of your career that outnumber that one negative phase of your life?

 

JOSH BUDKE: I do think it affected and still affects how many in the wrestling community view me.  I am the guy who did not cut it at Iowa, quit and left the team, etc.  After it aired my family and I received negative notes and calls, and the internet message boards certainly crucified me.  Never a good idea to look at the message boards but I was smart enough not to respond back at least.

It has been 18 years since that season, and I do not regret my decisions.  I do regret my inability to win some of those close matches and the inability to mentally turn the corner regarding my wrestling.  I ended up being a better wrestler in the practice room than out and competing and that is painful to admit.  Plenty of excuses to give for that or reasons why, but at the end of the day I did not get it done and I have never blamed anyone for that but myself.  The great thing about this sport is you win or lose on your own merit.  Pretty simple.  Brutal at times but that is wrestling.

To this day I do not regret finishing my season/career when I did.  The coaches made a call to go with Moffit and not have me travel with the varsity any longer.  If I were owed anything (great quote by Brands by the way) I would have liked to have been included as part of that main travel team (they travel with more than just the 10 starters)  After nearly 5 years put into the program and the blood, sweat, and thousands of hours to at least continue to include me, even if it were not as THE guy would have been nice.  But back to Brand’s quote, you don’t deserve anything, and I had not earned that in their eyes, so it is what it is.  

At the end of this, Moffit went on to win the big ten tournament,so he was the best guy at the weight class, and I do not dispute that.  When that decision was made my season and career was essentially done so it was time to call it over.  I was mentally burnt out and I was not helping anyone, so it was time to move on with life.  The next morning was like a huge burden was off my back and I knew it was the right decision.  Many will disagree with me on that decision in not hanging in through the rest of the season and that is ok.  Part of my problem even thru college was searching for everyone else’s approval, and wanting to be accepted, liked and to have people proud of me.  Now that I am an old man, I am finally past that.

During my wrestling career I had my successes and I have some failures.  Some epic failures for everyone to see but I was in the fight and I do not regret my journey.  Again, no excuses.  I was there and lived it and failed.  It is not fun having it immortalized that way on ESPN but that is life.  You learn and move on.  You lose and decide how you are going to handle it.  I do not regret where I am at today and God had his plans for me, and I have accepted that.  I have 5 awesome healthy kids, a beautiful wife, and a career that has given me a lot. I have done my share of winning outside of wrestling now and I give wrestling a lot of credit for that.  It used to be hard to hear but I’m ok now seeing this “You don’t deserve anything.  The only thing you deserve is what you earn” I think Brands was right.

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So today I was thinking about Mepo’s Drew Foster and my brother Brennan and how Drew won D1 last year and Brennan NAIA this year, but neither won state in HS and it got me thinking about who all has done this. This will likely be a recurring series once other names get brought to my attention…but the guys I thought of so far are:

 

DREW FOSTER

PITTSBURGH, PA – MARCH 23: Drew Foster of the Northern Iowa Panthers celebrates after winning the 184 pound title during the championship finals of the NCAA Wrestling Championships on March 23, 2019 at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Hunter Martin/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

Drew Foster, Mediapolis: Placed 3rd, 7th and 2nd at state. Was an NCAA D1 National Champ for UNI in 2019.

 

 

CHUCK YAGLA

Chuck Yagla, Waterloo Columbus; Was a runner-up In HS and a 2X NCAA National Champ for Iowa.

 

 

BRENNAN SWAFFORD

Brennan Swafford, Mediapolis: Placed 6th, 5th, 2nd, 2nd at state in HS… Won NAIA Nationals in 2020 for Graceland University.

 

 

 

AARON DRAIN

Aaron Drain, Mediapolis: In HS he went DNP, DNP, DNP, 4th. However, he won AAU Nationals as a Sophomore and Junior and won stacked brackets with several of the guys who placed ahead of him at state. My take is, Aaron Drain (and others) tended to peak about a month after the state tournament.

 

 

 

CHRISTOPHER JOHNSON

Chris Johnson, West Burlington-Notre Dame: In HS, he placed: DNQ, 3rd, DNP, 3rd. However, he won Reno World’s, Tulsa Nationals and AAU Nationals in HS. Like Aaron Drain, he peaked a month after state. The brackets he would win had future D1 champs in them. Chris was elite.

 

 

 

GRANT HENDERSON

Grant Henderson, Alburnett: In HS I think he qualified a couple times and placed, but he won multiple NAIA titles at Grand View. I want to say he won 3.

 

 

COREY KALINA

Corey Kalina, Belle Plaine And Wartburg… he placed 4th or 5th as a Sophomore and 2nd as a Junior and Senior. He is one of the best wrestlers to never win state. His Tulsa National championship provides some proof of that.

 

MORE OF THESE TO COME!

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This is the first of hopefully 3 articles pertaining to Josh Budke. This should be good news for anyone who knows Budke, for he is one of the most interesting individuals on the planet and all of his insight is gold. There have been a lot of wrestlers that I either didn’t like that much back in the day or just felt neutral about them and now that I have met some of them, they have become some of my favorite ever Iowa HS wrestlers. Budke doesn’t fit that category. Budke fits the category of, “my grandpa Swafford, my brother Justin and I were huge fans of Josh Budke back in the day and now that I’ve gotten to know him a bit, I am an even bigger fan of his than I was before.”

I became a fan of Budke because I liked whoever my grandpa liked. We watched most of those mid-90’s state tournaments in his living room. Some of the best times of my life. First and foremost, we rooted for the Mepo guys. After that, we pulled for the Southeast Iowa guys and along with those guys, we had our favorites that we picked for whatever reason…mostly because we liked how they wrestled. Eric Juergens and Josh Budke were my grandpa’s favorites around that time. Grandpa loved how animated and intense Budke was when he wrestled. The guy just did not quit. Even in situations where he seemed like he was in trouble, he would generally find a way out of it and if a call was questionable, he wasn’t afraid to let it be known that he felt the way he did. One of the most competitive wrestlers the state has ever produced.

The storyline of the 1997 State Tournament that my grandpa, brother and I were most emotionally invested in was his highly anticipated finals match with Iowa City High Senior, Jesse West. Budke was not only the returning state champion, but he had won it the previous two years coming into that tournament. However, West was also a returning state champion and had beaten Budke 3 times over the course of the regular season. This provoked collective and mostly shared feelings of anger amongst wrestling fans across the state of Iowa, for West wasn’t Iowa’s returning state champ….he was a transfer from Kansas. These days, people don’t get as worked up as they used to about guys who moved into the state or transferred. Back in 1997 though, the act of someone transferring for wrestling seemed like such am uncommon, foreign idea that the transfers weren’t treated like the rest, but like…well, foreigners. With Jesse West, some people were so dramatic about it that it was like we were being invaded by the evil Russian from Rocky 4, Ivan Drago and it gave a lot of people who weren’t used to it a feeling of, “why did THAT GUY move to OUR state to compete in OUR sport! He must be booed!!!” When West moved to Iowa, it was like the Iconic Iowan meets the Commie……Kansan. I am being facetious, West is not a Communist, nor is Kansas, but some people seemed to hold him in a lower regard in that situation back then. People got ugly with it. Transfers received very cold unwelcomes back then and it wasn’t fair to them. They should have tried considering it a compliment to Iowa wrestling that competitors from other states hold us in so high of a regard that they want to see how they can match up against what they perceive to be “the best.”

One of the upcoming articles on Budke is a hopeful “Inside The Rivalry” on his rivalry vs. Jesse West. West has been difficult to get in contact with, so Jesse if you are reading this, please get ahold of me! This article will be great and will shed some much needed light on your perspective on things given your unique situation the 1 year you were in Iowa. Budke completed his questionnaire for this already and it is some of the most thought-provoking, humble, complimentary and entertaining stuff I think I’ve ever received. The man noticed and remembered the little things that often get looked past or quickly forgotten.

With all that said and no offense to Jesse West, he is probably a great guy, but the Swafford family was firmly entrenched in the Budke corner. It wasn’t necessarily the transfer thing that bothered me. I mean, the thought of more people moving into Iowa kind of annoyed me at the time because more people meant longer lines at Adventureland, but we were more so long-time Budke fans by that point. And the end of that match is something that I can remember like it was yesterday. There was a lot of hootin’ and hollering during that match. Budke had a way of pumping the Swafford clan up.

And get this, about a decade later I randomly met Josh Budke while taking a call at my old employer. And it was a pretty funny way to meet him. So for 5.5 years, I worked as a Service Coordinator and Internal Business Auditor for a successful mental health service provider. On a day where I was scheduled to conduct an expense claim audit in our Burlington office, the secretary came in and told me that I had a call on line 1 and that it was a “James question.” A “James question.” This was a reference to a guy named James Maize. James was my boss for 5 years and was a good wrestler out of Kirksville, MO. He has a son that is a 5th grader named Ian Maize and he is a total animal…wrestles for Washington, IA. Mark my words, the kid will be a stud. Anyways, James is one of the most influential people in my life. Someone I look up to more than probably anyone outside my family. The guy taught me so many valuable skills. In fact, this site probably wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for James Maize.  I was so impressed with his writing skills and vocabulary that I began studying the dictionary and made a serious attempt at trying to write with the clarity that James could. Changed my life. Anyways, the term “James question” was coined because there were certain questions that we would get from clients and funding sources on a daily basis that only James was knowledgeable enough to provide a helpful answer for. If James was out of the office, these calls were directed to the next person in line…me. I was the next in line because I had roughly a .001% success rate in answering these questions correctly correctly. There was always the far-fetched possibility that I could answer a “James question” accurately on accident. 

So I was conducting this expense claim audit when I received this call. This audit was something that I could finish in 15 minutes, but it became a day-long job if I gave in to the urge of checking The Predicament’s message boards. This was one of those days where I gave into the urge. I picked up the phone, prepared to let this person down by not being able to answer their question when I blurted my greeting, “hello this is Josh, how may I help you?” The person responded in an enthusiastic, articulate and polite manner, “hello there, this is Josh Budke. I was wondering if we could discuss a few things if you have time?” The name immediately made me do a double-take, wondering if I had heard him correctly and I responded with, “Josh Budke? Did you say your name is Josh Budke?” Budke’s reaction to this inquiry was something that makes me smile to this day. He said in an upbeat and chipper voice, “well, it sounds like I have a wrestling fan on the line. Must be my lucky day. Won’t be too hard to build a rapport with you, I’m guessing?” LOL Josh Budke knew that I was a wrestling guy simply because he picked up on the double-take I did when I heard his name. He knew IMMEDIATELY that I knew who he was. Goodness, that was one of the most witty responses I have ever heard to anything. The more Josh Budke we can get on this site, the better the site will be. This man is interesting, funny and just straight-up entertaining. One of my favorite wrestlers ever. Oh yeah, and I wasn’t able to answer his “James question” that he had for me… I don’t think I even heard it for I was wanting to talk wrestling with him so badly.  

 

 

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

I grew up in Cedar Falls but wrestled mainly at the Waterloo Wahawk program.  Marty Dickey was the main coach early and then Dave Moses took over.  I owe a ton to both of those coaches.  When I started wrestling, I didn’t have wrestling shoes, so Marty gave me some old blue Dan Gables that one of his boys grew out of.  The Dickey boys were studs at Waterloo West so that was really cool.

If you look at the kids that came out of that program, I don’t think there would be many clubs with better results in the 90’s than the Wahawk program.  The Reiter’s from Don Bosco, Clarks from La Porte City just to name a few.  If you look at the place winners and state champs from any nearby towns, I will bet they went to the Wahawk program.

I spent some time at East Waterloo’s club also.  Sallis, Jordan and Galloways were there and ran a great club.  

Junior High and High School in Cedar Falls

College at University of Iowa

 

What year did you graduate?

 1997 from Cedar Falls High School

 

Who or what encouraged you to give wrestling a try?

My Dad loved (still does) wrestling and took me to the UNI wrestling clinic and meet when I was in Kindergarten.  I cried the whole time and went 0-3.  Same thing in 1st grade and 2nd grade.  By 2nd grade though I cried a little less and think I won all 3 matches.

3rd grade was when I started at the Wahawk program.

 

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

I have a nephew in high school who wrestles for Ballard Huxley right now, a younger nephew up in Cedar Falls wrestling, and my little boy just got started.  I swore my kids would never wrestle but he loves it.  Plus, he has 4 sisters that beat on him, so he needs to toughen up a bit 😊

 

What were your youth results? Any rivals there?

Oh man.  I forgot about some of those rivals and then looking thru your videos and they keep popping up.  I think its just because I lost a lot as a kid!

First time I went to AAU was in 5th grade I didn’t even qualify for state.

In 6th grade I got beat my Benji Silver at districts and then ended up 4th at AAU State.  Bobby Gonshorowski beat me in the Semi’s, and he took 2nd to Casey Quinn.

In 7th grade I qualified but didn’t place.  I think Jimmy Rogers won that weight class, one of his million titles.  That guy was always a stud.

In 8th grade I ended up 5th at AAU.  Brandon Livingood (Decorah) beat me in the Semi’s and then he ended up 2nd to Jeff Evans from Riverside.  Kid from Greene (I think Trace Landers) beat me in the wrestle backs.

Rivals:  I am missing some for sure so may have to send an update later!

JD Pugh.  Not sure it was a rivalry because I’m not sure I ever beat him!  I remember one summer we both wrestled at Lisbon’s freestyle tourney.  We both entered into both Cadet and Juniors, so he beat me twice that day.  Didn’t know him outside of wrestling but still really sad when he was killed.  His brother is a great guy

Ryan Cunningham from Forest City tore me up a couple times.  Once at Ft. Madison and some college guy had to keep my dad from coming after me, he was so mad about that loss 😊long story.

Zack Weiglein from New Hampton and Cruikshank from Tama come to mind also!

Livingood and I went back and forth but I know he beat me more than I got him.

Jesse Schadt and Jimmy Rogers were other guys I always looked up to as top notch while we were kids.

 

What was your record in HS?

In high school I was 155-11

 

How did you place at state every year?

 4th at State at 103 in 1994, 1st at 103 in 1995, 1st at 112 in 1996 and 1st at 125 in 1997

 

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

College in general did not go great for me.  I would say getting to watch yourself fail on ESPN and have that memorialized for all time is right up there.  

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been better about putting that into perspective and not allowing it to ruin wrestling for me and all of the positives I was able to take away from the sport.  

 

How would you describe your wrestling style?

 Boring :0)

I was bad on my feet, ok on bottom, but pretty tough on top.  I think my Freshman year I had more wins than takedowns!  

I had a teammate with a great cradle and killer headlock and the CF fans loved watching him.  They would leave to get popcorn during my match to get ready for his!  

I would try to force a scramble and was pretty good from a front headlock

 

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

 Couple really comes to mind.

My Freshman year I wrestled Jeremy White from Cedar Rapids Jefferson.  He was a Senior and he was a man!  Big dude for 103lbs!  We wrestled 5 times that year (Dual, Keith Young, 5 Seasons, Conference and State) I went 2-3 with him.  My face was black and blue after EVERY match.

Senior year was Jesse West from Iowa City High.  I wrestled down at the Hawkeye Club in Iowa City on Sunday’s.  I remember seeing this guy and my Dad thought he was a freshman at Iowa, not a high school kid.  I went 0-3 during the year against him and finally won one in the state Finals.

 

Who was your most influential coach?

I had some great coaches!  One of my biggest regrets is not appreciating those guys enough.  As a high school kid, you don’t realize the time and energy they put in and get paid next to nothing for it.  I’m going to miss a few here but Jay Llewelyn, Jeff Gard, Ken Gallagher, and Mark Olmstead were major factors in my success.

Most influential would be Paul Huffman.  He stayed after practice every night to work with me.  He showed me how to leg ride the correct way and I went from being mediocre on top to being able to turn guys and I beat a lot of kids I would never have prior.

Gene Doyle did a great job of having top notch assistances and it was really special getting into the hall of fame the same year as coach Doyle.

 

Was your team competitive in HS/college?

Cedar Falls was really tough in the 90’s.  We had a full Varsity, JV, and Freshman/Sophomore team I believe every year and it was a big deal to get in the lineup!

CF was 2nd and 1st at State in 1992 and 1993 so my freshman year in 1994 had big expectations.  We did not have a great state tournament and ended up tied for 4th.

My senior year we were undefeated in duals and won state in 1997.   After I graduated CF won in 1998 also.

College was strange for me.  I was on the Iowa team that won a couple national championships.  I was never the guy at the weight, so I really never felt like part of those teams.  It was almost like if you didn’t make the poster it didn’t count

 

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

With CF having some great teams I had a lot of guys to look to.  Those 92 and 93 teams had some great guys and I remember wanting to be as good as Zach Geary someday.

Outside of CF you had Blackford, Kjelgaard, Flach, Juergens, McGinnis, Ironside so the mid 90’s was full of guys to look up to.

The Iowa team of the 90’s with Steiner and Brands and the poster “were all back” I was a big Steiner fan.

 

Who would you consider the GOAT Iowa HS wrestler?

Again, going thru this in the 90’s Jeff McGinnis being undefeated at City high would be the GOAT.  Getting pounded on by him in college then not so great 😊

 

Who are your favorite current wrestlers?

When my college career ended, I didn’t follow the sport a whole lot.  As my kid has started up, I’ve been watching more and its hard not to like the Hawks.  Kemerer beating Hall was awesome and would have loved seeing how nationals would have turned out for him and Marinelli.

 

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

 Big Metallica fan.  That’s was what I had in my Walkman most of time training.

 

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

Losing to Jesse West at the Keith Young tournament was one of the worst.  I thought I was going to breeze thru my Senior year after going undefeated as a Junior and then opening tournament I get beat in front of the home crowd.  

Another one was senior year I lost after a HUGE lead in the finals to Tim Cory at State Freestyle.  I was so mad I left and didn’t sign up for nationals.  Big regret in not going to Fargo that year.

 

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

 I didn’t keep wrestling in perspective.  I hated it most of the time honestly and was ready for it to be over.  Looking back, I took it too seriously and I took any enjoyment away from the sport.  

Plenty of individual loses and tournaments I would love to have back but I would say it was more of my attitude towards wrestling.  The very few times I wrestled and had fun; I was so much better.  I put too much pressure on myself and it shut my wrestling down in trying not to lose vs. going out and wrestling.

 

What was your best wrestling memory or accomplishment?

I was able to participate in the first Dream Team all-star meet in 1997.  That was such a great experience because it was where I grew up wrestling (held at Waterloo West) I got the chance to meet some top guys, like Sanderson and Heskett and then also got a win.  I remember it being the loudest time I can remember after a win as the whole place was yelling and going crazy.  (shout out to Jamie Taxted for a win there also!)  That whole night was great, and the Iowa team had several close matches with the nation’s best guys.

High School hall of fame would be another.  My youngest kids (twins) were not born yet but getting to go out during finals with my older kids was really cool.  That and alongside my high school coach Gene Doyle and that night was really special.

 

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

Most notable loss.  Junior year – Nationals at Fargo.  I got beat so quick and so badly by Stephan Abbas that I walked off the mat and couldn’t even be upset.  Only match I’ve ever lost and was not upset about.  I wasn’t in his league.

Competitors not mentioned previously.

Mark Rial.  Pinned me twice my Freshman year.  I went out in the Semifinals at State determined not to get head locked.  Shot in, stood up and wham, headlocked and pinned.

Cory Gardner.  He beat me during the summer one year, but we had 2 really close matches at State and I’m pretty sure he would have won it if I didn’t beat him his senior year.

Too many loses in college for this article 😊

 

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

Year round starting about 8th grade.  I was not great at Freestyle and it seemed like they changed the rules every summer!  I wish you got a point for a push out back then.  (still wouldn’t have helped me enough).

 

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

I’m sure everyone says this, but the top guys would be right there with the top guys.  If you look at some of the top guys, they would have done well.

Guys like Blackford, Will Kelly, David Kjelgaard, Nick Flach, Juergens, Schwab.  Pretty tough group.

 

Did you wrestle after high school?

Wrestled at U of Iowa.  Had a few varsity matches as a sophomore and as I senior.  Wrestled behind a lot of good guys but didn’t take full advantage of the opportunities when they came up.

 

What other sports did you play?

Starting in 8th grade I only wrestled.  I played lots of sports growing up and pretty mediocre at everything!

 

What are your favorite sports teams?

Cubs fan, and Iowa sports

 

What are your hobbies other than wrestling?

I spent several years doing Triathlon and did a full Ironman back in 2010.  Loved it but as my kids have grown my attention has been in their activities.  I have 5 kids and it takes a lot to keep up.

I coached a lot of girls’ soccer teams which I absolutely love.  Side note- I used to hate soccer but it’s a great sport for kids and great to coach.  My older girls no longer play but I still coach a U8 soccer team for my youngest daughter and they are in great condition 😊

 

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

I coached a few years at Cedar Rapids Washington and loved it.  Watching kids develop and being part of that is addictive and made me understand why people coach.   I would say the sport of wrestling for me has been a love and hate relationship and I’m trying to embrace the positive sides and not just hold onto the negatives. 

 

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

Work ethic, discipline and grit are things this sport give you that you have forever and can take you a long way in life.  That single determination can also be a negative thing if you lose perspective so finding a balance is critical in my opinion.

 

What do you do now?

 I am a partner at the Accel group and help manage the employee benefits division.  Great company with several former wrestlers!  Shameless plug if anyone has insurance needs 😊

 

Are you still involved with wrestling?

My son Cam is just a 1st grader.  We’ll see if he sticks with it, but he loves it so I’m really letting him determine how much we do right now.  I saw a lot of my buddies burn out and I burned out by the end so I’m overly sensitive to having him enjoy the sport – success will come later if he continues getting better.  If he decides to go a different route that’s cool too.  Not going to be something he does because of me that’s for sure.  I might jump back in and coach a little if he continues.

 

Any advice for upcoming wrestlers?

Oh man I think I could write a book.  Success is a good thing and I’m not advocating against working hard towards a goal.  That being said, we all have the gifts and tools God gives us so defining success and defining ourselves within only wins and loses can be very damaging.  I lived that and had a very hard time with my failures and how I thought it impacted who I was as a man.  So, allowing yourself, your athlete, your team to have some perspective around being their best and working towards your best BUT not letting it define you (them) would be some of the advice I’d share.  This is a great sport that can create some great habits and long-term success, but it also needs to be kept in perspective.

That might sound soft to some of the old school guys that read that, but I personally believe balance is important.

 

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

I went to the Ft. Madison old timers once when I was helping coach at CR Washington.  It was brutal back then and I was in my late 20’s.  I honestly think I would have a heart attack if I tried again so I’m going to pass!

 

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

My old CF teammates and Wahawk clubmates for sure.  Wrestling is such an individual sport that you lose sight of those around you many times.  Now as an old guy you look back and have an appreciation for those who struggled alongside you.

 

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

I mentioned coaching girls’ soccer.  Almost forgot.  Tim Ironside’s daughter plays soccer (she’s a stud) and Tim and I coached our girls a couple years ago together.  It had to quite the sight, seeing two old wrestlers yelling at a group of middle school girls on the soccer field.  The other coaches didn’t seem to give us a hard time 😊

More of a shout out.  Senior year after getting beat by West a few times Nick Flach (Ft. Madison stud, wrestling at UNI at the time) reached out to me and offered his help.  We only worked out a couple times but mentally we worked thru a game plan for State and it was what I needed.  Gave me the confidence back after those loses.  Big thanks to him. I owe him and never thanked him enough for it!

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Back story to this one: This is one of my first ever wrestling articles published. I have been writing for years to varying degrees of little to debatable success and my first ever gig was writing for The Mepo News Sports Section when I was 17. Then when I became 21, I became a relatively successful humor writer and had a couple articles published on College Humor. My “mascot” for that site is actually a pretty famous meme that most have you have probably seen before. People think it’s a real person, but nope… it’s me dressed in hillbilly “get-up” and my wife’s hair extensions creating the illusion of a mullet man. If you’ve ever seen a meme with a trashy mullet guy wearing jokers and an orange cut-off that reads, “Dawg Pounds,” that’s me! 😂My first wrestling article idea was pitched and accepted by Wyatt Schultz of The Predicament and after years of being turned down by other sources for similar ideas, I finally wrote something about wrestling that was published. That was a couple years ago and it was this article.

If I were to name 5 people off the top of my head to give credit to in terms of helping me get to a position where I am writing about wrestling with people actually reading the material, I would say; James Maize, Mary Beckman, Wyatt Schultz, Kendra Jahn and Marshall Koethe. After the Inside The Rivalry idea was accepted, I had to get Herda and Koethe on board and I knew all about their rivalry, but they did not know me. So here I was, this stranger, inquiring about whether or not they were interested in participating in an article about their rivalry that consisted of personal stories, expression of thoughts and feelings, reliving pleasant and unpleasant phases of their lives, etc. Both agreed immediately. Herda thought it was awesome and was excited for it. This story had a good ending for him. Koethe was cooler than I could have possibly imagined when I asked him if he’d participate. This story didn’t end well for him and chronicles a dark phase of his life where he was making questionable decisions and was on the receiving end of some blatant hate and boos from general wrestling spectators. Here I am, this stranger and a person who likely comes off to everyone as maybe a little…too enthusiastic and crazy about everything, and he was all in. He took the opportunity immediately and expressed his desire to do well on it, in a way that could possibly connect with teen wrestlers today who may be reading and teeter-tottering with their own life-choices. These guys went all out and the reception of the article was great. Without these two, this site would not exist… and Koethe, to this day has consistently supported everything I’ve posted and has offered to help me with the site while knowing that I have nothing to offer at this time. This kid made a fan for life with this article and there will never be a day where I won’t have this kid’s back 100% in whatever endeavors he pursues. A lot of potential writing talent with him.

Big thanks to both these guys! In a way, it got me started with some aspirations of mine that is reflected on the site.

 

Nate Herda

Marshall Koethe

Inside the Rivalry: Chronicles of Some of the Greatest Rivalries in Iowa High School Wrestling

Chapter 1: Marshall Koethe (Akron Westfield/Twin River Valley) vs. Nate Herda (Central Lyon)

The year was 2008. 2008 was a fun year, thanks to the head to head match-ups we were fortunate enough to see at the tournament. The team races were more or less blow-outs. Don Bosco won in 1A, Ballard in 2A and Waverly Shellrock in 3A.  All three schools set the scoring records for their classes in that year. And all three schools repeated the next year.

Don Bosco won 1A again with a handful of Welters sprinkled with two Reiters as well as a Kettman, Schares, Ortner, Becker, McMahon and Delagardelle. That’s a nice collection of names that when you hear them, they immediately make you think of Don Bosco wrestling. Central Lyon represented the Northwest part of the state well with two state champs (Nate Herda and Jordan Gacke with a runner up finish from Scott Eben). Also in 1A in 2008, Bart Reiter clinched his 3rd of four state championships, Deric Thomas splashed onto the scene by winning his first of three, Jake Demmon looked like a machine at the state tournament. There was some good wrestling in 1A in 2008.

In 2A in 2008, Ballard was a total powerhouse and just ran away with the title with their Weatherman bros, a couple Hiatt bros, Tyler Grask, Coffman, Taylor Eichenberger, Sullivan, Anderson, Ramsey, etc. They were absolutely dominant in 2A during this time…this was the time right before the emergence of Assumption, Mediapolis, Denver-Tripoli, Creston, Union-La Porte City & West Delaware of Manchester There was an unbelievable match between Ridge Kiley and Levi Wolfensperger that came right down to the wire in which Kiley was victorious. To make things more impressive, the 3rd place finisher in that bracket was Joe Colon from Clear Lake…a guy who has succeeded on every level and still continues to on the international scene.  Now that’s a tough 3rd place guy. Andrew Long from Creston won his 3rd title and looked unbeatable in doing so. Seth Noble from Columbus Jct. won his first of two titles as a Sophomore. He was closer to winning four titles than people realize.  2A also gave the state their first look at physical specimen and professional football player, Austin Blythe from Williamsburg who placed 2nd at 285 as a Freshman, which is generally unheard of.  His senior brother, Holden, won the 220 lb. bracket.

3A in 2008 was the Waverly Shellrock show. I can’t think of a team that I would consider better than this one…it was total domination. They had their Ballwegs, Caldwell, Cox, Rinken, Thompson, Campbell, Kittleson, Averhoff, Wrage, etc. I used to think that I would never see a team that was assembled with more ammo than the Lewis Central and Emmetsburg teams of the early 2000’s. Then Waverly-Shell Rock came along and changed my mind. They made the team race a boring one…for the other teams.  It was a race for 2nd coming in to the tourney, for everyone knew WSR would dominate.  3A had some interesting stuff this year. St. John’s bracket in 2008 was interesting, though. He beat Kyven Gadsen in the finals. For those of you who haven’t connected the dots there yet, both of those two went on to win an NCAA title and one of them indicated to the world, his affinity for ice cream in a funny, classic post-match interview. Matt McDonough won his 3rd title. Another NCAA champ. Future Iowa wrestler and state champ, Dylan Carew was in that bracket. And Nick Moore won his 2nd of four titles.  3A was loaded in 2008.

Hard to believe this was ten years ago already.  Ever wonder what happened to some of these guys? Well, you are about to hear from two of them who entertained the crowd with one of the most intense, hard fought matches that has ever taken place at Wells Fargo Arena. People mention this match as one of the best they’ve seen whenever the topic is brought up, whether on forums or just random conversation. People remember the exact place they were when they think about this match.  This match was right up there with other good matches like Thomsen vs. West, Clark vs. Devos, Farris vs. Peters, Leisure vs. Thompson, Biscoglia vs. Bennett, Carton vs. Sorensen, Drain vs. Wilcke, Wolfensperger vs. Kiley, Fox vs. Roth, Ettelson vs. Naig, Reiter vs. Reiland, Marlin vs. Schmidt, etc. This could very well be one of the most exciting displays of wrestling that has ever taken place at Wells Fargo.

The match was between two returning state champs…Marshall Koethe from Twin River Valley formerly of Akron Westfield VS. Nate Herda from Central Lyon. This took place in the semifinals. I had the pleasure of speaking to both of them about what their feelings/thoughts were before and after the match, their approach, their mindset, the match itself, etc. These two are wonderfully polite people with a ton of mutual respect for each other, which is great to see. However, when they were competing, Herda made it very clear that he was on a mission to break Koethe’s heart, something he had failed to do in their five previous matchups…all of which Koethe won by tech or pin. Those five matches took place when they were freshmen and sophomores. In 2008, they were seniors, so Herda had two years to gear up from the last time Koethe dominated him until their infamous match at state their senior season. Koethe, in the mean time, was trying to stay focused and simultaneously refrain from making life-altering negative decisions in his junior and senior years. He had his battles on the mat, but also had his battles off the mat, something he regrets to this day and now makes it a point in his life to help talented kids that he sees going down a similar path. Some of the off the mat stuff affected Koethe’s training and all the while Herda was coming for him like a grizzly bear. The gap was about to close… and it did.

Coming in, Koethe was widely favored to win the match between he and Herda their senior year. Coming into his senior year, he had placed 2nd, 1st and 1st at state. And most importantly, he dominated Herda every time they wrestled in previous meetings via tech or pin. Herda had an impressive resume early in high school himself. He placed 8th as a freshman, 5th as a sophomore and won state as a junior. Given how good his resume was, that shows you how good Koethe was from the time he started high school wrestling considering he dominated a formidable foe like Herda five times those first two years. Along with this, Koethe closed out AAU in 6th through 8th grade with 2nd, 1st and 1st place finishes. He was clearly and consistently one of the elite guys of the grade. Herda never placed in AAU until 7th grade in which he placed 7th. Seems like things clicked for him as an 8th grader, for he won it that year.

Koethe’s biggest influence growing up was his father, Terry, a former wrestler at Dubuque Hempstead. Koethe said, “He did a great job training me. Did it the right, effective way.”  In terms of influence, Herda mentions Tom Meester. Meester was in my grade and around the same weight and I remember vividly how tough he was. Herda was also influenced by Jason Reitmeier. He describes them as “great coaches, better people.” These guys were the reason that Herda decided to wrestle at Augustana, for they were selfless people who put their athletes first at all times and would sacrifice their personal time to help their athletes at the drop of a hat. Herda stated that Meester molded his wrestling style.

Both wrestlers respected a lot of the same wrestlers in their grade like Nate Moore, Marcus Edgington, Andrew Long (a personal friend of Koethe’s at Iowa State), etc. They both described Nate as being fun to watch.

To make this matchup even more notable, both these guys were from the Sioux/Northwest part of the state. That area doesn’t get much publicity, but their wrestlers are proud of where they are from, as they should be…Koethe and Herda included. They still root for their northwest guys. Koethe’s favorite current wrestlers are Adam Allard and Kory Van Oort, two exceptionally good wrestlers from West Sioux. Herda is a Gable Sieperda (Central Lyon) fan. Sieperda is a great wrestler who is also the best distance runner in the state. Koethe only follows wrestling and enjoys following Dake, Burroughs and Chamizo. He also respects the means in which Penn State promotes the sport. Koethe is an ambassador for wrestling and proud of it. Herda is an Oklahoma Sooners fan who is sad to see Baker Mayfield shipped to the factory of sadness (Cleveland). He was in Columbus at “The Shoe” when Mayfied famously planted the flag. His favorite rivalry in wrestling is Mark Perry vs. Johnny Hendricks.

Both Herda and Koethe felt that summer wrestling was integral to their development and both wrestled freestyle. Koethe was a schoolboy national champ and won a national folkstyle title. Herda placed 6th at FILA one year and would finish with a winning record at Fargo every year.

After high school, Herda was a two time All-American at Augustana, placing as a freshman and sophomore. He just had a couple bad weekends during nationals his Junior and Senior year…not the way he wanted to end his career, but he realizes that the good ultimately outweighed the bad in his career. His favorite wrestler, who was years ahead of him, was Ryan Morningstar.  Koethe wrestled at Iowa State with a group of guys who he describes as being good people with good hearts. He wrestled for Cael and Cody Sanderson with guys like Nate Gallick, Cyler Sanderson, Andrew Long and Nick Fanthorpe. They were all a very supportive squad to one another. He describes his ISU wrestling team as good guys and comrades.  He stated that he wishes he could do that over again, for he was making poor choices (partying, not taking care of himself) at the time and it hindered his development. He feels he could have done better. Now one of his ongoing missions in life is to influence, motivate and encourage kids to make wiser choices, while discussing his own experiences and what he learned kinesthetically by means of unwise decision making. He not only wants to help kids stay on track for wrestling, but for their long term futures in general.

Koethe had a career record of 160-6. He wrestled for Akron Westfield. He then transferred to Twin River Valley as a Senior. Herda was a Central Lyon lifer, in an era where their wrestling fanbase was at their most rabid levels.

Want to see the infamous match that took place their Senior year? Click on the links below.

 

Here are parts 1 and 2 to this unforgettable match

 

If you don’t choose to watch the match via youtube clips, let me summarize the match.  There was a ton of scrambling and fighting for position on their feet. Some powerful shots taken by both guys, in which both scored with.  A lot of grambys by Herda. Very tough riding by Koethe. There was a ton of excitement in the crowd. Koethe scored first via takedown in the first period. Herda responded with a reversal, in which Koetha responded with a reversal of his own to go into the 2nd period with Koethe up 4-2. Koethe started down in the 2nd period and immediately scored an escape to make it 5-2. Herda scored a takedown off his own shot with 25 seconds left in the 2nd period to make it 5-4 Koethe to start the 3rd period with Herda starting in the bottom position. Koethe rode Herda hard and had a cradle locked up at one point that appeared tight. Koethe put a leg in with 4 seconds left in the 3rd, up 5-4 when a stalemate was called. At the restart, Herda hit a powerful gramby that put Koethe to his hip, that Herda, the coaches and the Central Lyon fans thought was a 2 point reversal, but 1 was awarded to send it into OT, likely because the loss of control was RIGHT when time ran out. In the 2nd OT, Koethe scored a quick reversal to lead 7-5. In the 3rd OT, Herda was awarded a point because Koethe scissored Herda’s head to make it 7-6. Herda escaped and they went out of bounds with 6 seconds left to make it 7-7. At the whistle, Koethe shot in and it was countered by Herda and he spun around for the TD and the win at the end of the period. The result was 9-7 Herda in 3 OT’s… Herda went on to win it, Koethe wrestled tough in the consolation side to place 3rd.

Now, to the best part of the article. Here is what both wrestlers have to say about the experience they shared by competing vigorously against each other in this semifinal match at state their senior year.

Let’s start with Marshall Koethe:

Koethe: I have all the respect in the world for Herda and felt like he won fair and square. He wanted it more and deserved it. As much as it devastated me at the time, he deserved it. While I do feel he wrestled a smart, lights-out match, I will acknowledge that I don’t think I was on top of my game coming in. Some pieces just weren’t fitting together like they usually do. I made mistakes that I never made before. For example, I looked at the clock when I had a cradle locked up…I never do that. And a stalemate was called when I looked at the clock. It was unfortunate. I also scissored the head in OT. Some parts just weren’t me. From the moment I stepped on the mat, I had to continuously remind myself to focus. I kept losing focus. And it was so loud from the mob of people watching our specific match that I couldn’t hear anything, so there was a coach-athlete communication barrier.  I also had a lot of distractions going on off of the mat. It was a big ordeal on the forums, papers, etc. I received a lot of negative publicity due to being caught with drug paraphernalia my junior year and failed a urine test during Christmas break. Mistakes I have since learned from:  I was suspended all year my senior year until sectionals. And people were being judgamental, spiteful, vindictive and wishing me ill because of it. It was irritating. Neutral spectators sometimes rooted against me because everyone had heard about my off the mat issues and they just assumed that I was a bad kid, which I wasn’t. I just needed help and encouragement to grow up. I was and am a nice guy. Maybe if they knew that, they’d take the route of trying to help me instead of publicly slamming my entire character/being. I make up for it by taking that route with kids in need of guidance myself now.

SO…. It comes down to this…Herda worked his ass off. He lived a respectable life off the mat. He got whooped bad by me numerous times and beat me when it mattered most, which was our last meeting. Props to him. I worked my ass off in the room, but developed an unhealthy lifestyle off the mat. It all caught up to me and before I could make adjustments, Herda was getting his hand raised after beating me.  I don’t want to use these distractions as excuses. They aren’t excuses…living a healthy lifestyle is part of wrestling and Nate beat me there. So I have no excuses. It’s just what was going on with me at the time. And while I was confused at times out there due to the excessive noise and lack of focus, I was very confident before the match. I knew that I beat him badly five different times by tech or pin every time two short years ago, so that gave me confidence. Plus, I didn’t lose often. However, I was aware of how hard he was working, how healthy of a life he lived and I was certainly not ignorant to the fact that this guy thought about beating me, likely multiple times per day. I have a ton of respect for Nate Herda as a person and wrestler. He earned it. To reiterate, I now prioritize helping kids who may be troubled or headed down a confusing path, for I know how it feels. These people need guidance along with someone to listen to them and I prioritize doing that in life. I don’t want other wrestlers making the same mistakes I did and regretting it for the rest of their lives. Wrestling becomes a part of who you are and it sticks with you, so you don’t want any regrets. Those are my thoughts regarding my match vs. Nate Herda. It was a great match, yes, but I grew from it so there is value in the experience regardless of the outcome on the scoreboard.

And now, Nate Herda:

Herda: To start, my thoughts on Marshall Koethe. I remember him as the enemy all through high school. I spent a lot of energy disliking him and working to beat him. I haven’t talked to him in years, but my friends back home have run into him at little kid wrestling tournament in which now he is a fantastic father and great coach. A positive influence. That match was an incredible experience for me. He contacted me about this interview today, we chatted about the match and our lives now. I wish him nothing, but the best. I think we are both in better places now and that is a good thing. Given the right occasion and circumstances, I would be up for a rematch. I want more than just one win in the series. Would you guys like to see that?

Before the match, I knew him well due to wrestling so much. Although we have closure now and I consider him a great ambassador for the sport, I wouldn’t say that we were friends back then. Wrestling can be too personal given the work everyone puts in and everyone is always trying to take what they think is theirs and you know is yours. So as mentioned, Koethe killed me the previous five times we met and it ticked me off. I hate losing. Losing always sucks. I’ve never gotten used to the feeling of it or learned to handle it. To this day, my family will say I’m a poor sport when I lose at something. So Koethe did his share of making me angry my first two years in high school. Regardless of how pumped and worked up I felt for the match, I knew what happened in the previous matches, but I managed to maintain a confident outlook. I remember taking him down at an old timers tourney in one of our early matches and I truly felt that was the start of me closing the gap. It instilled confidence in me that Koethe was mortal and I knew that I was a different, much better wrestler as a senior than the last time we met. I think he knew this too. My game plan coming in was to keep the match on my feet and force him into bad shots. Ironically, I spent the majority of the match on bottom. He probably rode me for 3+ minutes total. I am thankful that riding time is not awarded in high school. I scored my points when I had to. It was opportunistic. When opportunity presented itself, I scored. Although he was my enemy, I simultaneously had so much respect for how good of a wrestler he was. I mean, he smoked me in previous matchups, so it’d be crazy and ignorant to not respect him. Our styles clashing was interesting. My style was like this: I had a good counter offense and could force people into bad shots because I would move them all over the mat, creating angles that I wanted. I had a good swing single. I struggled on bottom. Take this and clash it with Koethe’s presence of mind, positioning, strength, mat sense and leverage and you will have a good matchup. The match went into double OT. We were both so exhausted. It literally didn’t sink in that I had finally beaten Marshall Koethe until my hand was raised. When my hand was raised, it was one of the best moments of my life. The crowd was euphoric. I have a picture a fan took of my family. To this day, every once in a while, I will just take a moment to look at that picture and remember that great day/moment. There was a lot of joy for our family that day.  Since then, I have continued to respect Koethe more and more. He had some off the mat problems that he received a lot of negative attention from, but that added to the situation. He was and is a good guy. I am so impressed with the father, coach and ambassador for the sport that he has become.

Towards the end of my career, I put a lot of pressure on myself for no reason. Wrestling is fun. I miss it so much and wish I could do it again with the realization of how fun it is. I wish I would have believed in myself a bit more and not taken it so seriously. At least three out of the four years, I didn’t torture myself by cutting too much weight. I did that my sophomore year and promised my parents I would never do it again. It adds stress to a fun sport, its unhealthy and I ended up winning two state titles while not over-cutting.

My teammates were wonderful in every sport. Jordan Gacke, Scott Eben, etc. They weren’t just awesome teammates in wrestling. We were great on the football and track fields too. We won state football when I was a junior. Another great experience and wrestling obviously helps tremendously for other sports. Have fun in this fun sport and appreciate it and seize every opportunity as they present themselves. No half measures. I worked very hard and learned those last three years that summer wrestling is crucial to success on the mat. It diversifies your skillset. I got to the point where I would do anything and everything just to get a work out in. Mrs. Meester would open the wrestling room so I could work out in my free time, sometimes by myself. Coach Van Beek and De Boer would help me with a lot of this. I owe a lot of my success to my coaches and wrestling supporters.

If there is any advice I could give to the youngsters, it’d be this: Enjoy wrestling. It’ll be over before you know it. Work hard, listen to your parents and coaches. Believe in yourself and ask why it can’t be you. It took me so long to fully believe that and I’m not so sure it happened. Be proud of youself for wrestling. It is not easy and people know that and will respect you for getting through it. Very few people are successful at wrestling. Someday, leaders or your boss will expect more out of you since you were a wrestler and that is a good thing. Take pride in that. You will always outwork everyone because that is what wrestlers do.

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What happened in the match between Brandon Mason and the Michigan kid who “wanted” to wrestle him at AAU Nationals in this Intro is one of my all-time favorite personal wrestling stories.

So way back in the day,2000, I think, Veterans Memorial Auditorium hosted a pretty big wrestling tournament a couple weeks AFTER hosting the notoriously electric Iowa High School state wrestling tournament. This was the AAU National Folkstyle Wrestling Championships. That tourney hosted several epic matchups with unexpected results that have since kind of faded from most people’s memories.

Anyways, the Mepo-Burlington hybrid wrestling crew that I was part of my whole wrestling life had a block of rooms at the Savery Hotel, I believe…One of those hotels that you can get to from the skywalk. Early on in the weekend, my brother Justin, Chris Johnson, Phillip Klees, Aaron Drain, Micah Keller, Josh Keller and I were randomly stumbling through the halls of our hotel when we came across the Lewis Central crew. My brother stopped and talked to them which stuck out to me, for I was generally the more social brother when it came to wrestlers from other schools, so I knew Justin must have liked these guys a lot, in order for him to initiate a big Lewis Central-Mepo crew conversation.  And once I realized that it was the Lewis Central crew, I knew what was up… Justin loved those guys. Ya see, the Summer before, he had gotten to know a lot of them, for he spent the night at the Paulson twins’ house for a week so he could attend a Keith Massey camp. And one of these guys we were talking to at the hotel was Trent Paulson… I never had a difficult time telling Trent and Travis apart, for I had watched them compete in the semis at AAU state with my best friend, Aaron Drain, for years. Plus, they addressed me differently. Trent went from referring to me as “the Bigger Swafford,” to simply, “Big Swaff” our last couple years in high school. Travis always knew me as, “I think that’s Justin Swafford’s brother.” 🙂 I am about 75% he would say this just to razz me a bit, for I had seen them act squirrelly like that with other wrestlers and quite frankly, the Paulson Twins were absolutely hilarious people.

So I want to say we were talking to Trent, Gabe Rostermundt, Aaron Smith and a couple other guys I didn’t know. However, one that I knew for sure was a guy named Brandon Mason, who was relaxing on a bed in their hotel room, watching Bugs Bunny and appearing to be having the time of his life. I knew Mason, for in the middle of a stretch where Justin won like 125 straight matches and racked up 3 AAU titles, he didn’t have a blemish at state with an exception of his 4th grade year where he was beaten by a kid named Henry Wahle from Underwood in the quarterfinals and that kid eventually lost to Brandon Mason, who won the bracket. The kid seriously showed up out of nowhere…and no one seemed to ever have a solution in terms of beating him. He was freaking good. And there he was a month after winning a state title as a Freshman in HS, laughing his tail off to Bugs Bunny and not caring in the slightest if anyone thought he was silly for doing so.  I knew I respected Mason from that moment… a guy who was willing to be himself even if it may have come off as “dorky” to others and could punish anyone who dared give him crap about it on the mat… Yeah, I thought it was cool… and it was reassuring to see someone besides Justin, Drain and I watching a cartoon like that and shamelessly having a good time in doing so.  

After a few minutes of shooting the bull with these guys, a group of Michigan wrestlers approached us and we all looked at each other’s hands to see what weights we were all wrestling at, for our weights and divisions were written on our hands. One of those guys were in Mason’s bracket. We pointed Brandon out to this guy and there he was, still sitting on the bed watching Bugs Bunny and chuckling…without a care in the world. The Michigan kid made the comment, “hell, I HOPE I wrestle THAT guy…I’ll have the fastest pin of the tournament if I do!” Trent Paulson’s reaction to this was epic. His face formed the most subtle of smirks and he replied, “I don’t blame you. That kid is a pud. Our workout dummy. You should try to shoot for the fastest pin of the tournament when you wrestle him.” And the Michigan guy just nodded his head and laughed, not knowing how utterly facetious Trent’s response was. If I didn’t know who Brandon was, I wouldn’t have caught on to it myself.

The next day, the Michigan kid and Brandon Mason DID meet up. The result? I couldn’t tell you any specifics, but Mason OBLITERATED him. And we all laughed our asses off. IT WAS AWESOME! I always, ALWAYS root for the Iowa guys on the national level and watching him do this to a kid who was laughing at him the day before, it was great. I ran into Mason and his dad on the skywalk and told them how awesome I thought that was and proceeded to have an hour long conversation with both of them. Great people… Very intelligent. I talked to Brandon’s dad probably 10X more than I talked to Brandon himself. 

Brandon Mason didn’t give people the vibe that most 3-4 time state champion/future D1 guys did. Not that he didn’t look like a wrestler. He just didn’t share a lot of the same characteristics as a lot of your world-beaters do. He wasn’t physically imposing. He was freakishly strong, but didn’t look like an ox. Heck, Mason won state as a Freshman in 2001 at 3A 135 and looked like a skinny little kid in doing so. He wasn’t a real intense guy to talk to either. He was very friendly to everyone. In fact, a 3rd string JV guy with no wins could approach the guy and talk to him and he’d carry on a conversation with them as if they were equals in wrestling skill level. My brother once made the comment, “Brandon Mason is more likely to converse with people in the weigh-in line about the anatomy of weight cutting than he is to converse about how thirsty he is or about anything wrestling.” The dude always walked to the beat of his own drum and in Brandon Mason’s case, the beat of his drum was like taking John Bonham from Led Zeppelin to a rinky-dinky Battle of the Bands contest.

So let’s catch up with Brandon Mason…one of the best Iowa high school wrestlers to grace the mat. I have produced tons of these articles by now and have gotten to the point where I have no idea how I’d answer some of the standard questions… for example, my GOAT changes all the time…  Of course there are the “no-brainer” 4-timers that the best arguments can be made for, but then again… there are guys who won less than 4, sometimes just 1 and I never saw anyone wrestle than them as they did when they won it.  Take Cory Connell for example.  He only won one title. It seemed like he was always a close Ryan Heim-type loss away before his Senior year. However, I can’t say I’ve seen someone whose skills were more polished than his when he was a Senior. Wil Kelly from Wahlert is another that just amazed me as an upperclassmen. He won 3. Jason Kelber, Kent Streicher, Chad Zaputil, etc. So much depends on when they wrestled, where they wrestled, who they wrestled, what weight they started out as, etc.  Heck, you can make an argument for several Lewis Central guys. Dave Kjeldgaard, both Paulson twins as well as Jimmy Waters, etc. One of the Paulson’s actually were stopped by Connell when Connell was a Senior, Paulson’s were Sophomores. Jimmy Waters is definitely up there for “best multi-sporter wrestler of all time.” An argument can also be made for Brandon Mason. If you take into consideration, the weight he started at as a Freshman (a lot of middle and upper weight guys get left out in the GOAT conversation) being 135, which is tough for anyone, let alone a Freshman, the dominating fashion in which Mason defeated guys, the resumes of the guys he would beat, etc… Sometimes, I feel like the GOAT argument is pointless unless you separate them into weight-ranges…lower, middle and upper. If you factor that in, Brandon Mason is one of the best ever middle weight wrestlers in Iowa HS wrestling history.

 

When did you start wrestling?

I was 6 years old when I started. My dad took me to a wrestling tournament somewhere in southwest Iowa and I got 2nd place in the round robin tournament (lost to Dane Petersen) and I was hooked. Thomas Sweeney asked me to join the Panther wrestling club after the tournament.

 

How did you do in youth wrestling?

I had a successful youth wrestling career. I didn’t have a specific rival.

 

What was your record in HS?

195-2

 

How did you do at state each year?

1st, 3rd, 1st, 1st

 

What was the highpoint of your HS wrestling career?

Being on a team that set the record for most champions in 2001 with 6 champs and also winning the state team championship my senior year as significant underdogs in the team race.

 

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

To Anthony Watson at state, Sophomore year. It hurt a lot. The goal is to be a state champion on top of that podium in the barn. When you put in the time and effort training it hurts when you don’t accomplish your goals.

 

Do you have any family members who wrestled?

No.

 

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

Wrestling was year round for me

 

How would you describe your wrestling style?

I was aggressive and pushed the pace. I was also pretty good in the top position.

 

If you could change one thing about your HS wrestling tenure, what would it be?

For high school I would like to have not lost that match at state to Anthony.

 

Did you wrestle after high school?

Yes, I wrestled at Oklahoma State University.

 

Who is the GOAT Iowa HS wrestler of all time?

That is a tough one since there are so many quality wrestlers who have wrestled in Iowa. The one that comes to mind first is Jeff McGinness as he was a 4x state champ and I believe won a JR world title also.

 

Who was your most influential coach?

I had many influential coaches thru my career from youth wrestling all the way into college where I was coached by John Smith. I was fortunate to have two excellent high school coaches during my time at Lewis Central in Keith Massey and Chad Beaman who both took the time to put in extra work with me outside of practice. For all the coaches who have helped me throughout the years thank you.

 

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

It has helped me stand out in my medical career as someone who doesn’t cut corners and who can be relied upon. Plus because of wrestling things most people think are tough aren’t that bad for me. As the saying goes once you have wrestled everything else is easier.

 

What kind of music do you listen to?

I usually listen to Country music; however, sometimes I will put on some 90’s rock or rap while I work.

 

What do people in Oklahoma think of Iowa wrestling?

This is a difficult question. I think that educated wrestling fans appreciate good wrestling no matter who is on the singlet. I think most people down here think the coaching staffs up in Iowa (Iowa, ISU, and UNI) are doing a great job and have had their wrestlers wrestling really well. All that being said people from Oklahoma probably won’t be cheering for someone in an Iowa singlet any time soon.

Most notable competitors for you?

Honestly I didn’t wrestle the same person too many times in my high school career. I had some battles with Ben Stedman my freshman year where all the matches were pretty close. The loss I took my sophomore year at state to Watson I wrestled him again the next week, but those were the only two times we wrestled.

What do you do now?

After finishing my wrestling career I went to medical school at OSU-CHS. Following medical school I got into a radiology residency and then did a Body MRI fellowship. I am now a Radiologist in Stillwater Oklahoma at Stillwater Medical Center. I also travel with the OSU wrestling team as a doctor for them.

Are you still involved with wrestling?

I travel with the OSU wrestling team when my hospital schedule permits. I also go up to the wrestling room from time to time and will seldomly get on the mat with some of the guys. I did miss wrestling quite a bit the 10 years of my medical training.

Do you think John Smith is the greatest wrestler of all time?

I think accomplishments speak loudly. Because of this I think John is the greatest freestyle/greco roman wrestler from the USA. Collegiate wise it is hard to argue against Cael. Overall best wrestler of all time is difficult with so many multiple time world and Olympic champions out there for other countries mostly the former USSR and Russia. Some of my favorites were Arsen Fadzayev and Buvaisar Saitiev.

Is John Smith a cool person?

Yes, he is a great guy and family man. He cares about all of his current and former wrestlers. He would check in on me from time to time while I was in my medical training. He asked me to travel with the team as soon as I moved back to Stillwater.

How would Lewis Central of the early 00’s stack up against powerhouses today?

That is also a difficult question as I’m not a fan of hypotheticals. The team from my freshman year (2000-2001) I think would have been extremely competitive against any Iowa high school team since then. We ended the season ranked number 2 in the nation to arguably the best high school team ever up at Blair (Mocco, Esposito, Perry, Cooperman, and etc.) We also had 6 state champions that year which is a record that still stands and I am proud to be a part of.

 

Who were your practice partners at each level (youth, HS and college) and how did they help shape you into the wrestler you were/are? Anyone who stuck out as being most influential to you?

During my time in youth and my early high school years I had many successful wrestlers around me that would push me to be more successful. For example, my teammates from my freshman team at Lewis Central were extremely important to me. All 13 of the other varsity wrestlers as well and the other guys on the team who pushed us. I don’t have one specific influential wrestler, I am grateful for everyone on my journey.

 

Did you play any other sports? If so, how did you do at them?

No, I just wrestled.

 

Are you married? Got kids? Do they wrestle?

Married with 3 daughters.

 

Do you have any hobbies off the mat?

Not many hobbies with 3 little girls in the house. I enjoy golfing and fishing when I get a chance.

 

Do you have any advice for upcoming wrestlers?

Wrestling is the greatest sport. Put in the work and enjoy the ride. The work you put in on the mat will help you with everything throughout your life.

 

Any chance we could see a rematch with you and any of your rivals at an old man’s tournament?

I would say one in a billion… (So you’re saying there’s a chance!

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Kevin Swafford of Mediapolis in blue on top against state runner-up Al Melcher of Fairfield.

A little home-cooking, eh? Well, if that’s the case, be thankful because Kevin is awesome. Kevin Swafford is a legend to all 4 of us Swafford brothers. An absolute legend. From the time of my earliest memories, I remember thinking to myself, “this guy is so cool.” He is one of my favorite and most influential people in my life. Kevin is my uncle. My dad, Mark’s older brother. It was Kevin and his twin brother, Brian that started the whole “Swafford wrestling” thing. This was followed by them getting my father, to follow their lead.  The Swafford’s were basketball players before them.

Kevin was the first ever Mediapolis wrestler to win a match at the state tournament in 1977. He was also great at other sports, most notably baseball.  Kevin impressed a few people so much with his athletic talent in High School to where was talked about for decades after he graduated. Heck, it wasn’t uncommon for me to hear a “Kevin” story when I was in HS in the late 90’s/early’00’s. Apparently he hit a baseball over the press box in center field and over storage shed behind the right-center fences. Those were shots!  If you ever talk to his friends from high school, most of them who haven’t seen him in years because he doesn’t come back to Mediapolis very often, all kind of have the same way of describing him.  They’ll raise their eyebrows and say, “your uncle Kevin was just…..awesome. Seriously one of the coolest friends I ever had and an incredible athlete.”  I heard this a lot.  

Justin and I have memories dating back to when we were little where Kevin would hang out with us two and go to Lake Geode, drive around on gravel, hang out and he would always talk to us about how our lives were going.  It was different with Kevin because he was this adult, who everyone we were around a lot seemed to idolize and here he is, talking to us kids as if we are at the same level as him. Talked to us kids as if we were human beings and listened to every word we had to say to him.  Throughout our lives, he always made it a point to assure us that he loved us. “You are my little brother’s sons! My blood! I will always love you guys and will always be there for you,” he would say. And he meant it…and we knew it.

Kevin had a knack for getting people (I assume) to believe in themselves.  I assume this because he got ME to believe in MYself. Because HE believed in us. Like HOF NCAA Basketball HC Jimmy Valvano said in his infamous speech. Having someone believe in you is one of the best gifts you can receive. And in Kevin’s case, he was the only one who I could tell believed in me so much that I couldn’t help, but believe in myself as well.  I alluded to one of these stories in my article on Jeremiah Butteris. About 90% of the struggles I ever had on the mat were attributed to nerves, anxiety, panic… and it seemed as if it were impossible to control. It really felt like I couldn’t help it.  Then Kevin would start talking to me and all the sudden I felt like the baddest man on the planet and guess what?! I became the baddest man on the planet. It was night and day. I am serious when I say this… I don’t think I ever lost a single match ever under Kevin’s guidance and tutelage.  He took over for me two years in a row at AAU State where I lost early in the tournament. “I got this,” he’d say. Both years I dominated all the way back for 3rd place.  Any time I had Kevin as my own personal Mr. Miyagi, I won. He was a miracle worker, seriously.  And he played a huge role in Justin’s success in high school.  Justin’s routine in high school was to get done with wrestling practice and would drive 25 minutes to Kevin’s house near Danville, IA. Justin would lift weights in Kevin’s basement 3-5 times per week and would talk with Kevin, “The Wrestler Whistler” and it paid huge dividends for Justin. Justin wouldn’t have been as accomplished as he was in high school if it were not for the influence of Uncle Kevin.  I say that with 100% confidence. My biggest EVER regret from wrestling is not ever riding along with Justin to these workouts. Looking back, it was straight-up stupid of me not to.  I knew the impact that Kevin had on me and I knew how much of a barrier I could be to myself when it came to match preparation.  Kevin could literally fix that just by speaking to me. I should have leapt at that.  But instead, I went out with whichever girl it was at the time and/or just goofed off with Aaron Drain or whoever every night. I wish I could take that back. Kevin would have made a heckuva coach.

It was a good day when Kevin told me a few weeks ago that he was reading the website diligently every single day and that he was a fanatic of it. He spends a ton of time here and has a lot of fun when he does.  Other than my brother, Justin, I don’t think I have any family members who do regularly read what I post, which is fine, but it meant the world to hear this from Kevin, for I always looked up to him so much.

I am a huge fan of the early 90’s TV show, The Wonder Years. In that show, the main character’s name is “Kevin.” There were 115 episodes of that show made. I have watched every episode at least once and some of them 10+ times. I either have The Wonder Years theme song in my head and/or watch an episode of it before every time I write one of these because it puts me in the mood to do so.  Yet, when I hear the name, “Kevin,” I don’t think “Kevin Arnold.” I think “Uncle Kevin” in a flash. There is not a single soul in the world that I respect more than Uncle Kevin. 

Another cool thing about him is that he reminds me of my Grandpa Robert Swafford, who died in 2010…and we all miss terribly to this day. And if any of you have ever wondered where I get this writing bug, whether it’s hereditary or something I just picked up, well you are about to get your answer.  I have written tens of thousands of long, detailed articles and posts on message boards and what not these past couple decades. It is probably interesting that none of my other family members have ever really done that.  Justin is more into writing music. I don’t think he’s ever written a post or an article that seemed to pertain to sports in any way. Brennan and Shea have never shown this either.  Mom, Dad…nah.  My dad has posted a few times when someone on a message board has upset him, but that’s about it.  So where do I get this passion to write about wrestling from?  Welp, strap on your seatbelt and you will find out!

Oh, and I’m biased, but I firmly believe that if Kevin, Brian and my dad (Mark) would have begun wrestling earlier in life, they would have won 2-4 titles apiece. Heck, I witnessed Brian just lighting up a few of the area’s standout, state champ level wrestlers when he was well into his 30’s, maybe 40’s. All 3 of them… get them started in youth and they win multiple times. I have no doubt about that.

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I have been writing about wrestling in some way or another since I was a Sophomore in high school. That was around the time the Des Moines Register forums kicked off and when they did, they were a huge hit. Everybody was reading the forums for quite a few years. In Iowa, for high school wrestling, the forum traffic began at the Des Moines Register in 1999, moved to the Iowapreps forums in 2001 or so and in 2005 or so, traffic swarmed to The Predicament forums and to this day, I believe those are still the most hopping Iowa high school wrestling forums, although forums in general aren’t as popular as they used to be. With that said, one of my favorite topics over the years has been the “whatever happened to” topic.  There have been several wrestlers over the decades that were total hammers at one time and suddenly a year would come where some of them would not be around. Guys who were some of the best for almost a decade on the youth scene…vanished. Jamie Hotchkin, Austin Stogdill, Brad Leyse, Troy Thatcher, Shea Stamp, Ryan McDaniel, Ivan Wolfensperger, Willie James, Brian Tipps, Shane Strachan, Zach Thomas, etc. The list goes on and on and on. Tons of extremely talented wrestlers in Iowa have quit or moved elsewhere over the decades. And every time this topic has come up, Jeffrey Newby has always been one of the first ones I have inquired about. Jeffrey was in the grade below me. I was a middle weight-range guy from the time I started wrestling as a 1st grader all the until I graduated HS and by the time I hit the college (D3) wrestling scene, I was more of an upper-weight, for I continued to grow until I was 21-22 years old or so. Anyways, Jeffrey was one of the few guys in that grade below me who could consistently battle and place high competing against the guys in my grade in the middle-weight range. The other guys who stick out as being able to do this are Emmett Hughes, Dan Elsbury, Anthony Bribriesco and Jacob Smith. Every single year Newby was right in the mix with the “older” guys in my grade, generally placing in the top 2-4 in odd years and was top 1-2 in even years. I never wrestled him… he was always in the bracket 5 lbs. above me or 5 lbs. lighter, but my practice partner of 8 years, Adam Roberts from Burlington was at his weight a few times and I heard Newby’s name come up a few times while Adam and I were wrestling in practice and his dad would try to pump him up.

Jeffrey Newby was really, really good and the friendliest person you could run into at one of these tournaments and after he won AAU State as an 8th grader, I assumed that he would be right in the mix the following year as a Freshman in High School, but oddly, I never heard or read his name again. I had no idea what happened to him and he just didn’t seem like the type of kid to just quit, for he seemed to take wrestling very seriously in the limited conversations we would have as kids. And as mentioned, every time the “what ever happened to this guy” topic was brought up, I always inquired about Jeffrey Newby and no one on the boards ever seemed to know what happened. So you can about imagine how excited I was when I saw that he “liked” the Remember The Wrestler story on Rick Moreno a couple weeks ago on Facebook. I immediately added him as a friend on Facebook, caught up with him a bit and asked to do a Remember The Wrestler on him in which he gladly accepted.

Did Jeffrey Newby quit wrestling? Ha! I won’t give much away other than this: He most certainly didn’t quit! Wait until you read how decorated his wrestling career ended up being after 8th grade and how much of an ambassador for the sport that he continues to be. It’s seriously rare to come across someone with a more impressive resume than this man and he is still just as friendly of a person as he used to be back in the day. Usually the “whatever happened to” discussions have bad, sad or crazy unfortunate endings. The story of Jeffrey Newby took off in the total opposite direction as most.

 

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

  • Glenwood (Youth in Iowa), Box Elder (High School in Utah), Boise State (college), Utah Valley University (college).

 

What year did you graduate?

  • 2002

 

Who or what encouraged you to give wrestling a try?

  • My Dad put my brothers in wrestling so I went along with them.

 

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

  • My two sons, Nixon (5 years old), started wrestling this year and Oakley (3 years old) does his best to keep up, he gets through the warm up and then typically goes off and does his own thing. I had one brother, Justin, that wrestled through high school and placed 2nd in state as a senior and I have a nephew (Bryon) that wrestles in the 8th grade.  

 

What were your youth results? Any rivals there?

  • I won state in 8th grade, 7th grade I broke my wrist so didn’t get to compete at state and won state in 6th grade. 6th grade was the first year I won state. As for rivals…I wouldn’t call them rivals, but I had a bunch of kids that I remember wrestling a bunch such as Emmett Hughes, Ryan Terry, Marshall Marquardt, David Emch etc. 

 

What was your record in HS?

  • Something like 146-19…I may be off by a little, but that’s pretty close.

 

How did you place at state every year?

  • I won state all 4 years in high school.

 

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

  • One of the biggest challenges in my wrestling career was dealing with Ulcerative Colitis during my college career. I got diagnosed with this right before starting my freshman year at Boise State and had a hard time keeping this under control throughout my five years wrestling at Boise State and Utah Valley University. It was something that, for me, was a constant roller coaster. 

 

Did you notice any differences in the wrestling scenes that you competed in? Did you consider Iowa’s competition tough compared to Utah’s? How would you compare and contrast the two states in terms of their wrestling scenes?

  • The biggest difference in wrestling between Utah and Iowa is the depth. Iowa has so much more depth than Utah. The top wrestlers from Utah can compete with the best in the country, but the depth drops off quickly in Utah compared to Iowa. Iowa just has so many more wrestlers. I remember as a kid when I went to the state tournament, they were 32 man brackets and I hadn’t even heard of half the kids in my bracket and would wrestle kids I had never wrestled before. In Utah by the time the state tournament comes around you have wrestled pretty much everyone and know who everyone is. 

 

Do you feel that wrestling could ever take off in Brazil, given Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is such a huge part of their culture?

  • To be honest I have no idea, when I lived there I didn’t get to really look into that stuff too much as we were always busy with helping people or teaching about Jesus Christ. I talked with people about that stuff occasionally but overall I left wrestling behind for two years. 

 

Did it take you a while to become a well-known wrestler in Utah, or did people pretty much know right away that you were a good wrestler?

  • Before we moved to Utah my dad looked around for the good programs so he had already talked with the coach so my new coach knew who I was. I had some cousins in that town as well so overall I think people in my town knew, but not sure who else knew until wrestling started. 

 

Did you ever keep up with some of the results from the Iowa HS State Wrestling tournament just out of curiosity to see how it went? How do you feel you would have done in HS in Iowa?

  • Yeah I kept up with it the best I could. Back then you didn’t have flowrestling or trackwrestling so it was much more difficult but I kept up with it the best I could. It was fun to see how everyone I grew up with did. I think I would have done just fine had I stayed in Iowa. It would have be a lot of fun going through the Glenwood program with all my friends. From a young age I worked out with Kirk Artist and Quenton Moreno so it was difficult leaving especially with the workout partners I had in Glenwood at the time.

 

How would you describe your wrestling style?

  • Throughout high school I wrestled on my feet all the time, that’s where I was comfortable but with time and as I got older I got much better on the mat.  

 

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

  • There are 2 of them that I can think of off the top of my head, Matt Hodges and Brady Mock. Brady, I only wrestled my sophomore year and we traded wins and then Hodges I feel like I wrestled him every year in high school and I know we traded wins a couple times. 

 

Who was your most influential coach?

  • Most definitely my high school coach, Coach Mike Ripplinger.

 

Was your team competitive in HS/college?

  • My high school team, Box Elder was actually very good. We won state as a team my Freshman, Sophomore and Junior seasons and came 2nd my senior season. My Junior year we were very good, we were a top 20 Nationally ranked team that year and I think we had 5 state champs. 

 

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

  • I am not sure if I had just one but I guess I would say the high school team in general in Glenwood. I remember back then the state finals were on TV (probably still are but I have no idea) and I remember watching Clint Madison hitting a spladle with like 3 seconds left in the state finals match and scoring 2 takedown and 2 nearfall and taking the match into OT and winning in overtime with a takedown.  I remember going to the Glenwood home duals and watching and just thinking how good they were. I remember one dual I watched and Glenwood was losing (I think) and then we got like 2 pins back to back (I think one of them was Ryan Hankins but not 100% sure) or something like that and we won the dual. It was definitely one of my favorite duals growing up. It was things like those that helped motivate me to be better so I could one day be in that position. So I guess I would have to say the different experiences I was a part of helped influence me to want to get better. 

 

 

Who would you consider the GOAT Iowa HS wrestler?

  • I have no idea……I guess the one that comes to mind that I remember growing up the most was David Kjeldgaard, but I have no idea who the GOAT Iowa HS wrestler is. 

 

Who are your favorite current wrestlers?

  • I don’t have necessarily a favorite wrestler, but I like to watch wrestlers that score points or ones that are a bit unorthodox, Seth Gross, David Taylor, DeSanto, Burroughs etc. 

 

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

  • I never got into listening to music…mainly listened to sports talk radio growing up.

 

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

  • For sure my sophomore season in high school. I broke my hand in mid December so I was out for most of the season. I was able to come back before the end of the season and I was wrestling in the finals at region and the score was tied with about 3 or 4 seconds left on the clock and the official called me for stalling and gave the other kid a point. It was a rough loss for me, but is probably what helped me beat that same kid the next week at the state tournament in the finals.

 

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

  • You always look back and think you could have worked harder or done this or did that, but in the end I had a fun wrestling career and it led me to where I am today with my family and career so it all worked out, so not sure I would change things at this point. 

 

What was your best wrestling memory or accomplishment?

  • Probably winning state as a freshman. I definitely wasn’t the favorite to win that year and quite frankly, I didn’t know if I could. My coach kept telling me every day that I was going to win it and beat the #1 ranked kid. I think he brainwashed me into believing it because when I hit the #1 kid in the semifinals my thinking changed and I went out and beat him in overtime. In the finals I beat the #2 ranked wrestler, who I had lost to earlier that same year, in overtime also.

 

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

  • Josh and Zach Lamano, Brady Mock and Matt Hodges.

 

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

  • As a youth it was seasonal, I was really big into baseball at the time so I didn’t have time to wrestle year round. I actually probably played baseball more than I wrestled as a youth. As I got into high school, around my sophomore year, is when I started wrestling more year round. 

 

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

  • I think they would have been fine. You always look back and think that your era was the best but there are good wrestlers coming up all the time.  

 

Did you wrestle after high school?

  • I wrestled at Boise State University for 2 years and then transferred to Utah Valley University and wrestled there for 3 years. 

 

What other sports did you play?

  • I played baseball and football. I stopped playing football after my freshman year so I could play baseball in the fall which then changed to wrestling in the fall. 

 

What are your favorite sports teams?

  • Notre Dame football

 

What are your hobbies other than wrestling?

  • I still get out and play some slow pitch softball, used to play a lot more but with a family and kids I have scaled back a bunch. Now my hobbies center around my wife and two kids (soon to be 3 boys in August). 

 

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

  • I love being able to give back to the sport. I am fortunate enough to have a full time job in wrestling where I am able to work on growing the sport all the time. I love coaching as well and being able to see the kids grow and have successes. 

 

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

  • It has taught me so many good things, most importantly it has taught me a good work ethic and how to push through when things are tough. 

 

What do you do now?

  • I am the Executive Director of USA Wrestling Utah and I run a youth wrestling club (Westlake) in Saratoga Springs, Utah. 

 

Are you still involved with wrestling?

  • Yes very much so, my full time job is centered around wrestling and I run a youth wrestling club that I started about 6 years ago and has grown like crazy. 

 

Any advice for upcoming wrestlers?

  • Just have fun and parents, let your kids enjoy the sport. If the kids are having fun with the sport they are going to progress much quicker. 

 

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

  • No chance, I wrestle around at practices a little and that is as close as I will ever come to wrestling competitively again

 

 

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

  • Just thanks for doing this, it has been fun to reconnect with my Iowa roots and think about the time growing up there. It is always fun to reconnect with those I grew up wrestling with and think about the good old days back in Glenwood!
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By Stephen Stonebraker

Everyone one of us has our origin story for how we got involved in wrestling & what it was about the sport that made us fall in love with it.  In nearly all of these cases it was a coach that introduced us, encouraged us & motivated us along the way. In all of my years of being involved in this sport I’ve met a lot of passionate people.  Yet I don’t know if I’ve ever met someone who had a greater love, passion & appreciation for the sport than my pee-wee wrestling coach Larry Bird.

Matter of fact, if it wasn’t for Coach Bird, I might not have stuck with the sport.  I had gone to two weeks worth of practices my first year of wrestling before my first tournament.  There I got the tar beat out of me in three matches, taking fourth out of four wrestlers.  A black eye, a bloody nose & the wind knocked out of me, I rode home that Saturday telling my Dad that my wrestling days were over.  He could give the wrestling shoes my Uncle Chris had given me back. I was done.  The next week I skipped practices & I had no intention of ever going back.

Then one night my mom & I were up at the grocery store when we ran into Coach Bird.  I was afraid that he might be angry with me for having missed wrestling practices but he wasn’t. Instead he seemed more disappointed.  He told my mom that he missed seeing me at practice, because I was one of his favorites.  I had never been anyone’s favorite before.  I mean sure Mom & Dad told me that sort of stuff, maybe Grandpa & Grandma did too.  This was another adult though.  One that I wasn’t related to & to a seven year old, being told you’re somebody’s favorite is a big deal.  I figured if that was true, then I had to go back.  The next time I saw my Dad, I told him I wanted to give wrestling another try.  I went back to practices the next week & thus began my 12 years in amateur wrestling.

Larry was a fun coach that was somehow always able to make wrestling fun.  He took it seriously & he made you work hard, but he often livened up the mood with joke or tease. It was a delicate measure of work & play but he had it down to a science.  He knew when it was time to put the nose to the grind & he knew when it was time to give us a break.  What I admired most about him during that time is that he made time for everyone.  There were kids there that were far more talented than I was.  Dan Hammes, Darren Miller, I could name more.  Yet, he saw potential in all of us. If you came to his practice & you wanted to learn, he’d teach you.  I can remember nights when he’d show me how to do something & he’d make me do it over and over again till I got it right.

“Steve!!” I can hear his voice in my head as I type this. “Is that what I showed you to do?”

“Yeah.”

“What do you call that?”

“A double leg takedown.”

“If that’s a double leg takedown then I’m President of the United States!”

Then he’d show me the proper technique & have me mirror him. It might take 10 or 15, sometimes even 20 tries before I’d get it right, but as soon as I did, it was as if Larry had won the lottery.

“Yes! Yes!! That’s how you do it! Good!”

There were some kids that seemed completely helpless.  As if it didn’t matter how many times you showed them how to do something, they just weren’t going to get it.  Others might have given up on them, but Larry never did.  He’d work with you & work with you & work with you until you got it.  In my opinion that’s what made him such a great coach.  I think Larry wanted you to be good. In fact I know he did.  He loved seeing his wrestlers go on to have success.  He loved seeing you do well but there was more to it than that for him.  Whether you were a superb athlete full of all sorts of ability or you were a complete nerd without a speck of talent throughout your whole body, if you wanted to be in Larry Bird’s wrestling room, he wanted you there. He loved wrestling, he loved kids & he loved teaching wrestling to kids.

In high school Larry came to every single one of our matches.  He & his wife Mary filmed all of them too.  I sometimes get my tapes out & watch them.  They all have one thing in common, you can hear Larry Bird loud and clear cheering us on.  If anyone ate, breathed and crapped Sigourney Savage wrestling it was Larry Bird.  He was always our biggest fan.

You’ll never find “Larry Bird wrestling” in an internet search. He’s not in any Hall of Fames.  There are no record books where you’ll find his name.  And I’d be lying to you if I told you that didn’t hit a raw nerve in me.  He was never a champion wrestler.  I think the best he ever did was qualify for districts his senior year.  I guess in physical forms of medals and trophies, there aren’t any.   Yet I look at my life and what the sport of wrestling did for me.  How the sport is a big part of my life. How it has shaped me into the person I am. Given me the discipline, the work ethic & the character I display.  I know I’m a better person because wrestling was a part of my life.   And it’s all because I had a guy like Larry Bird that thought I was worth his time to teach the sport to.  Thought I was worth his time to encourage me & coach me.   I know there are many others who went through the Little Savage wrestling program that feel the same way I do.  This is my way of giving back to a coach that’s given nearly fifty years of himself to a sport that he loves. This is my way of saying thank you.


1.  You wrestled for legendary Coach Jack Smith during your time at Sigourney High School.  What made you want to give wrestling a try?

Actually I didn’t start wrestling until my sophomore year. It was Coach Smith who told Paul Clubb, a junior at the time to get me to the room. Paul told me in the hallway at school to be ready and he would pick me up at 6:00 a.m. the next morning, and I was like “what for?” The next day is when wrestling became part of my life.

 

2. Your passion & love for the sport of wrestling is second to no one.  What is it about the sport that is special to you?  What made you fall in love with it?

Growing up going to country school I wasn’t introduced to sports until my freshman year and went out for football and played all four years. Then as I said, I started wrestling my sophomore year. I loved contact ports and I know that’s one reason I liked the sport of wrestling. Also having the legendary Coach in Coach Smith whose love and passion for the sport gets into one’s blood and you can’t help but love the sport.

 

3.  You took over the Little Savage wrestling program in 1976.  How did that come about?

In 1970 or 1971 Ron Hoffman started the Little Savage wresting program along with the help of Francis Greiner. In 1976 they both decided they were ready for someone else to take over, thus began my 27 years of running the program and tournament before giving it up to Frosty Streigel and then Craig Reeves. I continued helping with the tournament for 4 or 5 more years.

 

4.  You also coached the Sigourney Savage junior high wrestling program for a spell as well.   What were the differences between coaching Pee-wee wrestling and junior high wrestling?  What were the challenges?

Actually for me there was not a lot of difference between Pee-Wee and Junior High. Teaching the fundamentals & basics was my main goal which is what any level of wrestling starts out with. The biggest challenge was keeping the Pee-Wee wrestlers attention. And of course the Junior High practices were more intense and more moves to work on. Keeping it fun and not all work was something I did at both levels to keep their attention. We would do different games and take down tournaments that they soon realized all had to do with what we were practicing. At any level you have to have fun at whatever sport you are undertaking.

 

5.  Many of the youths you coached are now grown men ranging in age from their late twenties into their mid forties.  What’s it like seeing these young men who are now successful members of their communities, husbands, fathers, ect, knowing you had an impact on their life as a coach?

When I see the young men and women today that were in the wrestling room years ago it’s really gratifying to see where they are in their communities today. Most are married with kids of their own and have become leaders in their communities, ranging from business owners, police officers, farmers ,teachers, field reps, general workers and some coaches themselves.

 

6.  In the near three decades you coached Little Savage wrestling, what were your goals as a coach?  How do you hope your wrestlers remember you?

My #2 goal as a coach was teaching them good sportsmanship, learning the basics, having fun and enjoying what you were doing and proving that work, dedication and discipline would work in the wrestling room as well as life itself. I always worked on good sportsmanship, and if you lost to not throw a fit and do something stupid but rather let’s look at the loss and learn from what may have happened and work on that. Either last year or 2 years ago I went to watch a Little Savage Wrestling Tournament. While sitting there a young man that I had coached in 1997 who now has a young son and a daughter that were both wrestling came up to me and called me Coach Bird and shook my hand and thanked me for what I had done for him in his years of wrestling. I’ve had other young men and women do the same, but for some reason that night I felt the impact I had on those young kids.

 

7.  Throughout the years you have stayed involved with wrestling in a variety of ways.  You announce the home matches (Larry also announces basketball games as well) & you & your wife Mary enjoy attending wrestling events such as the World Team Trials and Iowa Hawkeye duals.  How important do you feel it is to attend events and support the sport?

My wife and I have attended high school wrestling ,both home and away meets for as long as I can remember. Plus State wrestling. We’ve also been to a few small college meets as well as we try to get to the Iowa meets when we can. Also I still work at the junior high and home high school meets announcing and running the clock. These young men and women at whatever level need and deserve all the support they get.

 

8.  Having coached wrestling & been a part of the sport for so many years, do you have any funny or special memories to share?

Looking back it’s amazing to think how many young kids I worked with because most of those years it was me and 50-75 kids in the room. There were some moments you will never forget, like taking a young man to the hospital to get his lip out of his braces. At one of our take down tournaments, one of the smallest kids almost making it clear through the heavyweight kids. Getting piled on by Junior High kids after a successful undefeated season and breaking my glasses. Going to Coach Smith’s house and moving the coffee table and chair to work on a move. One of the best things was at the end of the season the Junior High would go up and meet Coach Gable and watch an Iowa Hawkeye Wrestling Practice. It was fun to see the kids watch in awe to see how intense it was and to watch the Brands brothers beating the heck out of each other. Looking back I would not trade anything for the time I got to spend with so many great young men and women. Seeing them stand on the on the podium in Des Moines anywhere from place winner to state champion makes you feel good knowing that you had a small part in them achieving their goal. I thank the guy upstairs for giving me the opportunity to coach.

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Remember The Wrestler: Jeremiah Butteris, Lisbon

I met Jeremiah when I was a 5th grader and he was a 6th grader and roughly a minute later, I started bawling. What a bully he is… let me explain.

In 5th grade, I had one loss coming into AAU State and that was at the first tournament of the year to Cory Connell. He pinned me in :45 seconds. The only time in my entire life where I was simply taken down and turned and pinned right away like some jabronie. Only time that ever happened. After that, I was convinced that Cory was a future Olympic champion and that if he were at my weight class at AAU, the goal was to place 2nd behind him and to just try to not get pinned when I wrestled him. Defeating Cory Connell was something that had simply become impossible.

So AAU State rolled along and when I looked at my draw, I was ok with it. It looked like this:

I had it all mapped out. I was going to dominate my way to the finals from the way I looked at it. And Connell was on the opposite side of the bracket…THANK GOD! My  season dream of becoming a state runner-up my 5th grade year was still a possibility. I was familiar with the majority of the guys on my side and felt good about it. I thought I had been placed on “the easy” side of the bracket. 

I pinned my first guy in about 4 seconds and after that match, Shea Stamp, from Lisbon came up to me and said, “go figure, you and I end up getting the worst draws out of anyone in the bracket 2nd round.” Shea was making a reference to how the bracketing crooks at our district had paired he and I first round at districts 2 years in a row, when we were hands down, the best guys at our weight in both of those years. I was confused. I inquired, “it’s you that has to wrestle Connell next round, right?” Shea said, “yeah, but you don’t have it much better. You have J.J. Butteris. He is one of my practice partners at Lisbon.” I responded with, “ok, well how bad do you usually beat him?” And he started chuckling and said, “I don’t beat him. He beats me.” “Great,” I thought. My dreams of becoming an AAU 2nd place guy may be more difficult than I had originally thought.

So it was time to start warming up for our 2nd round matches and before we all stood on our designated numbers, I looked around at some of the guys warming up, trying to guess which one was this Butteris dude who Shea told me about. I knew who some of them were. One of the funniest things about this was when I saw this dude named Roland Whitt warming up. I had never met Roland in my entire life at that point and had never seen him, but the instant I looked at him, I knew that’s who it was because… he looked like a Roland. Whatever that means? He was 80 lbs. like the rest of us, but was taller than Wilt Chamberlain and had curly hair. He just looked like a “Roland Whitt.” I had no doubt in my mind that that was him and the funny thing was, I was right. It WAS Roland Whitt. 😂. When I saw who ended up being J.J., I thought to myself, “whoever this Butteris guy is, I just hope it’s not THAT guy.” Because he had a mean look to him and looked strong. Just looked like a total pain in the ass to scrap with. I could tell. Lo and behold, it was Jeremiah Butteris.

When I stepped on the mat with him, I was still confident (I mean how good could he possibly be if the great results memorizer, Joshua Swafford didn’t know who he was, right?) But the dude was a brick-shit house. And I was one of the younger guys in the bracket. When the match started, I shot in pretty early and he basically just shoved my face into the mat as he spun around and immediately locked up an arm-bar and put me on my back.  He was bending me like a pretzel as if it were just the easiest thing in the world for him to do.  This was bad…this was very bad… 15 seconds in and I could tell that this guy was some other type of monster than what I was used to running into.  He wasn’t quite to the level of Connell at that time, but he was most certainly a different kind of animal than what I was used to and I had to find some sort of opening to score points and quickly, otherwise my dream of becoming a state runner-up, would be shattered.  I started the next period in the bottom position and when I tried hitting an inside switch off the whistle, he responded by ensuring that I regretted even thinking that I should try something like that on him and he ripped my arms off and beat me with my then until I rolled over to my own back while he secured another 3 point nearfall, in which at this point, I did something I hadn’t done in a couple years… I started bawling while the match was still going. I was a 5th grade kid, crying on the mat…pretty immature, really. And it came off as if JJ hated cry-babies, for when I started crying, it just made him beat my ass even worse. And my dad was in the corner screaming indecipherable words of frustration and seriously looked as if he were having an anger-induced seizure. We went out of bounds at one point and I was still bawling. The official was Gary Stamp (Shea, Tait and Quinn’s father) and I heard him kind of groan when we were walking to the center. He didn’t seem impressed that a 5th grade kid was acting like that. I cried for the remainder of the match and after shaking hands, Gary, who I knew from wrestling Shea and was the golden standard for my dad as being “The Perfect Official” that he wanted to be as good as when he became an official himself kind of patted me on my back and said, “come on, Josh. Act your age. You are better than that.” Haha, I loved Gary Stamp. Everything he ever said to me or talked about with my dad seemed to be short, to the point, the truth and very powerful. I was acting like a 2 year old.  

So I made that dreadful walk to the corner and my dad handed me my clothes and said, “you wrestled stupid. Get yourself together and get ready for your next match and stop bawling. If anyone should be bawling, it’s me and everyone who saw that match because that was hard to watch.” “Whatever Dad, you don’t understand, that kid was on steroids!” I thought to myself.  There was nothing I could do for wrestling against Butteris was like trying to wrestle against a good-sized boulder of some sort that was capable of growing limbs and beating me profusely with them.  My 11 year old mind was on to something…JJ Butteris was obviously on steroids. Haha, jk… JJ Butteris was just JJ Butteris and that’s the only explanation. 

So I walked up the stairs to the bucket seats my mom and youth club were sitting in. Those stairs were a total pain in the ass to walk, especially after suffering a beating at the hands of JJ. I was still sniffling and whimpering when I reached my mom. The first thing my mom did when I got up there was she snapped a picture (that I can’t find anywhere) and was laughing hysterically.  The flash of the camera hurt my eyes and probably made me start crying even more. “Oh wow, so now my mom finds humor in my despair,” I thought.  When she got herself together, she said, “I’m sorry Joshua, this is just so funny. You look ridiculous. You look like a stressed out drag queen right now.” “Huh?” I asked.  My buddy, Phillip Klees then said, “dude Swaff, you have black stuff all over your eyes…it looks like you have mascara running down your face.”  What happened was when I was crying during the match with JJ, I kept wiping the tears off my face with the backs of my hands, in which my division and weight class (B-80) written on them with a permanent marker. The marker rubbed off from my hands to my face when I was wiping tears. I seriously did look ridiculous.  JJ had actually beaten me up so badly that I literally did resemble a drag queen that had been beaten on some Las Vegas street corner. My dad then decided to chime in with, “go downstairs and warm up for your next match, drag queen!” Thanks a lot, JJ… because of you, my parents were referring to me as a drag queen!!! It was then that my uncle Kevin, who was the only coach or mentor I had who could get me to believe in myself by simply talking to me, said, “I got this.” He then took me to the holding area and Kevin and Joshua were like Mr. Miyagi and Danielson from Karate Kid that weekend.  That man was a miracle worker for me.  I didn’t lose another match and placed 3rd, respectively. Crazy thing was JJ somehow managed to place lower than I did. He was beaten in the quarterfinals by Roland Whitt and nothing against Roland, but I have never known how in the world that happened. I wrestled Roland in the semi-consoles and I dominated the match with an exception of trying to fight off my back and not get pinned from a cradle the entire 3rd period. Still won 5-3 though… JJ placed 7th and I placed 3rd.  When I was standing on the podium, I remember seeing him down there and thinking, “God, I hope he doesn’t kick the crap out of me for standing on a higher podium step than him.  This doesn’t even seem right. That guy KILLED me.”

1.) Cory Connell
2.) Ryan Sturm
3.) Joshua Swafford
4.) Tommy Pickerell
5.) Zach Thomas
6.) Roland Whitt
7.) JJ Butteris
8.) Dustin Barfels

It was all uphill from that point on for JJ.  It was rare to see him on a spot lower than “2” on the podium again. He was a 3X finalist/2X state champion in high school. He was not happy with that. He hated that he placed 2nd behind Highland’s Tony Sweeting when he was a Sophomore, Tony was a Senior. I got to know JJ pretty well over the years and talked to him every time I saw him.  One of these times was at a freestyle tournament a couple weeks after state his Sophomore, my Freshman season. When we saw each other, he was like, “Swafford! What’s up man!” And I was like, “DUDE!!! NICE JOB AT STATE THIS YEAR!” I was dead serious. Tony Sweeting was a Senior in my area who was known around the entire SEISC as being someone that was just borderline unbeatable. JJ had him on the ropes in his finals match and it blew a lot of our minds that a Sophomore was able to give Tony Sweeting a decent match.  JJ’s smile immediately shifted into a frown and it was quiet for a few seconds and he looked at me as if he were trying to figure out if I was being serious, or cracking a joke that was below the belt. He quietly said, “thank…you…” And slowly walked away, appearing as if I had just insulted him terribly.  “Did he expect to beat Tony Sweeting?” I thought to myself… I hadn’t ever spoken to an underclassmen that seemed to consider that a mere possibility that year.  Everyone knew that Tony Sweeting couldn’t be beaten that year, right?  Welp, not JJ…. and he almost pulled it off.  That’s what separates the 3X finalists/2X state champs of the world from a guy like me who made it to the #6 spot as a Senior. 
JJ had an account on the old Iowapreps message boards for a while there.  His name was Skoal-something or another. In a predictions thread for my weight my Senior year, JJ was the only person to predict me to win publicly.  He took a ton of razzing for this because Cole Pape was also a Senior and going for his 3rd state championship. He didn’t care. He sent me an email telling me to not pay attention to that thread and that I was capable of winning it regardless of what they all said.  It was cool of him.  I thanked him, but wondered what on Earth would make him think that of me. JJ beat me badly both times I wrestled him.  My semis match at state vs. Pape did not go in my favor, but it was cool of JJ. 
JJ’s wrestling style was really fun. He put people away, usually straight from their feet and was lightning quick and explosive when he would attack. The only way I can explain it was sometimes he seemed like pissed off cobra, coiled up and could strike quickly and from seemingly any situation and it always had deadly results for the opponents.  No one was ever safe wrestling JJ Butteris. At no time, no situation, no match score were you ever safe with him.
Also, he has to be incredibly patient person.  I think it’s noticeable to about anyone that I get pretty wound up at times and the most severe this has ever been was when I was trying to think of a name for this site.  I plan on having JJ design our apparel and possibly do a podcast with me once we get all that stuff going, so I was sending him everything my brothers and I were coming up with and 90% of what I was landing on, were just the dumbest ideas in the world.  And there were tons of them. Hands down, the most stressful part of the sites history for me was the process of naming it. JJ was patient enough to read all of my stupid rantings about the naming process and was able to hold back from driving down to Mepo and stomping another mudhole in my face. I am pretty thankful for that. Cool guy… one of the coolest! Proud as hell of his Lisbon roots, as he should be! And a helluva baseball player to boot! I’d say it’s a safe bet to watch out for his son in the future. The name he gave his son is one of the coolest ones I’ve ever heard… wait until you read what it is.

Who or what encouraged you to give wrestling a try?
First of all, I was born in 1981 in Lisbon, IA.  Was there anything else to do?  My family didn’t know anything else.  However my biggest influence would be my dad and my uncle Greg Butteris.  My first memories of wrestling are watching him win a state title in 1987 by fall over Iowa All American Travis Fiser.  I still have the pic of him grabbing me onto to the mats at state duals when it was held in the UNI dome that year.
Do you have any family who wrestled or wrestles currently? Parents, children, brothers, etc.? How did they do?
Yes.  My uncle Chuck Butteris placed 3rd at Heavyweight.  My father (Bill) was a state champion in 1977 and a JUCO runner up at a believe 27 years old.  My before mentioned uncle Greg was a state champion in 1987 as well as a JUCO national champion for North Idaho community college.  My brother Zachary was a 4x qualifier (only family member to do so) and 3x place winner.  He didn’t start wrestling until 7th grade.  Which brings me to my 8 year old son Branzen Gable Butteris (sounds like Brands and Gable Butteris.  Still proud of that name.  No pressure little buddy, just a sweet name.
What were your youth results? Any rivals there?
Let’s see, that’s a long time ago.  I’m that guy who won Tulsa Nationals and was a 3x AAU national runner up but never made an AAU state finals. I placed 3rd 4th and 7th if I remember correctly. My nemesis growing up were definitely Josh Watts, Cory Connell and Ryan Heim.  All studs!
What was your record in HS?
134-12 (7 different guys) and they were all state place winners.
How did you place at state every year?
DNQ
2nd
Champ
Champ
What were some of the most notable adverse challenges or moments you experienced in wrestling and how did it turn out? 
There are many of them.  I’m sure that’s the case for most wrestlers.  I’d say cutting weight my sophomore year was the biggest problem I had.  It was a struggle to say the least.  I wanted to quit, I was banged up, hungry and unhealthy.  It got to the point that I moved in with coach Dean Happel and his wife Dawn for a few weeks so that I could get my weight managed and feeling good.  Once they showed me the ropes… the rest is history.
How would you describe your wrestling style?
Fun. Explosive and absolutely horrible on the mat.  I couldn’t get out from a wet paper sack.  I had 97 career falls and I bet 97 of them were some form of feet to back.  Hence, the fun and explosive.
How many guys in high school did you go back and forth with or exchange wins with?
Ryan Heim and Brett Little.
Who was your most influential coach?
That’s so hard to answer.  I had several, each equally as important.  Chris Lembeck taught me more technique than anyone.  Dean Happel was magic with my mind and asst. coach Aaron Truitt was the guy who just understood me, motivated me and was a damn good workout partner.
Was your team competitive in HS/college?
No, I unfortunately went to Lisbon at the time when we were in a lull to say the least.  We did win a tournament with 8 guys though.  7 champs and a runner up.
Who was your most influential wrestler that you looked up to growing up?
My uncle Greg was my wrestling hero with a pretty good supporting cast.  My dad would take me down to Carver to watch Royce Alger wrestle.  That was always in my mind, but the Light boys were who I wanted to be like.  Especially Zach and Ike Light.  They were so good on their feet!
What is your favorite memory watching Lisbon wrestling?
Anytime we beat Don Bosco or Mount Vernon!  Haha, honestly one moment that is embedded in my head is when my brother took 3rd as a sophomore pinning #1 ranked Dane Reiter of Hudson.  I will say winning state duals this year was pretty damn exciting, but did so watching on the tube this year however. You ever been to nationals?  You get the feeling that it’s Iowa vs the rest of the nation… well it feels like it’s Lisbon vs everyone else.  Someone once said you can’t fling a dead cat in this town without hitting a state champ.  Things ya don’t know… probably not much.  The support is second to none.
Besides me, of course (haha), who was your most ferocious competitor?
Ryan Heim.  Hands down.  Also have to give a shout out to Brett Little.  Dude gave me nightmares for weeks.  No offense to Brett, but Heim was a different animal.
Who are your favorite current wrestlers?
Non Lisbon guys…. Ayala. Damn.  Cael Happel and Robert Avila Jr.  Those guys are so dominant at this level.  So impressed.
What tunes would you listen to back in the wrestling days?
I’ve never been a music kind of guy, but I would listen to “another one bites the dust” on the way to school or weigh ins before every meet.
What was the most upset you ever felt after a loss?
When I got 2nd my sophomore year I was bawling to my mom about how I felt sorry for all the kids I placed higher than because I didn’t feel i deserved it.  As I mentioned before, my sophomore year was brutal.  I think somehow my mind was to weak to feel  sorry for myself so I felt sorry for someone else.  I would say losing to Little was hard ,but not devastating because I still moves on with the season after it.  That 3-1 loss to Heim in 8th grade of the AAU semifinals got me pretty good.  I wanted to stop him from his 5th title and had beaten him 2x that year.  Yeah, that was tough.
If you could go back and change one thing about your wrestling career, what would it be?
For starters, I would make sure my studies were better and I would have tried the freestyle circuit a little more. However, I loved baseball so I’m not sure how that would of went.
What was your best wrestling memory or accomplishment?
Standing on top of that podium as a 2x state champion… 1 more than my dad and uncle.
Who were some of your most notable competitors in high school? College?
The 8 guys I lost too! Mike Elliot (3x freshman year), Mount Vernon. Yuck.  Will Buster, Wapello.  Marc Juergens.  Tim Ironside. Tony Sweeting. Brett Little.  Ryan Heim and Cliff Moore.
Did you wrestle all year or was it seasonal for you?
Seasonal.  I still have baseball records 🙂
How would the guys from your day stack up against the guys today?
The guys I just listed would do just fine.  The wrestlers today are different because of technology IMO…  I would like to think that we all would of adapted to the new styles.
What other sports did you play?
3 year varsity starter in football, 4 year starter in baseball and ran track one year.
What are your favorite sports teams?
I’m a Chicago guy.  Bear Down and Go Cubs Go!
What are your hobbies other than wrestling? 
Other sports (besides basketball) and recently started traveling more with my amazing girlfriend.  Are kids hobbies?  I have an artsy side and a little graphic design business that I absolutely love to do as well.
How has wrestling shaped you as a person to this day?
Personally, it’s made me comfortable in who I am.  I know deep down that if I want to do something, I can do it and I credit that entirely to wrestling.
What do you do now?
I’m a granite/quartz fabricator by day and I dabble in graphic design at home.
Are you still involved with wrestling?
Started getting back in the room the last couple years but only with the Kids club.  My son has taken a liking to this sport and I’ve always loved coaching the sport.  We will see how it goes because I’m not to fond of coaching my own son.  I just want to be his dad.  I love coaching those kids, so again…. we will see where it goes.  If my body can hold up.
Any advice for upcoming wrestlers?
Enjoy it.  Embrace the grind.  It’s the hardest thing to understand at the adolescent age because we all thought we understood. but you never do and there really is no way of knowing until you’re actually done competing.  You’re literally at your best phase of life right now, seize the moment and you’ll be surprised how far this sport can take you.
Any chance we see you wrestle again at an Old Timer’s tournament?
Not one single chance, sounds fun but I know better.
Would you like to give a shout out to anyone you wrestled with, against, coached, etc.?
Yeah, some of my best friends for life pretty much because of wrestling.  Highland State Champion and current asst coach Nick Cole.  My childhood best friend Tyler Jones who was by my side for everything and last but not least an eventual HOF track coach, best friend, teammate and someone who always pushed me, Coach Casey Baxa. Oh and one more, keep doing your thing Gorby, you the man!
My mom gets the biggest shout out of all for putting up with me and always being my number 1 fan!
Do you have anything to add? Funny/interesting stories? Trivia? Etc.
I was 134-12 with 97 falls, 3x finalist, 2x state champ…. I can’t even sniff the top 15 for best wrestling careers at Lisbon.  That’s crazy for a town of 2,500 people.
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The first time I heard of Dana Vote was when I was an 8th grader and he was a 7th grader. We were in the same bracket… Division C-110. One of my wrestling buddies that I’d make a point to talk wrestling with every time, I saw him was a guy named Brett Wheelan and he was also in my bracket. He and I met up and discussed every wrestler in our bracket and when we got to Dana Vote, I said to Brett, “I’ve never heard of that name, ever… I’m guessing he’s not very good.” Brett’s eyes widened and he snapped, “Dana Vote?!? Where have you been, Swaff?! He’s in the grade below us and is actually pretty good!” Haha, the look he gave me was as if he were wondering if I had been living in a hole that I dug for my self on planet Jupiter. Then he mentioned that Vote was a guy in which he didn’t necessarily want to wrestle, for he felt like it was a style clash. Funny thing is, I think they did end up wrestling in the blood round. When Brett pointed him out to me, I recognized him immediately. “Oh that guy?!” I’ve seen him before! He’s always with that Humboldt crowd. Every year at both AAU and HS State, we always seemed to stay at the same hotel as the Humboldt guys such as Zinnell, Hanson, Bratland, etc. And Vote was always with them. Our Mepo crew of me, Aaron Drain, my brother Justin, Matt/Josh/Micah Keller, etc. had crossed paths several times with that Humboldt crew and the two groups never said anything to each other… they always kept to themselves and were polite and in return, so were we. It wasn’t rare to have an awkward encounter at the hotel with another team just because one of the people from one of the groups decided to run their mouths. This one group from Oregon was especially mouthy at AAU Nationals one year and  I can name a few occasions like that with 3 other teams just off the top of my head. Humboldt wasn’t one of them. And we seemed to encounter them more than any others. They seemed pretty disciplined, for when some of us would sneak out of our rooms or push our limits to how late we could stay up, they had always gone to bed long before that, presumably because they took wrestling seriously and knew they had to abide by rules like that in order to perform well. I’m guessing they were a very well-coached youth club. 

So until Dana hit high school, I always assumed that he was from Humboldt. I didn’t know that he was from Twin River Valley until HS competition began and I always wondered the connection between he and those Humboldt guys… Turns out, he and the Hanson’s were cousins. Justin Hanson was just inducted into the Iowa wrestling Hall of Fame this season. He and Dana’s grandma as well as other relatives have been some of the most supportive people in terms of keeping up with this website. I have appreciated that. And wait until you read about who some of his relatives who wrestled were. That’s an impressive wrestling family!

So Dana is now the head coach for an NAIA school in Nebraska called Doane and he is doing great things there. He had a national champion named Bat-Erdene Boldmaa, originally from Mongolia, who was also named Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament. And rightfully so… he had the best tournament out of anyone there, in my opinion. I hadn’t officially met Dana in my entire life until I approached him and introduced myself and asked if he’d be interested in doing an interview for the site. He was very cool and gave a great interview. He was one of, if not the first person I ran into immediately after my youngest brother won a national title, which was cool, for that was one of the best wrestling moments ever for my family.  

Dana has always come off to me as a wrestler who always did things the right way and stayed the course The consistent results he showed over the years at multiple levels of wrestling and from different angles now that he’s coaching, supports this assumption. 

 

 

What schools/clubs did you wrestle for in youth/HS?

I wrestled for Twin River Valley in High School. My clubs were GCB and Mid-Iowa.

 

What year did you graduate?

2002

 

Who or what encouraged you to give wrestling a try?

I grew up around the sport and went to watch my uncles wrestle with my dad.

 

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

Past Wrestlers: Uncles: Dave Vote- IA State Champ, Mike Hanson- IA State Placer, Darrell Vote- IA State Placer; Cousins- Justin Hanson, IA 2X State Champ and National Champ, Peyton Vote, Joel Hanson; Brother- Zach Vote

Current Wrestlers: Cousin-Mya Vote

 

What were your youth results?

AAU State Champ, Northern Plains Champ, USA Wrestling National Champion

 

 

What was your record in HS?

165-14

 

How did you place at state every year?

4th, 3rd, 2nd

 

How would you describe your wrestling style?

I was a pinner.

 

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

Kelly Rydberg

 

Who was your most influential coach?

My dad, Dan Vote, helped me find a love for wrestling at a young age. Mike Rial was also a big influence on me in my youth development through high school. Mark Schwab and Bobby Douglas have been huge influences on me from college and to this day as a college coach myself.

 

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

My uncle Darrell was very influential.

 

Who would you consider the GOAT Iowa HS wrestler?

I’d have to go with Mark Schwab.

 

Who are your favorite current wrestlers?

Anybody that wears a Doane Tiger singlet and my current senior level wrestler is Ceron Francisco.

 

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

State Finals my senior year.

 

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

I wouldn’t change anything because those experiences make me the coach I am today.

 

What was your best wrestling memory or accomplishment?

Being a college coach and coaching 3 National Champions.

 

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

Trent and Travis Paulson, Dustin Hinchberger

 

Did you wrestle after high school?

Yes, at Iowa Central, Iowa State and Buena Vista.

 

What other sports did you play?

Football and baseball.

 

What are your favorite sports teams?

KC Chiefs, Doane Tigers, Atlanta Braves

 

What are your hobbies other than wrestling?

Working on our acreage and spending time with my family.

 

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

There is no better feeling than helping young wrestlers achieve their goals.

 

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

The adversity that I faced through wrestling as an athlete shaped who I am as a coach today.

 

What do you do now?

I am the head wrestling coach at Doane University in Crete, Nebraska.

 

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

No way.

 

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

I’d like to give a shout out to all of my coaches. Thanks for everything you did for me. Being a coach now helps me appreciate all that you did for me as a wrestler.

 

 

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Remember The Wrestler: Wade Samo, Lenox

I wish I had more to write for the introduction on Wade, but the truth is, I don’t know him personally at all.  I’ve known he was since youth wrestling, but have just never met him or anyone from Lenox. The only thing I’ve ever said to anyone from Lenox was “thank you” to Seth Evans after he beat me 12-0 my 3rd grade year at AAU state. This was in response to him saying, “nice job” to me.  I’ll admit, it confused me a bit, for I had no idea what he thought I did a good job at.  My guess is that he thought I did a good job at doing my best impersonation of a bruised up punching bag. But yeah, we never saw those guys, usually the majority of the conversation consisted of someone expressing how scared they were of Tysen Christensen, for he looked like the strongest, meanest Junior High wrestler ever. I just really wanted to do one of these for a Lenox wrestler and Lenox coverage has even been requested at on point, which I thought was a great idea, for they had some absolute buzz-saws go through there. And I definitely was aware of Wade Samo. He was always making noise a weight or two above me.  Samo, Seth and Zeb Evans, Brett and Tysen Christensen, Adam Bender, etc. They were tough. Although I wish I had more to say about Wade Samo, I am happy to give Lenox wrestling some well-deserved props and Wade is one of the many faces that made them as formidable as they could be. 

 

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

When I started wrestling in fifth grade, we had a little club called the “Basement Boys.” 6th-8th grade we had a group of guys that would get together to practice for the AAU state tournament. Of that AAU group I believe there were 7 or 8 of us that wrestled in the state finals in high school but we were never officially a club team. Other than that, just the Lenox JH/HS teams.

 

What year did you graduate?

2001

 

Who or what encouraged you to give wrestling a try?

I know I attended a few practices when i was younger but it wasn’t until 5th grade (I believe) when my best friend Quent Christensen and his dad, Eddard Christensen drug me along to some practices with the “Basement Boys.” A few weeks later they brought me along with them to a tournament in Leon. After that is when I started wrestling on a more frequent basis.

 

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

My Mom’s side of the family are pretty big basketball fans. I have a lot of cousins on that side and they were all pretty good at basketball. I was the only one to ever wrestle. On my Dad’s side, I had a few cousins wrestle at Clarinda. My Dad was always a big fan of wrestling but never did it competitively. Currently I have a 6 year old boy (Jackson) who started wrestling in a few tournaments this year and took 3rd at PeeWee State.

 

What were your youth results? Any rivals there? I got 2nd place in 6th and 8th grade at the AAU State tournament.

I didn’t wrestle at a ton of tournaments throughout the year, so I don’t necessarily remember seeing the same kids enough times to form a true rivalry. If I had to pick, I would say it was anyone from Bedford because I have a lot of friends from there who I wrestled with and against over the years.

 

What was your record in HS?

124-21

 

How did you place at state every year?

Soph-4th. Jr-2nd. Sr-3rd

 

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

Learning how to cut weight effectively in high school was a pretty new concept to me. I was pretty bad at it my freshman year. My junior year I broke my ankle in our playoff football game. I had to cut 24lbs with a hard cast on my leg up to my knee. That is pretty challenging to do on crutches. It was also a challenge to get into wrestling shape in a shortened season after getting my cast off and cleared by the Dr. It was a lot of hard work but I was able to make it to the state finals that year.

 

How would you describe your wrestling style?

Defensive. I had pretty good offense, but I only used it when I needed to. I think my high school/college coaches might describe it as “frustrating.” Ha.

 

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

Doing my best to remember that far back but I can’t remember splitting matches with anyone other than Garrett South from CAM. We met three times my Jr year. I was 1-2 against him.

 

Who was your most influential coach?

I would say all of my coaches were influential in my life. Eddard Christensen got me started. My AAU coach Nick Evans was one of the biggest reasons I chose wrestling over basketball going into high school. My high school coach, Erin MaGuire. I really can’t say enough about him. He and his assistant coaches (Tom and Lynn Christensen) made our high school room a very fun, and very competitive environment. And in college Ron Peterson, Rick Schweitzberger, and Jeremy Whalen helped make college wrestling an amazing experience for me. Rick and Jeremy were all-americans in college and were going toe to toe with guys everyday to make them better.

 

Was your team competitive in HS/college?

In high school we were pretty competitive every year, especially in tournaments. Our traditional state tournament finishes during my 4 years were (I believe) 5th, 5th, 3rd and 7th and we never qualified more than 5 guys to the state tournament. My Jr year at Simpson College we placed 3rd at the National Duals and 5th at the National Tournament.

 

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

I really didn’t start following wrestling that closely until probably 6th or 7th Grade. At that time, some of our high school wrestlers that I looked up to were Zeb Evans, Mike Ryan, Adam Parrish, and Tony Lanteri. That’s also when I started going to Iowa Hawkeye duals and Lincoln Mcllravy was the Man.

 

Who would you consider the GOAT Iowa HS wrestler?

Any of those guys who are 4 time champs. What an amazing feat.

 

Who are your favorite current wrestlers?

I don’t know that I have a favorite today. Since I graduated college I have really followed wrestling a bunch. I still love watching the Hawkeyes and all of the Senior U.S. freestyle wrestlers.

 

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

In practice…whatever was on the radio. Before a match, no music.

 

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

Losing in the Semi-finals my Soph and Sr year and losing in the finals my Jr year. There were a few of us on the team in high school who had the mindset that we were going to win it all every year. To come up short every year was a tough pill to swallow.

 

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

I would try to be a little less nervous and enjoy the environment/competition a little more. I would also try to be more offensive and put more points on the board.

 

What was your best wrestling memory or accomplishment?

My best memories are just being around all my coaches, teammates and friends at practices, bus rides, tournaments etc. Most all of my best friends still today are people that I wrestled with or met at wrestling events.

 

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

Garrett South. Anyone from Bedford. And Creston has obviously had a bunch of studs go through their program. It seemed like every year they had a hammer at my weight.

 

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

It was seasonal. I participated in other sports basically year round so I never did any summer or freestyle wrestling. For as big of a fan as I am of freestyle wrestling, I’ve never wrestled a minute of freestyle in my life.

 

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

For me and the guys from my era…I like our odds.

 

Did you wrestle after high school?

I wrestled my Jr and Sr year at Simpson. I played baseball there all 4 years, but all of my roommates and best friends (Clint Manny, Jeff Kuhl, Quent Christensen, Tyler Grieser) were wrestlers. I guess after a couple years I felt left out and decided to get back into wrestling.

 

What other sports did you play?

In high school: Football, Baseball, Track. In College: Baseball

 

What are your favorite sports teams?

Iowa Hawkeyes, Chicago Cubs, Denver Broncos and UNI Football

 

What are your hobbies other than wrestling?

Farming, feeding cattle, and coaching all of my kids sports that I am able. So far I’ve been able to coach my kids teams in wrestling, T-ball, soccer, and gymnastics.

 

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

Using my experiences to help mentor some of the young athletes in Lenox today is very rewarding. I know how much my mentors mean to me, and I hope I can have that same impact for others.

 

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

For anyone that has wrestled, they know how much wrestling tests you mentally, physically, and emotionally. I hear people say all the time “wrestlers are a different breed.” I would have to agree. I believe that wrestling has helped shape me as a person. I will always apply some of the things wrestling has taught me to my daily life.

 

What do you do now?

I live back in my hometown of Lenox with my wife Tia and our 4 kids. I work for Balance4ward which is a cattle feeding company.

 

Are you still involved with wrestling?

Aside from attending all of the wrestling meets I am able to, I coach K-2nd “Mat Cats” in Lenox.

 

Any advice for upcoming wrestlers?

Don’t be afraid to be the man in the arena. Embrace that challenge. If you are willing to give 100% this sport will reward you.

 

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

Not likely. My friends and I like to joke about how short the periods would have to be in order for us to make it through an entire match.

 

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

All of my old teammates and coaches. As I mentioned before, many of them are still my best friends today. My high school practice partner for 3 years was Seth Evans. He’s probably the best wrestler I’ve ever tied into, so getting to practice with him everyday definitely made me better. Seth, Tysen Christensen, and Clint Manny taught me a lot about being mentally tough. Another guy I’ve been through it all with would be Brett Christensen. He was my wrestling teammate in AAU, Jr High, High School, and College.

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

I did have one teammate in college who would bite his own cheek or tongue whenever he would get too gassed in one of his matches. I guess blood time was a pretty good way to take a breather. 🙂

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Remember The Wrestler: Jay Shafer, Wapello

With everything that I post on facebook, I generally read everything to see how it is received. I pay attention to who liked what and how many likes there were and how many times it had been shared and how many likes the shared posts received and it goes on.  I look at everything. I read every single comment. I can’t help myself.  Mostly, I just want to make sure that I didn’t make any glaring mistakes that people comment on.  I want to just make sure that it didn’t suck.  There has been a post here and there that has provoked an unfavorable response where someone just thought it was too personal or I wrote down an incorrect result or I spelled someone’s name wrong.  The first person that I noticed being vocal with some of these criticisms was from some of the comments I read from Jay Shafer towards the beginning.  And this didn’t upset me at all. Jay has always been nice to me when I’ve spoken to him. He has a lot of life experience and he’s always been willing to give me his perspective and advice, simply  because he likes to be helpful, I assume. In fact, there have probably been 5-10 times in my life where I was going through a hard time, and no one reached out to me to give me advice except Jay Shafer, for he has experienced some of the same life situations as me… and it’s not like Jay and I know each other THAT well or anything, but regardless, he was just willing to help… Because of that, I think he’s a pretty good guy. His criticisms are his opinion and I chose to use them as constructive… for he had a point. Basically, the criticism in a couple of these was that in the intro(s), I went a little too overboard and crossed a line to where I was flat-out kissing someone’s butt in one of them and in one of them, I started to make it too much about myself. I appreciated his honesty, for I was worried myself that they were coming off that way, and Jay confirmed it! I deleted a ton of stuff from an article yesterday because I thought the article was starting to come off the way and I have Jay to thank for that, for I am now keeping a closer eye on it. I look at it this way; if you can’t take criticism and consider the potential validity of it opposed to just getting defensive about it, then good luck ever improving the quality of your content.

And because of his willingness to speak his mind, I knew that it’d be pretty fun when I eventually started putting his own article together, for Jay has an opinion about several things and he is not afraid, in the slightest bit, to express whatever opinion he may have, whether people agree with him or not.  I couldn’t wait to get his take and his stories about wrestling, for I knew he would certainly give it a lot of thought… Which he did. 

Jay was a 1992 graduate for Wapello and is a man who is very, very proud of his wrestling experiences and roots, for I think he and I have talked about wrestling roughly every time we’ve spoken to each other. He was there when Morning Sun closed down and joined the Wapello squad that he was already a big piece of. When I was living in Wapello and would go to the local bar, he always treated me with respect and as mentioned, loved talking wrestling and would do so for hours. And he has given back since then. From what I noticed, he is always rooting for the Wapello guys and helps out at the youth and HS tournaments in Wapello. The sport means a lot to him and he has some very interesting stuff to say about it. And you will be hard-pressed to find a last name that is more synonymous with Wapello wrestling than “Shafer.”  Brett, Brian, Jay… They’ve been involved with Wapello wrestling for decades and there has not been a year where there hasn’t been multiple Shafer’s helping out the program in some way. 

If you go to the 14:30 mark in this video, you will see Jay Shafer on the podium at state:

 

If you go to the 3:15 mark in this video, you’ll watch the entire Wapello team accepting their state championship trophy in 1992.  Jay Shafer is the guy who holds the trophy. It’s pretty clear that he was proud to be part of that Wapello powerhouse.

 

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

The Wapello Tomahawks of Wapello High School.

 

What year did you graduate?

1992

 

Who or what encouraged you to give wrestling a try?

My mother got me started when I was 5.

 

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

Both. I have several cousins; Brett Shafer, Brian Shafer, Mike Maddux, my nephew Dylan Schrader who  placed 3 times at state. I also have some cousins who are wrestling currently.

 

What were your youth results? Any rivals there?

I don’t really remember. My mom took me to a tournament about every weekend from November til’ about April in wrestling, that’s what sticks out.

 

What was your record in HS?

107-24? If I remember right.

 

How did you place at state every year?

Qualified sophomore and junior year placed 5th my senior year.

 

How would you describe your wrestling style?

I would describe it as an old school scramble style. I was very rough and physical with people that I stepped on the line with.

 

Did the Wapello and Morning Sun wrestlers get along when they first joined forces? Was there a family type atmosphere from the start?

Oh no…. Brock and Ty Wilson knew they were coming to Wapello and Brock hit me up that summer and we hung out all summer to get to know people, along with Ty. It took all 4 coaches in the room to keep the tempers down at times. Believe me, the first couple weeks we had some pretty bad fights, but then Siegel had enough and we had a 4 hour practice where he about killed us all between killers and sprints. Before we consolidated our teams,Wapello and Morning Sun wrestled each other in season for a  dual and it got so intense that they always had 3-4 sheriff deputies there. The turning point with the team’s rivalry was after Morning Sun closed and it became Columbus and Wapello. Coach Bill Plein left as the assistant coach at Wapello to be head coach in Columbus Jct. my sophomore year. It hurt a lot of us, but by my senior year he built a tough program there and the duals with Columbus Jct. became nail biters. Stuff like that really brought the guys from both teams together.

 

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

4 that I recall. Tony Milder, Ben Brady, Traci Mayfild, Forseen.

 

Who was your most influential coach?

Willard Howell

 

Was your team competitive in HS/college?

Yes we were very competitive. We became a super power team when we consolidated with Morning Sun-Winfield Mt. Union.

 

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

Ward Buster.

 

Who would you consider the GOAT Iowa HS wrestler?

There are a lot could hold that title.

 

Who are your favorite current wrestlers?

The entire Iowa team are my favorites.

 

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

G N’ R (Guns N’ Roses)

 

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

My loss in the quarter finals my senior year. I got called for stalling for circling to the center. I lost by 1 point.

 

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

I would have wrestled more in the off season.

 

What was your best wrestling memory or accomplishment?

Our team winning the State championship in 1992.

 

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

My practice partners were my most notable competitors…. Paul Wilkerson and Truckie Harbison.

 

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

Mostly seasonal, but I would attend camps in the summer.

 

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

I would say we seemed to be more physical then the kids today. So it would be a coin toss.

 

Did you wrestle after high school?

Yes, a little in the Navy and I would go to open tournaments.

 

What other sports did you play?

Football and golf.

 

What are your favorite sports teams?

Go Pack Go

 

What are your hobbies other than wrestling?

Hunting

 

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

It is a full feeling.

 

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

It gave me a “don’t quit and don’t give up” attitude.

 

What do you do now?

I work for TriOak foods.

Are you still involved with wrestling?

I run the table when they have tournaments in town.

 

Any advice for upcoming wrestlers?

Never doubt yourself, you can do anything you set your mind to.

 

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

I haven’t wrestled since I was 35, but you never know.

 

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

Wapello vs Morning Sun… The last time we met, it was in a double duel and was was a barn burner. I can remember that there was standing room only. We were unaware it would be the last time, for the next year it got canceled do to weather. Wapello vs Morning Sun was probably one of the long-lasting rivalries between 2 wrestling teams in history. It dated back to when wrestling started in Southeast Iowa. For these 2 teams to conjoin, it was a lot of tension in the wrestling room.  Rival wrestlers were now teammates and there were new coaches in the room. Once we broke the edge, we became a power house team. The atmosphere in the room changed we became a true team that everyone knew. A team that knew their job and did it.

 

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If it’s one thing I am not good at ignoring, it’s the elephant in the room. I never have been. So I’m not going to. My favorite Disney movie of all time is Dumbo, for crying out loud.

The Iowa wrestling news media outlet, IAwrestle has become… pretty big over the past few years. Everyone, even people who don’t follow wrestling, knows who and what IAwrestle is. On The Pin Doctors, I will never act like other media outlets don’t exist, for like I said… I can’t avoid the elephant in the room. And plus, each of these sites have their own niche, so when you think about it, are any of the wrestling media outlets competing with each other, really? Not that much, really.

With that said, I guarantee you that there are many people out there who when they hear the name, Patrick Makey, the thought that comes to mind is, “that’s the guy who beat Tony Hager in the finals.” Tony Hager is the owner of IAwrestle and current host of Hager’s Happy Hour (he’s doing a good job with that, btw), he’s a very public figure at wrestling events in the area and let’s face it… most wrestling fans know who he is. Anyways, so for the Potentially Dangerous addicts out there who couldn’t pinpoint where you heard Makey’s name before, you probably heard Hager talking about it. He is pretty vocal about how that loss bothered him. And really, I was pretty surprised that he ended his career without a title, for he was good. When he was in 8th grade, he wrestled against 4X HS State Champ, Mack Reiter in the finals and he only got beat by him 1-0.  I witnessed the entire match. Happened right in front of me. Going into HS, I figured Tony would win 2-3 titles. He ran into some tough guys. Makey was most certainly one of them.

The thing that stands out when you think about that bracket that year was that no one who were generally predicted to win that bracket did. I don’t think there were many people at all outside the Southwest part of the state who thought Patrick Makey would win state. Many people hadn’t even heard of him yet. And that’s no disrespect to Makey… for he obviously proved how good he was. He just hadn’t made a splash at that point yet. With 3 SEI guys; Andy Roush, Derrick Ball and Josh Knipfer (who was a youth club teammate of mine) in that bracket that year, I paid pretty close attention to that weight. Everyone thought that Andy Roush, Tony Hager or Derrick Ball would win that bracket. Heck, Mark Kist from Eagle Grove even placed 6th and he went on to win it the next 3 years. I never saw anyone predict Patrick Makey. People didn’t realize how much of a jump he had made from the season before. In fact, Hager and Makey met up once before they met in the 2003 state finals and that was first round at state in 2002. I believe Hager was close to majoring him. So obviously, Makey stepped it up a level, but Makey is a Southwest guy from Logan-Magnolia. Due to there not being any wrestling media outlets near that region of the state, especially back in 2003, a lot of cool things that the SW guys do is done to the sound of crickets chirping.

And Makey won it again the next year and looked dominant in the finals against one of my favorite dudes to participate on The Pin Doctors site, Andrew Erdman. The “Headlock King,” Erdman is a really good dude. He was the first one who suggested a Remember The Wrestler article to be done on Patrick Makey.  He obviously harbors no hostility towards Makey, in fact, he told the following interesting story on his own Remember The Wrestler article:

“A funny story. My boss and I were talking about wrestling and I showed him a picture of me after I won in the semi finals at state in 2004. He goes, “who did you wrestle in the finals?”  I said, “Pat Makey and he kicked my butt.” Turns out my boss’s cousin is Pat Makey. Too small of world sometimes, haha!”

– – Andrew Erdman 

Pretty cool. I am guessing that may be where Patrick Makey originally heard of our site and I am so glad he did for he has been really cool and helpful for us. Makey is the one who offered his 2004 VHS tape to be converted to YouTube. So to all of you who finally got to see your 2004 finals match, you have Patrick Makey to thank!

Patrick Makey…3X champ, 2X finalist….STUD!

 

 

Who or what encouraged you to give wrestling a try?

My Dad wrestled for Guthrie Center and Drake. Also, all my friends were doing it, so it was a no-brainer.

 

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

My Dad, Jim, got 4th and 2nd when he was in high school, and wrestled D1 at Drake. My brother, Andy wrestled as well and had a good go of it in the Marine Corps.

 

What were your youth results? Any rivals there?

At AAU, I qualified from 5-8th grade, only placing twice. I got first at C70 in 7th grade, and 5th at C85 in 8th grade. That 2001 C85 bracket was loaded with talent and future state champs.

 

What was your record in HS?

178-8

 

How did you place at state every year?

Qualifier, 1, 1, 2

 

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

I guess most people know about how hard weight cutting is, but I’ll say avenging losses is most memorable.

 

How would you describe your wrestling style?

Tough one. I was strong, had good enough technique, and like most, hate to lose!

 

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

Tony Hager beat me first round at state my freshman year, and I beat him in the finals my sophomore year. That was it.

 

Who was your most influential coach?

Tough one here. My dad and I went over every single match tape, even if I wasn’t interested, so he’s up there. Kent Kersten is one of Iowa’s best high school coaches of all time. He ran a tough practice and always had you ready to go.

 

Was your team competitive in HS/college?

 

Oh yeah. For my four years we got 4th, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd at the state duals. We were 2nd my sophomore year and 1st my senior year at Traditional State. We closed out Vets in ‘05 with the 1A title.

 

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

There’s too many to name. Loved watching college duals on IPTV and always looked up to the older Lo-Ma wrestlers.

 

Who would you consider the GOAT Iowa HS wrestler?

For my era, it was TJ Sebolt. Dude was a beast.

 

Who are your favorite current wrestlers?

I don’t really have a favorite, I guess Spencer Lee. He’s so dominant, and seems to have a great head on his shoulders.

 

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

Anything metal/rock

 

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

Sr. Year losing the state finals.

 

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

Sr. Year losing the state finals.

 

What was your best wrestling memory or accomplishment?
The best memory is two-sided. One of my friends/teammates, Ryan Foutch, broke his neck in the first round of state my Sr. year. Our team went on a tear on Friday getting all sorts of bonus points to clinch the title when we went home Friday night.

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

Dan Davila beat me 3 times my freshman year. I didn’t lose to anyone else more than once.

 

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

All year. I’d go to a 2-3 camps each summer, but I also played other sports during the school year.

 

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

I don’t know if you can compare eras. One could argue that kids are different now than 10-15 years ago, but each newer generation has all the knowledge of previous generations, so who knows.

Did you wrestle after high school?
I wrestled in the Iowa Games 1 or 2 years out of high school and won it, but that’s been it.

 

What other sports did you play?

Football and Track

 

What are your favorite sports teams?

49ers.

 

What are your hobbies other than wrestling?

I like to play golf, but I’m not very good. I’ve got an almost 2 yr old and a 6 yr old, so hobbies are harder to come by.

 

What was the secret to your strides between 2002-2003?

Growing into my body and hitting weights. A growth spurt and the weight room can do wonders!

Who are some of your favorite ever SW Iowa wrestlers?

I don’t have a favorite. Oakland, Riverside had some hammers as well as Underwood. Lo-Ma had some great wrestlers too.

 

Do you feel good representing SW Iowa wrestling at a high level as you did?

Of course. It may come off as a little whiny, but the west side of the state gets forgotten about a little bit.

 

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

Well, I haven’t done a ton of that. I reffed for a bit after high school. I’m trying to talk my daughter into starting next year, and my son will be 2 in August so hopefully he takes to it as well.

 

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

Working hard. My wife will slap me for this, but one of my lines is “embrace the suck” which is my way of saying hard times are going to happen, but you have to put your head down and work through it.

 

What do you do now?

I run a meat department for a national grocery chain.

 

Are you still involved with wrestling?

Not at the moment. Waiting on my kids!

Any advice for upcoming wrestlers?

(My dads voice in my head) Hand control, lateral movement, hip position.

 

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

Unlikely!

 

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

Any Lo-Ma guys from ‘02-‘05! We started a pretty good tradition of state dual appearances that is still going on.

 

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

Oh I’ve got plenty, but nothing I want in print or digitized!

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1994 AAU State Podium Pic and Bracket B-80

Have an article coming out about a guy in this bracket in the very near future!

1.) Cory Connell
2.) Ryan Sturm
3.) Joshua Swafford
4.) Tommy Pickerell
5.) Zach Thomas
6.) Roland Whitt
7.) JJ Butteris
8.) Dustin Barfels

 

 

 

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Remember The Wrestler: Brad Helgeson, Lake Mills

I have written multiple times that the Helgeson family is among Iowa’s best wrestling families ever. There’s Chris, Dan, Tim, Justin, Caleb, Owen, Tyler, etc. The list goes on. There are a lot of them and they are all good. Every one of them. You never see a Helgeson who isn’t good at wrestling, ever.  And their kids are doing good now. I have always made it a point to keep up with the Helgeson family and their accolades. I have always rooted for them. They are all stand-up guys, from my experience(s). I am very familiar with the majority of them in terms of what they did or who they beat or whatever it may be, for their last name has stuck out to me for decades. For 27 years, to be exact. And there is a reason for that. One of the most memorable matches I ever had in my entire wrestling career was against a Helgeson. That match was against an insanely talented wrestler named Brad Helgeson, from Lake Mills. And we were just 4th graders.

To start, Brad Helgeson was always just an awesome dude, every time I’ve ever spoken to him. And he was able to hit moves that were too advanced for most guys at such a young age. It’s hard to explain. He seemed extremely athletic and had that going for him, but also just seemed to be able to beat guys in the toughest of scrambles. I watched him all through high school. He just got better and better and better as time went on and to be honest, the results and accomplishments that he ended up reeling in when it was all over, do not paint the picture in terms of just how good the guy was. I felt like he had the talent and skill level to win a couple state championships, but sometimes this sport is abrasive. And he still accomplished a hell of a lot at a time and weight range that was very tough at the time. 

(NOTE: At this part of the article, I cut a ton out.  Like probably 10 huge paragraphs.  It’s the story of when I wrestled Brad Helgeson at AAU State in 4th grade.  I felt as if the article was becoming way too much about my dad, brother and I and less about Brad. I will post that story at another time in it’s own article. Just know that the conversations and interactions I had with a few people after my match with Helgeson made that match not only one of my most memorable ever, but one of the most significant parts of my entire life).

So I wrestled Brad Helgeson one time in my career and that was in 4th grade. That was the last time I was ever beaten out of the AAU State tournament and that was the first time I was ever outperformed by my brother, Justin in our first 4 years of wrestling and it never changed from there.  That’s when Justin and I shifted and he was the more accomplished brother forever from that point on.  I was in the round of 12 with Brad and got off to a lead and he threw me on my back for a 5 point move to beat me 5-4 at the end of the match.  This match was a landmark in my life, for a few things happened all at once.  The sibling shift with Justin was big. Also, it’s the moment that I never again questioned that my dad loved me. From that point on, no matter how angry he seemed, I knew he loved me. Dad even told me he loved me in this situation, which didn’t happen as much back then for his philosophy was that it lost it’s meaning if you said it too much.  And he said this to me after he said some anger-induced hurtful things to me right after Helgeson beat me. My dad felt so bad about this afterwards that he cried. I’ve only seen him do this twice ever. That was the first time. Another thing that happened that stuck out, was two days later, he took me fishing, just he and I and we talked about everything except wrestling. That is rare as well. It was a life-changer and it was all thanks to Brad’s devastating pancake (whipover) that he threw me in to beat me at the end of our match. 

And the devastation-inducing pancake he hit me with in 4th grade was not the last time I saw him hit that. 2 years later, he and I were in the same bracket again at AAU State. We were 6th graders wrestling at the B-90 Division. Coming into that year, I had lost to 2 guys coming into that tournament. A guy named Trent Allmandinger from Wilton and a guy from Bettendorf named Anthony Briberiesco. Thing is, Briebriesco beat me like 5 times that year. Every one of them were 1-2 point matches and he won every single one of them. The guy was just impossible to score on. My season that year was so “Briebriesco-heavy” that my coaches and practice partners started wearing white t-shirts with Anthony’s name on it and when they would wrestle me, they would emulate what Anthony does in an effort to try to get me to learn how to defeat him. It never worked. He beat me every time and he happened to be in my district, in which he beat me there, obviously. I don’t know how many of you remember how big of a deal Anthony Bribriesco was around that age, but he was considered a phenom. He only had one loss that year coming into state and that was at an Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Russia dual that they put on. They selected just one youth kid to represent Iowa to wrestle one of Russia’s finest and they selected Anthony Bribriesco, a guy who won state the year before as a 4th grader and hadn’t been beaten in probably years. He lost by like a point or two. And get this, the dude was only a 5th grader! He was a year younger than me. Oh that used to frustrate the hell out of me. He was so good. When the brackets came out, I saw that Brad was likely going to face him second round. So the next time I saw Brad near the holding area, I approached him and said, “this kid tripods from the down position. If you snake your leg in there and turk or tilt him, you can put him right to his back.” Brad smiles and said, “cool, thanks Swafford!” I walked away thinking, “ha! Helgeson remembers me.” Not that I had anything against Anthony. He was a nice guy and I liked him. I was just so sick of wrestling him and didn’t want to wrestle him again in case I made the finals. After pinning my opponent I walked past the mat where Helgeson and Briebriesco were wrestling and I saw Helgeson do exactly what I told him to do and was leading the entire match and to cap it off, he hit Anthony with that same pancake that he hit me with 2 years before. He dominated him. One of the biggest upsets of the entire tournament. It was pretty neat. Helgeson could freaking wrestle. All the way throughout high school he was just super talented.

Here is a pic of Brad and I on the podium in 6th grade. He placed 2nd, I placed 3rd again:

1.) Travis Strable (Interstate 35), 2.) Brad Helgeson (Lake Mills), 3.) Joshua Swafford (Mepo), 4.) Brett Wheelan (Manchester-West Delaware), 5.) Matt Vasey (DM Lincoln), 6.) Tyler Reams (Charles City), 7.) Jared Kray (Linn-Mar), 8.) Brett Swisher (Harlan)

 

 

Who or what encouraged you to give wrestling a try?

-I had a lot of older cousins, so the decision was pretty easy for me.  I won my first tournament when I was 4 or 5, so I was hooked from the beginning.

 

Do you have any family who wrestled or wrestles currently?  How did they do?

-I will try not to forget anyone. My uncle Steve Eidness wrestled at Osage and was an All-American at NIACC. My cousin, Jeff Helgeson was a state qualifier. Tim Helgeson was a state champ and placed 6th. Josh Eidness was a state qualifier. Justin Helgeson was a runner-up. Chris Helgeson was a runner-up, placed 3rd and wrestled at UNI. Dan Helgeson was a runner-up. My nephew Tyler Helgeson just finished his HS career at Lake Mills and was a 3x place winner. Jeff’s boys Caleb is a junior a Johnston and is a 3x place winner, Owen just placed 5th as a freshman.  Jacob is a 7th grader and has won 4 AAU state titles, I believe. There are many more Helgeson’s that will be coming up through the youth, including my 2 boys; Mason who is in 3rd grade and Reece who is 4 years old.

 

What were your youth results?  Any rivals there?

I placed 2nd in 6th grade, 7th in 7th grade and 2nd in 8th grade.  Rivals that come to mind are Tyrone Oulman of Riceville, Matt Doebel of Clear Lake and Brett Iverson of Eagle Grove, just to name a few.

 

What was your record in HS?

123-22

 

How did you do at state?

6th as a junior, I took 3 tough losses at districts in the years I didn’t qualify for state, the kind that you don’t ever really get over, but hey that’s the sport of wrestling.

 

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

I would say trying to put some of those tough losses behind me was definitely a big challenge for me.  Also cutting weight was tough the first couple of years.

 

Who was your most influential coach?

Obviously, my HS coach Jamy Ball was my most influential coach. He was a great coach.  My uncle, Steve Eidness was a huge reason for my success in my youth days.  He would do anything for all of us Helgeson cousins.  He hauled us all over the place every weekend.  He deserves a ton of credit.  I just think its funny that an OSAGE wrestler had such a big impact on the Helgeson’s and Lake Mills wrestling.

 

Was your team competitive in HS/College?

Yes, we were very competitive, especially in duals. We finished 2nd at State Duals my freshman year, 3rd my sophomore year and won it all my junior year, which is still the only team state championship in Lake Mills history.

 

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

Jeff Helgeson was the oldest Helgeson and he was a stud.  He was on some great teams.  I loved watching all those guys. Obviously, Mike Issacson ( 2x state champ), Scott and Jeff Pederson, Cory Schriever, Chad Cavett, just to name a few.  Lincoln McIlravy was my favorite college wrestler growing up.  I even got pretty good at his famed “boot-scoot.” Lol…

 

Who are your current favorite current wrestlers?

How can you not like Spencer Lee? That kid is unreal.  Also; Jordan Burroughs, Kyle Dake, and DavidTaylor on the international stage.  HS wrestlers would be Cael Happel, Robert Avila, Drake Ayala, Cullan Schriever, etc. They are all gonna be fun to watch at the next level.

 

What was most upset you ever felt after a loss?

Like I said earlier, I had a few heartbreaking losses, but one tops them all.  My sophomore year at districts, in the match to go to the state tournament I was up 4-0 or 4-1 with 15 seconds left and he head-locked me and pinned me.  He would go on to get 2nd at state that year.  I was crushed.  I still, to this day have never watched the match on video.

 

What was your best wrestling memory/accomplishment?

Finally getting down to Vets and placing my junior year was big.  Also winning a state dual title the same year was big.  We felt like we should have won State Duals the two previous years, but fell short, so it felt awesome to finally do it and get a title for the town and coaches.  Our coaches deserved it more than anyone.

 

Who were some of you most notable competitors in high school?

I had some good battles with Ross Kuper of Osage.

 

Who was the fiercest competitor you ever faced?

Bloomington Kennedy HS (MN) came down to our invitational my junior and senior year and both years I wrestled a kid by the name of Jamaal Tidwell.  I had never wrestled anyone that was that fast and strong.  He beat me up pretty good, I believe 7-0 my junior year and something like 17-8 my senior year.  He was a 2 time state champ in MN and went on to wrestle at Augsburg.

 

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

My buddies and I wrestled in a few off-season tournaments, but it was mainly seasonal.

 

Did you wrestle after high school?

No, 13/14 years was enough for me.

 

How would you describe your wrestling style?

I was definitely not a brawler. I was pretty quick and had pretty good technique. I used a lot of low level attacks.

 

What other sports did you play?

I loved baseball and football probably even more than wrestling. I also ran track and played golf.

 

Did you have good practice partners to help push you in the room?

Brady Johnson, Justin Helgeson, Josh Eidness, David Back, Chris Helgeson, Mike Rosen, Jeremy Locke, Matt Hatland, and Keith Hebrink.  All of these guys were studs and we all pushed each other.

 

What are your favorite sports team?

Im a big MN Vikings and MN Twins fan .

 

What are your hobbies other than wrestling?

I love to play golf and just spend time with family and friends.

 

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

Wrestling is such a tough sport both physically and mentally.  It has taught me to deal with adversity and to just keep pushing forward in life.

 

What do you do now?

I work for Helgeson Drainage Inc.  It’s a family business so I work closely with my Dad and brother.  We specialize in farm drainage and excavation.

 

How fun is wrestling history to you?

I love it.  I could talk wrestling all day.

 

Are you still involved in wrestling?

My wife and I moved back to Lake Mills about 9 years ago from Rochester, MN.  I immediately got into wrestling and became the youth coach in Lake Mills.  I did that for 4 years and have been on the HS staff ever since.

 

Any advice for upcoming wrestlers ?

Respect your coaches, listen to your coaches, work hard and lift weights.

 

Any chance we see you wrestle again at an old timers tournament

Ahhh NO!!!

 

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

Shout out to Coach Brandenburg, the current HC at Lake Mills. The guy has done so much for our program.  Also a shout out to my nephew, Tyler Helgeson.  His goals of becoming the school’s only 4 time state qualifier and place winner were taken from him when he suffered a season ending injury in early January.  I have coached the kid since 3rd grade and have cherished every moment of it.  I just wish he could have finished his career the way he wanted, but injuries are part of the sport unfortunately.

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The Moreno family is one of Iowa’s best all-time wrestling families. If someone tries to argue with me about that, they should go back to their passion of licking windows on the bus. To me, it’s indisputable. They are also some of the coolest. Seriously, have you ever met one of them? All of them are 10X cooler than The Fonz himself! There are multiple Moreno state champions from multiple generations and there are multiple Moreno’s who have excelled at the collegiate level and they have a knack for coaching, as well to say the very least.

I can name 4 Moreno’s off the top of my head who were state champions; Mike, Rick, Michael and Gabe… and that list doesn’t include another one who I know for a fact was good enough to win a couple titles and that was 2002 graduate, Quentin Moreno. I had heard of the Moreno family since I was a little kid, but it was actually Quentin (Glenwood) that I first became very familiar with. He was the first Moreno that I ever met personally and I think my my line of thinking after meeting him was, “that dude was pretty cool. Hope he does well unless he’s wrestling me.” Which somehow never happened. Quentin was at the same weight and same class (2A) as me my Sophomore and Junior seasons, his Freshman and Sophomore seasons… In those years, I was always ranked and choked at districts those two years and Quentin was unranked half the time and placed both of those years. In fact, leading into Quentin’s Senior year, he was the only guy in 2A from the entire 2002 class who had placed all 3 of the previous years coming into the state tourney. He would have been the only 4X placer had he not been ripped off by an official at state his Senior year in a match that he had a 12-0 lead in. The call was so bad that the official has not been invited back.  I had him basically pencilled in to win state that year and considered (and still do) him one of the best pound for pound wrestlers in the entire 2002 graduating class.

The 2nd Moreno I had ever met was Rick. I want to say that it was the year, 2012, maybe 2013? It was a year or two after the second time Justin Koethe got called for a slam at state. I know this, because one of my idiot friends tried arguing with me that weekend that it was a Moreno brother that Koethe “slammed” in the semis, in which I knew it wasn’t. It was a Lara. Koethe wasn’t even in the same bracket as a Moreno. Gabe was lighter. That argument was frustrating to me because it went on for hours and I KNEW I was right. I hate that when someone tries to argue with me about something I know I am right about.

So that year, a lot of the Mediapolis clan watched the HS state wrestling tournament at a hotel in West Des Moines called The Red Roof Inn, for we had about 30 kids wrestling at Grade School State the day after HS State concluded. The lobby is where all of my arguing about who Justin Koethe slammed took place. And that Saturday night, we were all partying in the lobby when one of the most coincidental things took place. A group of people who had come from Wells Fargo entered the hotel and a few of them came approached our group in the lobby and one asked, “is it cool to hang out with you guys a bit?” I responded, “of course! What’s your name, man?” “Rick Moreno,” he responded. (It should be mentioned that a few of us were inebriated and I was one of them). I responded with, “OH **** YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME?!?! Please tell this moron right here that it wasn’t a Moreno who got slammed by Justin Koethe the 2nd time at state!!!” I pointed at my friend who I had argued with and another voice chimed in, “it wasn’t a Moreno. It was a Lara.” The voice belonged to Mike Moreno, Rick’s brother. Mike then said, “the Moreno brothers are my sons and they were not slammed by Justin Koethe at state.” I responded by turning to my argumentative friend with, “BOOOOOMMMM!!! When are you going to learn to stop arguing with me?!?!” Ah, it felt so good to have that one resolved by the source.

So those guys hung out a little bit when Mike, who looked pretty tired from an exhausting weekend took off as did the rest of the group. With that clan being from Urbandale, I don’t know if they went home, or what, but all of them except Rick left. Rick hung around with us for a couple hours and talked wrestling or well, talked whatever with us and although we had just met him, he fit right in there. I even remember talking music with him which, in my opinion, Rick Moreno has better taste in music than 99% of any wrestlers I’ve met. There aren’t many wrestlers that I run into who recognizes the brilliance of the band Joy Division. One of the coolest people you’ll run into at one of these big tournaments. It was a ton of fun hanging out with him and when he left, he was like, “I’m gonna get some sleep. You guys have a good night. I hope you aren’t hurting in the morning.” It was like 2 AM and I responded with, “oh, we’ll live, I hope… we are still going to the casino tonight.” Rick kinda raised his eyebrows, chuckled and said, “whoa, well have fun guys! It was a lot of fun talking to ya.” And he left. He probably didn’t think the meathead-looking guy he talked to that night would even remember that night when he woke up and it probably seems even more crazy to him that this guy would write about it almost a decade later. And holy cow, we were all hurting terribly the next day at Grade School State.

Rick Moreno, the first and i hope not the last members of the Moreno clan to be covered in a “Remember The Wrestler” article.

 

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

Glenwood H.S, North Idaho C.C., Mount St. Clare Univ.

 

 

 

What year did you graduate?

1992

 

 

 

Who or what encouraged you to give wrestling a try?

We moved from Nebraska when I was just getting ready to start kindergarten. My brother Mike had been boxing and I had just started to get into it as well.  When we moved to Glenwood, they didn’t have boxing in our town and Mike decided to try wrestling.  Of course, I did what many young brothers do and followed what older brother was doing.

 

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

My brother Mike State Champ, 3X place winner and All-American at Iowa State, Nephew Quintin Moreno I believe a 4X place winner at state, Nephew Michael Moreno State Champ and I believe 3x place winner, 2x All-American at Iowa State, Nephew Gabriel Moreno State Champ and again..I think a 3X placer winner also wrestled at Iowa State and was a 3X NCAA qualifier.  I have a son here in Montana that is a Freshman and took 5th this year at 120.

 

What were your youth results? Any rivals there?

Oh man, I have a hard time remembering that kinda stuff.  Not sure about how many youth FS and GR State titles.  I think my 8th grade year was the first year for the AAU State Championships and I won that and Northern Plains as well…just not sure about all that stuff.

 

What was your record in HS?

That’s another one I’m not sure about.  Something like 134-11-2…maybe.  I was never into stats or record keeping stuff…never looked at my bracket other than just to see where I was on it.  Running my youth club out here in Montana, I don’t keep win/loss records with them either.  I really just try and focus on development and the process.  I think I have always looked at it that way.

 

How did you place at state every year?

Freshman yr. I got beat in overtime in the Quarterfinals and that was back when if they guy who beat you didn’t make it to the finals, you were out.  So I didn’t place.  My Sophomore yr. I tore my hamstring in the Quarterfinals. and had to default out of the tournament and I did not place.  Won it my Junior and Senior years.

 

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

I think my Sophomore year was a good test for me.  I have no idea what my record was, but I do know I hadn’t been beat that year and I felt I was really going to win, but then I got hurt in the qt.  I remember sitting in my bedroom over the summer feeling pretty bad because the healing process was really taking a long time and I couldn’t do anything like run, wrestle, etc. and it even hurt to sit.  I remember throwing my shoes away and saying, “I’m done wrestling,” but my mom was there to basically give it to me straight and told me to pick myself up and get going.  That helped me get through in the high school days.

I think I still get pissed at myself for my college days.  I was 2X NJCAA All-American and NAIA Champion, but I was never really happy with any of it. Poor life decisions when I was younger and not taking school serious kept me from some of my goals.  After winning NAIA’s my junior year I decided to hang up wrestling.  I had a kid that was 1 yrs. old, a wife, and a promising career with the U.S. Forest Service.  It made me realize that I had to accept that opportunities come and go and you have to be able to transition from one to another or your going miss out.  It worked for me.  I feel wrestling taught me that.  In addition to many other lessons.

 

How would you describe your wrestling style?

Wrestle hard and try to score as many points as I could.  I liked being on my feet.

 

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

Not a lot.  I didn’t lose by points to anyone after my freshman year. My losses were by injury my sophomore year and slams my junior and senior years, so really not any back and forths. I’m not saying I didn’t have good close matches, just didn’t feel I had any back and forths.

 

Who was your most influential coach?

I have had the opportunity to be around some great coaches, but Bob Dyer always comes to my mind.  He was a motivator and no non sense kind of a guy.  Treated everyone the same no matter who you were.  Dan Knight was by far the best technician I had as a coach.  Great guys that I often think about.

 

Was your team competitive in HS/college?

Yes.  We won a team title when I was a Sophmore and took 3rd in the dual team..I think.  We took 2nd as a team my senior year.  College at North Idaho we won a team title and took 2nd or third one year.

 

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

My brother was always the one I looked up to, but man there was so many as I sit here and think.  Barry Davis, Steve Hamilton, Kevin Jackson, Eric Akin…of course Gable.

 

Who would you consider the GOAT Iowa HS wrestler?

During their high school yrs. Either Mark Schwab or Dan Knight…that I remember watching.

 

Who are your favorite current wrestlers?

So many of those guys too.  College-maybe Spencer Lee or RBY.  Senior Level Dake, Gadson or J’den Cox…just good guys all around.

 

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

Everything!  Motown oldies, The Cure, LL Cool J, Metallica…just a bunch of different artist….depends what kind of mood I was feeling.

 

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

They all sucked!  None was worse than the other for me.

 

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

Focus on grades and be a better student!  You won’t go anywhere without em.

 

What was your best wrestling memory or accomplishment?

Winning an NAIA title.  I knew it was the closure I needed before I could start my Forest Service career.

 

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

I was never good with names either.  I just remember guys like Mike Uker, Matt Hatcher, Sean Scarbrough and Zack Light….seems like we always seen each other at all the different events.

 

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

Pretty much all year.  I was always practicing or drilling.  I wasn’t always competing all year long.

 

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

I think pretty good, but I believe all wrestlers would say something like that.  We are all pretty damn competitive!  LOL

 

Did you wrestle after high school?

I did.  North Idaho NJCAA and Mount St. Clare NAIA

 

What other sports did you play?

Football and fast pitch softball

 

What are your favorite sports teams?

I’m not a big sport follower kind of guy.  I love playing sports, but I don’t get to crazy about following sports.  I like watching college football to some degree and I do Love those Nebraska Corn Huskers!!

 

What are your hobbies other than wrestling?

Fishing, Hiking and doing stuff with my family.

 

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

I love it!  I love wrestling and it has given me so much in my life, as far as facing adversities and trusting in a process!  What I really like though is reminding these kids that it’s just wrestling, don’t get caught in the bubble that it’s everything.  I think it puts too much pressure on kids, especially at the younger lever.  Just relax and have fun.

 

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

I think it’s the core of who I am.  Work ethic, personal accountability, goal setting, just to name a few.   You always have a chance as long as you are still in the game, don’t give upand keep moving forward!

 

What do you do now?

I’m a Missoula Smokejumper (Parachuting into back country to fight wildland fires). I live in Missoula, Montana.  I’ve been with the U.S. Forest Service for the past 27 yrs. as a Wildland Firefighter.

 

Are you still involved with wrestling?

Yes.  I run an academy here in Missoula and I’m also a head coach here at one of the high schools.

 

Any advice for upcoming wrestlers?

Have fun with it.  What you put in, is what you will get out of it.  Focus on the process and the lessons, the rest will fall in place.  The sport is tough and demanding and it takes a special breed to be a wrestler.  Embrace that you are not like everyone else.

 

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

No way!  Nothing to prove on the mat for me anymore!

 

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

Thank you to everyone I ever wrestled with, against, or has coached me.  It’s the best sport out there with some of the most humble and genuine people!

 

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

No.  Thanks for reaching out to me!  Good luck to all you Iowa wrestlers!  Nothing like being a wrestler from Iowa!

 

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2000 1A 140 State Podium Pic

 

140

  1. Jeremiah Butteris, Sr., Lisbon
  2. Brett Little, Sr., Tri-County, Thornburg
  3. Colby Larsen, Jr., Guthrie Center
  4. Brnadon Heying, Sr., Sumner
  5. Matt Pick, Sr., Rock Valley
  6. Travis Flink, Jr., Alta
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I know what a lot of people are likely thinking when they read the title of this article considering who it is about and who the author is. I’m sure several have already connected the dots.  “Oh this should be JUICY!” some of you are thinking. Robbie is pretty well-remembered for many wins, but a huge one was a win that he had in the consolations of the 2003 state tournament…against my brother, Justin Swafford. If any of you are expecting any drama in this one, I am sorry to disappoint ya. There is a huge amount of mutual respect between the McIntire’s and the Swafford’s.  If you want to read something interesting from beginning to end, you are in luck. The Robbie McIntire-Justin Swafford rivalry had some interesting components in it that I don’t think people realized. When looking in retrospect and trying to alleviate all biases, it is crazy how time sorted things with those two.

So to those who didn’t see this happen, here’s my take on it…My brother, Justin had an amazing high school career in which to this day, he has a difficult time giving himself any credit for considering the way it ended. He was on the way to becoming a 4 time finalist and by the way it looked his Senior year, he had a shot at being one of the closest guys to being a 4 timer who just barely fell short.  Coming into the year, he placed 2nd as a Freshman, 2nd as a Sophomore and 1st as a Junior. The two years he placed 2nd, the matches were tied until the last minute/seconds. So Senior year came and went for him and sadly for us, he finished 7th. This was something that just broke our hearts.  It became something Justin is notorious and remembered for to many people which is catastrophic… anyone with a grain of sense and a microbe of familiarity of that 2003 class would be ignorant to judge Justin based on that one year, but sadly, that’s what sticks out to some fans when thinking about him. It shouldn’t be.

Our nightmare began that year when Justin lost to his most notorious HS rival, Moza Fay in the quarterfinals. This was a highly anticipated match that was a rematch of the quarterfinals from the year before in which Justin won in a squeaker and went on to win state. Moza won this one, though and went on to win his own state championship.  In the consolations, many people just assumed that he’d skate his way to 3rd place, but he was defeated by Robbie McIntire in the top 8 round. This shocked people, because there’s no denying that Justin was/is a total badass and it didn’t seem conceivable that he’d place anything lower than 2nd or 3rd. A slight majority predicted him to win it over Moza. It just felt like Justin was destined to have a better ending to his career, especially in college. The kid was my hero. He was the hero to a lot of SEI kids… It didn’t and still doesn’t seem plausible that the end of his career (mostly college) would hurt him so much that it became a touchy subject for him for decades, for he was the man and nothing will ever change that.  He should feel proud, always. And if it’s one family that knows this and respects him fully and always have, it’s the McIntire family…

The McIntire’s and Swafford’s knew each other well coming in to that match. When it comes to the McIntire family, we think the world of all of them. His cousin, Toby Lehman is one of my favorite people to run into at wrestling events. Knows his stuff with wrestling, too.  Anyways, people don’t realize this, but Justin and Robbie go wayyyyyyyy back. Literally to the very beginning of Justin and Robbie’s wrestling careers, which began around the time they both graduated from Pampers diapers. Get this… Justin’s first match ever was when he was 5 years old at the Lone Tree youth wrestling tournament. His first ever opponent? 4 year old, Robbie McIntire.  It was also Robbie’s first match ever.  Almost sounds too coincidental to believe, eh?  Check out this display of undeniable wrestling cuteness:

 

 

Kind of crazy, eh? Haha, who would have guessed that they would become the hammers they did?

Robbie and Justin met up probably 20 times over the years and the match at state was the one win he had against Justin and holy cow did Robbie ever want to win that one. And you know, there is something I have always wanted to make clear to people.  Whenever someone brings that match up to me, 90% of the time they either say or imply that the match was a fluke or that Justin just simply “choked” in which they receive an unexpected response from me.  Did Justin wrestle one of his better matches in that one? Absolutely not. He was essentially wrestling with a broken heart.  But he was still him.  He wasn’t a lifeless choker out there.  He still had that balance and crazy-intuitive mat-awareness. With that said, the fact that people just assumed that the match was simply a choke job by Justin indicates to me that Robbie McIntire is one of the most severely underrated wrestlers I’ve ever followed and did not receive anywhere NEAR the credit he deserves.  I watched Robbie since, well his first ever match. We always knew what he was capable of or where his ceiling was if he put everything together. Robbie wrestled a PHENOMENAL match against Justin at state.  I mean, he was straight-up elite. If he wrestled like that every match, he could beat anyone there. And we always knew he had that in him. We witnessed flashes of it several times… He just had a tendency to be streaky sometimes.  I saw him wrestle some matches where he didn’t perform well.  However, we also saw matches where he was better than anyone in the gym and those matches often got overlooked.  This kid was INSANELY talented. And hell, he was well-accomplished. He placed 3 years in high school and every year he was in a tough bracket.  Did Justin wrestle a bad match? Yeah…not his best. But that doesn’t take away the fact that Robbie wrestled like a guy who looked like he could scrap at the D1 level in that match.

We didn’t hear about this at the time, but Robbie actually gave Moza Fay a helluva match at districts coming into that tournament. In his career he defeated 3 state champs: Travis Eggers, Justin Swafford and Justin Brown. Robbie McIntire…. legit. 

I remember the moment that match got over with. It was torture for me to watch someone that I have a closer bond with than anyone else in the world have his world crushed before your eyes.  I was crying before the match even ended and when it did end, I immediately looked at the West Liberty crowd to find Robbie’s uncle Toby to congratulate him on what was surely one of the best state wrestling memories in West Liberty state wrestling history.  First face I saw was Mick Wiele and holy cow was he happy. The entire crowd was just elated. Overcome with joy. And this didn’t upset me at all, for I took it as a compliment.  If they didn’t have a tremendous amount of respect for Justin, they wouldn’t have been that happy.  If I were a non-biased spectator, it probably would have been a cool thing to witness. I found Toby, who was overcome with joy,  and shook his hand and congratulated him and his response kind of indicated to me that there was a bit of relief lingering within the over-whelming joy…Relief that there were not going to be any sour grapes between our families and that I wasn’t going to go off and act like a drama queen and bash Robbie on the message boards because like I said; our families have a tremendous amount of mutual respect for each other. Toby wanted to make sure that I told Justin that regardless of what happened there, he was still one of the best wrestlers in the entire Auditorium. That meant a lot. This was a great moment for them.  I am happy they got to experience something like that, for they were deserving of a cool moment like that.  I wish it wouldn’t have come at the expense of Justin, but it’s cool, nevertheless that they got to see Robbie operate at the elite level that he was always capable of. 

Who could possibly dislike Robbie McIntire if they know him? Great person. Great family.  And a funny note about Robbie. When he finished his questionnaire, he messaged me and told me that he sent it and warned me that I may have to spend a couple hours proofreading it due to so many spelling errors.  Haha, so I open the Word Doc and he had better spelling and punctuation than 90% of the questionnaires I receive.  Haha, when I told him this, he said, “yeah, please don’t tell anyone that I’m not stupid.”  And I promised him that I wouldn’t.  Sorry Robbie. 🙂 Very proud to put this one together. 

 

Who or what encouraged you to give wrestling a try?

My dad started taking us to Moscow Wrestling Club when I was about 4 years old and my brother Paul was 6 years old, I think. I don’t think I got to wrestle live in practice the first year going over there, but being in that room with that many studs from the area got it going for me. Watching really good wrestling done the right way by some of the best wrestlers from the entire area along with some awesome coaching… It just really got me hooked on the sport. Randy Marolf’s operation was top notch. I think the next year I got to start actually wrestling live and going hard. It took me a while to become good. I don’t think I won many matches the first couple years. I definitely had a losing record the first couple years. After a few years at Moscow, we went a separate way.  We had quite a few West Liberty guys at Moscow and it was getting to be quite the battle and heated rivalry at the high school level between the two primary clubs, Wilton and West Liberty. I was still young and don’t know how it went down, but my dad and some other West Liberty parents started our own youth wrestling club in West Liberty.

 

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

My brother Paul wrestled with me growing up and through high school. He wrestled a few years on varsity and I think he was pretty close to getting out of districts one year. My son wrestled for a few years, but he told me he wasn’t enjoying it a year or 2 ago. Maybe he will come back to it.

 

What were your youth results? Any rivals there?

After the first couple seasons, flopping around out there and losing all the time, it did really start to click for me and I finally came around. I qualified for AAU state every year from 3rd grade on. The best I did at AAU State was 3rd. My dad doesn’t let me forget it, either. We never went anywhere to not win, but he always tells me “for a guy that you never thought knew anything about wrestling, I coached you to your best state tournament finish.” I think it was pretty stacked in our area around my weight for you never knew who you were going to run into. You had; Chad Beatty, Ryan Morningstar, Justin Swafford, Kyle Anson, Cody Smith and I think I had some Mack Reiter run-ins. There were lots of others. My parents never let me dodge any competition. If they thought there was going to be a good, tough match at a certain tourney, that’s where we were going. I think one weekend in 7th grade we went south somewhere for a tournament and I got 4th in a 4-man bracket. That was a quiet ride home. Justin (Swafford) might have that wall chart somewhere because I’m pretty sure he went home with it that day.

 

What was your record in HS?

134-17

 

How did you place at state every year?

Freshman: 6th

Sophomore: Qualified and didn’t place.

Junior: 4th

Senior: 8th

 

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

I think the biggest adversity I faced was my sophomore year. Early in the season, I wrecked my shoulder pretty good wrestling Gannon Hjerleid from Wapello. I tried to continue in that match, but that thing just wouldn’t work right. It was the worst feeling. Just thinking my whole season was over. It was bad. I didn’t wrestle another match that year until sectionals. Another thing is that I didn’t keep my weight under control while I was on Christmas break. I tried to cut it all back off at the last minute and almost didn’t make weight. I remember being a few tenths over that morning and I didn’t want to run to get the rest off. We shaved my head in the bathroom. I thought that would do it. Nope. It turned out that I had to run. I came into my senior season with another banged up shoulder from football season, my shoulders were junk and they didn’t hold up well.

 

How would you describe your wrestling style?

I would say physical, aggressive, etc. I really went for the Iowa style. I wanted to keep the foot on the gas and never let up.

 

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

Freshman year  was Andy Roush. Also Freshman and Sophomore year was Gannon Hjerleid. Junior year, I think Moza Fay got the best of me 3 times.

 

Who was your most influential coach?

Every coach I had made an impact on me. I started with Randy Marolf, my dad, Nick Marin and Pete Robles came in before I got to high school and were there all the way through. Morgan Deprenger, Brandon Hudson, Jesse Lira, Tommy Ruble, Aaron Griffith, etc. I appreciate everyone of them for all their time they put in and everything they have done for me.

 

Was your team competitive in HS/college?

Yes, we won a lot of tournaments in high school just couldn’t get over the hump to get to the state duals and were not too far off from some hardware a couple times at the traditional tournament, I think.

 

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

There were so many when I was young. I grew up watching the West Liberty guys; Chad Morrison, Nick Marin, Ben Scorpil, Tommy Ruble, etc. Getting closer to high school, I watched Keith Pearl, Jeff Wiele, Travis Mauer and Aaron Griffith go through. And obviously all the Iowa guys. Iowa City was right down the road so we got the chance to be there a lot.

  

Who would you consider the GOAT Iowa HS wrestler?

Man that is tough  because there are so many that have been really good. I think there were five or six 4 timers right around my class and another was full of three timers and three time finalists.

  

Who are your favorite current wrestlers?

I have enjoyed listening to the Cometcast and watching the Esmoil brothers the last few years as well as the rest of the West Liberty guys. Spencer Lee and Alex Marinelli are my favorite Hawks.

 

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

A lot of Rage Against The Machine. Some Outkast. Ah man, I don’t remember. I should look for those CDs I had pumping in the Discman.

 

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

Semifinals at state freshman year. I lost someone I had beaten a few times and never lost to. The match ended with him on his back and I couldn’t get the fall.

 

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

Definitely weight management and nutrition. Eating right and treating my body right. I would have been able to focus on my wrestling a lot more, but I spent way too much time just thinking about cutting weight and getting 10 to 12 pounds off that I put on in a couple days.

 

What was your best wrestling memory or accomplishment?

I didn’t meet the expectations I set for myself in my high school career, but the 4th place finish my junior year was my best accomplishment.

 

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

I wrestled some outside of the season. I would go to City High and Muscatine and Monster USA Club with Mashek. I would wrestle a handful of tournaments. I should have done more.

 

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

Man, a good wrestler is a good wrestler I think it would be pretty even.

 

Did you wrestle after high school?

No, but I had a good opportunity to go to William Penn, but didn’t end up taking it.

 

What other sports did you play?

Football, some baseball, raced dirt bikes and rode some bulls in the summer.

 

What are your favorite sports teams?

Iowa, Cubs and the Bears

 

What are your hobbies other than wrestling?

I like to hunt these days. It makes for really good days when you are out there watching the sun come up with my son along side me. I enjoy spending time with my wife and kids.

 

Your Junior year, you wrestled phenomenal. It was the best I ever saw you look… you had a couple matches where you brought things to an elite level you were always capable of. How did you feel about that tournament?

• Wrestling the state tournament that year after I got beat on the winner’s side, I feel like I finally put it all together. There were a few matches there, where I felt like I was wrestling to my potential and I wish I would have found that groove more often in my career. Coming back on the back side of that bracket the match, I wrestled against Justin Swafford and it was probably the best match I put together in my high school career.  I can’t say that’s how that match would have went any other day, especially on the front side of the bracket. Justin came in that year as a 3 time finalist and had a slip up in the quarters after starting out hot against Moza Fay and just had the wind taken out of his sails. So it’s hard to judge from that match. But I wrestled that match with nothing to lose. I would say very few people watching it expected it to go the way it did, but that was the best I ever felt and the best I ever wrestled. The West Liberty section that day is something I will always remember. Then in the 3rd place match I go out and loose by a point to Maury Noonan from Emmetsburg.

 

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

Wrestling really toughens a person up shows you how to get through the tough times and helps with times where you need to overcome adversity.

 

 What do you do now?

I work for a grain company called Rock River Lumber and Grain.

 

Are you still involved with wrestling?

Not right now.

 

Any advice for upcoming wrestlers?

Keep it fun and don’t wear the weight of the world on your shoulders and put too much pressure on yourself. If you want to reach your full potential, you have to buy into the whole program and life style in and out of the room. I worked really hard in the room and during workouts. I did my own extra stuff in the mornings and on Sundays I put in a lot of time. But outside of that, I wasn’t living the lifestyle that the elite guys were living to get to the level they were at. That’s probably what held me back the most. Whoops.

 

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

Hahaha man, I would need quite a bit of notice. It would take me a while to get in wrestling shape.

 

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

I’d just like to give all of my coaches a huge shout out for all their time and for everything they have done for me. And a big shout out to the West Liberty community. That’s the best and most supportive community I could have grown up in and I am very thankful for that. Also a huge thank you to my parents who spent so much time and money on me taking me all over the country and giving me the best opportunity to be successful. With out them I would not have accomplished anything close to what I did.

 

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

Keep up the good work on the page. It has brought back some really good memories, reading and watching the stuff you find.

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I like this dude. I don’t know if I’ve ever met him in person, but it is likely, for his HS team (North Mahaska) and mine (Mepo) were at the same small tournament (Pekin) to kick off the season every year when I was in high school and he and I were in the same grade (2001). Our colleges also seemed to meet everywhere throughout the year. He wrestled at Central College and I wrestled at Loras…. both colleges are part of the D3 Iowa Conference.  He was always a weight or two heavier than me… from youth all the way through college. Kind of like Paul Bradley from South Tama, Heath Johnson, Tom Meester, etc. He and I obviously crossed paths a lot, so it wouldn’t shock me if we’ve met and presumably talked wrestling before. I have talked to him quite a bit since I started this site and I can tell that I like him…you know why? Because he seems to get my humor. He laughs at even my craziest attempts at humor, in which there is a lot of that… the type of stuff that seems to fly completely over peoples’ heads…like, often times I think my humor is so esoteric that I am the only person in on the joke. “Chronically and incurably facetious and way too willing to make myself come off as a moron just to catch a laugh” is how my brothers describe it. It’s a lot of fun. I am a huge fan of Andy Kaufman and Tom Green if that tells you anything. I’ve met a lot of people through this site these past few months and a lot of them after talking to me a bit, I am certain walked away thinking, “I like this guy’s site and I like what he is doing, but man he’s nuttier than squirrel turds.” Which brings a huge smile to my face for I just think it’s funny. It also brings a smile to my face when people catch on to some of these shenanigans, in which Zac does. Zac may very well think that I am nuttier than squirrel turds, but he at least gets the jokes. I’m guessing that if he were on on the same team as Drain, the Keller’s, the Swaff’s, etc. in the day, he would have got right in there with us and we would have had a ton of fun. 

And check out some of the guys he had scraps with and/or beat in his career. Very impressive stuff. And a very wise wrestling mind. Glad I’ve gotten to know this guy a bit. 

And come to think of it, I need a new truck, bad right now.,, I think I’m gonna hit him up on that and I’d encourage anyone to buy a car from him because I’m pretty sure he’s awesome!

*Who or what encouraged you to give wrestling a try?

Wrestling runs in the family, I guess. Cousins, uncles, dad all wrestled. Dad started taking me to a tournament or two a year in kindergarten. He started taking me to the Oskaloosa wrestling club in 4th grade. That’s when my eyes got opened to what wrestling is all about.

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

Like I said before, wrestling runs in the family. The school my dad graduated from, Montezuma, started their wrestling program when he was in high school. He won the first wrestling match in school history. My cousins are Dawleys, Pargeons, and Reynolds from Montezuma and Pella. Wes Pargeon did the best in high school, placing 2nd at 160 in 1989. John Dawley had the most success in college as he was a 4 time All American at Wartburg.

 

*What were your youth results? Any rivals there?

I placed 6th two times at State. I thought I’d give basketball a try in 6th grade. Scored for the other team and went back to wrestling in 7th grade. Haha. Brad Cratty from Colfax (RIP) was probably my biggest rival in youth wrestling, in the sense that we went back and forth beating each other. We became friends in the process and used to call each other and talk about how we did. A few of the best I wrestled were Doug Onstot from Indianola, Jake Saunders from Ogden, Dustin Bussanmas from Norwalk, Paul Bradley from South Tama.

 

*What was your record in HS?

131-42. 20 of those losses came in a .500 freshman campaign.

 

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

My junior year was very difficult for me because I tore up my wrist in football and wrestled the season with it injured. I had no strength or grip in my left hand and had reconstructive surgery after the season was over. I had some decent wins that year but when it came time to wrestle the best it just wasn’t there for me. The second would be the way my senior season played out. I was undefeated going into districts and got up by Cody VanZwol from West Marshall. I ran into him a few years later up in Ames and had the opportunity to visit with him for a while. Real nice guy who I believe was home on leave from serving this great country. You know, in my mind I had every excuse in the book and could justify it or rewrite it a thousand different ways, but at the end of the day it is what it is. There were many things that one loss taught me. Some of which would be that life isn’t fair, you get what you earn, and to not take sports so seriously.

 

*How would you describe your wrestling style?

I was strictly a takedown wrestler until I started practicing a little freestyle starting my junior year of high school. I would say that I wrestled like someone much smaller than I was. I loved low singles, riding the legs, and wearing people down. My gas tank was always in my back pocket.

 

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

There were a few that I went back and forth with in middle school and high school. The person I probably wrestled the most in my life, and we were about 50/50 on the matches was Tyler VanDee from English Valley. The other two are Cole Calkins from Iowa Valley and Chris VanLandingham from Davis County. I think very highly of all three of these guys with the way they competed, and they are all good guys.

 

*Who was your most influential coach?

I learned a lot from my family growing up. My dad taught me the most. He wasn’t the most technical, but he taught me about hard work and toughness. The Grahams and Moyers ran the club in Oskaloosa I went to and they showed me the technical side of wrestling. My high school coach, Gary Czerniakowski, and my college coach, Matt Diehl, were both great guys who have a lot of passion for the sport.

 

*Was your team competitive in HS/college?

We had a good team in high school. We may not have been the most talented, but we worked hard and had some decent results. I had a great workout partner for 3 years in Clint Haworth. He’s one tough dude. We had a good team at Central College. We were top 25 in the country a couple years with Dustin Roland and Jeremy Hendricks leading the way.

 

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

Brett Little from Tri-County. He was a year older than me. I probably learned more about wrestling from the Little family than from anywhere else. Brett beat the tar out of me, but he also took the time to teach me. That guy was born to coach. Bart Little was the same age of me, and he was very influential as well. The other wrestler I looked up to growing up, who also beat the tar out of me, was Johnny Anderson from Oskaloosa. That guy is one of the best wrestlers to come out of southeast Iowa.

 

*Who would you consider the GOAT Iowa HS wrestler?

Derek Moyer from Oskaloosa. He is a three time Iowa State Champion, who didn’t get to compete at state his Junior year because he broke his jaw. He beat Montell Marion from West Des Moines Valley in the finals two times.

 

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

You know, in junior high I would listen to Rob Zombie “More Human than Human” to get hyped up for a match. By high school, I should have been listening to music to calm me down, but I don’t remember listening to anything. I was one who got overhyped all on my own.

 

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

High School Senior year at Districts. Also the last match I ever wrestled, which was my junior year in college, where I tore my knee up. I knew the ride was over then.

 

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

Hindsight is 20/20. I feel like I did the right things in high school as far as working hard and not going to parties. If I could change one thing it would be the ability to control my feelings better. Whether I was angry or nervous it was to the extreme, and that was probably my biggest weakness.

 

*What was your best wrestling memory or accomplishment?

My best wrestling memories are the time spent with my teammates. From little kids to high school to college I was fortunate to meet a lot of great people and build some lasting friendships. I don’t have a favorite accomplishment, but I am proud of the wrestler and person I became by the time my career was over. Wrestling did not come easily to me at first but I loved it, stuck it out, and got better over time, especially over the past handful of years.

 

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

Besides the guys I mentioned already I would say Jacob Feurbach and Nick Gallagher, both from Belle Plaine. A few that stick out from college are Bart George from Wartburg, Alain Djoumessi from Wartburg, Justin Post from Loras, Brent Meyers from Upper Iowa, and Wyatt Reyerson from Luther. George was my kryptonite. That guy really took it to me 2 of the 3 matches we wrestled.

 

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

It was mostly seasonal. I did a little freestyle my junior and senior year in Oskaloosa. Jason Christenson was the head high school coach at that time and I got to learn some freestyle from him. I got substantially better at mat wrestling through this training. I wish I had gotten into it a lot sooner.

 

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

I’d like to believe we would hold our own. I think we were producing some of the best the state has seen back in our day. I saw two freshmen make the State finals at 160 pounds this year and at first I thought that was a statement to how poor the wrestling has gotten, but then I saw them wrestle and quickly changed my mind. The training that is readily available to guys these days is just so much more advanced than it was back then.

 

*Did you wrestle after high school?

I wrestled 2 ½ years at Central College. I tore my knee up pretty good Junior year and decided it was time to hang it up.

 

*What other sports did you play?

I played football, baseball, and track (2 years) in high school. I also tried to play football in addition to wrestling my sophomore year of college, but I soon learned that was too much for me to handle while in school.

 

*What are your favorite sports teams?

I’m a huge Iowa Hawkeye fan. I also cheer for Iowa State and UNI, but I draw the line when they face the Hawks. I’m everything Chicago. Cubs, Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls.

 

*What are your hobbies other than wrestling?

I enjoy spending time with my wife Teresa, 3 year old daughter Evelyn, and our dog Peanut. We are expecting a baby boy on July 31st so looking forward to that. I enjoy watching movies and playing video games. I’ve determined I’m never going to give them up. haha…

 

*What were some of your biggest wins in HS? College?

I beat some good wrestlers in high school, but nothing too crazy. My biggest win in college was at conference duals sophomore year over Alain Djoumessi from Wartburg. He was ranked #1 in the country at that time and I believe he beat Iowa’s 197 pounder Paul Bradley that year, so he was legit. I got up big early with a throw, rode him for a while, and ran from him the 3rd period. Haha..

 

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

My work schedule doesn’t allow for me to give back with coaching, so I give back in other ways from time to time.

 

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

I learned some tough lessons along the way. I developed a strong work ethic and resiliency along the way. Also, I would add, that Gable summed it up best when he said that once you have wrestled everything else in life is easy. For the most part, I believe that holds true.

 

*What do you do now?

I am a Sales Manager at Ulrich Ford Lincoln in Pella, Iowa. It allows me to play with numbers and interact with people, both of which I enjoy.

 

*Are you still involved with wrestling?

Only as a fan. I was a University of Iowa season ticket holder for the first time this year. Certain companies, such as Flowrestling, have given us new avenues to enjoy the sport in a greater capacity. I would say my love for the sport has only grown over time and am very thankful to have all of the content at my fingertips.

 

*Any advice for upcoming wrestlers?

You get out of the sport what you put into it. If you are truly serious about having high level success you need to work hard and start wrestling outside of the typical wrestling season right now. Enjoy the ride, it’ll be over before you know it. You may not yet understand some of the lessons you are learning, but you will, and you will be thankful.

 

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

Only if I get to wrestle Ryan Groom (Oskaloosa) in freestyle while wearing a “special” headgear. That’s a story for another time. Haha. Groom is one of the best around! He’s currently the head wrestling coach and will be taking over as Athletic Director at my alma mater, North Mahaska Community School District.

 

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

I think I’ve pretty well covered it. The list goes on and on with the amount of people who had an influence on me in one fashion or another. You know who you are. Thank you.

 

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

I saw an article on here the other day about the Waterloo kids club back in the day. I’d just like to mention that I remember taking 2 teams from the Oskaloosa kids club to their tournament and beating them. We took 1st and 3rd. I’ll never forget their priceless reaction.

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