This one is a long-time coming for me, for I was way, way late to jump aboard the Jarion Beets train compared to some. This man had a pretty large crowd of adamant and supportive believers by the time I even heard his name for the first time and they sure let me know how silly it was for anyone to have ever doubted him. His crowd loved him and were vocal about it, as they should have been. So here is the story:
The first time I ever heard of him was when he defeated the ranked #1 guy in the state and future Hawkeye, Jake Kerr from Oskaloosa. I was a message board warrior at the time and when I first saw that this happened, I logged on to the popular Iowa HS wrestling forum back then, which was Iowa Preps. I was probably considered one of the top 2-3 most insightful posters on the board at that time, to boot and it was rare for me to receive a response similar to the one that I received when I inquired about Beets. To start, I created a thread and in this thread, I don’t know why, but I spelled his name wrong. I accidentally titled the thread, “Marion Beets Upsets Jake Kerr At State.” I don’t know why I wrote his name as “Marion.” I don’t know if I misread his name on my state book, or if I was thinking about Montell Marion when I wrote it or what, but when I posted this thread, basically I was like, “who is this kid? Is he the real deal?” And holy cow, did they let me hear it. The first response indicated their disgust in me for getting his first name wrong. I am glad they did that. I HATE writing the wrong name for someone or misspelling their names. I am glad when people are harsh on me for doing so, for I don’t ever want to make that mistake again. And after I was lashed for that, the next couple dozen responses had to do with how it wasn’t an upset to them for they knew how good their guy was and that we were simply late to the party and that I was silly for not catching on to that more quickly. Several people chimed in saying things such as, “I told you so,” “now do you finally believe,” “Jarion is one of the most talented guys in the state that noone knows about,” “will people finally give Jarion the respect he deserves,” etc. I had clearly struck a nerve and for someone who takes pride in generally pinpointing wrestling talent earlier on in the process, I felt pretty silly for not knowing who he was. I never forgot, though!!! And Jarion continued to pick up wins at the D1 level, in which he was a teammate of my brother, Justin’s. Whenever I’d see Justin, I’d try to pick his brain about who was doing well in the room and who was legit and how he would do against who and when I would ask about Jarion, his eyebrows would raise and he would say something along the lines of, “yeah that kid is legit. A raw talent. And he is just scratching the surface in how good he can be.” I was 100% sold… Justin doesn’t just dish out compliments like that to anyone…especially in that phase of his life where he was starting to become somewhat bitter towards how wrestling was going for him.
With all that said, I should have known about Jarion Beets sooner and am excited to know the full story. Hopefully this makes up for my inadvertent ignorance of when I didn’t realize who he was, for he is universally described by his wrestling peers as one of the most talented wrestlers they ever came across.
SIDENOTE: After reading this, I can’t help, but think how this man would have done had he started earlier. Maybe a 3-4 time state champ, for real. Some of his answers straight up got me pumped. Jarion Beets is the man!!!
What clubs, schools, etc. did you wrestle for?
I wrestled for Cedar Rapids Kennedy, also Cedar Hawk wrestling club while in high school. While in college I wrestled at UNI and Panther Wrestling club.
What year did you graduate?
Graduated high School 2006 and college 2011.
Who or what encouraged you to give wrestling a try?
I had a friend on the team named Luke Dolan and he always encouraged me to come give it a try. He believed in my talent and told me I would for sure be varsity ha, I was intrigued. We had a good team and me being not as experienced in high school I was reluctant.
Do you have any family who wrestled or wrestles currently? Parents, children, brothers, etc.? How did they do?
I don’t have any family that did it before me, my little brother tried it in high school but he didn’t like it as much as me. You can believe it is in the blood now.
What were your youth results? Any rivals there?
I did not wrestle as a youth.
What was your record in HS?
I have no idea but I maybe won 60 matches. I started Sophomore year and was hurt most of Junior and had a strong senior record of 34-3.
How did you place at state every year?
Started Sophomore year and placed 8th, Junior yr 6th and Senior DNP…Ouch, lol…
What were some of the most notable adverse challenges or moments you experienced in wrestling and how did it turn out?
The biggest challenge for me was not coming from a wrestling family and not knowing how intense it was. I walked into a totally different world and in Iowa it wasn’t a easy transition. There is a lot to a high school season and I was not prepared for nor was my family. The cutting weight, tournaments on the weekends and additional training was a shock. Luckily, I found a wrestling family the Aarhus’ to take me in and help me progress.
How would you describe your wrestling style?
Ha I don’t know how to describe my wrestling style. Early on I was definitely a counter offense guy, later in my career I was offensive.
How many guys in high school did you go back and forth with or exchange wins with?
There were a few guys I remember going back forth with Jake Kerr (Oskaloosa), Mike Stamp (Lewis Central), Andy O’ Loughlin (Independence) and Grant Gambrall ( Iowa City, City High). Most of them beat me the first time around and I won the second time.
Who was your most influential coach?
My most influential coach in High School was Jason Aarhus and in college was Tolly Thompson. Post College has been Doug Schwab. Everyone has influenced me in a different way but it was what needed at the time.
Was your team competitive in HS/college?
I believe we were competitive. My high school teams best was 3rd at State. College we always were ranked in the top 20.
Who was your most influential wrestler that you looked up to growing up?
Although I did not watch wrestling growing up, when I was in high school it was Mark Ironside. He probably does not remember helping me one day after a camp and I was impressed, for him being as awesome as he was, he took some time out to help a 2nd year wrestler. Also that even though I was novice with hard work I could grind out anything!
Who would you consider the GOAT Iowa HS wrestler?
Jay Borschel because I never managed to beat him out of 100 times in high school we wrestled lol and he was a 4 timer with 1 loss to my teammate, who I give runner up to… that was Joey Slaton. Side note Jay also beat me in college too!
Who are your favorite current wrestlers?
Also bias because I coached him for years Cohlton Schultz (ASU), Taylor Lujan (UNI), Spencer Lee (Iowa), Ryan Deakin (Northwestern) and Mehki Lewis (VT).
What music would you listen to back in the wrestling days?
I was an big Emineim fan and Ying Yang Twins. Really got us going!
What was the most upset you ever felt after a loss?
Ha, there are too many to count but the most upset was after a double OT loss to Robert Kellogg first round of state my senior year.
You hit my radar when you beat Jake Kerr at state. It was considered a huge upset at the time and I couldn’t believe that it happened, for I wasn’t aware of you yet. And then you proceeded to keep winning huge match after huge match and you made an art out of proving people wrong. And you did it all the way through college at the D1 level…that’s rare. What clicked with you. How did it feel proving people wrong the way you did?
I stayed a student of the sport. After every loss I learned and normally nobody beat me more than once. I kept tweaking my style to adjust to different people and trying different things and I also watched video. I sometimes learned more that way than practicing. But also needed more one on one guidance to keep me encouraged after losses to progress my style and to let me know I can always do better. Once my coach (Tolly) told me I need to find and perfect an offensive shot and do it hundreds of times so I could be more comfortable, then I would start winning. Once my shot got better I was able to score offensively, normally I scored my points playing a defensive roll. I also loved proving people wrong and I don’t care if I’m the only one who believes in me when I was confident, I was dangerous.
If you could go back and change one thing about your wrestling career, what would it be?
To start earlier, maybe not super young but 10-12 years old. I think that’s perfect timing.
What was your best wrestling memory or accomplishment?
Best accomplishment was being a All American and also being the MVW of my team. Coming in as a walk on and not expected to do much I accomplished a lot more than I set out too.
Who were some of your most notable competitors in high school? College?
Jay Borschel (high school and College), Ryan Morningstar (high school and College), Shane Onufer (college), Jake Kerr (high School), Grant Gambrall (high School), Dave Rella (College), Scott Glasser (college) Ethan Lofthouse (College).
Who gave you some of your best battles in the practice room in HS and college?
High school room there weren’t too many battles most of them knew how to beat me but it made me better. In College I had guys like Moza Fay, Justin Swafford, Nick Pickerell Ryan Loder, Brice Wolf and David Bonin. They always pushed me a little bit even if it did not seem like it. Win or lose I took something from them.
Did you wrestle all year or was it seasonal for you?
After my Junior year of high school I started year around and drastically improved my skills. It seemed like in college you were year around no matter what whether you did freestyle or not. You needed to be trying to improve.
How would the guys from your day stack up against the guys today?
I think they would of done fairly well but guys nowadays are so much better at a younger age if we were ahead it wouldn’t be for long. But the guys from my day are the guys starting on most Olympic/World teams. Burroughs, Snyder, Dake, Green etc. But I see the young guys on their heels.
Are you satisfied and content with your career as a whole?
I am content with what I have accomplished but no means satisfied, even the slightest bit. I count my blessings because I did more than I was supposed to on paper.
Did you wrestle after high school?
I went to UNI and was a All American, Most valuable wrestler, and team captain.
What other sports did you play?
I ran track and played football
What are your favorite sports teams?
Minnesota Vikings, LA Lakers and Rockies.
What are your hobbies other than wrestling?
My other hobbies would include concerts, sporting events and watching tv.
How good does it make you feel to give back to the sport?
I love it and it truly is my passion, I can’t imagine a day that I’ll have to give it up!
How has wrestling shaped you as a person to this day?
Wrestling has taught me many things. It taught me to be resilient and adaptable, that tough times do not last and that your hard work and belief in your self is the only things that you can control. A lot of times in life I have been down by 5 with 10 seconds to go and prevailed.
What do you do now?
Now I am a regional sales manager for a company called TTR.
Are you still involved with wrestling?
I have coached every year since I graduated.
Any advice for upcoming wrestlers?
My advice is take time off if you need too, wrestling is a long and grueling sport. Remember why you went out for wrestling in the first place, find your desire and use it to drive you. Keep it fun and keep learning always!! Never retreat and never surrender!
Any chance we see you wrestle again at an Old Timer’s tournament?
Ha, you’d probably see me try to make an Olympic team before that!
Would you like to give a shout out to anyone you wrestled with, against, coached, etc.?
Shout out to my college squad the Kings of 09. All my friends and family that helped me push through. My squad in CO Mile High Wrestling club that help me remember everyday why I choose to coach.