Ogden wrestling is a program/community that impresses me more and more every time I write an article about one of their wrestlers. Like when I read comments on posts that indicate how much love and support they have for their wrestlers or when I hear them going into a frenzy in those videos of Jesse Sundell and Jason Keenan winning their 4th titles, just anything. It’s obvious that it’s a community that sure does seem to genuinely love their squad. Great to see.
Beginning around the time I started working on the Mario Galanakis vs. Jesse Sundell “Inside the Rivalry” article (which btw, Sundell WILL have a quote on my cover photo sometime…I am going to alternate those using quotes from articles I post that motivate me), I have learned things about the Ogden wrestling community that have blown my mind. To start, YOU ARE KIDDING ME?!?! THE SUNDELL BROTHERS AND TYLER GRIESER WERE STEP-BROTHERS!?!!?(EDIT: I originally thought they were step-brothers growing up, but they apparently became step-brothers in HS… I apologize for any confusion). Mind…blown. I have known Jesse Sundell since we were 8th graders in 1997. I have known of Wade Sundell since he was in my brother’s AAU bracket in 1996. I knew of Tyler Grieser since 1993 when we were 4th graders at AAU State. My brother, Justin was one of the first 2nd graders to ever wrestle in the 3rd and 4th grade division at AAU. The year before, I believe Mike Foster from Oskaloosa was the first (that I know of) to do it and then the following year, Justin and Mack Reiter did it. Now it’s common. With that said, Justin’s first ever match at his first ever AAU state wrestling tournament was a hard-fought match against Tyler Grieser. And he was step-brothers with the Sundell’s. I had no clue about that until putting the Sundell-Galanakis-Helgeson article together.
From the moment I read the name, Tyler Grieser as my brother’s first round match when Justin was a tiny 2nd grader, I thought his name sounded cool and intimidating. It gave me the same vibe that the names; Jamie Hotchkin, Brian Hessenius, Joe Storm, Tommy Fitzer, Shea Stamp, Jody Vedepo, etc. used to give me. The name just sounded and looked tough for whatever reason. There was an ongoing argument in my family that lasted years as to whether the kid Justin wrestled was Jesse Simons or Tyler Grieser. My dad and Justin seemed to think it was Jesse Simons. I just KNEW it was Tyler Grieser because I vaguely remember trying to scare Justin before their match. I guess I assumed that he would find his name as intimidating as I did, but lucky enough for him, he’s not a cowardly lion like I am… Oh, and it WAS Grieser, I read it in one of those AAU booklets a couple weeks ago. I vaguely remember telling him that the last kid Grieser faced had to spend the remainder of his life in a bubble due to being hurt so badly by him. Justin just said, “shut up, Josh! Yull just twying to scale me.” And I was all like, “no Juthtin, I’m theriouth. Griether ith thcary!!!” (Justin couldn’t say his “R’s” at that age and I had a lisp and we both had to go to speech class for years to correct our speech impediments). So Justin and I used to thlaughtull (slaughter) Grieser’s name when we’d talk about him. So yeah, it was Grieser… not a good idea to argue with me, for I may be a lisp-recovering, cowardly lion, but I’ve got a photographic wrestling memory…so don’t mess with me! 🙂 Kids probably used to get pissed at themselves if they ever lost to one of the “speech impediment brothers.”
Grieser was really, really tough. I don’t think I ever met him personally other than maybe commenting on the same thread in a wrestling forum back in the day or something, but I always knew who he was and was always impressed by his wrestling skills on the mat.
So after watching some old videos with Ogden wrestlers, reading positive comments left by fans and to each other, observing how many of them give back, etc. It is undeniable that so many of them are extremely passionate about wrestling. When I used to think of Ogden, the first things that would come to my head are; “Wade Sundell, Jesse Sundell, Tyler Grieser, Tony Hager.” Because those were the really good wrestlers from Ogden around my age. I didn’t remember Keenan as well, for he was a bit older than me and not to mention, he doesn’t seem to be discussed as much as the other 4 timers, presumably because he didn’t wrestle in college. After watching these videos, it has come to my attention how overlooked he is when people have discussions about the greatest wrestler in Iowa HS history. Really, there isn’t a case against Keenan… and to my knowledge, his lone loss was a fluke where he was DQ’d for an illegal chicken wing taking someone to their back. So in my opinion, if that’s true…that man never lost. And he is one of the best 4 timers we’ve had. And so is Jesse! I’ll back Jesse up until my last days in this debate. But yeah, the Ogden wrestling community. Their vocal support at the events, the amazing things they have to say about their wrestlers, their knowledge of the sport, the respect they always show the opponents unless prompted, the way a lot of them give back to wrestling. I mean, hell, Jesse Sundell is now the coach at Ogden and Tony Hager (3x placer, 2x finalist for Ogden) is the face and owner of award-winning outlet, IAwrestle. The dude would have never considered doing something like that if he wasn’t rabid about the sport. And now, after reading Grieser’s article, it is obvious that he shares this same passion for wrestling that seems to be ever-present in Ogden. I hope this continues. It’s nice to see small programs/communities being kept afloat because of their passionate fans and athletes. Ogden wrestlers/wrestling has left a significant mark on the history of Iowa high school wrestling. And Tyler Grieser is a big part of this.
And I have yet to see, hear or read a comment about Brian Reimers that isn’t just glowing…Obviously a very influential person.
Who or what encouraged you to give wrestling a try?
I started wrestling when I was five. I weighed 35lbs and it was the only sport I could compete against kids my own size.
Do you have any family who wrestled or wrestles currently? Parents, children, brothers, etc.? How did they do?
My Brother, Adam did in high school, choked his shot at state his senior year at districts. My step-brothers, the Sundells completed. Wade placed a couple of times and Jesse wasn’t bad either.
What were your youth results? Any rivals there?
I qualified for state a few times and placed a few times. Seemed like I wrestled Mike Field from Woodward a few times. I remember a few around my weight: Travis Snover, Kris Thayer, Joe Reiter, Rhino Cox. I am sure I am missing a few.
What was your record in HS?
How did you place at state every year?
What were some of the most notable adverse challenges or moments you experienced in wrestling and how did it turn out?
Losing to Harrison in the finals my sophomore year was pretty rough. I gave it a good go for about 2 and a half periods, then it got ugly. In my junior year, I injured my ankle in the quarters at state. Somehow hung on to beat Justin Weiland that match. Those twins always came to state with like 40+ wins which was more uncommon then. Then I had Joe Reiter in the semis. I wrestled the match but I was on one foot and Joe was a stud so it didn’t go well for me. I had to forfeit out to 6th. That was pretty rough but I still had my senior year. Then I found out how to get thrown and pinned for the first time in my high school career as a senior. It was pretty rough but you get what you earn in wrestling.
How would you describe your wrestling style?
I’d like to say aggressive and relentless. I went out there trying to wear a guy out. I had a good gas tank back then, it kept me in a bunch of matches I probably shouldn’t have been in.
How many guys in high school did you go back and forth with or exchange wins with?
Brian Hickman from West Marshall had my number early. Got me twice but I avenged that a few times over the years. There was this guy Brandon Bennethem from Woodward Granger. I never heard of him before or after my sophomore year. Dude beat me at conference, sectionals, and districts. They were all like 13-11, 15-13 matches. I got 2nd that year at state and he took 5th, but I never got another shot at him. Other than that I traded with Tyson Veit at state.
Who was your most influential coach?
What Brian Reimers has taught me about wrestling and life, in general, can never be understated. I have had some great coaches over the years, Mike and Tim Riddle, Pete McIntyre when I was young. Sean “fish” Thompson was my high school assistant coach. After high school, I had some other good ones in Coach Ostrander at Iowa Central and Ron Peterson at Simpson.
Was your team competitive in HS/college?
We placed pretty well at state each year, top ten I think. We didn’t have enough guys down there to make any real noise. In college when I redshirted at Iowa Central, the team won a national title, Cain Velasquez clinched it for the team in the finals. I was behind some studs at Simpson in Clint Manny and Dustin Brewer. The team faired pretty well, finishing 5th at NCAA’s and 3rd in the Duals if I remember correctly. I had a great time at Simpson, some really good teammates and memories there.
Who was the most influential wrestler that you looked up to growing up?
Lincoln McIlravy/Mark Ironside, dudes were tough. Lucky to grow up in Iowa during that time when the Hawkeyes were dominating.
Who are your favorite current wrestlers?
Spencer Lee, Yanni, JB, Kyle Dake, Sarah Hildebrandt. Looking forward to some good results this year at the Olympics.
What tunes would you listen to back in the wrestling days?
Beatles, Metallica, CCR with a little Bob Seger and Frank Sinatra if the mood hits me right.
With you being step-brothers with Jesse and Wade Sundell, were you guys all both competitive and supportive of each other or just supportive?
We pushed each other that’s for sure. With Jesse and I and Wade and Hager we got after each other often. I think we all benefited from having good guys to go with every day. We all wanted the best for each other and supported each other any way we could. Jesse just wouldn’t share any state titles.
Do you ride bulls like Jesse and Wade?
I did. I got on one they called “34”. Had Wade and Jesse there telling me what to do. Soon as the gate opened I forgot everything and made about 3 jumps. Off and over the fence I went. I enjoy it in more of a spectator role now.
What was the most upset you ever felt after a loss?
Semi’s my senior year. It didn’t last long, I was glad I was able to focus up and get 3rd.
If you could go back and change one thing about your wrestling career, what would it be?
Stay away from women in high school.
What was your best wrestling memory or accomplishment?
Watching Jesse win his 4th. I know it is corny if I had won one I would have picked that. Knowing what he had to go through and how he did it was pretty special to be a part of. I most recently, really have enjoyed seeing kids that I have helped coach along the way have success. Seeing those kids realize what they are capable of is pretty cool. Looking back it is fun to think about riding around in some old van to wrestling tournaments on Saturdays.
Who were some of your most notable competitors in high school? College?
Jeff Harrison, Joe Reiter, Dana Vote, Kris Thayer, somehow I beat Heath Ropp and Brad Stockton once. Dylan Long dropped me on my head once in freestyle.
Did you wrestle all year or was it seasonal for you?
Seasonal for the most part. We messed around in a little freestyle here and there.
How would the guys from your day stack up against the guys today?
I think we would do very well. We weren’t as flashy. Seemed like the basics were more important than big moves back then. Who doesn’t like a crisp sit-out.
Did you wrestle after high school?
Yep, Iowa Central for a year and Simpson College for a couple of seasons.
What other sports did you play?
Baseball, a little Football.
What are your favorite sports teams?
Iowa Hawkeyes and the USWNT, those women are studs
What are your hobbies other than wrestling?
Fishing, Golf, Video Games, Hiking, Skiing.
How has wrestling shaped you as a person to this day?
I feel wrestling taught me self-reliance. It is just you out there and no one to turn to or blame any outcome on. No one can cut the weight for you or wrestle the match for you. I kinda thrived on that aspect of the sport. Being confident and comfortable with yourself singularly is a very valuable skill.
What do you do now?
I am an insurance adjuster, been doing it 10+ years.
Are you still involved with wrestling?
I moved to Colorado a few years ago. I did some coaching back in Iowa and loved it. Here I have done a little coaching and officiating but it is just not the same. I hope to get involved more in the future in some capacity.
Any advice for upcoming wrestlers?
Learn to love the process. This isn’t a sport you get better at overnight. Love practice and getting better and taking note of those improvements. Being self-aware and mindful of your areas of improvement is important. Oh yea, have fun and stuff.
Any chance we see you wrestle again at an Old Timer’s tournament?
You never know.
Would you like to give a shout out to anyone you wrestled with, against, coached, etc.?
I would for sure want to shout out all the great people involved in wrestling in Iowa. Like I said before living away from Iowa does put into perspective how special the sport of wrestling is there. I had some great teammates in high school and college. Shout out to all my Bedford/Lenox people. The Ogden/Boone community support wrestling like none other. I had the opportunity to coach quite a few special people at Ogden. There was this coward who dodged me after I “technically” slammed him the year before, id still probably fight that guy.
Do you have anything to add? Funny/interesting stories? Trivia?
For some reason, sectionals our senior year Jesse decided to change his socks and headgear for that day. He’d been wearing the same headgear and socks (not sure if he just had one pair) since like 8th grade but that day he changed them. Got beat. Switched them back next week, wins. Weird. Also, I’m pretty sure I chose top in the 3rd periord in the quarters my freshman year down 1. I lost by 2…man, listen to your coaches.