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Remember the Wrestler: Justin Neuzil, Highland

Those Neuzil brothers, Jacob and Justin, were tough, tough, tough. In their era, I don’t believe there was anyone considered tougher than them in the SEISC at that time.. I would have to think real hard. I know he and my friend Zac Gayewski had a couple battles in which they split… And as tough as these brothers were, to be honest, I never knew much about them and never knew them personally, for I was living in Dubuque at the time and wrestling at Loras. Everything I knew about them was what I heard from others and occasionally I would catch their matches, in which I don’t recall ever seeing either of the two lose. It is cool to know more about this SEISC legend!


Who or what encouraged you to give wrestling a try? 

My brother and I started wrestling when we were little, so not really sure who got us into it. I would guess my dad and uncles.


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

My uncles wrestled. My brother Jacob also wrestled; he was a hammer.


What were your youth results? Any rivals there? 

I placed a few times in AAU state. I won state in 8th grade. My main rivals were the cousins Matt and Cody Kroul, couple of tough farm kids there.


What was your record in HS? 

167-15 I think. I know the 15 is correct. That’s the only number that really matters.


How did you do at state?

Qualified as a freshman @ 171

7th as a sophomore @ 171

3rd as a junior @ 189

3rd as a senior @ 189 


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

Number 1 would be beating Cody Kroul at my home tournament my Junior year. We were both ranked 1st and had the same style of wrestling. Made for a tough match. Another time I weighed in up 1 weight class so I could bump up to heavyweight in a dual once against a highly ranked and very athletic heavyweight. Also getting beat by Zac Gayewski was tough but did make it all the more sweet to avenge that loss in the conference finals. 


Who was your most influential coach? 

Aaron Robertson, Brad Becker, John Strittmatter, The legandary coach Gary Curtis, and my brother Jacob all helped me out a ton.


Was your team competitive in HS/college? 

We were an ok team in high school. In college I was at Iowa then transferred to Wartburg.


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

Wes Hand, the Fulsaas brothers, and Kurt Angle. I had a Kurt Angle singlet in youth and freestyle. 


Who are your favorite current wrestlers? 

Spencer Lee & Kyle Snyder


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

Getting beat in the semis at state as a senior was a tough one, because I knew my high school goal of winning a state title would not happen.


What was your best wrestling memory/accomplishment? 

Coming back to get 3rd at state as a junior and senior was tough, but well worth it.


Are you and your brother, Jacob both competitive and supportive of each other?

Yes, Jacob and I are very competitive, and super supportive in everything we do. Only being 1 year apart, we were super competitive in wrestling. I am just glad I had a few weight classes up on him to withstand some of the brawls we got into in that wrestling room. 


What is your earliest memory of Highland Wrestling?

Watching Nick Cole win a state title. I started taking wrestling to another level at that point. 


Do you still do some MMA or was that your brother?

No I stopped MMA. I enjoyed it for the first 15 or so fights, but I stopped after I got the snot kicked out of me once. No Jacobs to pretty for MMA he never got into it. 


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

All of the 15 guys that beat me. It would take to long to name all of them, but I do know all of their names. 


Who was the fiercest competitor you ever faced?

Again Cody Kroul. The guy was super strong, in your face and didn’t quit.


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

I did play several other sports but wrestling was always number one in our house. I wrestled year round.


Did you wrestle after high school? 

Yes, I went to Iowa for a year then transferred to Wartburg.


How would you describe your wrestling style? 

Hard-nosed, on my feet the whole time, big gas tank.


What other sports did you play? 

Baseball, Football, Track. I even played a little basketball in 7th and 8th grade. My mom made me. She came from a basketball family.


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

Tim Miller was a great guy in the room. Just wish he would have been closer to my age to get more than 1 year with him. Several coaches mainly Brad Becker, and no doubt my brother Jacob.


What are your favorite sports teams? 

Denver Broncos, Iowa AND Penn State wrestling. 


What are your hobbies other than wrestling? 

I enjoy bow hunting, football, and working at Stevens Erosion Control.


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

I still lead the hard-nosed, jump in with both feet lifestyle on everything I do. It has helped me in my career as well as goals I have set for myself.


What do you do now? 

I work at Stevens Erosion Control, and hunt.


How fun is wrestling history to you?

What you’re doing here is getting a lot of people excited about wrestling again, and bringing back some good memories. Thanks for that.


Are you still involved with wrestling?

Not really, I would like to get more involved with it though. 


Any advice for upcoming wrestlers?

 Hard work will beat talent, especially at the high school level. So work your ass off. 


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

 I would enjoy it, but would need about 6 months to get in shape for my style of wrestling. 


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

My brother Jacob, my mom. Pretty much my whole family that helped support this crazy sport. As well as all the great guys and coaches I got to train and compete with. A lot of which I stay in touch with and are some of my best friends to this day.


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

Not really. Main thing would be its such a small world. Justin Swafford was a stud from the same area as me, but a few years older than and everybody knew him. Come to find out, one of my college roommates Jake Naig was a main rival with him. Crazy small world.

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