Quintin Moreno was a grade below me and seemingly at the same weight as I was every year. He and I were very, very close to wrestling… As in, I lost a match at districts 5-4 my sophomore year in which 4 of the points I gave up were stalling points, with the last “ding” being a 2-pointer with 5 seconds left in the 3rd period… If that official decided to not call me for stalling with 5 seconds left (he made the right call, I was gassed), I would have gone on to state that year and would have faced Quintin Moreno. That close. Weird way to lose a match…at districts. There was an off-season tourney where something fluke-ish happened to him, in which if it hadn’t, he would have faced me. That was a match-up that was apparently just not meant to be and I was totally fine with that!
I considered Quintin to be one of the best guys in the entire 2002 class. In fact, think about the 2002 class, in particular the 2A guys… Here is a random list of 2A guys who graduated in 2002: Andre Avila (Assumption), Wade Satern (Humboldt), JD Naig (Emmetsburg), Aaron Drain (Mepo), Ian Alke (West Liberty), Danny Elsbury (South Tama), Cody Downing (Creston), Reid Baack (Clear Lake), Trevor Arbegast (Assumption), Adam Grell (Dewitt-Central), Brett Karkosh (South Tama), Kent Reams (Charles City), Ryan Oldham (PCM), Justin Wygle (Iowa Falls), Joe Uker (Osage), Curt Zinnell (Humboldt), Kirk Artist (Glenwood), James Lange (Centerville), Ryan Dunbar (Clarke-Osceola), Chris Harrison (South Tama), Clint Sellers (Chariton), Clint Sellers, Ben Strandberg (Emmetsburg/Armstrong-Ringsted), Rodney Grap (Glenwood), Nate Buys (Western Christian), Jerrad Bourne (Webster City), Jase Clark (Union), Ryan Ohrtmann (Emmetsburg). Reed Kuper (Osage), Brent Schumacher (Harlan), Mitch Zmolek (South Tama), Judd Wagner (Dyersville-Beckman), Tom Rodman (Sgt. Bluff), Michael Billings (Clear Lake), etc. The list goes on.
I don’t think there were any 2A 4X placers that graduated in 2002. Those guys just took turns beating each other. Coming into the 2002 season, I BELIEVE there was only one guy in 2A who had placed their first 3 years in high school… And that was Quintin Moreno from Glenwood. I considered him a borderline lock to win it that year and after reading his responses, an 18 year old question was answered for me… which was, “what happened to Quintin his Senior season?” Because he was just simply too good not to place that year. Now that what I always suspected has been confirmed, it makes me feel thankful for not having many run-ins with the untimely injury bug.
One of the best wrestlers from the 2002 graduating class who so happens to be from one of the best ever wrestling families in Iowa wrestling history…
I mentioned this in Quintin’s brother, Rick’s RTW, but the Moreno’s have THE best taste in music and movies.
What clubs, schools, etc. did you wrestle for?
I wrested for Glenwood growing up. As I got older, I wrestled with every club in Southwest IA that would let me in; Council Bluffs Panthers, Golden Eagles, Aztec WC (Clarinda), etc.
What year did you graduate?
Who or what encouraged you to give wrestling a try?
I grew up in a wrestling family and my two brothers already had a lot of success in the sport when I was a kid. I wanted to be just like them.
Do you have any family who wrestled or wrestles currently?
My nephew, Israel Moreno, is doing big things in Montana right now. He will be a sophomore next year at Big Sky, in Missoula, MT. He has all the potential and skill to win multiple state titles. I’m really excited to watch his career unfold.
My son, Kane, is 12 yrs old and wrestles for Beaver Creek WC. He is one of the leaders of our club and has had a lot of success up to this point. Kane loves sports and is involved in all of them so it will be interesting to see what he fully commits too. He has the potential to great in any of them.
Parents, children, brothers, etc.?
How did they do?
Mike Moreno – Multiple state place and Champ. 1992 D1 All American
Rick Moreno – 2X Jucco All Amerian, NAIA National Champ
Michael Moreno – Multiple state placer and Champ. 2X D1 All Ameriacn
Gabriel Moreno AKA Buff – Multiple state placer and Champ. 2x D1 NCCA Qualifier. (might have been the best one of all of us if not for injuries)
Israel Moreno – 5th at State as a freshman
Kane Mahler-Moreno – TBD
What were your youth results?
I really struggled at the beginning. My dad tells stories all the time about how I did not win a match my first two years. I am not completely sure that is true, but it’s not too far off. Around 5th grade I started to get more success, but nothing spectacular. I placed at Tulsa once and my highest AAU finish was 3rd my 8th grade year. (Which ended up being an impressive bracket that you wrote about earlier this year).
Any rivals there?
I do not think I had any specific rivals as a kid. but definitely had some extremely competitive relationships with my work out partners/team mates. There were so many good wrestlers in the Southwestern Iowa area at this time and we all wrestled with each other.
What was your record in HS?
I think it’s in the ballpark of 125-25 but, could a few off on either side of that.
How did you place at state every year?
Freshman – 6th
Sophomore – 4th
Junior – 3rd
Senior – DNP
What were some of the most notable adverse challenges or moments you experienced in wrestling and how did it turn out?
I had a few but without a doubt, my senior year sticks out. The summer going into my senior year I won freestyle state and there was some really good kids in the bracket. I was feeling good about my skills and definitely DID NOT want to be the first Moreno not win a high school state title.
On the first day of practice my senior year I tore my ACL and meniscus. It took me a couple of weeks to muster up the courage to admit something was wrong and sure enough, it did not take the Dr. long to tell me I needed surgery. My mom was with me at the time and I remember driving back to Glenwood in tears the whole way. I ultimately ended up in Clarinda to ask my brother Mike what to do. As always, he was cool, calm, and collected and got in touch with a friend of his to give me a second opinion. The news was not great, but I was told it was possible to wrestle on it injured. I took the second option.
My coaches and family helped me develop and plan for the season. At the time it was like my whole world was crumbling every day as I was trying to navigate the challenges of competing with an injury like that. I was able to get my wrestling flow close to where it was before the injury, but it was tough. During the season, I beat the eventual state champion, but was also having inconsistent performances.
Ultimately, I lost in the state quarterfinals and was beaten out in the blood round. Those two days of wrestling were the hardest days of my life to that point.. My high school career ended with me not winning a high school state title and for the first time I did not even medal.
Although it was an extremely tragic experience at the time, it eventually it turned into one of my most valuable experiences. It taught me not to feel sorry for myself when times were tough. It taught me how deal with failure, and it helped me put the sport in perspective. It made me stronger.
How would you describe your wrestling style?
I really liked to wrestle on my feet. My style was mostly focused around duck-unders and underhooks. I definitely did not enjoy picking bottom and looked for side-lifts on top.
How many people in high school did you go back and forth with or exchange wins with?
Clint Manny (Winterset) – We wrestled so many times over the course of two seasons with 50/50 results. One of our meetings was in the blood round at state, which I won, but he beat me the last time we wrestled. I have great memories from those matches! Clint was such a tough competitor.
Who was your most influential coach?
Bob Dyer! You should really do a story on him! To this day, I have so much respect for him. Bob and his assistant, Bob Glenn, produced so many good high school wrestlers during the 80s and 90s. He may have not been the most technical coach in the state, but Bob took a “no-nonsense” approach to the sport and was a master motivator. One of the best coaches I have ever been around.
Was your team competitive in HS/college?
Glenwood was a top 5-10 team during my time. North Idaho and Dana both won national titles while I was there.
Who was your most influential wrestler that you looked up to growing up?
Mike Moreno and Rick Moreno. I watched so much film on both of them as a kid. Both of their styles influenced my wrestling.
Who would you consider the GOAT Iowa HS wrestler?
Who are your favorite current wrestlers?
What music would you listen to back in the wrestling days?
Reggae – All Types
Nirvana, Sublime, Metallica
Early mid 90s rap – A Tripe called Quest, Wu Tang Clan, Pharcyde, etc..
What was the most upset you ever felt after a loss?
They all felt bad.
If you could go back and change one thing about your wrestling career, what would it be?
Focus more on strength training and less on making weight.
What was your best wrestling memory or accomplishment?
My best wrestling memories to this point are watching Michael and Gabriel Moreno compete at Iowa State. I was so proud of them for making it to such a high level. I was their biggest fan!
An accomplishment that sticks out was my freshman year in college at the Las Vegas invite. It was one of the first tournaments where I did not have someone from my family with me. It was also the first major competition after recovering from my injury. I beat some good D1 and D2 kids before losing in the blood round. That tournament is so tough. It was a great experience proving to myself that I could wrestle at that level. My season did not end the way I wanted it too, but that weekend was definitely a highlight looking back.
Who were some of your most notable competitors in high school? College?
Clint Manny and the other Winterset kids and Kirk Artist, teammate at Glenwood. I mentioned Clint earlier and Kirk was a great wrestler as well. We such good training throughout the years at Glenwood.
How close are you, Rick and Mike?
Close. They have mentored me in wrestling and life.
Did you feel a lot of expectations being a Moreno?
Yes, but wrestling comes with so many mixed emotions that it becomes hard to know which is which. Being a Moreno meant I had the best supports a kid could ask for.
What are your favorite movies?
First three that come to mind in no specific order: The Big Lebowski, Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch
Who were some of your workout partners from your area?
Jeff Newby – Glenwood
Jason Black – Glenwood
Kirk Artist – Glenwood
Mike Wells – Clarinda
Did you wrestle all year or was it seasonal for you?
How would the guys from your day stack up against the guys today?
Its all the same in my opinion.
Did you wrestle after high school?
Yes. I went to North Idaho College out of high school and later transferred to Dana College.
What other sports did you play?
I was active as a kid. Played all sports.
What are your favorite sports teams?
What are your hobbies other than wrestling?
I recently got into bass fishing and I love it! There are many similarities between wrestling and fishing. Its very technical and you have to take the good days with the bad days. So much fun though.
How good does it make you feel to give back to the sport?
Really good. I was so fortunate to be around so many great coaches as a kid. Its important to me to give back what was given to me.
How has wrestling shaped you as a person to this day?
Its definitely given me a unique attitude and world view. I don’t think there is a sport that prepares you more for life than wrestling.
What do you do now?
I work with at risk youth.
Are you still involved with wrestling?
Yes, I am the head coach at Beaver Creek WC
Any advice for upcoming wrestlers?
Fundamentals before advanced skill. Learn how to make boarding training/drilling interesting and competitive.
Any chance we see you wrestle again at an Old Timer’s tournament?
Would you like to give a shout out to anyone you wrestled with, against, coached, etc.?
I would like the give a shout out to the Beaver Creek WC parents and supporters. It is such a great community to be a part of and everyone has treated me and my family great since we joined.. Also, our coaches, Dwyane Harney, Rick Sloss, Tom Atkinson, Quinten Danner and Matt Brown. Last year we had close to 150 boys and girls come out which was a crazy number for small town Iowa. I could not ask a better team to coach with and our kids are on the right track to do BIG things in high school!