≡ Menu

Wrestlers Who Fish: Kyle Hefley; IC High ‘19/Central College

Wrestlers Who Fish: Kyle Hefley; IC High ‘19/Central College

Kyle Hefley was a 2019 graduate from Iowa City High who wrestled in the City High youth club for probably a decade before even getting into HS. In HS, he was a 2 time state qualifier, making the blood round his Junior year when he was beaten out in the most heartbreaking way I can imagine. He was up 6-3 and in the neutral position against Elijah Demmer from Western Dubuque with 8 seconds left in the 3rd period when he got thrown to his back and pinned in 5:59. It was some good, heads-up wrestling by Demmer, but obviously just agonizing for Hefley. That’s how close he was to placing in HS. HOWEVER, while that was an unfortunate moment, one should not forget his better moments! For example, he was a 2X MVC Conference Champion, which is one of the toughest conferences in the state of Iowa.

In the youth scene, he was always really good for the City High MatPac Club and was always one of the most loyal members of the club. He actually won a youth state title or to for them.

Kyle has a family history with IC High wrestling. This is what he had to say about his family’s wrestling history and how much City High Wrestling means to him.

PINDOX: Do you have any family who wrestled before you? How did they do?

Kyle Hefley: My grandpa (Richard Gordon) wrestled for City High in the 1960’s. He was a two time state qualifier. The first time I walked into the City High Wrestling room for MatPac practice my mom showed me his name on the wall. I said, “I want my name on that wall, too!”


PINDOX: What club did you wrestle for growing up and how would you describe your experience with the club?

KYLE HEFLEY:  wrestled for Iowa City MatPac. It was a great experience and I couldn’t have asked for a better club to learn from. I would call it more of a family than a club. During matches if a coach couldn’t get to a mat, a dad or two would be in the corner, and often many of my teammates would be in the corner cheering me on too. My coaches helped form the person I am today. The MatPac Coaches, Marcus Kurtz and Matt Egeland are great with the youth. They build strong relationships and help the wrestlers believe in themselves.

Kyle went on to wrestle at Central College in Pella and in his time there, he is able to get some time in doing one of his favorite hobbies… fishing!  Check out this catfish he caught at Lake Red Rock near Pella!

Great job, Kyle!


Robert Avila Jr.,Iowa City West


I remember when the news initially hit the Iowa HS wrestling community that an elite Nevada Freshman named Robert Avila was moving to Lisbon and would occupy a weight in the 120-132 lb. range, the big debate was, “yeah ok, he was good in Nevada, but can he do it here (Iowa)?” He has since won 3 state championship and has gone 52-1, 45-0 and 34-0 in his first 3 seasons for a career record of 131-1. He is also able to routinely pull off all sorts of various acrobatics in his matches that puts his extreme athleticism on display.  He looks like Liu Kang from Mortal Kombat out there when he wrestles with the somersaults that he will execute mid-motion to give himself a better angle or position to work his offense. The state of Iowa has never seen anything quite like him. He is 100% unique.

Robert is actually undefeated in his career in Iowa competition. His one loss was against Travis Ford-Melton from Chicago, IL when he was a Freshman. In his HS career so far, he has pulled off huge wins over fellow state champions; Hunter Garvin from IC West, Caleb Rathjen from Ankeny, Hayden Taylor from Solon, Aiden Riggins from W-SR, Joe Pins from Dubuque Hempstead, among others, I’m sure. All of those guys have been successful not only at the state level, but the national level.

As a Junior last year, Avila went 34-0 with 27 pins, 2 technical falls, 2 major decisions and 2 decisions. His falls were quick… 22 out of 27 of them were called in the first period. 11 of these were in the first minute, including one fall in :07 and another in :11.

Simply put, he’s one of the best wrestlers I’ve ever witnessed go through the Iowa HS wrestling scene. A GOAT article on him in the future is pretty much a certainty. The kid is absolutely the real deal. The “can this Nevada kid roll with the big boys in Iowa” debate should be squashed by now and if anything, we could probably learn a few things from the coaches in Nevada and California who helped him get to the level he was at before moving to Iowa, in which Iowa is where his skill-set has been polished and fine-tuned.

If you are wondering if Robert is a guy who can compete at the D1 level, without listing names or locations, I will say this: There is a person who I trust 100% of what they tell me. This person was at a camp over the summer in which Avila was in attendance. Avila was working out with a guy who graduated college as a multi-D1 NCAA AA who may have won it in 2020 had COVID not ruined everything.  Avila put this guy on his back…. It was the summer after his Junior season, and Avila put one of the best collegiate wrestlers to his back. That normally doesn’t happen with the average elite recruit freshman. Usually it takes a few weeks to months of being in a college room before they are able to do something like that. Goes to show you how much potential Robert Avila Jr. has.

And on top of all the accolades, he is an incredibly impressive person off the mat. I’ve gotten to know him a bit the past year or so and you couldn’t ask for a more friendly, polite and unassuming person who respects everyone and tries to see the best in people of all walks of life. He’s also a fantastic, eloquent writer.

Meet one of the best HS wrestlers in the state,  Robert Avila Jr!

PINDOX: When did you start wrestling? Who introduced you to the sport?

ROBERT AVILA: I believe I started when I was 3. Grandfather wrestled back in the day and his sons wrestled when they were in HS and I was much younger, so I was around it at a young age. My parents kind of just let me have at it.

PINDOX: Did you catch on to wrestling quickly or was it a gradual process?

ROBERT AVILA: I think I caught in pretty quick. Wrestling in general is a process, there’s always something to learn. Nobody ever knows absolutely everything, but as far as a learning standpoint, I kind of got the hang out it pretty quick and it all just felt almost natural to me.

PINDOX: What club did you wrestle for growing up and how would you describe your experience with the club?

ROBERT AVILA: Oh man there is a LOT of, not necessarily clubs that I wrestled for, but that I trained with so I’ll name a couple. Pounders WC is pretty much where I started (shout out to Eddie and Camilo) and I mean there will never be anything like what we had going on in there. You can ask anybody you want that was in that room and they would tell you how awesome it was. I can give a HUGE list of great wrestlers that wrestled there and trained some point in their careers and send it over sometime. Imo, there was never a better room. Coach/Athlete relationships were great. And the brotherhood we had and the friendships the majority of us kept all these years was and is irreplaceable. In California, I Would go to some high school club practices in Alto Loma, Sultana, Victorville, wherever I could get a practice in. In Vegas, I started off with Green Valley, which that club kinda moved on, separated, and became Slam Wrestling Academy. I would go to many high school practices there as well. Las Vegas HS, Western HS, Valley HS, Bishop Gorman, again wherever I could just get a practice in.

PINDOX: How did you finish at state tournaments in youth?

ROBERT AVILA: Kind of all over the place. Really not sure how I did in California, I remember some specific matchups but not end results of tournaments. When I moved to Nevada,  I did Farley well. Won a few times when I was younger then moved back to Cali where I don’t think I really competed at state for a few years, but then when I went back to Vegas, I know I Triple-Crowned at least twice and had a few other individual style titles as well…I know I placed in all of them I wrestled in for sure. Then obviously I moved here my 8th grade year

PINDOX: How did you finish at the state tournaments you wrestled in at the HS level to this point?

ROBERT AVILA: Freshman- 1st (126lbs)

Sophomore- 1st (132lbs)

Junior- 1st (145lbs)

PINDOX: Who were your wrestling heroes growing up?

ROBERT AVILA: Only one mind really comes to mind. And that would be Brent Metcalf. I was literally his biggest fan when I was younger watching him and the rest of the Hawkeyes compete. Fun fact: he was actually kind of the reason I began to like Iowa wrestling.  I remember going to a tournament in Vegas with my uncle just to see specifically him wrestle. Got a singlet and a couple other things signed by him and I had an absolute blast watching him in person. I was also blown away by the fact that he was coaching cadet duals when I first moved out here and he was like my “chaperone” in 8th grade and coached me for the week. I did miss weight for one of the styles so obviously that was ridiculous of me and pretty embarrassing, lol (especially being my first time missing weight) but it was like the coolest thing ever when I realized he was gonna be coaching me literally right after I had moved into the state and him being the main reason why I loved the state of Iowa in the first place.


PINDOX: Who have been some of your toughest competitors in HS to this point in your career?

ROBERT AVILA: I’ve wrestled a lot of good and great kids lol. Can’t really name a couple because then I’d have to name them all and I don’t want to miss any. However, I have mad respect for all of them.


PINDOX: What was your most memorable state tournament?

ROBERT AVILA: Obviously I’m not at Lisbon anymore but one of the coolest moments as far as a team was the dual against Bosco in the state dual finals my sophomore year. I believe we were down 21 -0 right out the gate. We then took the next 5 matches and the score was 21-18, if I’m not mistaken. We dropped a match and were down 24-18 going into my match so I definitely needed the fall for us to have a little cushion. Definitely needed bonus points. We were lookin for a fall in hopes that Cael Happel would follow with one as well and we’d keep the train rolling into Marshall Hauck’s match and leave it up to him. I didn’t even have the major yet (believe it was only like a 5 point lead. 8-3 or something) going into the 3rd. I knew I had to at least get the major and once I had that locked up with about a minute left, I put the foot on the gas and had to go for the tech and ended up putting him in his back with like 10 seconds left and it was like 18-8. I knew with the near fall I had the tech locked up for sure at least, and somehow I was able to flatten him out and the ref called the pin with 1 second left. Cael followed my match with a pin then we got pinned. 30-30 going into the final match and of course Marshall locked it up and got the fall.

Probably One of the greatest duals ever. And to follow that, got the dub on Saturday night.  I believe we went 4 for 5 in the finals. Not sure if all those stats/numbers are correct so someone could fact check that, lol.


PINDOX: What are your wrestling goals for this coming season?

ROBERT AVILA: Completely Dominate whoever I wrestle.


PINDOX: How would you describe your wrestling style? Who would you compare yourself to?

ROBERT AVILA: A mixture of everything. The only person I could compare it to is myself really. Bits and pieces of a lot of different wrestlers/coaches technique(s) that I’ve mixed into my own way of wrestling… I’d consider it unique.


PINDOX: Do you have any regrets from wrestling that you want to make up for as a Senior?


PINDOX: What other sports do you play and how have you done at them?

ROBERT AVILA: I’ve played soccer my freshman year…did fairly well. Season got canceled sophomore year and didn’t get to play last summer had a lot going on. Most likely will be going out this year, maybe tennis instead though. I will have to decide later. Football was like “whatever.” Felt the same with baseball. Football is kind of boring to me. I do love baseball though.

PINDOX: What are some of your hobbies besides wrestling?

ROBERT AVILA: Anything outdoors or just messing around with the boys. I do enjoy playing all different types of sports for fun

PINDOX: What is some of the best advice you ever received?

ROBERT AVILA: “Congrats you won a Tulsa title a couple days ago over the weekend. But this is today, that crap doesn’t matter anymore. That’s old news, now we go to the next thing which is this practice today” -Eddie Aguirre

PINDOX: Do you have any advice for up and coming wrestlers?

ROBERT AVILA: Just do you. If someone tells you you can’t do a technique a certain way and that it doesn’t work that way, always test it out before throwing it out the window because it might actually work for you. A lot of techniques I come up with are based off of proving people wrong…probably not a good thing to let pride get in the way but it is a good thing to kinda trial and error

PINDOX: What is your favorite style of wrestling? Folkstyle, Freestyle or Greco?

ROBERT AVILA: Folkstyle>Greco>freestyle (freestyle is awful).

PINDOX: What are your college plans? Is wrestling in your future whether it be competing or coaching? Do you have interest in MMA?

ROBERT AVILA: Most likely going to study business. (Undecided college). I plan on wrestling until I’m old and can’t get out of my couch one day…even then I’ll have someone come get me And take me to practice. I have a very high interest competing in mostly all professional fighting types in the future whether that may be boxing, kickboxing or MMA.


PINDOX PROFILE: Nick Ackerman; Colfax-Mingo HS ‘97/Simpson College

In 1997, Nick Ackerman of Colfax-Mingo placed 6th at state at a loaded 1A 152 lb. bracket. And he did so as a man who had both of his legs amputated as a baby due to acquiring bacterial meningitis. And what makes it even more impressive are the matches he had to win in order to make the podium. Nick won his first match over Clay Youngblut, who was from Don Bosco and had a rich familial history in wrestling. Youngblut had been to state before as a Sophomore and had a dazzling record of 38-0 coming into the tournament. Nick Ackerman defeated Youngblut first round by the score of 11-9. Ackerman then dominated Erik Jorgensen of Clarion-Goldfield by the score of 17-4, securing Nick’s spot into the top 6 and on to the podium. Nick did end up losing his next 3 matches to place 6th, but the point had been made clear… Nick Ackerman was a one of a kind athlete who was capable of doing things you previously thought you’d only see happen in movies.

And he was just getting started.

Ackerman went on to wrestle at D3 Simpson College and in 2001 he made National headlines when he defeated the heavily favored Nick Slack of Augsburg in the NCAA D3 Finals, making Nick the 2001 D3 174 lb. National champion.

This achievement was so impressive and held by the masses in such high regard that he was awarded the 2001 Hodge Trophy with Cael Sanderson of Iowa State who had just made history at the D1 level himself becoming the only D1 wrestler in history to be a 4X undefeated NCAA D1 wrestling champion (and still is to this day).

And to think that if Nick hadn’t lost his legs as a baby, that he would likely be a basketball player. A 174 lb. double-amputee… think about how tall he would have been if he had kept his legs! I’m guessing that he would have excelled in basketball as well, for what he accomplished takes guts.

And he didn’t stop making an impact there.

Nick is now the Director of Prosthetics at American Prosthetics and Orthotics, a position he has held since 2001.  With that said, since Nick graduated college, he has dedicated his life to helping those with functional limitations due to accident, illness or birth defect.

You will be hard-pressed to find a more respectable human being than Nick Ackerman. The world is a better place because of him.


PINDOX PROFILE: Kyler Rieck; Spirit Lake Park/Minnesota State Mankato/Legends Of Gold

Kyler Rieck… One of my favorite Iowa HS wrestlers of the past few years. A wizard on the mat and one of the funniest people off the mat. Here’s an example…I interviewed Kyler at state in 2019. Kyler has gone bear hunting and when I asked which of the two are more intense, wrestling or bear hunting, he quickly replied, “wrestling!” The way he said it was priceless.

Kyler’s wrestling journey began long before he was born given his family history with the sport. He was introduced to it by his Grandpa Stan Krosch and his uncle. They started the wrestling program at Kingsley-Pierson HS in 1965. His mom was a cheerleader/manager/etc. for the Kingsley-Pierson team. Kyler’s uncle, Jason Krosch placed 4th at state in his day. Kyler’s initial personal experience with wrestling was when his uncle Jake would show him moves at family get-togethers as a kid and it expanded from there.

Kyler did not jump out to a fast start in his first few years of wrestling, but things gradually got better for him and the cool thing was, he never hit a wall in his development. Always improved…every single year. By the time he was a 6th grader, he was one of the top placers at his weight, placing 3rd at AAU State that year. The next year when Kyler was a 7th grader was when he hit my radar. It seemed like every big tournament we went to, he would be in future 4X state champion, Alex Thomsen from Underwood’s bracket and always seemed destined to have to wrestle him. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, for on multiple occasions, these matchups took place in the finals. Thomsen was in the grade above Kyler and had his foot firmly set on the accelerator by that time. He was getting REALLY good, really quickly and destroyed almost everyone he wrestled at that point. Kyler, a 7th grader, gave Alex some of his better matches of the season. Kyler ended up placing 2nd at state that year which is great for a 7th grader. As an 8th grader, he won it and did so by winning a couple huge matches over future HS State Champs, Lucas Roland of PCM 10-9 and Anthony Zach of Waukee 4-0… Kyler tore some ligaments in this tournament and wrestled the finals match basically with one arm. Kyler’s toughness was on full-display along with his high wrestling IQ by this point and he was more or less known as one of the best pound-for-pound wrestlers of his grade.

When Kyler got to HS, he was in some straight-up cobra pits for brackets and fared well. Head Coach Andrew Lundgren did a phenomenal job with him. He placed 4th as a Freshman, DNP as a SO, 2ND as a JR and won it as a SR at 2A 152 in 2019. At state, he avenged his only loss of the regular season by defeating Easton Graff of Sergeant Bluff-Luton in the semis. One of the most exciting matches of the tournament.

One of the coolest things of the entire finals round that year was the fact that mere seconds after he won his state title, his longtime best friend and practice partner, Kory Van Oort of West Sioux won his own state championship on the 1A mat. I noticed something funny about when Kyler was given his gold medal on the podium. When he bent down for his coach to put the medal around his neck, you can see his parents cheering directly behind where his head was in the video…and then you can’t see them again when he stands back up. It’s pretty cool.

Kyler’s wrestling was fun to watch. He was rather aggressive and offensive on his feet, always moving on bottom, and always working for a fall on top. He would willingly engage in “battle of the wills” type situations when trying to turn someone on top and would punish guys for trying to interfere with his mission by means of grinding, putting constant pressure on them and being outright physical until his opponent clearly wanted off the mat. He was good in scramble situations, too… There would be situations where he would appear to be going to his back, but he would somehow end up with his opponent on their backs. I know this for a fact, for one of the biggest wins of his career was a close semi-console win over my brother Brennan at state when he was a Freshman and after that match finished, we were utterly confused as to how he was able to get out of a few situations where we thought we had him in trouble, but obviously didn’t. He wrestled a great match against Brennan. Kyler seems to have great “mat-sense.” He acquired this bruising, mat-savvy style by training at one of the best wrestling clubs in the Midwest, Legends of Gold… At LOG, Terry Pack & Josh Nolan played a huge part in his success. He practiced there all-year long throughout the majority of his career.


After HS, Kyler went on to wrestle at Minnesota State Mankato and from what I heard has battled some injuries, but is still grinding through it.

When I interviewed Kyler a couple years ago, he had some good advice for upcoming wrestlers:

KYLER RIECK: My advice to the upcomers would be to just enjoy every moment. Some of the workouts and stuff suck, but one day you won’t be able to go back and do it again. Just enjoy every little thing.

Kyler is an avid hunter off the mat. In this same interview, he chronicled a couple of his most crazy hunting experiences.


PINDOX:What are some of your hobbies off the mat?

KYLER RIECK: My favorite hobby is definitely hunting. I love the outdoors. I love bow hunting white tails, I also hunt turkeys, geese, ducks, pheasants, bears, and I am headed to Africa this summer.

PINDOX: What is your favorite hunting story?

KYLER RIECK: My favorite hunting story is the first mature whitetailed buck that I shot with my bow. It was spot and stalk, I got so close to the buck that it ended up being a 3 yard shot. It was the most intense thing I have ever done. That definitely got me hooked on bow hunting mature white tailed bucks. Another time I was hunting with my buddy Bryce and we split up. It got dark and Bryce didn’t meet up with me where and when he said he would after we were done hunting for the day. I ended up searching for him until I found him laying passes out in a drainage. He was running along a creek and fell and hit his head on a piece of concrete. I had to carry him a mile back to the truck on my shoulder. I woke him up and he had no idea where he was or what was happening. It was pretty scary.

2016 2A 138

1 Ryan Leisure (Jr.) Clear Lake

2 Wyatt Thompson (Sr.) Creston-OM

3 Austin Staudt (Sr.) Charles City

4 Kyler Rieck (Fr.) Spirit Lake Park

5 Brennan Swafford (So.) Mediapolis

6 Tanner Abbas (So.) Clarion-Goldfield-Dows

7 Lucas Roland (Fr.) PCM

8 Kirk Mommsen (Sr.) Davenport Assumption


2018 2A 152

1 Isaac Judge (Sr.) South Tama

2 Kyler Rieck (Jr.) Spirit Lake Park

3 Joe Kelly (Sr.) West Liberty

4 Skyler Noftsger (Jr.) Ballard

5 Mitchel Mangold (Jr.) West Delaware

6 Zack Bevans (Jr.) Solon

7 Dylan Koresh (Jr.) Charles City

8 Justin McCunn (So.) Red Oak


2019 2A-152

1 Kyler Rieck of Spirit Lake Park

2 Adam Ahrendsen of Union

3 Scott Betterton of Vinton-Shellsburg

4 Easton Graff of Sergeant Bluff-Luton

5 Mitchel Mangold of West Delaware

6 Braxton Doebel of Clear Lake

7 Coy Ruess of West Liberty

8 Connor Pellett of Atlantic


PINDOX PROFILE: Rob and Rick Rhum; Mediapolis HS ‘81/Simpson College

A couple of brothers who have been part of the Mediapolis Wrestling program for years are the Rhum Brothers, Rob and Rick. Both are big guys. Rob has shown a penchant over the years for knowing how to get through to the heavyweight wrestlers in a manner in which they understand it or how it relates to them, which is a valuable skill to have, considering a middle-sized coach may show the group as a whole a plethora of moves that seem to work much better for the lighter guys than they do for the big guys. Every wrestling room needs a big Coach that is able to work with the big guys, sometimes as their own little “cohort,” for the technique that applies to them can differ so much. Rob Rhum has done a great job in this role for decades as well as fulfilling the role of coaching up the other guys as well. Rob has been a rather successful assistant coach considering the success the team has had when he’s been there as well as the guys he spends extra time with, repeatedly going on to have nice postseason results. Rob coached at Muscatine HS until 2013 when he came to Mepo. I’m not sure when he started coaching at Muscatine, but he left the squad as a universally liked, room-favorite by the wrestlers that came from Muscatine while he was there. Everyone loved Coach Rob Rhum at Muscatine…they talked about it with us. And when he came to Mepo, he was well-liked here, too. He’s real good at expressing his concerns he may have with a particular wrestler without sounding like he’s mad, annoyed or judging that person. He makes it clear that he is there to help, not come off as condescending, and the kids appreciate him for that. Rob has been such a staple at Mepo events the past month that he is starting to seem like a “staple” in that room. It’s almost difficult to imagine the room without him.

And Rob’s brother, Rick was an absolute hammer.

In HS, Rick qualified for the state tournament for the first time ever and lost his first match to Scott McKillipp of West Liberty by the score of 3-2. McKillip did not make the finals,  so Rick was forced to chalk this one up as good experience for the next year.

The next year as a Senior, Rick defeated his first guy, Carl Hayes via fall and then went up against the returning state champion, Tom Dole from Algona, in which he lost 6-5. Dole did end up making the finals, so Rick was awarded a wrestle-back. He pinned his first kid, Paul Cuvelier of Turkey Valley. Rick was officially in the top 6 at state. He was sent to 5th and 6th by losing to Joe Johnson of St. Angsar. Johnson would go on to get 3rd, Rhum would ultimately place 5th after he pinned Todd Kesterson for 5th-6th place. So in his Senior year state tournament, Rick pinned all three of the guys he defeated. Pretty cool really.

And then Rick Rhum went off to wrestle for Drake University and Simpson College. Every time someone sees something on PinDox about Drake wrestling or Simpson wrestling, I receive a pm from someone telling me about this big, huge badass that they had on the team named Rick Rhum. It’s probably happened 15 times.  Rick ended up being a letterwinner at Drake University and somehow ended up at Simpson for his last couple-two years. It was there where he really stepped into his own. In 1984, Rick became a National Qualifier for Simpson and won his first match, lost his 2nd match and the went on to dominate the next two guys to solidify his All-American credentials. He ended up placing 5th and his name is now in the record books forever because of it.

1981 2A Super Heavyweight

    1. Tom Dole, Sr., Algona

    2. Larry Kerr, Jr., Washington

    3. Joe Johnson, Jr., Saint Ansgar

    4. Douglas Lamn, Sr., Storm Lake

    5. Rick Ruhm, Sr., Mediapolis

    6. Todd Kesterson, Jr., Tiffin-Clear Creek



1983 NCAA Division 3 Nationals 5th HWT

1 Steve Gliva

2 Bob Panariello

3 Mike Suk

4 Mike Baker

5 Rick Rhum

6 Larry Stern



PINDOX PROFILE: Zach Barnes; SE Polk ‘17/Campbell

Zach Barnes; SE Polk ‘17/Campbell

In the 1980’s, there was a lower-middleweight wrestler from Bondurant-Farrar who was a standout on the team, but had just terrible luck when it came to the state tournament. His name was Shannon Barnes and in 1987 he qualified for state at 1A 132 with a 20-3 record, won his first match at state, lost in the quarterfinals and could not wrestle back because the guy who beat him did not make the finals. In 1988, Shannon qualified for state again, this time at 1A 138 and with an undefeated record of 30-0 and won his first match at state again. He was defeated in the quarterfinals again and was not given a wrestle back for the 2nd year in a row, for the guy who beat him in the quarterfinals did not make the finals again. Shannon finished with a record of 31-1 his Senior year and did not place… can you believe that? If there’s anyone I’ve heard of who epitomizes just how screwed over these guys back in the days used to get because of the ridiculous wrestle-back rules, it is surely him. It still boggles me a system like that was ever put into place.

With that said, 29 years later, when Shannon’s son, Zach Barnes of SE Polk won his first state title in his final try, it likely alleviated some deep-seeded anger or anxiety he may have had due to his own shortcomings. I mean, what a relief.

And Zach wasn’t exactly the “lucky” type himself. He never was. Ever since he was a little kid, Zach Barnes was always one of the top guys in the grade and gave some of the states best pound for pound guys like Alex Thomsen, Grant Stotts and Nelson Brands just absolute fits, but sometimes he would have an “off” tournament at the exact wrong time. I mean, sometimes he would do what was expected of him by everyone and win it, but other times, his results provoked a great deal of head-scratching. Sometimes he would be beaten at state by someone he had dismantled several times in the regular season. He did have a knack for sealing the deal in his final tries of both AAU and HS State, though. He won AAU as an 8th grader at C-95 in 2013 and looked absolutely dominant against great competition in doing so.

He won 3A 145 as a Senior in 2017, though. He defeated returning state champ, Grant Stotts from Valley in the finals by the score of 5-1. Stotts and Barnes probably met up 20 times since they were little kids and there was a streak there where Stotts used to have the upper hand. However, Barnes owner the rivalry his Senior year. Those two met up 4 times that year and Barnes won 4 close matches. Pretty impressive.

The way Barnes beat people was just methodical as hell. He knew how to blow the score up once he got some positive momentum going. You didn’t want to get in an early hole against him, because chances were, you were doomed if that happened. And he worked his tail off in practice. I know this by watching him, my brother Brennan and Nathan Lendt just push the hell out of each other in these practices in Moravia that were conducted by Moravia runner-up, Jamie Cochrane. Those were some of the best youth wrestling practices I ever witnessed.

In the years prior to his Senior year, Barnes had placed 5th as a Freshman in 2014 at 3A 113 and 3rd as a Junior in 2016 at 3A 138. His Junior year was likely expecially frustrating, for the guy who beat him in the quarterfinals and went on to win the bracket was Sophomore, Nelson Brands of IC West. Barnes, to that point had owned Nelson for years. And when I say that, I mean, he teched him at state as an 8th grader, teched him when Nelson was a Freshman in HS the year before, beat him 9-3 during the regular season a few short weeks before they met at state, etc. He lost the big one at state, thought and it had to have stung. He fought back hard and beat some great wrestlers on the consolation side and placed 3rd.

The crazy thing about his little rivalry with Brands is the fact that their familial rivalry actually began a generation before when Tom and Terry were competing in HS/College. If there was anyone who could be labeled as Nelson Brands’s kryptonite, it’d be Zach Barnes for sure. If there was someone who seemed to have Tom and Terry’s number in HS/college, it was 3X State Champion/NCAA D1 Champion, Jason Kelber of State Center, West Marshall. Kelber defeated Tom Brands in the finals at state in 1987 and would be defeated by Terry Brands in the D1 NCAA finals in 1990 and would avenge the loss by defeating Terry in the NCAA Finals in 1991. Crazy thing is, Kelber is Zach Barnes’s cousin. Small world, ain’t it?

Barnes finished with a career record of 153-15.  He won state freestyle as a Senior and defeated 2X Fort Dodge state champion, Triston Lara in doing so. Zach also beat Triston at an IAwrestle-sponsored dual meet called Night Of Conflict. Zach won a USA Wrestling Folkstyle National Title in 2017, was a USA Wrestling Freestyle All-American, was a three-time USA Wrestling Folkstyle All-American, and was selected to the 2017 Wrestling USA High School All-American Honorable Mention Team. He was a highly-touted recruit by the time he was a Senior and rightfully so.

Zach committed to wrestle D1 at Campbell University. He has wrestled 3 seasons for them and in those seasons, he has experienced his share of peaks and valleys. He has had some big wins and some frustrating losses. I can’t help, but wonder if he has experienced some injuries the past couple years because his results do not reflect how good he is. Last season he did not have any matches, but he was and still is on the roster. I’m not sure how much eligibility he has left, but you can’t ever count Zach Barnes out. He’s proven time and time again that he is able to pull off some big wins when he is down to his last chance to do so.

Zach Barnes… one of the most methodical and technically sound wrestlers of the 2010’s.


2014 3A 113

1 Jacob Schwarm, Bettendorf

2 Henry Pohlmeyer, Johnston

3 Chase Lynn, Dub Senior

4 Tanner Rohweder IC West

5 Nolan Hromidko of CR Kennedy

6 Zach Barnes of Waukee

7 Noah Ajram, Linn-Mar

8 Jorge Partida, Den-Schleswig

2016 3A 138

1 Nelson Brands (So.) Iowa City West

2 Clint Lembeck (Sr.) CR Xavier

3 Zach Barnes (Jr.) SE Polk

4 Alex Streicher (Jr.) Linn Mar

5 Jackson Gallagher (Sr.) Bettendorf

6 Nick Graham (Fr.) Johnston

7 Noah Carr (Sr.) WDM Valley

8 Dain Gansen (Sr.) Western Dubuque


2017 3A 145

1 Zach Barnes (Sr.) SE Polk

2 Grant Stotts (Jr.) WDM Valley

3 Josh Gerke (Sr.) CR Xavier

4 Nick Graham (So.) Johnston

5 Trevor Anderson (Jr.) Glenwood

6 Mason Hulse (Jr.) Boone

7 Caleb Conway (Sr.) Marion

8 Tyler Hirl (Sr.) Norwalk


PINDOX PROFILE: CJ Walrath; Notre Dame HS ‘23/DC Elite

CJ Walrath; Notre Dame HS ‘23/DC Elite

In an era of Southeast Iowa wrestling where we have a guy (Marcel Lopez) who is on pace to become the first ever 4X state champion to come from the SEISC, CJ Walrath also sticks out, for he was an absolute wrecking ball as a Sophomore at 2A 170 this season… To be fair, this kid has always been a wrecking ball in SE Iowa growing up, most years placing in the top 3-4 at AAU State and winning Grade School State a couple-few times. This year though, CJ Walrath bulldozed his way to one of the best seasons I can remember a Sophomore from my area having. A giant leap from a disappointing Freshman campaign that was plagued by injuries. This kid as a Sophomore was at a weight that is typically overcrowded by Seniors (170)…and he came into state undefeated with over 40 wins and placed 3rd… His only loss of the season came in the semis at the state tournament to the eventual champion, Carson Babcock by a score of 6-3. And get this, his closest match coming into the state tournament…an 11-2 win over the guy who placed 8th at state in his bracket, Logan Waltz of Camanche. And get this, CJ only had 3 other matches besides Waltz during the regular season in which he did not pin his opponent…and get this, all, but 2 of his pins in the regular season came in the first period. For a Sophomore at 170 lbs, that is just plain incredible.

At state, Walrath had a rare, close 3-1 win over Kalen Meyer of CL-G-R… he wrestled Meyer again for 3rd and 4th and pinned him. If this kid is putting up stats like these as a Sophomore, I can’t imagine how “Mike Tyson-esque” his statline will appear when he is a Senior.

It doesn’t appear that CJ competes in the “standard” national/offseason tourneys that many do, but he did compete in the AAU Scholastic Duals, where the team he was a member of, Iowa Black, wrestled in 11 duals… How did CJ do at this, you may be wondering?

2021 AAU Scholastic Duals (06/22 – 06/27/2021)
170 – Clinton Walrath (Iowa Black) over Unknown (Unattached) Forf
170 – Clinton Walrath (Iowa Black) over Randolph Pyrzewski (Michigan Freeze) Dec 9-2
170 – Clinton Walrath (Iowa Black) over Unknown (Unattached) Forf
170 – Clinton Walrath (Iowa Black) over Cutter Jones (Montana White) Fall 2:53
170 – Clinton Walrath (Iowa Black) over Avery Dickerson (Michigan Blue AS) Fall 3:44
170 – Clinton Walrath (Iowa Black) over Justin Griffith (Delaware) Maj 14-5
170 – Clinton Walrath (Iowa Black) over Wyatt Haynes (STL Black) Maj 13-0
170 – Clinton Walrath (Iowa Black) over Bradley Hornback (East Side Wrestling) Fall 1:57
170 – Clinton Walrath (Iowa Black) over Kyle Grey (Backyard Boyz White) Maj 10-1
170 – Clinton Walrath (Iowa Black) over Jamal Lewis (Nauman Blue) Dec 5-0
170 – Clinton Walrath (Iowa Black) over Vaughn Spencer (Nauman Blue) Dec 4-3

CJ has been trained in the club wrestling scene by Johnny Siegel and Dusty Coufal in one of the state of Iowa’s most consistently excellent wrestling clubs, DC Elite.

This kid may be on pace to becoming one of Southeast Iowa’s best ever wrestlers. Actually, scratch that… he has already earned that status with his Sophomore season alone. At this rate and especially if he continues to accelerate through college, he may have a case for being SE Iowa’s best ever wrestler. I bet the college recruiters will be knocking his door down when he’s a Senior and if they don’t, they definitely should be.

Keep making SE Iowa proud, kid!


I posted an article on Chuck Yagla back in March that chronicled his wrestling career starting in HS. The interesting thing about Chuck Yagla is that he never won state, but won 2 NCAA D1 Titles for The Hawkeyes in 1975 and 1976. He placed 2nd as a Senior in HS in 1972 and apparently was bot satisfied with that showing, for boy did he ever make up for not winning a state championship. He did win a Junior National Title after he graduated though, which may have sparks Iowa’s attention.

On top of winning 2 NCAA championships, he also won 3 Big 10 Championships and was named the OW of the 1976 National Tournament.

After college, Yagla continued to compete and won the Midlands championship in 1976, 1977 and 1978 and was an  international Greco-Roman champion in 1978. He qualified for the 1980 Moscow Olympics. After he qualified, President Carter decided that the USA  National team should boycott the Moscow Olympics. So Chuck never got to compete for the gold.

Chuck was also an Assistant Coach at Iowa 1977 thru 1982.

AND GUESS WHAT?!?!?! Chuck has reeled in some nice fish in his day, mostly bass! Check out some of these dandies!



 Trever Anderson is an absolute warrior. He is one of the most ferocious and persistent competitors in the Iowa HS wrestling scene right now and has won 2 state titles and placed 3rd the one year he did not win it, which was his Sophomore year. For some reason, Trever has had to do a lot more than the average wrestler to prove how incredibly good he is to certain fans and I don’t get it. I understood it to an extent his Freshman season, for he was at 3A 106 that year and the main two wrestlers in his grade/weight range that had been considered unbeatable by the parents and fans that followed that crop of kids were Carter Fousek of Crestwood and Aiden Riggins of Waverly-Shell Rock. Those two were perennial winners for years at that point and people just simply didn’t think they could be beaten… That year, Fousek was at 2A 106 and Riggins was at 3A 106.  Anderson was also at 3A 106, so he would have to get through Riggins if he wanted to win state. Anderson’s wrestling development was gradual, but steady and never plateaued…He usually placed at AAU, but never won it.

So Trever had some doubters coming into state, despite the fact that he had actually won his last match against Fousek during the regular season and Fousek beat Riggins at that same tournament. It seemed they were all neck and neck, but fans still seemed to think it was a foregone conclusion that Anderson would not beat Riggins at state. And when he actually DID beat Riggins in the semis that year, I think the general spectators finally started coming around to Trever a bit. Fousek and Riggins were elite-level wrestlers….but so was Trever Anderson….and so was Blaine Frazier from Notre Dame as well as Marcel Lopez who won 1A 106 that year. There were a lot of Freshmen who made a splash and proved themselves that year. Anderson went on to claim the 3A 106 title after defeating Jace Rhodes of Mason City in the finals.

As a Sophomore in 2020, Trever was at 3A 113. That year he was defeated at state by Ryder Downey from Indianola. This upset Trever quite a bit, but he took his anger out on his opponents in the consolations and placed 3rd.

As a Junior in the 2021 season, Trever came in with a hunger to bounce back from the season before in which he fell short of accomplishing his goal of winning state. However, he would have to get through some adversity in order to accomplish this, for he tore the labrum in his shoulder.  And as much pain as Trever was in, he was still able to grind through it and he ended up winning his 2nd state title at 3A 120. And he had to beat a kid who was on fire named Chad Bellis from Hempstead to do so. Bellis was new to Iowa and had won a title in Illinois prior to moving to Iowa. He also took out the retuning state champion, Bailey Roybal from Waverly-Shell Rock in the semis. With Anderson ailing from a shoulder injury as well as having 2 blemishes on his record coming in, people were starting to count him out again. And guess what happened?! Trever Anderson brought the fire again and beat Bellis by the score of 3-2 to secure his 2nd state championship.


So there’s some background info on Trever, now let’s hear from him! And on a sidenote, I’ve done a lot of these Senior Spotlights over the years and Trever is hands down, one of the best writers I’ve come across. I didn’t even have to correct one typo.


When did you start wrestling? Who introduced you to the sport?

I started wrestling when I was five years old. My Dad was a wrestler and I’ve also been friends with the Rathjen family since I was born basically, so wrestling has just always been in my family.


Do you have any family who wrestled before you? How did they do?

My Dad was a wrestler at Des Moines East. He was a three-time qualifier (1990, 1991, and 1992). He placed fourth in 1991. My older brother Spencer, who is now a senior at Simpson, wrestled for Ankeny and placed seventh in 2018 at 132 lbs. My younger brother Jace, who is a junior at Ankeny, is a two-time state qualifier (2020, and 2021) and placed seventh at 138 lbs last year.


Did you catch on to wrestling quickly or was it a gradual process?

I didn’t catch onto wrestling very quickly. I always enjoyed it but I was never really good. I placed at the AAU state championships multiple times but I never would beat the really good kids when I was growing up. It’s been a gradual process.


What club did you wrestle for growing up and how would you describe your experience with the club?

I wrestled for Ankeny Wrestling Club my entire youth career and High Altitude from sixth grade to my freshman year. My experiences with those clubs helped my development a lot. Topher Ewing and Mitch Mueller we’re both great role models throughout my youth career and I still look up to them to this day. High Altitude helped me really get a love for wrestling. Going up there every Sunday made me start to love practice and the grind and process that comes with the sport.


What are a couple memorable moments from youth wrestling?

My memorable moments from my youth wrestling are definitely AAU state just because Topher and Mitch and the club would bring everyone down and we would all watch each other. As a club we also did some dual tournaments, which were very fun. Taking the bus down to the dual tournaments together was always fun. Getting the team aspect involved in the club rather than just individual tournaments was fun as well.


How did you finish at state tournaments in youth?

Throughout my youth I think I placed twice at USA state (3rd in 2017, 2nd in 2018) and I placed 5 times at AAU state (7th in 2014, 7th in 2015, 5th in 2016, 5th in 2017, and 3rd in 2018). I only made one state finals in my youth and that was in 2018 at USA state and I think I lost to Carter Fousek.


What are some of your more memorable moments from high school wrestling to this point?

Some memorable things from the start of my high school career are definitely the 2019 State Tournament when Caleb and I became the first duo to win state since 2003. I enjoyed my freshman year a lot. The 2021 State Tournament was awesome as well with being able to overcome a lot of obstacles that I endured that year. But most of all the best thing throughout my high school career is the relationships I’ve developed with my coaches such as Austin Anderson, Ryan Sheldon, Derrick Huber, and Jack Wignall. I’ve developed some friendships with my teammates such as Sam Kallem and Caleb Rathjen that will go on past my high school and college career.


How did you finish at the state tournaments you wrestled in at the HS level to this point?

My freshman year I finished first at 106 lbs. Sophomore year I got upset in the semis at 113 lbs. and ended up finishing 3rd place. My junior year I finished first at 120 lbs.


Who were your wrestling heroes growing up? Who are your current wrestling heroes?

My wrestling heros growing up were Topher Ewing and Mitch Mueller. With them being my club coaches my whole youth career they inspired me a lot and still helps me to this day. My college wrestling heros were Cory Clark and Thomas Gilman, I grew up watching them and loved the way they wrestled. A person I look up to is TJ Sebolt because of his heavy involvement in my development.


Was there ever a point in your career where you noticed yourself jumping levels and making huge strides?

I would have to say I made a huge jump after my sophomore year. Once COVID hit, I began to train a lot with Sebolt Wrestling Academy during the summer, which has helped me not just look at state titles as goals but rather put myself on the National level and try to win national titles. The change in mindset has been the biggest jump for me after I lost at state my sophomore year. TJ Sebolt has helped my wrestling drastically and helped me change and reinforce the mindset of trying to be the best in the world. He also preaches to bring that mindset into every aspect of your life no matter what it is, which is something I try to do.


Who have been some of your toughest competitors in HS to this point in your career?

In high school I’d say my toughest competitors were Nate Jesuroga and Carter Fousek. Nate I only got to wrestle once but as everyone saw this summer, he’s a really tough competitor. Carter I’ve wrestled 4 times in high school and each time it’s a fun match to wrestle in.


What was your most memorable state tournament?

Last year’s State tournament was my most memorable just because of all the adversity I faced with tearing my labrum and trying to avenge what happened my sophomore year. It’s close but I would have to say the 2021 tournament was just a little better than 2019.


What are your wrestling goals for this coming season?

My wrestling goals for this season are to win a Super 32 title this October, win a third state title this winter, and win a Fargo title this summer. I’ve been out for a while and I’m stoked to be back.


How would you describe your wrestling style? Who would you compare yourself to?

I would say my wrestling style is more loose and focuses on counter attacks. I’ve been known not to score lots of points but my goal is to continue working on that with TJ.


Do you have any regrets from wrestling that you want to make up for as a Senior?

I wish I could make up the 2020 state tournament. Losing in the semis was one of the worst experiences I’ve had. Although that loss did have its benefits. It has helped me and continues to make me jump levels with my wrestling and mindset.


What other sports do you play and how have you done at them?

I play soccer where I played as a freshman, we made state that year and lost to the eventual runner ups. I haven’t been able to play for two years though due to COVID and my shoulder.


What are some of your hobbies besides wrestling?

I enjoy watching wrestling, playing PS4 with my friends, and watching football.


What is some of the best advice you ever received?

The best advice I’ve ever received was actually not too long ago. TJ said at practice “greatness is for the few, the few that are willing” and it’s stuck with me ever since. I have it as my background on my phone now.


Do you have any advice for up and coming wrestlers?

My advice to upcoming wrestlers is stick with the process and don’t sell yourself short, train to become the best in the world rather than just your state. Most of all, train to become the best version of yourself. Incorporate the wrestling mindset into every aspect of your life no matter what it is.


PINDOX PROFILE: Ken Bradley; Traer-North Tama ‘84

PINDOX PRIFILE: Ken Bradley; Traer-North Tama ‘84

In 1951, Elmer Bradley of Traer HS, made history when he became Traer’s first ever state champion by winning the 155 lb. division… and he would be the last Traer wrestler to win state until Courtney Risk won 1A 132 in 1982. That ended up being a nice little stretch where Traer had 4 State Champions from 1982-1987. And not only did Elmer Bradley start seeing some guys from his alma-mater of Traer wrestling start to make a splash, but he also started seeing some of his family members reeling in the hardware around that time as well. Gavin Bradley, his nephew (I THINK) was a state runner-up for Jefferson-Scranton in 1995 and his brother Garrett became a state qualifier for Jefferson Scranton.

And then Elmer’s nephew, Paul Bradley entered the mix. Paul became a 3X state finalist in 1999-2001 and won state as a Senior in 2001. He eventually went on to become a successful collegiate wrestler for The Hawkeyes and had a successful MMA career to boot. And when those three, Gavin, Garrett and Paul did so well in their own careers, they were actually following the footsteps of yet another Bradley that came before them and after Elmer who also won state. His name was Ken Bradley and he was a state champion for Traer-North Tama in ‘84.

Ken Bradley was coached by Jeff Selby. Bradley made his first appearance at state as a Sophomore in 1982 at 1A 126, but was eliminated after being defeated first round.

The following year, Ken qualified for state again at 1A 132. Ken was undefeated coming in with a record of 32-0 and looked the part when he won his first match, but was stopped by Dave Tool from Gilmore City-Bradgate in the quarterfinals. In the consolation side, Ken fought back hard with some big wins over some good wrestlers and ultimately placed 4th at state in a very balanced bracket.

In 1984, Ken qualified again at 1A 132 and was undefeated coming in for the 2nd year in a row and came out swinging, for he pinned his first two guys to stampede into the semifinals. The guy he pinned in the quarterfinals was Bill McLaughlin from Avoca who was making his 3rd appearance at state that year. This set up a semifinal showdown between Ken and the guy who placed two spots above him at his weight the previous year, Rick Swalla from Stuart-Menlo. Bradley apparently came ready to rock and roll, for he defeated Swalla by the score of 7-2, advancing him to the finals where he was set to face Wes Andrew from Monroe who placed 3rd at 3A 126 the year before. And the match between them ended up being epic.

1983 1A 132
1. Dave Tool, Sr., Gilmore City-Bradgate
2. Rick Swalla, Jr., Stuart-Menlo
3. Craig Nelson, Sr., Minburn-Central Dallas
4. Ken Bradley, Jr., Traer-North Tama
5. Wayne Braet, Sr., Durant
6. Jeff Decker, Jr., Winthrop-East Buchanon

Wes Andrew of Monroe was the returning 3rd place finisher from 1A 126 and just like Ken Bradley, he was undefeated on the season. Also like Ken Bradley, he had some familial history with wrestling. A guy having a family history in wrestling wasn’t as common in 1984 because back in 1984, there just weren’t as many wrestlers who had fathers with wrestling history. The sport was younger. Anyways, Wes Andrew was the nephew of Coach Bill Andrew who coached some of the best teams and individuals ever in his days at Osage.

So as soon as the whistle blew to start the match, it looked like these guys were like butting heads due to both being so aggressive. Both of them just firing hay-makers at each other, and countering their haymaker with one of their own haymakers. One guy would get thrown to their back and would counter by throwing the other guy to his back and while he was still on his own back. Haha yeah it was wild. And Monroe had a wicked fireman’s carry… so he kept hitting Bradley with that to go ahead at the beginning of the match. But Bradley just kept firing away and just kept coming. He ended up winning a back and forth, close and fun state finals match to become the second Bradley to win a state championship.

1984 1A 132
1. Ken Bradley, Sr., Traer-North Tama
2. Wes Andrew, Sr., Monroe
3. Shawn Govern, Sr., Riceville
4. Rick Swalla, Sr., Stuart-Menlo
5. Kevin Gray, Sr., Woodbury Central
6. Doug Benjamin, Sr., Gilmore City-Bradgate



PINDOX PROFILE: The Amateur Wrestling Career of Bret “Hitman” Hart; Ernest Manning HS/Mount Royal University

To start, there will likely be two groups of people reading this one… WWE fans and HS/College wrestling fans. To avoid confusion, I am going to refer to the WWE style as “professional wrestling,” and the HS/college style as “amateur wrestling.”

Bret “Hitman” Hart… The legendary professional wrestler. He was one of my all-time favorite athletes/celebrities of the 90’s. He was so cool.  My brother, Justin and I used to fight over which one of us got to use Bret Hart as our character on all of the WWE games we had for Sega Genesis. Back then, I hated the color pink… I thought that color was for girls and sissies, but when Bret Hart sported the pink and black, nothing looked cooler. And the fact that Bret was an amateur wrestler before he became a professional wrestler supplied him with yet another element of cool for us. To make it things yet even more coolerer, Bret was a second generation wrestler for his family. His father, Stu Hart, along with being a legend for his influence in the professional wrestling world was also a successful amateur wrestler during the 1930s and early 1940s and won many national championships in his day. Bret’s brothers also had varying degrees of success on the mat. Bret Hart stated that the reason he started wrestling to begin with at the age of 9 was because it felt like an expectation from his father to do so. Bret has referenced the moment he showed one of his initial City Championship medals to his father as one of the most powerful and life-changing moments of his life. To this day, Bret’s medals she earned while competing in wrestling are among his most prized possessions.

As most of us know, Bret “Hitman” Hart is primarily famous for his accolades in the world of professional wrestling. Ok, so I am guessing that when those of you who are amateur wrestling fans read that this article would be about a professional wrestler, the reactions were split evenly. I bet half were like, “sweet! The Pin Doctors are gonna start covering WWE wrestlers now!” And the other half, I’m assuming became instantly annoyed and thought, “BRET HART?! HE’S NOT A WRASSLER! WWE isn’t REAL wrasslin!’ It probably makes the professional wrestling-haters livid to know that Bret is considered by many professional wrestling fans to be the best “technical” wrestler ever.  In fact, Hart’s technical prowess and agility earned him the monikers “The Excellence of Execution,” and “The Best There Is, The Best There Was, and The Best There Ever Will Be.” For those of you wrestling fans out there who despise professional wrestling to the point where you are incapable of giving these guys credit as skilled athletes, check out what Olympic Amateur Wrestling Champion, Kurt Angle had to say about Bret Hart:

KURT ANGLE: I used to watch matches of Bret Hart so that I could learn the psychology of [pro] wrestling… in that ring, as a technician, there wasn’t anybody better than him.

You can think what you want, but I think it’s rather unlikely that a take coming from a wrestling phenom like Kurt Angle would be lacking validity.

I wonder what Kurt Angle thinks Bret’s ceiling as an amateur wrestler could be?

Anyways… Bret is a member of the legendary Hart Foundation, which was started by his father, Stu Hart. The Hart family is essentially professional wrestling royalty. Bret has 11 siblings who were all integral components of The Hart Foundation. Bret will likely always be considered one of the best and most entertaining professional wrestlers of all time.

I don’t see why amateur wrestling fans wouldn’t be proud of Bret’s professional wrestling accomplishments, for his experience in amateur wrestling most certainly played a role in his ability to become the universally respected professional wrestling technician that he is, for not only was Bret an excellent professional wrestler, he was also a very successful HS and collegiate amateur wrestler. Bret attended Ernest Manning High School in Calgary, Alberta (Canada) where he was a wrestling legend. In high school, Bret won the city and provincial championships in three different weight classes: 145, 154 and 177 lbs. He won his first city championship in grade 10, following it up with a provincial title. In grade 12 he would finish second at the city championship, but redeemed himself by defeating the opponent who had defeated him, when he won his second provincial title. One of Bret’s most notable wins was over Bob Eklund of Central Memorial HS/University Of Calgary…

Eklund would go on to become a Canadian National Champion and was named the “Outstanding Wrestler Of The Year” in 1980-81. He’s one of the best amateur wrestlers to ever come out of Canada.

Bret went on to wrestle in college for Mount Royal College where he continued to show some legit ability to eventually become one of the best in the country.


After a couple year hiatus of training, Bret got back into the grind and wrestled Bob Eklund again at the collegiate level after Eklund had won Nationals and was beaten, but almost pinned him. He surprised even himself that he came so close to beating him, especially since he almost pulled this off without having any cardio training at the time. Bret’s talent was so obvious that there were hopes that he could eventually compete at the Common Wealth Games or even represent Canada in the Olympics. Bret eventually quit wrestling to pursue the career that made him famous…professional wrestling. He joined up with his father, Stu’s promotion, Stampede Wrestling.  We will get to the reasons that led to this decision in a bit. Since Bret’s competitive days, he has spoken of how helpful his amateur wrestling background was in his professional wrestling career, and also of what a positive effect amateur wrestling has on junior high school and high school-aged boys in terms of building self-confidence. A true advocate for our sport!

Ok, so to switch gears a little bit, how many of you amateur wrestling fans out there are fans of professional wrestling or at least respect them as being skilled athletes? How many of you hate everything about it? It seems like the amateur wrestling community is split evenly in terms of those who like it and those who hate it. I loved it back in the 90’s and 00’s when the characters seemed more entertaining and likable. For whatever reason, since that era, I just haven’t been able to get into it… I haven’t been able to get into many of the storylines or characters in years, but I will always respect what they are able to do athletically. So while many of us love or respect professional wrestling, an equally large amount of wrestling fans tend to despise it to the point where they are incapable of giving the WWE performers a mere fraction of the credit they deserve as being considered the incredible athletes they are. The primary reason the WWE-haters will give you for their disdain of professional wrestling is that they can’t wrap their heads around the fact that it is scripted or “fake,” as they may refer to it. However, I think another major underlying factor for these wrestling fans’ hatred for professional wrestling is the fact that it receives more mainstream media attention than wrestling receives, which makes the WWE athletes more popular than our athletes, which results in the successful WWE performers being paid much, much, much more money than our successful athletes, which IS very frustrating. As we all know, it takes a ton of hard work and perseverance to become successful in amateur wrestling and the rewards for the hard-earned success that an amateur wrestler may achieve is generally measured in “pride” and “honor” opposed to something that can help you on your quest for financial stability. This is why we lose some of our best amateur wrestlers like Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar to professional wrestling. No one understands this more than Bret Hart himself. He endured this exact type of frustration when he was a collegiate wrestler and it was a factor in his decision to drop out of college and pursue a career in professional wrestling. He was so focused on his collegiate wrestling career that his grades struggled as a result. And when you factor in the wear and tear that wrestling can take on a person’s body as well as the agony of weight-cutting, you can’t blame someone for finding the sport of wrestling to be unrewarding. Here is what Bret Hart had to say about that particular phase of his life:

BRET HART: I focused more on wrestling and the college championships than I did on schoolwork. I was discouraged and spending my money and I remember I just quit after one semester and said, ‘I’ll get more money and do the whole plan again, but this time it will be better organized.

Ok, so with that said, Bret Hart, if you happen to be reading this article, one of my biggest longterm goals of this site is to help promote and grow the sport of wrestling to where our athletes can have the same career opportunities as professional athletes in other sports. If this is something you would like to promote as well, I would like to ask you to partake in a series we have called “Remember The Wrestler,” which will consist of a set of questions that chronicles your own wrestling journey, how wrestling has impacted your life and your thoughts on what we can do to grow the sport in terms of popularity and mainstream appeal. Would be a cool way to not only tell the world about your amateur wrestling journey, but it’d also give you an opportunity to showcase your commendable writing skills. If you are interested in doing this, please email me at thepindoctors@gmail.com Thank you very much for your ongoing support and encouragement of the sport of wrestling. Apologies in advance if I got any of the facts wrong in this article.

Author: Joshua Swafford aka RicoSwaff




PINDOX PROFILE: Tyrell Gordon; Waterloo East/UNI Panthers

PINDOX PROFILE: Tyrell Gordon; Waterloo East/UNI Panthers

Tyrell Gordon didn’t start until later than most wrestlers do… Or at least that’s how it appears according to the past results. About the furthest back you can trace things back with him are his Junior High days and it appears that he did pretty well for his initial times being thrown into the mix with guys who had been wrestling since Kindergarten. It appeared that he qualified for USA and AAU as an 8th grader and won a match of two at both against good kids.

When Tyrell initially got into HS, he struggled and/or wrestled some JV in his first two seasons. He finished out his Sophomore season on varsity and placed 4th at districts with a season record of 25-17. And then, just like that, he took an astronomical jump between his Sophomore and Junior seasons. If I had to take a guess, there were 3 huge contributing factors which led to the jump in his development between those years: 1. He was now an upperclassman-upper-middleweight opposed to an underclassman-upper middleweight which meant he likely made up a lot of ground physically. 2. He had yet another year of experience. And 3. He heavily increased his freestyle and Greco wrestling in the summer of 2016 and never looked back.

And how astronomical was the jump you may ask? Well he went from a Sophomore who went 25-17, placing 4th at districts to a Junior who finished 4th at state with a 43-6 record and picked up huge wins over quality competition all season long. He won his first of what ended up being 2 MVC Conference Championships that season as well. Tyrell Gordon had arrived and he wasn’t going away anytime soon. He hit the Freco scene hard again, placing 3rd at Freestyle State and was a Greco state champion that year.

As a Senior, Tyrell continued to leave his foot on the accelerator and came into the state tournament with only 2 losses, both to Tanner Sloan from Alburnett who was steam-rolling through everyone at the time. The positive take-away from that, though was that his first loss to Sloan was at the first tournament of the season and Sloan beat him 6-0, but Tyrell closed the gap and gave him a much more competitive match the 2nd time they wrestled and he only lost by a couple points to him. Tyrell bulldozed through several eventual placers and future state champions that season. Heck, it looks like he beat future 3X state champion, Gabe Christensen of SE Polk at least 3 times his last two years of HS. Gordon won his 2nd MVC title that year and major decisioned a high quality wrestler who had done well at the state level for years to that point named Jacob Dykes of IC High.

Tyrell came into the state tournament with a sparkling record of 43-2 and had two close wins over great opponents, Ashton Stoner-Degroot of CR Prairie and Christensen. This set up a rematch with his MVC finals match, Jacob Dykes of IC High, who he, as mentioned, majored a couple weeks before at the MVC. Unfortunately for Tyrell, he did not have the same result against Dykes this time, for he lost 6-4 this time, putting him in the consolation rounds, which ironically the two guys he wrestled in the consolations were the guys he beat the first two rounds. He spread the gap with Stoner-Degroot, beating him 8-0 this time and then beat Christensen in OT for 3rd place at state, making him a 2X state placer. Although 3rd was obviously not what he wanted either year and you could clearly see the disappointment on his face while standing on the podium, it was still a helluva HS career.

Tyrell went on to have an incredible offseason in the Freco scene. He won a couple tournaments in Freestyle and Greco. Won both Freestyle State and Greco State. Performed awesomely at Junior National Duals for Freestyle and Greco, only losing 1 out of 12 matches between the two… he ended up finishing his Freco career at the HS level as a 2X Fargo Freestyle AA and a 1X Greco AA which is better than MANY 3-4X State Champions have done there.

Tyrell went on to wrestle at UNI where he has had some good moments, but has taken lumps here and there which should be alarming to no one, for he has shown several times now that he’s capable of making huge jumps in his development when he puts his mind to it. He has won some nice tournaments in his collegiate career to this point. I would keep paying attention to Tyrell at this point. He’s still in this.

One thing that I read about Tyrell that brought a smile to my face is that he volunteers as a youth coach at the Future Trojans Wrestling Club. The fact that he does this as a current collegiate wrestler or just a college student in general is a great indicator of just how big his heart must be. Most college students don’t have time to be volunteering with the youth, for they are too busy with their social lives. Most collegiate athletes don’t have time either, for they have their own careers to worry about… Tyrell apparently considers it important to work with the youth and has likely changed a few lives already by doing so… and he’s managed to compete at the D1 level simultaneously…. huge props to this man… Not everyone has it in them to be so selfless. I know I didn’t.


PINDOX PROFILE: Caleb Rathjen; Ankeny HS/Iowa Hawkeyes

Caleb Rathjen; Ankeny ‘21/Sebolt Wrestling Academy/Iowa Hawkeyes

The Rathjen family has quite the wrestling legacy going! Well, Ankeny Wrestling in general has quite a thing going and HC Jack Wignall is doing a brilliant job with that program and there’s a ton more to come about them, but this one is about Caleb Rathjen…the 2nd of 3 Rathjen boys, all standout wrestlers from Ankeny. To start, their father Kirk Rathjen was a 2X placer and State Champion in HS. He wrestled for Iowa Valley where he placed 4th as a Junior in 1991 and capped off his HS career as an undefeated state champion at 1A 171 as a Senior. There’s older brother, Cole Rathjen who was a good wrestler for Ankeny a couple years ago… he was a state qualifier for them. There’s the youngest, Calvin, who is already raking in state titles on the youth circuit. And then, of course, there’s Caleb… one of the best HS wrestlers around.

Caleb Rathjen caught my radar when I heard a wrestling mom in the stands at AAU State having a panic attack because her son was in Caleb’s bracket and she was frustrated because she felt it gave her kid no chance of winning the bracket since he was in it. And she was right. I don’t know how many AAU State titles Caleb won, but it had to have been at least 5? Seemed like you NEVER heard of that kid losing a match from the time he began. And each and every year he just adds on to his seemingly infinite wrestling arsenal.

Sometimes when I watch Rathjen, I question how on Earth he ever loses a match. I remember watching one of his matches from the first half of the 2018-2019 season and saw him do something where I was sitting there thinking, “what on Earth is he doing and what is he gonna make of it?” Like 10 seconds and a couple set-ups/counters later, Rathjen put this kid on his back out of nowhere and it became somewhat clear to me that he straight-up baited or knew the match was going to unravel the way it did or just felt it or something. Its hard to explain, for it was over my head a bit. Whatever it was, I realized there and then that this kid operates 2-3 moves ahead of his opponent and I think wrestling is very instinctive for him…either that or he is that good at studying his opponent. He seems to have an elaborate, productive response from any position against any opponent. There is not a more intelligent wrestler in the state than Caleb Rathjen. It’s difficult for me to make sense of for he operates at a level that is much higher than I was ever personally capable of. He reminds me so much of my brother Justin’s HS rival, Moza Fay from Anamosa ‘02. Moza was a 4 time placer, 2 time state champ and AA for UNI.

Caleb concluded his HS career as a 4X state finalist/2X state champion. There were not very many guys who beat him in HS. In fact, I can probably name them off the top of my head…. His Freshman season, Will Zerban from out of state beat him at The Indee Invite and Nick Oldham from Valley beat him in the state finals at 3A 113. The next year when Caleb was a Sophomore, Cael Happel from Lisbon beat him at Indee. Caleb went on to win his first state title that year, avenging his finals loss to Oldham from the year before in the finals that year at 3A 126. Caleb’ Junior year, Happel got him again at Indee… I think both of those two battles they had were 1-2 point matches. He won his 2nd title that year at 3A 138. As a Senior this past season, he had 2 close losses to phenom, Aidan Riggins from Waverly-Shell Rock. One of these took place in the state finals at 3A 152, which broke his heart, I’m sure. To anyone reading this, Iowa fans especially, don’t look too far into those losses to Riggins for those matches didn’t indicate anything negative at all about Rathjen, but rather it showed just how good Riggins has become. You gotta remember, Iowa HS wrestling right now is better than it has EVER been and Caleb Rathjen, despite falling short of his goals this past season, is STILL one of the best pound-for-pound wrestlers our state has recently produced. Nobody worry, Iowa DID get a phenomenal one with Caleb Rathjen.

And those were his losses… If I were to include his notable wins, this article would end up taking me about 100 hours to complete. There are tons, trust me.

So Rathjen went 2-1-1-2 at state in HS, but has accomplished equally impressive feats in offseason work. On the national level, Rathjen has been a consistent force. In 2017, he was 3rd at Cadet Folkstyle Nationals at 106 lbs. He followed this with a 7th place finish at Freestyle Nationals. Crazy thing is, those two feats took place BEFORE he entered HS. In 2018, he placed 5th at Folkstyle Cadet Nationals and 2nd in Freestyle. A year later, he tacked on another accolade by placing 3rd at Junior Folkstyle Nationals and placed 4th at the Cadet World Team Trials. Most recently, he won the Iowa Freestyle State Tournament Junior 145 and beat phenom, Hunter Garvin from Iowa City West in doing so. He also placed 2nd at Fargo Junior Freestyle Nationals this past month. He went on a run where he won his first 5-6 by tech, won the next one by 5-6 pts. to make the finals and was winning his finals match by a point or two and lost the match on a questionable call at the end to place 2nd.

Rathjen was also a standout on the football field. A key contributor for a successful HS football team. He was 2nd team all-state on defense for an Ankeny team that won the 2020 Class 4A State Championship.

Pretty incredible.

2018 3A 113
1 Nick Oldham (Jr.) WDM Valley
2 Caleb Rathjen (Fr.) Ankeny
3 Nick Miller (Jr.) Waukee
4 Dillon Gottschalk (Sr.) Dubuque Hempstead
5 Carson Taylor (So.) Fort Dodge
6 Jakey Penrith (Jr.) Cedar Falls
7 Nathan Kahoe (Jr.) DM Lincoln
8 Caleb Helgeson (Fr.) Johnston

2019 3A 126
1 Caleb Rathjen of Ankeny
2 Nick Oldham of Valley, West Des Moines
3 Matthew Jordan of Des Moines East
4 Dylan Albrecht of Waverly-Shell Rock
5 Brooks Cowell of Fort Dodge
6 Caleb McCabe of North Scott
7 Noah Blubaugh of Ankeny Centennial
8 Carson Murray of Dowling Catholic

2020 3A 138

1 Caleb Rathjen (Jr) Ankeny
2 Dreyzon Phillips (Jr) Fort Dodge
3 Carter Martinson (So) Southeast Polk
4 James Edwards (Sr) Johnston
5 Grifen Molle (Jr) Notre Dame/W.B./Danville
6 Christian Stanek (So) Xavier – Cedar Rapids
7 Dylan Whitt (So) Cedar Falls
8 Leo Blawou (Sr) Des Moines – Lincoln

2021 3A-152
1st Aiden Riggins of Waverly-Shell Rock
2nd Caleb Rathjen of Ankeny
3rd Carson Martinson of Southeast Polk
4th Graham Gambrall of Iowa City, West
5th Abass Kemokai of Linn-Mar
6th Abraham Dirkx of Carroll
7th Colin Driscoll of Waukee
8th Sam Zindel of Johnston


PINDOX PROFILE: Drew Bennett; Fort Dodge HS/UNI/Iowa Hawkeyes

PINDOX PROFILE: Drew Bennett; Fort Dodge HS ‘18/UNI/Iowa Hawkeyes

Many wrestlers will experience in their careers, what my dad has always called, “peaks and valleys.” When someone uses that phrase, what they are referring to is “highs and lows.” Someone may have moments where they feel like they are on top of the wrestling world and then suddenly, things change and they feel as if their wrestling situation couldn’t possibly get any worse. And then of course, things can shift back and forth between awesome and awful quite a few times before their career concludes. Peaks and valleys. That’s one of the first things I think about when I hear the name, “Drew Bennett.”

Drew Bennett got off to a blazing start to his career in the youth wrestling scene. Over the past few decades since the origination of the tournament, I don’t know how many guys have won 6 AAU State titles, but I know it can’t be many. I remember the first two guys to ever win 6 of these were Trent Paulson from CB Lewis Central and Ryan Morningstar from Lisbon. It’s a pretty big deal. Essentially, when a kid wins 6 AAU titles, it means that they won AAU state every year they competed in the tournament, which unless they were bumped up as 2nd graders, they wrestled in the AAU state tourney 6 times from 3rd grade through 8th grade. Drew Bennett won 5 AAU titles and seemed to be on track to winning 6 during his 8th grade season. The kid was seriously a step above the rest of the guys in that grade skill-wise, pound for pound from the time he was in 2nd or 3rd grade and basically for the majority of that grade’s youth career.

Everything was smooth sailing for Bennett. He reached a peak and a plateau seemed to form at the top of it. Bennett was the best in the grade and everything seemed to be falling into place for him to have a borderline flawless career if he kept it up…. All the way until a couple weeks before the AAU State tournament his 8th grade year, when all hell broke loose for him. You know why he didn’t win 6 AAU titles? Because he broke his arm a couple weeks before the AAU State Tournament his 8th grade year. If someone wants to downplay how much of an accomplishment it is to win 1 AAU State title, let alone 6, then I would just like to emphasize that there have been youth clubs that I have been part of or seen over the years that worked every bit as hard to reach their goals as high schoolers and college-aged wrestlers. And the primary goal for most of these kids is to win an AAU state title… and they work their butts off to do it. If you would have told any of us at the time we were in youth wrestling that AAU Youth State didn’t mean anything, we likely would have all wanted to collectively thrown you threw a wall.

So Drew Bennett had unexpectedly entered a valley, but he was a tough kid and had proven this several times already, it was likely he would get things back on track and he wouldn’t have to deal with something out of the ordinary like that again, right? Unfortunately, that’s not how it played out for Drew. Drew was a lighter weight for his grade. Not the lightest, but lighter and was probably banking on hitting a growth spurt between 8th grade and freshman year so he could fit into 106 lbs comfortably. This didn’t happen. In fact, he wrestled 95 lbs. at FloNationals that very season, so he was very undersized as a Freshman. And this was a problem for Drew because his teammate in his grade who had been in Drew’s shadow a bit since they began wrestling, Brody Teske, had grown into the weight perfectly. And this is by no means an attempt to slight Teske, for he was a great youth wrestler himself, but when you have a guy on your team and around your weight who won 5 AAU state titles and likely would have won 6 if he hadn’t been injured, then it’d take something near perfection to stay clear of that kid’s shadow. And when these two entered HS, these roles flipped. Brody Teske went on to become a 4X state champion with only 1 career loss. Bennett wasn’t able to crack the starting lineup at Fort Dodge until his Sophomore year, for he spent his first HS season as a 95 lb. Freshman who was 2nd string behind a guy who ended up becoming one of Iowa HS wrestling’s most decorated ever. If that isn’t a string of sudden awful luck, I don’t know what is.

Bennett grew into 106 by the time he was a Sophomore and had a great year, placing 3rd at state. His loss at state was a nail-biter. He lost 3-2 to future 3Xer Kyle Biscoglia from Waukee in the quarterfinals and dominated his way on the backside for 3rd place. He defeated Biscoglia during the regular season.

As a Junior, Drew Bennett went on a tear during the regular season at 113 lbs. He was undefeated coming into state that year and 2 of his regular season wins were wins over the guy who beat him in the quarterfinals at state the year before (Biscoglia). He also had a 14-7 win over future 4Xer Cael Happel…one of only 2 losses Happel ever took in his career to an Iowan. However, Bennett dropped a 6-3 decision to Biscoglia in the semis and had to settle for 3rd place again.

As a Senior, Drew Bennett’s frustration was presumably at an all-time high considering how the first 3 years of his HS career had gone. He was at 3A 132 and was off to a fast start to the season when he was named Outstanding Wrestler at USA Wrestling Preseason Nationals after winning the 126-pound weight class. However, if he were to win his first state title as a Senior in HS, it wasn’t going to come easy for him, for he had to contend with a kid named Zach Price from Johnston. Price had placed at state the previous 3 years and he and Bennett had split wins during the regular season. They met in the semifinals and Bennett pulled off a 5-3 win and capped off his HS career with a state championship by defeating Eli Loyd of Pleasant Valley by a score of 9-4 in the finals.

Bennett committed to wrestle at UNI. He wrestled 3 seasons there, redshirting his first year there. That first season he finished with a respectable 14-4 record. The next two years, he wrestled his share of varsity matches at 141 and 149 and won some nice matches while there.

A month or two ago, Drew Bennett transferred to the Iowa Hawkeyes and IMO, Iowa may be a perfect fit for him, for a lot of things that Iowa does well are things that if Drew were to perfect them in his own arsenal, it may just shoot him to another level from where he is at now. Although Drew has yet to accomplish anything near what he has wanted to at the D1 level, he has endured the “peaks and valleys” of wrestling before and has come out on top. The book is not closed on him and it will be very interesting to see how he does the next 2 years at Iowa.

2016 3A 106
1 Kyle Biscoglia (So) Waukee
2 Nick Oldham (Fr.) WDM Valley
3 Drew Bennett (So.) Fort Dodge
4 Conrad Braswell (Fr.) CR Prairie
5 Kobey Pritchard (So.) Indianola
6 Paxton Whiteaker (Sr.) Lewis Central
7 Dillon Gottschalk (So.) Dubuque Hempstead
8 Riley Thomas (Jr.) North Scott

2017 3A 113
1 Kyle Biscoglia (Jr.) Waukee
2 Jacob Schipper (Sr.) North Scott
3 Drew Bennett (Jr.) Fort Dodge
4 Kobey Pritchard (Jr.) Indianola
5 Jacob Close (Sr.) Western Dubuque
6 Eric Owens (So.) Ankeny Centennial
7 Jakey Penrith (So.) Cedar Falls
8 Ryan Steffensmeier (Jr.) Fort Madison

2018 3A 132
1 Drew Bennett (Sr.) Fort Dodge
2 Eli Loyd (So.) Pleasant Valley
3 Zach Price (Sr.) Johnston
4 Caleb Corbin (Fr.) WDM Valley
5 Matthew Jordan (Jr.) Dm East
6 Graham Gambrall (Fr.) Iowa City West
7 Spencer Anderson (Sr.) Ankeny
8 Ryan Strickland (Jr.) SE Polk


PINDOX PROFILE: Adam Gottschalk; Dubuque Hempstead ‘03/Loras College

Adam Gottschalk is one of my all-time best friends. We were roommates in college for a couple years, he was a groomsman in my marriage to my ex-wife, I was a groomsman in his marriage to his ex-wife, we are both St. Louis Cardinals and KC Chiefs fans, etc.

Adam and I were more or less inseparable for a few years in college, to the point where a lot of people referred to him as my “mini-me.” We had some crazy, silly, utterly ridiculous, but always fun times in our day… that’s when we weren’t fighting with each other over something stupid like a couple of sisters.  And a lot of you guys think I am a wrestling Encyclopedia…heck, I have NOTHING on Gotch. I don’t think there is a match he has ever wrestled, witnessed or read about that he can’t recall vividly. He’s the same way about Major League Baseball. A very smart dude. The difference between Gotch and I is that he doesn’t really like to write like I do.

I actually became aware of Adam for the first time ever when he was in my brother, Justin’s bracket at districts and state. He would stand there before his matches looking straight ahead and would have one of those corporate eyebrows going. You know when one eyebrow rests and the other is raised? It was kind of intimidating in a way.

He and my brother actually became friends before he and I did, for they hung out while going to the Disney Duals and Fargo together… so that’s how I knew him already when I arrived at Loras.

Adam was a 3X placer/1X State Champion in HS. He placed 4th as a Sophomore, 1st as a Junior and 3rd as a Senior. He was always competing with guys like Jake Halvorsen from IC West, Joe Slaton of Kennedy, Mitch Mueller of Kennedy, etc. Most of those guys went back and forth with each other and all of them won at least one state title.

Adam was coached by Chuck Haas and developed a nasty, sometimes unstoppable carry series that he was very dangerous with. He was also good about staying in good position and not giving up points. Another thing he had in his arsenal was a left-sided sag headlock. He could turn and pin people on top. He was just a good, well-balanced wrestler with no real weaknesses.

When Gottschalk wrestled in the finals as a Junior against returning state champion and rival, Jake Halvorsen of IC West, he got things going quickly with a fireman that put Jake to his back for a 5 point move. And how did things go after that? I won’t lie…he coasted a bit… and he won the state title.

Here’s an interesting story that Gotch always told me about what went through his head the moment he won state. Gotch is a huge fan of the band, “Filter.” When Adam knew that the match was over and that he officially became a state champion, the song, “take a picture” by the band Filter became stuck in his head. Im sure most of you remember that song. It’s the one that starts out with the lyrics, “awake on my airplane, awake on my airplane, my skin is bare, my skin is their’s.” If you haven’t heard that song, check it out… It’s one of my all-time favorites. Anyways, the part that went through Gotch’s head when he won state was the part where Filter singer, Richard Patrick wails, “HEYYY DADDD WHAAAATTA YA THINK ABOUT YOUR SON, NOW!!!” His dad was obviously elated about the win and it meant the world to Gotch that he made him proud.

On a side note, I’m surprised that he got the song he did in his head and not a metal song… he’s probably the biggest “metal-head” that I know. He’s introduced me to some great metal bands that I still listen to today, most notably Killswitch Engage. Gotch is an Encyclopedia with metal music, too.

Adam finished with a career record of 144-19 and will always be held in high regard by the wrestling community in Dubuque.

Adam went on to wrestle at Loras where he had a good moments here and there, but just didn’t really want to do it anymore. His shoulder always gave him trouble and frankly, he just wanted to have fun in college. I did, too.

Adam continues to help as much as he can with the wrestlers in the Dubuque region…son, Landon, was wrestling for a few years and won a couple of youth state championships, but he decided the past year or two that he wanted to take a break from it. Hopefully we see Landon on the mat at Wells someday. He also has a daughter named Elliana. His cousin, Dillon Gottschalk was also a placer for Hempstead.

Last I knew, Adam was still helping out via coaching the Dubuque area kids/Hempstead kids.  I need to catch up with this dude. It’s been way too long.



Justin Decker was a 1995 graduate from Maynard, West Central who later went on to wrestle for the Iowa Hawkeyes from 1995-1998, took 12 years off and spent several years as a Head and Assistant Coach at 2 High Schools before competing yet another season at Upper Iowa University. It’s one of the most interesting and unique careers I have ever heard of. There are things that happened or paths taken in Justin’s career that I’ve only ever heard about happening with him. The big one would be this: Justin won two state titles in HS, wrestled for The Hawkeyes for a few years, quit wrestling, got hired shortly after as the Head Wrestling Coach at West Central HC for a couple years, then as an Assistant at North Fayette for a few more years and then coached as an Assistant at Upper Iowa University before deciding to compete one final year for Upper Iowa, 12 years after the last time he competed at Iowa.  That’s incredible. I’ve never heard of someone having a career like that. Another example would be the way he won his 1st state title. He won his second state title over Todd Foster
 from Riceville by the score of 6-0, but get this…The match was tied 0-0 to start the 3rd period….And Justin started the period in the top position… Knowing the outcome, you’ve probably connected the dots by now that Justin Decker won his 1st state title by scoring 2 three point near falls in the later part of the match to win 6-0.  You just don’t hear of that very often. 

Off the mat, Justin is an extremely nice person and has helped me out a bit in terms of good suggestions and providing me with content to post. He’s a good dude. 

I can’t imagine someone not liking this man’s story, told in his own words. It may be my favorite Remember The Wrestler article to date. Consider me a huge fan. 

1992 1A 119 (Freshman year)

1993 1A 140 (SOPHOMORE YEAR)

1994 1A 152 (JUNIOR YEAR)

1994 1A 152

1 Justin Decker, Jr., West Central, Maynard

2 Todd Foster, Sr., Riceville

3 B.J. Miller, Sr., Buffalo Center, North Iowa

4 Jesse Nason, Sr., State Center, West Marshall

5 Curt Pote, Sr., Guthrie Center

6 Denny Sanford, Sr., Lawton-Bronson


1995 1A 152 (SENIOR YEAR)

1995 1A 152

1 Justin Decker, Sr., West Central, Maynard

2 Jacobs Knight, Sr., Mount Ayr

3 Will Steinkamp, Sr., East Buchanan, Winthrop

4 Brandon Christopher, Sr., North Linn, Coggon

5 Scott Nichols, Sr., Wayne, Corydon

6 Mason Stine, Sr., Lisbon







Here we go, the wrestling journey of Justin Decker… you’ll never read another one quite like it! 

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

West Central (Maynard) High School
Wahawk Wrestling Club (Waterloo West)

PINDOX: What year did you graduate?


PINDOX: Who or what encouraged you to give wrestling a try?

JUSTIN DECKER: My mother was always the ‘pusher’ in my family but I don’t think one specific person ever encouraged me to wrestle.  I chose to do it in my own. My three older brothers were all significantly older than me so when I was 6,7,8 years old they were competing in JH and HS. I loved it at an early age and followed the sport very closely. I lived it…..breathed it….and could probably tell you about every great wrestler in the mid to late 80’s when my brothers wrestled.
PINDOX: Do you have any family who wrestled or wrestles currently? Parents, children, brothers, etc.? How did they do?
JUSTIN DECKER: My Dad wrestled and I guess was pretty good.
*Derek (brother) placed 4th at State in ‘88
*Jason (brother) placed 5th at State in ‘87 and wrestled for a real solid Simpson College team (88-91)and was a NCAA Qualifier
*Tracy (brother) has coached wrestling at Sumner, Postville, and is currently an assistant at MFL.
*Nephew Karter Decker is a junior at MFL this season and is a 2-time state qualifier
*My son Kanen will be a freshman at Wapsie Valley HS this season.
PINDOX: What were your youth results?
JUSTIN DECKER: AAU Folkstyle State: 3rd, 3rd, 2nd, then was a State Champ as an 8th grader.
Freestyle: I won several freestyle state titles and won the Northern Plains Midwest Regional in JH.
PINDOX: What was your record in HS?
JUSTIN DECKER: 150-7 with 89 falls
PINDOX: How did you place at state every year?
Freshman: State Qualifier
Sophomore: State Qualifier
Junior: State Champ
Senior: State Champ
PINDOX: What were some of the most notable adverse challenges or moments you experienced in wrestling?
JUSTIN DECKER: At Iowa, the biggest challenge was definitely trying to balance academics, wrestling, and my social life. I did a poor job at it.
At Upper Iowa, I had a herniated disc in my neck right after Christmas and had to compete the last 2 1/2 months of the season in a lot of pain. It required surgery and a disc fusion a couple weeks after the NCAA tourney.
The same season I also lost my dad to pancreatic cancer the day of weigh-ins for the NCAA Qualifier in Aberdeen, South Dakota. It was a long 8 hour bus ride out there to say the least.
The most adversity I have ever been through in the sport of wrestling probably happened as a youth coach a few years ago. We lost a 12 year old boy in our wrestling club in a tragic lawnmower accident.  He impacted my family and our wrestling club and community in a giant way. He was my son‘s best friend and it really sent a lot of us in a little bit of a tailspin. He was a coaches’ dream. We now have the Carson Mcgrane Memorial Wrestling Tournament every year at Wapsie and this past season we had 625 wrestlers compete.
PINDOX: How would you describe your wrestling style?
JUSTIN DECKER: I was pretty physical. I liked to bang on the head and hand fight. Snap downs, front headlocks, and lots of pressure on top. I was more defensive than offensive and forced opponents into a bad shot.
PINDOX: Who was your most influential coach?
JUSTIN DECKER: I have been blessed to have been coached by some of the best coaches and to have been in the same corner coaching with some great ones.
*Marty Dickey (youth Wahawk Wrestling Coach) He was one of the best youth coaches in the state of Iowa back in the day. He ran a tight ship. Kids were disciplined. He was probably the closest thing to a ‘TJ Sebolt type’ coach back in the day.
*Gary Rima (voice of the UNI panthers)- I know this is a Wrestling website but he was my youth baseball coach and he was phenomenal.
*Larry Munger- (high school coach) maybe the most mentally tough man I know. He was like a second Dad to me
*Dan Gable (the GOAT)- The only guy I’ve ever seen who could elevate the intensity of a room just by walking past you training or giving you a word of encouragement.
*Heath Grimm- (UIU head Coach) Coach Grimm could make every single athlete and coach on the team feel like they were critical to the overall success of the team on a day-to-day basis. A ‘glass half full’ guy!
*Rhino Cox- (Wapsie) I’ve coached with Rhino the last seven years and he really understands what it takes for a program to be successful at all levels….and truly cares about the kids’ best interest like they were his own.
***The thing all of these guys have in common is they are extremely PASSIONATE about what they do! They all had a plan of progression for the athletes.
PINDOX: Was your team competitive in HS/college?
JUSTIN DECKER: In High School we were not. We struggled with numbers and gave up too many forfeits….Although we always had a couple real good individuals.
In college, we won the NCAA Championship each season I was at the University of Iowa.
We placed 3rd in the NCAA DII Championships the season I was at Upper Iowa.
PINDOX: Who was your most influential wrestler that you looked up to growing up?
JUSTIN DECKER: 2 time NCAA Champ Royce Alger was my childhood idol. Loved his style and his personality/swag.
Tom & Terry Brands and Lincoln Mcllravy probably influenced any wrestler my age in the state of Iowa as they revolutionized the sport.
PINDOX: Who would you consider the GOAT Iowa HS wrestler?
JUSTIN DECKER: Jeff McGinness. There are probably at least 10 other guys in the discussion but I don’t believe anyone was more dominant from his freshman year through senior year like Jeff. He was always two steps ahead of his opponent. When he would make an offensive attack, it was like he knew what the guys ‘counter attack’ was going to be and was already planning on ‘countering his counter’ if that makes any sense. Only a wrestler might understand that terminology.
PINDOX: What are some interesting hypothetical matchups between guys from different eras that you would have been interesting in seeing?
Joe Williams vs Jordan Burroughs
Spencer Lee vs Terry Brands
John Smith vs Tom Brands (in their prime)
PINDOX: Who are some Iowa HS wrestling guys from your era that you have an immense amount of respect for?
JUSTIN DECKER: This is easy. Doug Schwab and Mark Ironside. Both guys are molded the same. They warmed up hard, drilled hard, wrestled hard, trained in the off-season hard, didn’t party, and were as mentally tough as anyone I’ve ever met. Both of them were outstanding teammates and that goes a hell of a long ways in my book. Great human beings off the mat as well.
PINDOX: Who are your favorite current wrestlers?
*Spencer Lee- I think he has done more positive for Iowa Hawkeye wrestling then any wrestler I can remember
*Austin Desanto- wrestling needs more guys with personalities like Eierman, Steveson, and Desanto….love em or hate em, they grow our sport!
*Kyle Dake and J’den Cox
*Kanen Decker, Karter Decker, UIU’s Donny Schmitt, and any Wapsie Valley Wrestler
PINDOX: What music would you listen to back in the wrestling days?
JUSTIN DECKER: I was never a big music guy during wrestling. Metallica and AC/DC  would always fire me up if I had to pick something.
PINDOX: What was the most upset you ever felt after a loss?
JUSTIN DECKER: 3 matches vividly stick out.
When I was a freshman in HS, Jeff Meyer of Sumner beat me in my home gym. It was the only match from youth through my senior year that I ever lost in that gym and my oldest brother was in the opposing corner. I beat Jeff at sectionals and districts a week or two later and Jeff went on to become a state champion in high school but I remember that one hurt pretty bad.
My sophomore year In the state quarterfinals I lost to a guy named Corey Starrey from Cedar Rapids LaSalle. I was ahead 3 to 0 with about 30 seconds to go and ended up blowing it 5 to 3. He went on to become the state champ and I truly felt that I was the best kid in that bracket.
At Iowa, I wrestled John Lange of Penn State in Carver Hawkeye Arena and it was the worst performance of my life. It was the one time in my life where I felt that I was not physically ready to step on the mat. I had cut a lot of weight in the last couple hours prior to weigh in and my body was just shutting down. My feet felt like they were cemented in concrete and almost every muscle in my body was cramping up from dehydration. He beat me by major decision and it was pretty embarrassing.
PINDOX: If you could go back and change one thing about your wrestling career, what would it be?
JUSTIN DECKER: Don’t be afraid to lose. I was so competitive that it often held me back. I should have been seeking the toughest tournaments and toughest competition every single day in practice and there were many days I did not because I was too scared to get beat.
PINDOX: What was your best wrestling memory or accomplishment?
JUSTIN DECKER: My first state title my junior year there were 4 undefeated wrestlers  in my bracket and three of us were on my side Including the defending champ. It was a lot of weight lifted off my shoulders finally winning one.
Winning the starting spot to make the Hawkeye starting lineup in 1997 will always go down as a pretty big memory as well. It was a lifelong goal that had finally come true.
PINDOX: Who were some of your most notable competitors in high school? College?
JUSTIN DECKER: Jessie Whitmer of Eagle Grove was my opponent in the state quarterfinals my freshman year of high school. He was the defending champion and had 29 straight pins I believe before he faced me. I was number 30 and he was the only guy to ever pin me. I remember he clubbed me so hard in the back of the neck that I literally saw stars. He literally bounced me right to my knees.  I was about 9 inches taller than him but man he was strong!
In college I beat Joe Heskett of Iowa State in overtime in the Semis to win the UNI open. He was ranked #1 the next season.
PINDOX: Did you wrestle all year or was it seasonal for you?
JUSTIN DECKER: I would wrestle 9 months out of the year. I didn’t get on the mat during football season.
PINDOX: How would the guys from your day stack up against the guys today?
JUSTIN DECKER: hate debating one era to the next in sports. Gable vs. Cael, LeBron vs Jordan. Whatever. It’s unfair and pointless.
Athletes today are far technically superior compared to the guys from my era. Training routines have changed and improved. It’s amazing how much the sport has evolved. Although, I will say I think we were much more ‘hard-nose’ back then. I think it’s more fun to compare who was more dominant to their peers of their particular era. I hate to take anything away from a great athlete from one era because some guy 20 years later may have done more vs different competitors.
PINDOX: Did you wrestle after high school?
*University of Iowa 1995-1998
*Took 12 years off competing while I coached then I wrestled at Upper Iowa in 2009-2010
PINDOX: What other sports did you play?
JUSTIN DECKER: Football, Track, and A LOT of Baseball
PINDOX: What are your favorite sports teams?
JUSTIN DECKER: Iowa Wrestling, Iowa Football, Upper Iowa Wrestling, Wapsie Valley Athletics, and the Dallas Cowboys
PINDOX: What are your hobbies other than wrestling?
JUSTIN DECKER: Working Out/Running, Kayaking with friends, I enjoy a good country concert.
Honestly,  the last several years I have been so busy volunteer coaching several sports that I don’t have tons of time for too many hobbies.
PINDOX: How good does it make you feel to give back to the sport?
JUSTIN DECKER: I guess I have just enjoyed it more than anything. I have never felt giving back is ‘work’ to me. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am extremely passionate about the sport of wrestling. The thing that makes ‘giving back’ most enjoyable is watching you coach a wrestler that progresses and loves the sport all at the same time. I have probably built a lot more relationships and lifelong friendships giving back to the sport than I even did as a competitor….and I made a lot of friends competing so I guess that’s probably been the most rewarding.
PINDOX: How has wrestling shaped you as a person to this day?
JUSTIN DECKER: Wrestling gives a person much heartbreak and the ‘lowest of lows’ feeling. I guess that helps me deal with any adversity in my life….and I have definitely had my fair share. Wrestling has taught me that ‘opportunity is what you make of it’. It has taught me to be confident person and to be passionate about everything you do. The sacrifice, work ethic and grit I have put into the sport of wrestling carries over to my job and everyday activities. I am fortunate to come from a family with a strong work ethic and I have married into a family with the same values. I think the fact that both of our families come from a farming/ wrestling background has a lot to do with that. Wrestling has shaped me to be a guy who makes sure to find reasons to get something done rather than make excuses for it not to get done. The wrestling mentality of ‘never settling and always reaching for more’ are lessons that I try to apply to my every day life.
PINDOX: What do you do now?
JUSTIN DECKER: My two brothers Jason, Derek and I own and operate Top-Deck Farms in Westgate. We milk about 675 cows and farm about 1,800 acres of corn, beans, and hay ground.
PINDOX: Have you been involved with wrestling since college?
*Head Wrestling Coach West Central (98-99), (99-00)
*Assistant Wrestling Coach North Fayette (2001-2006)
*Assistant Wrestling Coach Upper Iowa University (2007-2012)
*Youth Wrestling Coach Wapsie Valley (2013-2021)
*I have also been the TV commentator for the Upper Iowa home meets on KCRG the last 7-8 seasons.
*This will be the first year I will not be coaching wrestling since I was competing.
PINDOX: Any advice for upcoming wrestlers?
JUSTIN DECKER: This is the greatest sport. You are in the right place. Whether you are a state champion or a state qualifier or a JV wrestler, don’t give up on it. You will go through the ultimate lows on a wrestling mat and you will want to quit at times. You will hate it certain days.  Most guys I know that have wrestled wish they would have done things differently, wish they would have stuck with it longer, wish they would have went about things harder. Don’t be that guy in 15 years regretting his wrestling career. Leave it all out there right now.
PINDOX: Any chance we see you wrestle again at an Old Timer’s tournament?
JUSTIN DECKER: Old Timer’s Tourney? No.
Butttt….our wrestling club has done a couple fundraisers over the last several years with an alumni meet outside during our ‘town day’ celebrations in the summertime in Fairbank and Readlyn…..much like North Linn just did a few weeks ago. It was a huge hit with large crowds and a lot of money raised for good causes. I wrestled in both of these events and we are probably due to have a another one here very soon. Who knows? I’ll see how my body feels by then…
PINDOX: Would you like to give a shout out to anyone you wrestled with, against, coached, etc.?
JUSTIN DECKER: So many to name but here’s a few that pop in my head…..Matt Grimm, Mike Moser, Ryan Phillips, Mitch Norton, Mitchell Schultz, Mark Mueller, Nate Skaar, Joe Williams, Lee and Daryl Weber, Kasey Gilliss, Wes Hand, and Fred Lima are all guys that I would love to sit down at a bar table and talk old wrestling stories with.
PINDOX: Do you have anything to add? Funny/interesting stories? Trivia? Etc.
JUSTIN DECKER: I have two stories.

Story 1: People sometimes ask me what one of the craziest stories Dan Gable made the team do when he coached.  One story sticks out. I can’t remember exactly what sparked it but I believe some guys were struggling mentally with managing their weight. At the end of practice Gable stuck the entire team and all his assistant coaches in the sauna and said we were all to stay in there for one hour. We were packed in there like sardines and it was the hottest sauna I have ever been in in my life. We stayed in there a really long time. He shut the lights off after about 15 minutes and I remember guys whimpering and breaking mentally. He didn’t keep us in there a full hour but it was close to 50 minutes and it was probably one of the hardest things I ever had to do.

Story #2My high school wrestling coach Larry Munger was a real hard ass. One night we had a triangular up at Postville and had meets with Postville and Tripoli. We had some guys on the team not wrestle up to our potential and after the meet Coach Munger took us all in the wrestling room and had us go through a wrestling practice. It probably lasted 2 hours. He told our lone JV kid on the team (who wrestled 135 lbs) strip off his singlet and Munger strapped it on. It was at least two or three sizes too small and he could barely get the straps over his shoulders. He proceeded to go around and wrestle every single guy in our room for about a 20 minute ‘live go’ and he literally beat the crap out of every single one of us. I remember it felt like he was trying to rip my shoulders out of socket. He probably would be fired for things like that this day and age but that’s why I love the guy.

Author: Joshua Swafford

*** The Pin Doctors does not and has not ever monetized and does not include a subscription or charge a fee for premium content. If you would like to donate to ensure that we can continue producing content in this fashion, you may do so by donating to us via our Venmo account. Our Venmo username is @thepindoctors. Thank you!

{ 1 comment }

Senior Spotlight: Lane Scorpil; Columbus Jct.

Senior Spotlight: Lane Scorpil; Columbus Jct.

So which Senior was the quickest one to get their Senior Spotlight Questionnaire sent to me? A Southeast Iowan of course! Lane Scorpil! A kid I always root for due to being a fellow Southeast Iowan as well as these  son of a SEI wrestling legend from the 90’s, Ben Scorpil of West Liberty. I watched Ben wrestle quite a bit as a kid. A guy from West Liberty who I wrestled all the time named Jeff Wiele used to always talk about how awesome he was. He was a hero in West Liberty and it surprised nobody that his son, Lane also became a good wrestler.

And on another note, Lane’s uncle, Jason Utter (Columbus Jct.) gave me my most memorable “welcome to HS, kid” moment when I was a Freshman, for he tech-falled me. I don’t think anyone else besides him ever tech-falled me… He had me totally confused when I wrestled him. One of the best guys I ever wrestled.

And I do need to add something… Lane has stated in various interviews before that Columbus Coach, Andy Milder has had a great impact on him. Andy Milder has been a key part of Columbus Jct.‘s success for decades now and if it’s one person that I have unintentionally left out or acknowledged to this point, it’s him. I’ve posted tons of stuff about former Columbus Jct. coaches, Bill Plein and John Siegel, but I don’t think I’ve ever posted anything on Milder and he’s been along for the ride this entire time as well! Props to him and his family and my apologies that it took me way to long to acknowledge him.


SO! Meet Columbus Jct. standout Senior, Lane Scorpil!

When did you start wrestling? Who introduced you to the sport?

My dad, Ben Scorpil, started in Kindergarten.


Do you have any family who wrestled before you? How did they do?

My dad Ben Scorpil was a 3X State Finalist and 4X time place winner: 1994 2nd, 1995 1st, 1996 2nd ,1997 3rd.. Dad was the first West Liberty wrestler to place all 4 years at state. He was 158-9!  My uncle Jason Utter (5th), and cousins Randy Pugh (1st,3rd) & JD Pugh (5th,3rd,2nd,1st). Currently my brother Ty who is a sophomore this year wrestles as well.


Did you catch on to wrestling quickly or was it a gradual process?

It took awhile but I finally caught on beginning of Sophomore year.  It also helped that I finally was able to put on some weight.  I’ve always been the lightest guy in the weight classes.


What club did you wrestle for growing up and how would you describe your experience with the club?

Catpac Wrestling Club and DC Elite.  Each Club had its benefits.  Catpac taught me the fundamentals and DC Elite just has a lot of talented athletes in the club.


What are a couple memorable moments from youth wrestling? 

Only thing I took away from youth wrestling was the friends I gained.


How did you finish at state tournaments in youth?

I never placed, but I never cut weight either.  I was always trying to put the weight on.


What are some of your more memorable moments from high school wrestling to this point?

Most memorable was the match that qualified me for state my sophomore year.  I had put so much time and effort into the sport, it was one of those moments where it all paid off.


How did you finish at the state tournaments you wrestled in at the HS level to this point?

Freshman year didn’t make it out of districts.  I broke my hand the day before practice started, so I only got to wrestle half a season. I also was 95 pounds and that was eating breakfast before weigh ins. Sophomore placed 5th and Junior 3rd.


Who were your wrestling heroes growing up? Who are your current wrestling heroes?

My dad is my hero on and off the mat.  I love to spend time in West Liberty and listen to Coach Diemer tell stories about his wrestling days.  He was a force to be reckoned with and still is.  My dad has worked hard his whole life and built a successful business.


Was there ever a point in your career where you noticed yourself jumping levels and making huge strides?

Between my freshman and sophomore year.  My main focus was to put the weight on.


Who have been some of your toughest competitors in HS to this point in your career?

Bryce Thompson from Highland, we went back and forth.  Bryce spent a lot of time at my house working out in our wrestling room.  So we both knew what the other one was going to do.  We finished 3-3 when Bryce graduated.  Never got our tie breaker match in.


What was your most memorable state tournament?

This last year I got 3rd. I got caught in the quarters by Stangel from Osage.  I pinned everyone on the back side to beat Stangel 10-6 for 3rd.


What are your wrestling goals for this coming season?

State Champion


How would you describe your wrestling style? Who would you compare yourself to?

My style is a combination of Columbus and West Liberty wrestlers.  I like wrestling on my feet best.


Do you have any regrets from wrestling that you want to make up for as a Senior?

No regrets really.  I was disappointed last season in the quarter finals, but just went back out with the mindset I’m gonna get the next best thing.


What other sports do you play and how have you done at them?

Cross Country and Track.  Our Cross Country team this year is looking strong.


What are some of your hobbies besides wrestling?

I enjoy riding bikes.  Motorcycles and Bicycles


What is some of the best advice you ever received?

Don’t come off the mat with any regrets


Do you have any advice for up and coming wrestlers?

Put in the extra work when no one else will.


What is your favorite style of wrestling? Folkstyle, Freestyle or Greco?



Who were some of the most influential coaches you worked with?

Siegle and Coach Milder.


What are your college plans? Is wrestling in your future whether it be competing or coaching? Do you have interest in MMA?

Future plans are to become a diesel mechanic and as for wrestling time will tell.


PINDOX PROFILE: Austin Even; Jesup HS ‘12

PINDOX PROFILE: Austin Even; Jesup HS ‘12


For those of you who have read some of the stuff I have put together since my days at The Predicament, you may already know that one of my favorite wrestlers of all-time is a dude who graduated from Don Bosco in 2019 named Tommy Even. He’s one of my favorites ever because of just how absolutely confident and fearless he was on the mat as well as 100% true to himself both on and off the mat. It didn’t matter what the score was, what the situation, who he was facing, etc. Tommy was gonna come at you with everything he had and when he did, he was going to do so HIS way, whether it was the standard or conventional way of doing things or not. He was going to beat you and he was going to do so by being himself…Some of the rules that apply to a lot of wrestlers, especially in situational wrestling just simply did not apply to Tommy, for he was so relentless, athletic and quick in his execution of every move he hit, that it forced his opponent to wrestle in HIS wrestling world…which is a place where Tommy was straight-up Paul Bunyon amongst a bunch of tree-dwelling dwarves. (And he and his bros were born and raised as lumberjacks to boot!) And it didn’t end there. Off the mat, he was the same way. If he was feeling a certain way or thinking a certain thing, as long as it didn’t cross the lines of disrespect, he wouldn’t hesitate to show the world how he was feeling or what he was thinking. Always himself, no matter where he was at or who he was talking to. On the mat, the gridiron, off the mat and gridiron, he’s one of the most entertaining HS wrestlers/athletes I’ve ever seen.

So after watching Tommy’s brother, Austin’s finals match from 2011 (that I can’t remember watching in person for some reason despite being there), it’s obvious that when the Even family chops down an apple tree, the apples don’t fall very far away from each other. The way Austin wrestled was absolutely FEARLESS. Confident in his offense at all times and certainly never afraid to express that. And just like Tommy, he was an upper-middleweight with the sheer power of The Incredible Hulk, but with the speed of The Flash. An obviously incredible athlete… and one of the most strong-willed wrestlers you’ll hear of considering what he accomplished in the thick of extreme physical adversity.

So as a Sophomore in 2010, Austin qualified for state at 1A 160. He made it all the way to the semifinals and was stopped by eventual state champion and 3X finalist, Levi Peters of Twin River Valley Bode. He fought back hard and placed 3rd. That bracket was DEEP.

As a Junior, Austin pinned his way to the finals, which is amazing in itself, but to add on to that is the fact that in the Semifinals, he pinned the returning 1A 152 lb. state runner-up, Tyler Ogburn from Corning and in doing so, severely tore the labrum in his shoulder. He apparently was able to ignore the pain immediately, for he ended up pinning him shortly after…in the first period still. The mission was far from complete though, for he still had an incredibly tough opponent to wrestle in the finals named Brett Roberts from Eddyville-Blakesburg. To make this task even more daunting, he would basically only have use of just one of his arms for this match.

After severely tearing the labrum in your shoulder the way Austin did, the possibility of forfeiting any recent future matches would be within question for a lot of competitors, even if it is the state finals. For not only would you be totally distracted having to work through the pain, but you may injure it worse if you are not careful. However, the thought of forfeiting was something that Austin Even couldn’t even wrap his head around. Here is Jesup Coach, Brent Meyers’s take on the conversation that took place between he and Austin immediately following his semifinals win:

COACH BRENT MEYERS: Austin’s performance at state as a Junior was all guts. He totally dislocated his shoulder in semis. He came off the mat and said, “Meyers my shoulder is out! It’s all the way out!” I said, “what do you want to do?” He looked at me and asked, “what do you mean?” I asked, “do you want to forfeit?” Austin responded, “hell no I’m going to win a state title!” The Even’s are tough as nails! The kid was a very fierce competitor and always wanted to get better and wanted us coaches to push him. Hands down one of the most competitive kids I ever was around college or high school!

Take into consideration that Brent Meyers is a man who has worked with some of the toughest wrestlers you’ll ever meet from a competitor’s AND coach’s viewpoint…. So a statement like that from a guy like Brent Meyers is saying A LOT.

Given the severity of Austin’s injury, most logical wrestling fans would likely expect a performance from Austin in which he was extremely limited and played the entire match safely…. As in “wrestling to not lose” opposed to “wrestling to win,” because let’s face it, most of us would be close to defeat before the finals match even began if we had a severe shoulder injury like the one Austin had… So is that how it unfolded for Austin? Maybe that’s how it went down for “Austin Odd” in “Opposite-land.” Austin Even, despite being severely injured, was very aggressive in his finals match. He shot countless powerful singles and doubles and it took everything in Roberts’s power to not be straight-up blown through by them. Even at the end of the match, when Austin was up by 1 point with 30 or so seconds left… Austin kept shooting nice, powerful shots that kept Roberts on his heels a bit. And it’s not like Roberts was being overly defensive…Roberts wrestled a good match, really. It’s hard to get your own stuff going when you have someone relentlessly attacking you, not giving you a second to execute your own offense. Even in a short-time situation with a permanently damaged shoulder, Austin Even refused to wrestle like anyone other than his normal, aggressive, fearless self…one of many examples of what makes the Even family one of my all-time favorite wrestling families to come out of the state of Iowa. Austin ended up winning the match 4-3. If Austin’s performance in the state finals doesn’t epitomize toughness, I don’t know what does.

Austin’s injury ended up becoming so severe that he got surgery on his shoulder after the season concluded and he never physically recovered from it. He couldn’t even wrestle his Senior season due to it. Think about that… the injury Austin Even endured in the Semifinals at state as a Junior was so severe that it ended his career after his state finals match was completed. How he managed to conjure the strength to work past that adversity to win the state championship is a form of toughness that few of us will ever know.

As mentioned, Austin’s brother, Tommy won state in 2019, making him a 3X placer/2X finalist/1X State Champ. Their brother Ryan was a 2X state qualifier and their brother Ronald also wrestled. His parents are Ron and Samanda and they have owned a tree/logging business in which the Even brothers worked for growing up. You hear all these generalizations about wrestlers with certain backgrounds such as farming or construction or whatever that instills toughness within them… However, nothing seems to instill more toughness than a background in working as a lumberjack… And if I’m going on a limb by making that statement, I’d fully expect that limb to be cut down by one of them.

2010 1A 160

1st: Levi Peters, Twin River Valley Bode JR 42- 1

2nd: Jason Frain, Riverside Oakland SR 47- 5

3rd: Austin Even, Jesup SO 46- 5

4th: Jayden DeVilbiss, South Winneshiek Calmar JR 44- 3

5th: Blake Faucher, Guthrie Center SR 46- 3

6th: Dylan Schrader, Wapello SR 22- 4

7th: Gabe Fell, AHST Avoca SR 30- 7

8th: Jayson Madsen, West Branch SR 33- 8


2011 1A 160

1st: Austin Even, Jesup JR 45- 2

2nd: Brett Roberts, Eddyville-Blakesburg SO 45- 3

3rd: Marrick Loftus, Logan-Magnolia SR 49- 4

4th: Cody Hubrich, Twin River Valley Bode SR 36- 4

5th: Tyler Ogburn, Corning SR 38- 6

6th: Christian Miller, Nashua-Plainfield JR 18- 8

7th: Dillon Anderson, Clarion-Goldfield SR 32- 10

8th: Cody Schurman, SE Warren Liberty Center SR 37- 10


Remember The Wrestler: Logan Mulnix; North Linn HS ‘12

“Winning. No matter what I’m doing I want to be a winner at it. I don’t like to lose at anything.”

-Logan Mulnix in an interview from The Gazette in 2012

Logan Mulnix was an incredibly talented, fiery competitor who wrestled for North Linn and graduated in 2012. He was the younger brother of Ryan Mulnix, a 2007 graduate who placed 8th, 2nd and 3rd at state. Logan was accomplished pretty early in the youth wrestling circuit. He placed 2nd to Tyler Shulista one year at state and was a 2X AAU state champion, winning it as a 7th and 8th grader. In the finals as an 8th grader, he defeated a guy named Willie Miklus. This was one of the biggest matches to ever take place in the history of the AAU State tournament, for Willlie was a 5X AAU State Champion coming in and was going for his 6th title…which means you won it every year. It doesn’t happen very often. And Logan Mulnix prevented that from happening.

Mulnix qualified all 4 years he was in HS, placing 7th, 1st, 2nd and then first again. And every year, he had a match or two at the tournament that would amaze those in attendance. Heck, his first ever match as a Freshman at state was a huge win for a Freshman and he did it against my 1st cousin, Senior Jon Swafford from New London, who was coming off an 8th place finish from his Junior season. When a Freshman beats a returning place-winning Senior at state at a weight like 125 lbs, that’s making an early statement. Jon was good. Logan put the place on notice immediately at state that year. Logan lost a 1 point match to the eventual runner-up the next round and then did what he had to do to place 7th at state that tourney. He finished the season with a record of 41-3.

As a Sophomore in 2010, Logan came in with a record of 35-2 and dominated his way through a very balanced 1A 125 lb. bracket. His closest match was a 6-2 win over Jake Kadel in the finals. That bracket also included several other guys who either placed or made the finals at some point of their HS careers. He dedicated his state championship to his brother Ryan, which as the oldest of 4 right-knit brothers, I thought this was so cool of him.

As a Junior in 2011, Logan came in with a 37-1 record and had the tournament that probably stung the most considering he lost a close match in the finals to place 2nd, but still…There were some positives for him in the tournament. In the semis he beat a kid named Trevor Paulson Tri-Center, Neola who was on fire that year… Most importantly, losing in the finals was probably a great learning experience for him that he may have needed at the time.

As a Senior, Logan came into state with an undefeated record and was on top of his game. He officially left his mark as one of the baddest dudes to ever step foot on a Wells Fargo mat after this tournament. He won his 2nd state championship that year and after his first round match, the guys he defeated went back to place 4th, 3rd and of course, runner-up. The kid he beat in the finals was Payton Rice from Sioux Central, Manson. Payton is the son of Stacey Rice, a 3X state champion from the 80’s and to this day, one of the best to come out of our state. And Payton learned well from him. He was really good…a 4X placer, and he didn’t have an answer to anything he encountered vs. Logan in the finals. Logan was on fire that tournament. Great way to end his HS career. He finished with a career record of 163-7.

Logan Mulnix was a pretty entertaining wrestler to watch. If you compared the person he is off the mat to the person he was while on it…it’d seem like a total oxymoron. Like night and day. Every time I saw that kid around when he was not on the mat wrestling, he seemed to always be having fun, goofing off and being funny. However, when it was time to compete, he was locked in and programmed for systematic destruction. His approach was not to get his hand raised after time was up or a pin was called. No, time was something he didn’t want to waste in securing his wins. He wanted to either pin the guy quick or rack the score up and break the other guy mentally as soon as logically possible… His mission was to alleviate any fragment of hope the other guy may have as quickly as possible. And he had the skill set to do so, for guys used to just get frustrated out of their minds with him. His length, leverage and speed just had guys at a loss. Sometimes you’d see a guy attempting a shot and a millisecond after they lunged forward to attempt this, Logan, in a flash would be in on their legs and grabbing their ankles and basically putting them on their butts without even having to put his hips into it. The kid seemed like he had a crazy strong grip…once he got ahold of a guy’s heel on a shot, it was over.

And that’s only the beginning… We haven’t gotten to his ability to ride, yet. Logan had to have been one of the best riders in the entire 2012 graduating class. I mean, he was like a spider playing with his prey. He had an answer for everything and was proficient at every series you could utilize on top whether it be cradles, tilts, bars, legs, etc. He did them all well and what made him borderline impossible to get away from was his ability to go from one series to the next as if it were instinctive to him. This fluent style on top just seemed to leave his opponents broken, lost and without having any answers.

Here is a cool quote I read from Logan Mulnix that he made as a Senior in HS:

LOGAN MULNIX: “What I’m doing differently this year is trying to separate myself. I’m trying to win by large margins every single time. Go out and dominate and make sure no one thinks they can hang with me. I don’t want anyone thinking they’re in the match with me. I’m just going out trying to score more points and more points. I want the kid to be out of the match by the second period.”

2009 2A 125
1. Cole Welter, Jr., Don Bosco
2. Nolan Oviatt, So., Logan-Magnolia
3. Jake Demmon, Sr., Eddyville-Blakesburg
4. Levi Richards, Sr., Nodaway Valley
5. Sean Schneider, Sr., Twin River Valley
6. Dallas Houchins, So., Interstate 35
7. Logan Mulnix, Fr., North Linn
8. Nick Winter, So., Central Elkader

2010 2A 125
1st: Logan Mulnix, North Linn Troy Mills SO 39- 2
2nd: Jake Kadel, New London/WMU JR 49- 1
3rd: Brandon Welter, Don Bosco Gilbertville JR 42- 4
4th: Jordan Johnson, Interstate 35 Truro JR 36- 5
5th: Jack O’Brien, Belle Plaine SR 42- 5
6th: Dillon Lorentzen, Logan-Magnolia JR 42- 8
7th: Zach Ryan, Woodbury Central Moville SR 39- 13
8th: Kyler Deutsch, Nashua-Plainfield JR 37- 11

2011 2A 135
1st: Drew Proctor, Tipton SR 44- 2
2nd: Logan Mulnix, North Linn Troy Mills JR 40- 2
3rd: Brandon Welter, Don Bosco Gilbertville SR 43- 3
4th: Trevor Paulson, Tri-Center Neola JR 31- 4
5th: Steven Brockshus, Sibley-Ocheyedan SR 34- 4
6th: Jared Hefler, Ogden SR 30- 6

7th: Nick Becker, Wilton SR 33- 8
8th: Zach Hatcher, Logan-Magnolia SR 43- 9


2012 2A 138
1st: Logan Mulnix of North-Linn, Troy Mills 45-0 Sr.
2nd: Payton Rice of Manson Northwest Webster 46-4 So
3rd: Scott Weber of Don Bosco, Gilbertville 45-9 Sr.
4th: Sam Solis of Clarion-Goldfield 40-2 Sr.
5th: Ryan Hall of Jesup 30-11 Sr.
6th: Lance Hinschberger of Belle Plaine 39-15 Jr
7th: Carter Funke of Maquoketa Valley, Delhi 44-10 Jr
8th: Logan Loftus of Iowa Valley, Marengo 50-8 Jr

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

CVMC and North Linn HS


What year did you graduate?



Who or what encouraged you to give wrestling a try?

Doug Leclere got my brother involved and I followed!


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

My brother Ryan Mulnix… he got 8th, 3rd, and 2nd! And was a D-3 national qualifier, and his sons, Sawyer and Landon are also wrestlers. Look out!

What were your youth results? Any rivals there?

I won aau 2x, placed at Tulsa multiple time as high as 3rd, had some amazing team Iowa results in elementary/middle school duals with class of 2012!


What was your record in HS?

163-7 I think


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 in finals my junior year, was extremely tough on me mentally, but I came back to go undefeated and win state as a senior!

How would you describe your wrestling style?

Mark perry is who I tried to wrestle like! I was good scrambling, good from space and tough on top!

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

Three people: Cole Welter, Jack O’Brien, Jake Kadel!

Who was your most influential coach?

Dwight Sorensen

Was your team competitive in HS/college?

Yes, we got 4th at state as a team 1 year!

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

Dan Leclere

Who would you consider the GOAT Iowa HS wrestler?

Brandon Sorensen

How influential was the Cedar Valley Mat Club to you?

Life changing! The battles we had in that room daily were amazing! Without that club I never would’ve accomplished anything I did!

Would you say you were better on your feet or on top?

Top for sure I took pride in it!!

When you wrestled someone, you were a master at breaking your opponent. Is this a skill you developed in time? Could you tell when you “broke” an opponent?

I always thought there was nothing worse than getting ridden out or turned! So I became a master on top and when someone can’t get out it mentally breaks them pretty quick!

Was there ever a win you had that gave you the confidence to bring things up to another level?

Cole Welter my freshman year. I lost in triple overtime at sectionals, but beat him at districts! He already had all the credentials and that win gave me a lot of Confidence!


Are there any wrestlers you’ve seen, past or present that you would compare your style to?

Not really I felt Like my style was unique.

What are some interesting hypothetical matchups between guys from different eras that you would have been interesting in seeing?

Drake Ayala vs Cory Clark! Both sebolt guys and match up wise would be amazing!

Who are some Iowa HS wrestling guys from your era that you have an immense amount of respect for?

Might be biased but Brandon Sorensen! 4xer, 4x AA at Iowa the best wrestler I’ve ever seen!

Who are your favorite current wrestlers?

Spencer Lee, Jayden eiermen love his funky style

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

T.I was my go to.

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

Freshman year quarter finals. Lost my dream of being a 4 timer!

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

Work ethic, I wasn’t a slacker, but I didn’t train the way I needed to either!

What was your best wrestling memory or accomplishment?

Winning state my senior year with my brother in my corner!!

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

Grant Henderson from Alburnett! We had some amazing battles and the atmosphere from our fan bases during those were unreal!


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

All year, loved freestyle.

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

I’d take class of 2012 over any one ever!


Did you wrestle after high school?



What are your favorite sports teams?

St Louis Cardinals, Chicago Bears.


What are your hobbies other than wrestling?

Golf and just being with my family!


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

Amazing I love this sport!


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

Wrestling forms every aspect of you! Hard work, dedication, respect, it’s the best sport in the world!


What do you do now?

I work at Quaker Oats in Cedar Rapids.


Are you still involved with wrestling?

Yes I coach for Cedar Rapids Kennedy


Any advice for upcoming wrestlers?

Summer wrestling is where you make the biggest gains! Get into freestyle!


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

No I wrestle enough of these young guys in practice!


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

Just wanna remind Levi Wolfensperger of the Jesup takedown tourney!


Author: Joshua Swafford

Facebook: facebook.com/thepindoctors

Twitter: @pin_dox (business), @ricoswaff (personal)

Venmo: @thepindoctors (business), @ricoswaff (personal)

Email: thepindoctors@gmail.com

Instagram: @thepindox



The Gambrall family is one of the most “sneaky-good” wrestling families that’s ever gone through the state of Iowa. 4 brothers, 3 who have finished their HS careers. 2 out of those 3 state champs. All 3 of them state finalists. 9 combined place-finishes between the 3 of them. And the youngest has yet to begin his HS tenure. 

Grant Gambrall is the oldest Gambrall brother and with the wrestling resume he has put together combined with his tenacity that was on full display every time he took the mat, he has a case for being the GOAT as far as I’m concerned. He solidified his candidacy for that when he proved himself as one of the best in the nation at D1 Nationals as a Sophomore in college, placing 3rd. 

It’s an honor to put this together for Grant. A true wrestling great.

2006 3A 160

1. Kevin Kluesner, Sr., Epworth Western Dubuque

2. Grant Gambrall, So., Iowa City High

3. Riley Lindner, Sr., Fort Dodge

4. Billy Lewis, Jr., Bettendorf

5. Mike Stamp, Sr., Council Bluffs Lewis Central

6. David Zachary, Sr., Dowling Catholic WDM

7. Travaris Haywood, Sr., Davenport West

8. David Negrete, Sr., Des Moines North/Hoover


2007 3A 171

1. Grant Gambrall, Jr., Iowa City West

2. Dylan Wrage, Jr., Waverly-Shell Rock

3. Jesse Swanson, Jr., Knoxville

4. Cory Stonebraker, Sr., Cedar Rapids Prairie

5. Derek Nightser, Jr., CB Lewis Central

6. Ethan Bass, So., Southeast Polk

7. Byron Tate, Jr., Clinton

8. Taylor Drahn, Sr., Cedar Rapids Washington

2008 3A 171

1. Grant Gambrall, Sr., Iowa City West

2. Justin Rau, Sr., CB Lewis Central

3. Lee Averhoff, Sr., Waverly-Shell Rock

4. Adam Houser, Sr., Mason City

5. Alex Schwerdtfeger, Jr., Bettendorf

6. Riley Banach, Jr., Ames

7. Matt Riley, So., Des Moines Roosevelt

8. Brandon Abernathy, Fr., Indianola

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

City High Mat-Pac with Brad Smith, Jeff Bradley, CT Campbell, Tony Brown, & Willie Gadson

Hawkeye Kids Wrestling School (which became Ubasa Trained) with Pablo Ubasa.

Trojan Kids Wrestling Club with Mark Reiland.

Johnny Galloway Sr. also helped with City High Mat Pac and ran a phenomenal club that I got extra training in throughout my kids and high school wrestling years.

Iowa City City High School (Freshman and Sophomore years) with Coach Brad Smith and many other great coaches.

Iowa City West High School (Junior and Senior years) with Coach Mark Reiland, Matt Orton, and many other great coaches.

University of Iowa with Coaches Tom Brands, Terry Brands, Doug Schwab, Mike Zadick, Kurt Backes, Jared Frayer, Luke Eustice, and Ryan Morningstar.


What year did you graduate?

2008 from Iowa City West High School.


Who or what encouraged you to give wrestling a try?

My dad and Iowa Wrestling get all the credit here. Dad used to take my brothers and me to Iowa wrestling meets all the time as I was growing up and that really stoked my passion for the sport as a fan. I couldn’t wait to get on the mat and try to become like those great Iowa wrestlers of the mid-90s. My mom is amazing for supporting all of that wrestling passion in the house then and all throughout my career, as well as to this day with my brothers and their careers.


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

I think I was the first in my family to start wrestling. My dad went to Southeast Polk High School and had wanted to wrestle, but his parents thought it was too dangerous. But now, I have three younger brothers who have made and are making their own name for themselves on the mat.

Gradey was a two-time placer in high school, including a runner-up finish.

Graham was a four-time placer and a state champion in his newly completed high school career.

Gordon is about to begin his own high school wrestling career at Iowa City West High School as well.

I also have some cousins who have tried out the sport and some are still coming through.


What were your youth results? Any rivals there?

I started in first grade and my first rival was Tyler Carew. He and his brother Dylan became some of my best friends throughout high school and college and we remain good friends with the Carew family today. They are just awesome people.

I was mediocre at first. The best part of my first grade season is that I went to 5-6 kids tournaments and did not finish last at any of them.

In second grade, I took fifth at districts for 3rd and 4th grade, one spot away from qualifying for the AAU state tournament. I was starting to get the hang of the sport.
I took 4th at state in 3rd grade. Some rivals at the time and in the following few years included Cal Beatty, Ryan Mulnix, and Cody Stanley.

I won AAU state in 4th and 5th grade and took 2nd in 6th grade. I wrestled Brody Verschoor in the finals all three years I think.

I took 3rd in 7th grade, losing to Eddie Reiter in the semis.
I won it again in 8th grade.

I took 2nd at Tulsa a couple times as a youth wrestler.
I won or placed at various other national tournaments in all three styles, including winning the USA Wrestling Schoolboy Division National Triple Crown award as an 8th grader.


What was your record in HS?

I am not sure of my exact record. I believe it was in the 150-16 range. I know I lost a lot as a freshman (around 12 times), twice as a sophomore, and once each my junior and senior seasons.


How did you place at state every year?

DNP as a freshman.
2nd to Kevin Kluesner as a sophomore.
1st as a junior
1st as a senior


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

I’ll try to list just a few.

Winning districts and then failing to place at state my freshman year was tough. I had beaten some of the placers during the year and did not wrestle well at state.

I did rebound with a great next season on the mat, only to come up short in the finals as a sophomore after blowing a big lead in that match (another tough moment).

Those experiences definitely helped me grow into a much better wrestler, especially in the more high-pressure matches.

That summer I went undefeated in cadet freestyle and greco national duals (combined 17-0) I won greco and took 3rd in freestyle in Fargo as a cadet.

I won high school state the next two years and had great success in freestyle and greco as well, placing in both styles each year at Fargo and going undefeated at Junior national duals.

I finished out my high school career at the top of the 171 pound rankings after defeating Jordan Blanton and Quentin Wright in All-Star duals about a week apart.

I also had many ups and downs and challenging moments in college.

How would you describe your wrestling style?

I like to imagine I was a crafty and creative wrestler, and I think I was on a good day, at least until college.

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

I only remember a few opponents that I actually exchanged wins with in high school.

Jarion Beets, who went on to All-American for Northern Iowa (a really awesome guy that deserves his own pin doctors interview if it hasn’t already happened).
Cam Simaz, who went on to win nationals for Cornell University.

Chris Spangler, who went on to wrestle at Iowa State.

There were many other tough opponents I had battles with as well, but not that I exchanged wins and losses with.


Who was your most influential coach?

This is a very difficult question to answer because I was very truly blessed with a whole host of amazing coaches that poured so much into me and my wrestling abilities.

If I have to choose just one, I will have to go with Johnny Galloway Sr. because he taught me how to have fun while being a mat-rat. From early morning lifts and drills to late night practices, he invested countless hours. His practices were tough, but fun (just like he is). He helped me learn to change pace, directions, patterns, and levels in my wrestling to keep my opponents off balance and open up attacking opportunities. He also made sure I could move my feet faster than a turtle so I was at least semi-athletic on the mat.


Was your team competitive in HS/college?

I was always involved with teams that placed in the top 4 or 5 at state or nationals in high school and college, including state champions at Iowa City West my junior year of high school.


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

Mark Ironside. His tenacity and endless energy on the mat made him someone I really looked up to as a youth wrestler. He taught at some local wrestling camps I attended as a kid as well and I just thought he was awesome.


Who would you consider the GOAT Iowa HS wrestler?

Nick Moore. He was my teammate and he is as tough (and funny) as they come.


Are there any wrestlers you’ve seen, past or present that you would compare your style to?



What are some interesting hypothetical matchups between guys from different eras that you would have been interested in seeing?

Desanto vs Ironside would be a lot of fun for the energy levels they have.

As far as high school match-ups, maybe Jeff McGinnis vs Nick Moore. Both had such outstanding high school careers and both were from Iowa City and I think they were relatively similar weights in high school, though Nick wrestled a higher weight in college.


Who are some Iowa HS wrestling guys from your era that you have an immense amount of respect for?

My teammates, including Tyler and Dylan Carew, Nate and Nick Moore, Derek St. John, Jeremy Garvin, Matt Behnami, Brad Lower, Vicente Chaires, Kyle Anson, and Zach McKray. Those guys lived it with me and I learned from all of them. I also have great respect for Josh Ihnen, who I had a lot of battles with in high school and college. Marshall Koethe and TJ Moen are guys who inspired me with their toughness and approach to the sport as well. Shoutout to Justin Koethe also. He was right after my era, but I love how he let it fly on the mat.


Who are your favorite current wrestlers?

My brothers, Graham and Gordon, are favorites for obvious reasons.

I’m in California now so I don’t get to see as much of the Iowa High School guys as I used to, but I like Wyatt Voelker and I was able to wrestle with him at Big Game Wrestling Club when I last visited Iowa.

In college, Spencer Lee and Nelson Brands are fun to watch.



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

Whatever the mood called for. From Offspring to Eminem to Merle Haggard and most everything in between.


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

Probably after Kile Beaver headlocked me for the win when I had a big lead late in the match in around 3rd or 4th grade.


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

To understand from a much earlier age how important the trust and comfort between wrestler and coach is to the long-term success of the wrestler.


What was your best wrestling memory or accomplishment?

Defeating Quentin Wright in the Dream Team Dual at my home high school gymnasium at Iowa City West my senior year of high school. I dominated the match over the #1 ranked wrestler in the country at my weight class which resulted in my #1 national ranking at that weight leaving high school. It was in front of my family and friends. It was just an overall awesome experience and it was the culmination of years of investment by me and my parents and my coaches and my teammates.


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

High School in Iowa included Matt Ballweg, Kalvin Hodge, Jarion Beets, Robert Kellogg, Mike Stamp, Kevin Kluesner, Billy Lewis, Dylan Wrage, Joshua Ihnen, Jeff Rau, Adam Martensen, and Willie Argo.

High School outside of Iowa included wins over Kevin Steinhaus, Travis Rutt, Cam Simaz, Hunter Collins, Quentin Wright, Ed Ruth, Ben Bennett, Chris Spangler, Cody Yohn, and Jordan Blanton. It also included losses to Chris Perry, Mike Benefiel, Cam Simaz, and Kirk Smith.

College included Sonny Yohn, Kevin Steinhaus, Chris Perry, Robert Hamlin, Steve Bosak, Quentin Wright, Ed Ruth, Joshua Ihnen, Ryan Loder, Joe Leblanc, Travis Rutt, and Austin Trottman.


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

Even though I played many other sports as a kid (baseball, soccer, football, basketball), wrestling was something I still made time for year-round starting in about 4th grade and it stayed that way the rest of my career.



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

I have a feeling not that well, given that I think wrestling is always evolving. But if we grew up in today’s world, I’m sure we’d do just fine.



How would you compare and contrast you and your brothers; Gradey and Graham’s styles?

I think both Gradey and Graham were/are more naturally athletic than me. They probably move more gracefully than I ever could. Maybe I was a bit more stubborn though and maybe that helped me compensate a bit.


What was it like when you first started practicing with the Iowa Hawkeyes? How long did it take for you to find your footing at the D1 level to become one of the top guys at your weight that you became?

It was certainly a more tense environment than what I was used to and I never really adapted to that. When I look back at my college career, I think it took a couple months to really be able to withstand the grind of those Iowa practices and to be competitive the whole practice with the best guys in the room near my weight. I feel like I consistently improved as a ‘practice-room wrestler’ each month and each year throughout my career. As with most, it took a while to get up to speed my first year there. But then it got to the point where, by sophomore year, I was rarely surrendering any points to anyone in the room who didn’t outweigh me by at least fifteen pounds. But, as a competition wrestler, I’m not sure I really improved at all during my college career. I feel like I came in close to the level of an All-American and I remained at or near that level all throughout my time at Iowa. Ups and downs occurred but the improvements in the practice room didn’t seem to translate to competitions.


Did you wrestle after high school?

Yes, at the University of Iowa.


What other sports did you play?

As a kid, I played soccer, baseball, basketball, and football.
In high school, I played football through Junior year.


What are your favorite sports teams?

Liverpool Football Club
Green Bay Packers
Boston Red Sox


What are your hobbies other than wrestling?

Exploring places with my wife and daughter.
Enjoying Movies and TV shows.
Enjoying (and singing along with) all sorts of music.
Following NASCAR and English Premier League.
Sharing stories with friends.


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

It’s an awesome feeling. I was given so much from so many in this sport. I feel it’s only right to try to give back as best I can. I love coaching. I learn much more from coaching than I did as a competitor.

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

Well, it’s hard to separate who I am today from who I would have been without wrestling because of how important it has been to me since I was 5 or 6 years old and because of the amount of time and energy I’ve devoted to the sport. I can definitely say wrestling taught me what true perseverance is and has helped me a great deal in life. I think wrestling also helped me to not just take the easy road, but to stand up for my beliefs no matter the consequences or opinions of others.


What do you do now?

I am an audiologist (test hearing and fit and manage hearing aids), a husband to my amazing wife Kimberly, a father to the sweetest little nine-month-old girl named Aurelia, a son to awesome and supportive parents, a brother of some very cool dudes, and I still coach wrestling.


Are you still involved with wrestling?

Yes. I still help coach a kids club called USA Gold and a high school team (Del Oro High School) in the Sacramento area (Loomis, California). I also do private lessons. It is a blast to stay involved with coaching this awesome sport.


Any advice for upcoming wrestlers?

Love the sport and the results will come. Have a good time with the process. It’s tough, but it can be tough and very enjoyable at the same time.

Never take a back-seat to anyone. Ever. You’ll surprise yourself with what you’re capable of when you decide you always belong in the front seat.

Never cut corners. You’re only cheating yourself.
Be yourself. Find what works for you and master it.


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

Why would I put anyone through having to see such a spectacle?


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

Coach Michael Colleran and Coach Justin Swafford are great guys and I enjoyed my time coaching with them for West HIgh’s kids club. Good luck to all the younger guys from that club who are entering high school soon.

I’m thankful for the entire wrestling community in the state of Iowa, from youth clubs all the way through the collegiate level. I was spoiled with amazing people to help me out all along the way.

Also, out here in California I’ll give a shout-out to the USA Gold Kids Club and Del Oro High School wrestling communities. I’ve gotten to meet tons of awesome people out here and they love wrestling as much as I do.


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

So, Brodie (Snowplow) Ambrose swears to this day that I dodged wrestling him back in ‘06 or ‘07. In fairness, I had told him I was going to bump up to wrestle him in our tri-dual that week. It didn’t happen. But, I want to set the record straight. I did not dodge him. I hyper-extended my elbow in practice, the day before the tri-dual, when Brad Lower hit a really nice and unexpected standing switch. So, I didn’t wrestle that night. It’s a shame because Brodie would have been a sucker for my sweep single.

Interestingly, since I didn’t wrestle that night, I instead had the opportunity to go to a different tournament the next weekend when our varsity was supposed to have an off weekend. I bumped up a weight and wrestled Willie Argo and Adam Martensen at that tournament. Those were some tough dudes!


Pat Miletich; Bettendorf HS ‘84/Kirkwood/Miletich Fighting Systems


Pat Miletich and Dan Gable

Pat Miletich is a well-known name across the globe, really for being one of the most influential pioneers of mixed martial arts ever. Pat has been a success as a competitor in MMA. He has been a success as an MMA trainer. He has even been a success as a commentator for MMA. Through the martial arts academy that he founded, “Miletich Fighting Systems,” Pat Miletich became arguably the most successful MMA trainer of all time given the accolades that his fighters went on to accomplish. Through Miletich Fighting Systems, Miletich has helped provide lucrative MMA career paths for countless individuals and has likely saved the lives of several people who were instilled with a sense of direction, positivity and work ethic by him, which are qualities some of them may have never found had they not met him. And whenever there is an individual like Pat in the world who has made such a positive impact on so many lives, there is usually always a source that provided the same kind of impact on them… And in Pat’s case, one of the primary sources was Bettendorf Bulldog wrestling, led by legendary Head Coach, Franc Freeman that planted the seed in Pat Miletich.

1980 Bettendorf JH Wrestling. Pat Miletich is 3rd from right in the back row, I believe.

Pat Miletich was born in Davenport Iowa on March 9, 1966 to parents of Croatian descent. His Croatian descent along with his fighting/competitive prowess earned him the nickname, “The Croatian Sensation” later down the line. He was raised in what has been described by his wrestling peers as the “tough” part of Bettendorf. An area that produces blue-collar, hard working individuals who are perfectly suited for wrestling. Pat began wrestling at the age of 5 and continued all the way through the Middle School and High School wrestling scenes at Bettendorf as well as some collegiate wrestling at Kirkwood.

In high school, Pat attended Bettendorf HS and was coached by Hall Of Fame Head Coach, Franc Freeman. Freeman made such a profound, positive impact on Pat’s life that when Freeman passed away, Pat wrote a public statement on Facebook about the crucial, positive role that he played in Pat’s life. Here is Pat’s statement:

PAT MILETICH: Cannot say enough about how this man (Freeman) impacted my life in a positive way. Bettendorf became the home of monsters in Iowa HS wrestling and he was the scientist behind it all. A great moment I remember is when we wrestled Iowa powerhouse wrestling school, Cedar Rapids Prairie in Cedar Rapids. The gym was packed to capacity and several of the University of Iowa’s wrestlers were in attendance to watch the meet. The Zalesky brothers, Barry Davis and several more were there. Men we all idolized at the time. Needless to say, we were all very nervous as a team for these were very unfriendly waters. Coach Freeman knew exactly what to say to us. He stormed into the locker room and yelled, “you know why these people are here?!?!?!” We patiently waited for the answer as he glared and scowled at us all. Then the words of enlightenment bellowed out of his mouth, “all these people are here because YOU are here!!!” Carried by his words we went out and crushed CR Prairie. It wasn’t even close. Rest In Peace, Coach Freeman. You did so much for so many young men that it’s impossible to calculate the amount of positivity you brought into this world. We are all indebted to you for instilling work ethic, toughness and grit into all of our lives. Thank you.

If anyone for whatever reason had any doubt as to the impact that wrestling had on Pat’s life before reading this article, all doubt should be alleviated after reading that statement.

Pat was a very competitive wrestler and as a Senior in HS, he qualified for state for the first time with a 17-5 record and ended up placing 5th there. In the first round, he was defeated in a nail biter by Tony Hanson of Waterloo West who was the eventual state champion. He lost by the score of 3-2. A couple months ago, I posted a bio about Tony Hanson’s wrestling career on my Facebook page and Pat commented on the article, which sparked the following exchange between the two:

PAT MILETICH: Hanson was a smart wrestler and tough as nails.

TONY HANSON: That was a tough match. It could have gone either way and I remember it like it was yesterday. Congratulations on the great success that you are having.

PAT MILETICH: Hope you and the family are doing well. Losing to you made me hungry later in life and I have you to thank for that.

TONY HANSON: I hope you and the family are doing well, too. I hope to see more successes from you in the future.

I thought that was one of the coolest exchanges I’ve seen on my page since I started The Pin Doctors. I don’t know if those two had ever even spoken to each other after the match took place in 1983 or heck, I don’t know if they ever met before it! Whatever the case, that was so cool and a lot of people could learn a great deal from the maturity that both of those men showed in that exchange.

Following his loss to Hanson, Pat was sent to the wrestle-backs where he had to face a wrestler named Randy Ewing from Fort Dodge in the blood round. Pat ended up defeating Ewing and this secured Pat’s eternal status as an Iowa HS State Wrestling place winner. He was officially top 6. This was a huge win, for Randy Ewing would win state the next year. Pat’s next match was against Chris Geneser of WDM Dowling, which he lost, which put him in the placement match for 5th and 6th place. He ended up defeating Dave Christ, a Junior out of Dubuque Wahlert, securing a 5th place finish at the state tournament for Pat.

1984 3A 167

    1. Tony Hanson, Sr., Waterloo West

    2. Russell Steven, Sr., New Hampton

    3. Chris Geneser, Jr., WDM Dowling

    4. Blair Early, Sr., Davenport West

    5. Pat Miletich, Sr., Bettendorf

    6. Dave Christ, Jr., Dubuque Wahlert

I ended up asking one of Pat’s friends and teammates out of Bettendorf named Craig Cervantes to describe Pat Miletich as a wrestler and as a person. This is what Craig had to say in regards to his old teammate, Pat Miletich:

CRAIG CERVANTES: Pat Miletich came from a really tough part of town in Bettendorf!! It was a neighborhood with “blue collar” tough kids who were perfect for football & wrestling at Bettendorf Middle School and HS. Pat was definitely a brawler on the mat at Bettendorf HS. He had ok technique, but definitely more of a scrapper/brawler. Big time foreshadowing before he became a famous UFC World Champ in the mid ’90s. When he got into the UFC in the early stages of its infancy, a lot of Bettendorf guys weren’t surprised. At Bett back then, our legendary late coach Franc Freeman kept it pretty simple with snap downs & spins, doubles, singles, half nelsons, arm bar series, & especially cross face & near side cradles. I remember Pat doing mostly double legs & then going for the half or arm bars, pretty simple moves – “bread & butter” moves. To further elaborate, Pat would work the head a lot with snap downs & go behind takedowns. And he’d hit stand-ups from underneath. His first love was football & he was the nose guard starter on defense his Junior & Senior year. He was a terror on the football field & not real big either. Maybe 180 lbs. in the fall. I think he wrestled at 167 his Sr. year. As a teammate & person, Pat was all about Bettendorf pride & loyalty. He bled black & gold Bett football & wrestling. He was a very supportive teammate & years later this would come out when he was a UFC coach. He was the nicest guy back then & still is today, very down to earth. Always kind to every single person he met.

Pat had aspirations of playing football in college, for he was an All-State nose guard on the gridiron, but despite these aspirations, he went on to wrestle collegiately for Kirkwood CC. However, his mother developed heart problems, he left school to care for her. Miletich has stated in past interviews that he actually began fighting to help pay her bills.

At age 26, Pat began his MMA training. He started out at Tarpein’s Dojo in Davenport, IA with Grand Master Nick Tarpein. A lot of what he knows about karate was learned there. This is also where he was introduced to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for the first time. With Pat’s extensive wrestling background, BJJ came naturally to him. When he paired wrestling with BJJ and added to it his strong foundation of boxing and karate, he decided that the route he was going to take for his future path would be MMA. This route ended up being the correct one to take, for he became one of the most successful Mixed Martial Artists and trainers in the world. As a competitor Miletich Compiled a 29-7-2 Mixed Martial Arts record from 1995 through 2008, becoming the first Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight champion at UFC 16 in 1998. Eventually, he founded Miletich Fighting Systems-based out of the Quad Cities in Iowa. Miletich Fighting Systems was a mixed martial arts training organization. Miletich Fighting Systems has trained over 90 televised fighters and 11 MMA world champions. It has been the training camp for fighters such as Matt Hughes, Tim Sylvia, Jens Pulver, Robbie Lawler, and Jeremy Horn. MFS is widely regarded as one of the most successful MMA camps of all time.

Pat also went on to other ventures, such as providing color commentary for MMA, hosting a podcast and becoming a motivational speaker. Pat has always taken a very firm stance against bullying.  He is a vocal advocate for programs and activities that could teach kids self-defense that could help protect them from any potential bullies they encounter. One of his main “go-to’s” in terms of programs that he encourages kids to try out is none other than the Bettendorf Youth Wrestling Club. Miletich has never lost site of where he came from and is very proud and supportive of the Bettendorf wrestling community (as well as the wrestling community in general) to this day.

In 2011, Pat was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall Of Fame. He received the George Tragos award, which honors wrestlers who have adapted their skills to excel in mixed martial arts. In 2014, Miletich entered the UFC Hall Of Fame. And with as historically great as Pat’s career has been to date, he has the sport of wrestling and the positive role models who were part of his life through wrestling to thank for so much of his success.



Author: Joshua Swafford aka “Rico Swaff”

*** The Pin Doctors does not and has not ever monetized and does not include a subscription or charge a fee for premium content. If you would like to donate to ensure that we can continue producing content in this fashion, you may do so by donating to us via our Venmo account. Our Venmo username is @thepindoctors. Thank you!


Gary McCall; CR Washington ‘85/Iowa State Cyclones

Here are a couple of incredible inspirational stories about 2X state champion for Cedar Rapids Washington and 3X All American for Iowa State, Gary McCall!!!  Some of the account is written in the words of Gary McCall himself!! One story is from his Junior year in HS for Cedar Rapids Washington and one from his Senior year at Iowa State.



PINDOX: In 1984, Gary McCall of Cedar Rapids Washington was beaten in the semifinals at districts, 8-3 by Joe Whitters of Prairie. He needed a break to even qualify for state. To qualify, Gary first had to win his 3rd and 4th place match and hope for Whitters to defeat Rich Deutsch from Cedar Rapids Kennedy to set up a wrestle back match for true 2nd  between McCall and Deutsch.

GARY MCCALL: “Right after the semifinals loss, I thought, ‘oh no, I blew it,’ but I went into the locker room and coach Hal Turner told me to not give up and that I still had a chance.”

PINDOX: And he did get that chance. Whitters defeated Deutsch, 3-2, McCall won his 3rd place match and then defeated Deutsch 4-0 to earn true 2nd and qualify for state.

To make things sweeter, McCall ended up WINNING state that year and then repeated in 1985. He was recruited by Iowa State, who he became a 3X AA for in 1988-1990.

Had McCall hung his head and given up hope at districts, who knows what would have happened with the rest of his career. He wouldn’t have qualified in 1984 to start, Iowa State may not have recruited him, his confidence may have been halted going into the 1985 season and who knows how that could have affected him that year… But things worked out for him due to an optimistic coaching approach by Hal Turner as well as Gary’s ability to be coachable and mentally tough.

So to all of you upcoming wrestlers out there, if you feel that a goal may have become out of reach following a setback, get your chin up, for you never know what could happen. Gary McCall is proof of this.



PINDOX: Do you have any stories of overcoming adversity in your career?

GARY MCCALL: I tore both of my groins at the beginning of my sophomore yr @ ISU and had to redshirt that year. Then I tore them again my senior year (126 lb. weight class) after starting the season 13-0, ranked 3rd in the nation and had just beaten Terry Brands from Iowa at the Wisconsin open. I was out for 2 months, then Dan Knight and I decided to switch weights. I went down to 118lbs and he went up to 126. At 118 I lost 13 straight matches, finished the Big 8 in 5th place and made it to NCAA’s on a wildcard (returning 2x all-American). I went into nationals unseeded with a losing record and ended up beating returning all-American Steve Martin (Iowa) 1st rd, then went on to upset #1 seed Jeff Thieler of (NC) in the quarterfinals. I lost in the semifinals to Jack Griffith (Northwestern), then wrestled back to Ken Chertow and beat the #1 seed Thieler again for 3rd place! At the time it was the 1st time an unseeded wrestler defeated the #1 seed twice at the NCAA’s. It was a great ending to a rough season and to end my wrestling career!


The Interesting Connection Between 4X State Champion, Dan Knight of Clinton ‘87 and 4X State Champion, Brody Teske of Fort Dodge ‘18

At the state tournament in 1987, Dan Knight of Clinton won his 4th state title, making him the 6th ever 4X state champion in Iowa HS State wrestling history and the 2nd ever to go undefeated in his entire HS career, with the first being Jeff Kerber of Emmetsburg. And when he won his 4th state finals match, the crowd at Vets Auditorium gave Dan a much-deserved traditional standing ovation to show their respect for such an amazing feat.

21 years later at the 2018 Iowa HS State Wrestling Tournament, a kid named Brody Teske from Fort Dodge won his 4th title at Wells Fargo in Des Moines. He ended up with only one loss in his entire career, which is still obviously incredible. And how did the crowd react? The same way. They gave Brody a much-deserved standing ovation. Dan Knight was among the people in attendance giving Brody this standing ovation, for he was the HC at Bettendorf at the time and still is currently.

So there is a very interesting connection between not only these two wrestlers, but these two events… Can you guess what it is? No I’m not referring to them both being 3A. No, I’m not referring to them both being 126. No, I’m not referring to both of them having red in their school colors. No, I’m not referring to the fact that there was a Dan Knight-coached kid, TJ Cole (Bettendorf) standing on the 8th place spot on the podium. Nope, the connection is much more interesting…

So get this…

The guy that Dan Knight defeated 2nd round ended up wrestling back and placing 4th. He was a Fort Dodge kid and just a Junior at the time. His name? Dan Teske…

Dan Teske is Brody’s dad. Dan was standing on the #4 spot on the podium when this standing ovation took place and with a front row seat like that, it probably gave him an idea as to what his son, Brody experienced when he stood on top of the podium after winning his 4th state title in 2018.


And to think that there was another guy on the podium named Les Staudt from Charles City who Dan Knight defeated in the Semifinals and then Dan Teske defeated in the consolation semifinals…

Staudt would later go on to have a son named Adam (Charles City) who would go on to place 2nd at state, falling in the finals to a guy named Jacob Marlin from Creston who won his 4th title.


Jacob Marlin is the son of a man named Randy Marlin from Creston who won a state title in this weight range the year before in 1986… haha ok, now I’m stretching it.

It should also be noted that Dan Teske beat a Sophomore, Doug Kjeldgaard first round… Kjeldgaard would win a state title of his own a couple years later, and his brother, David is without question one of the best HS wrestlers the NATION has ever produced.

2018 3A 126: 1 Brody Teske (Sr.) Fort Dodge 2 Kaleb Olejniczak (Jr.) Perry 3 Joe Pins (Jr.) Dubuque Hempstead 4 Caleb McCabe (Jr.) North Scott 5 Cody Anderson (So.) Waukee 6 Brock Espalin (So.) Dm East 7 Colby Schriever (So.) Mason City 8 TJ Cole (Sr.) Bettendorf

It’s a small and crazy world, isn’t it? You know what would be really weird? If the guy who got 4th place in Brody Teske’s bracket, Caleb McCabe from North Scott, went on to have a son that became a 4 timer someday!


1987 3A 126

1. Dan Knight, Sr., Clinton *** 4 Time State

Champion ***

2. Andy Price, Sr., Burlington

3. Robb Watt, Jr., Ames

4. Danny Teske, Jr., Fort Dodge

5. Les Staudt, Jr., Charles City

6. Chad Payne, Sr., Iowa City West



2018 3A 126

1 Brody Teske (Sr.) Fort Dodge

2 Kaleb Olejniczak (Jr.) Perry

3 Joe Pins (Jr.) Dubuque Hempstead

4 Caleb McCabe (Jr.) North Scott

5 Cody Anderson (So.) Waukee

6 Brock Espalin (So.) Dm East

7 Colby Schriever (So.) Mason City

8 TJ Cole (Sr.) Bettendorf


Author: Joshua Swafford

*** The Pin Doctors does not and has not ever monetized and does not include a subscription or charge a fee for premium content. If you would like to donate to ensure that we can continue producing content in this fashion, you may do so by donating to us via our Venmo account. Our Venmo username is @thepindoctors. Thank you!


Remember The Wrestler: JJ Krutsinger; Waterloo Columbus HS ‘07/Iowa Hawkeyes

* Note: This is derived from the answers he provided for an Inside The Rivalry article from a couple years ago.

JJ Krutsinger is one of the most decorated wrestlers to ever go through the Waterloo area, which is pretty cool, for he wasn’t one of these guys who started out real strong in the youth wrestling scene… In fact, he started out struggling a bit at first. However, whatever hiccups he may have had after starting wrestling, he was eventually able to work his way through prior to entering HS. He started out his high school career at 119 lbs, a weight that can be rather tough for a freshman. And he did great from the get-go placing 3rd that year and never placing below 2nd the next years.

JJ is widely remembered by many for his postseason rivalry with MFL-Marmac’s Kyle Pedretti, in which they had a 3-week collision course that unraveled during the postseason of their Senior seasons. This article is derived from the responses he gave for an Inside The Rivalry article I wrote a couple years ago about their rivalry, so you’ll see some of his thoughts on that.

After high school, Krutsinger wrestled at the University of Iowa. He was never a starter, but did win some nice tournaments while wrestling for the Hawkeyes including the Grand View, Wisconsin, Duhawk and William Penn Opens. He was also a Big 10 All-Academic selection every year he was in college.

JJ was inducted into the Battle of Waterloo Hall Of Fame in 2013.

Since his competitive career, he has spent some time helping coach at Rocky Mountain High School (as of 2 years ago).


2004 2A 119

1. Laramie Shaffer, Jr., Winterset

2. Andy Schmitt, Sr., Clear Lake

3. J.J. Krutsinger, Fr., Waterloo Columbus

4. Jake Kliven, So., NC-NK Northwood

5. Doyle Bohr, Sr., Washington

6. Josh Knipfer, Jr., New London/Winfield-Mt Union

7. Marcus Nagl, Jr., Carroll Kuemper

8. Jacob Ryan, Fr., Mount Vernon


2005 2A 125

1. Laramie Shaffer, Sr., Winterset

2. J.J. Krutsinger, So., Columbus Waterloo

3. Mike Whisler, Sr., Centerville

4. Bryan Sundall, Jr., Emmetsburg/Armstrong-Ringsted

5. Joel Anderson, Sr., Battle Creek-Ida Grove

6. Brady Schmauss, Sr., Crestwood Cresco

7. Mike Sandy, So., Spirit Lake Park

8. Zach Williams, So., Union LaPorte City


2006 2A 125

1. J.J. Krutsinger, Jr., Columbus Catholic Waterloo

2. Blake Hilmer, Jr., Denver

3. Matt Stillman, So., Emmetsburg/Armstrong-Ringsted

4. Cole Deike, Jr., Hampton-Dumont

5. Zach Williams, Jr., Union LaPorte City

6. Dylan Azinger, So., Central Clinton DeWitt

7. Brock Mason, So., Shenandoah

8. Matt Mougin, Fr., Columbus Junction


2007 2A 125

1. Kyle Pedretti, Sr., MFL MarMac

2. J.J. Krutsinger, Sr., Waterloo Columbus

3. Quin Leith, Jr., Creston/O-M

4. Trenton Moses, Sr., Saydel

5. Jacob Hannah, Sr., Grinnell

6. Colby Pedersen, Jr., Clarinda

7. Taylor Eichinger, So., Ballard

8. Adam Parker, Jr., Aurelia-Galva-Holstein

PINDOX: When did you start wrestling? Was it easy for you from the start?

JJ Krutsinger:  I began as a 4th grader and it was anything, but easy from the start. I had to work hard for it. I remember going 2-7 in my first year as a 4th grader. I got pinned a lot. However, I gradually made progress each year and fell in love with the sport as a result.

PINDOX: Did any of your family members wrestle before you?

JJ KrutsingerI did not come from a wrestling family. My parents did not really know much about wrestling when I went out. I remember when I went to AAU State in middle school, noticing a lot of fathers coaching their kids in the corner who seemed to know what they were talking about. I had my dad, who didn’t know what he was doing, but he stayed in the corner for support and held on to my uniform while I wrestled.

PINDOX: How did you do in HS? Record? State placings? What was the highlight of your career if you had to choose one?

JJ KrutsingerI placed 3rd at state Freshman year in 2004 at 2A 119.  I spent the next three years at 125 and placed 2nd, 1st and 2nd. I was undefeated my Junior season when I won state. This was the highlight of my career. I finished with a career record of 124-11.

PINDOX: Which coaches had the most impact on your career?

JJ Krutsinger: I was impacted by every one of my coaches in one way or another. To name a few: Bernie Stroh and the coaching staff at St. John’s Middle School helped me to fall in love with the sport. My middle school coaches took me to his first Iowa wrestling meet. Chris Ortner and his staff in high school is another group of individuals that stick out as being influential. They had a way of making wrestling fun while simultaneously working hard. They also knew how to settle down a nervous Freshman.

PINDOX: Who were some wrestlers thst influenced you or that you looked up to?

JJ KrutsingerI was heavily influenced by ex-Waterloo Columbus wrestler, Kyle Forness, a four time place-winner. Growing up, Forness was the older brother of one of my best childhood friends. He was a role model that I looked up to in the way he displayed leadership and work ethic. I am glad that Kyle continues to coach for Clear Creek Amana HS, where he continues to grow the sport.

PINDOX: Were you a part of some competitive teams in HS and college?

JJ Krutsinger: I was a part of some great Waterloo Columbus teams in HS. My freshman season, Waterloo Columbus won state and in the process, we beat a future good friend of mine, Aaron Janssen’s team, which was Emmetsburg. At the time, they were on quite the winning streak. To this day, I like to give Janssen “stuff” about it. I was also a part of some very competitive Iowa Hawkeyes squads that won 3 NCAA Championships when I was there.

PINDOX: How would you describe your wrestling style?

JJ Krutsinger: My style consisted of this: Fireman’s and arm bars. Keeps pushing. I had a good gas tank. 

PINDOX: Were you a hard worker when you were training?

JJ Krutsinger:was a pretty hard worker. I would stay after practice to jump rope, run sprints, or do a quick lift. 

PINDOX: What are some of your thoughts regarding your HS rivalry with Kyle Pedretti of MFL-Marmac? Did you know him coming in? What were the results? Match scores?  How would you compare and contrast you and Kyle’s styles? Did you have a gameplan against him? Which ones stick out to you as being the best matches?

JJ Krutsinger: I did not know Pedretti off the mat. First thought that comes to mind is that Kyle must have been looking for a challenge.  He was the returning 2A State champ at 119 and came up to 125 knowing that I was there.  I respect him for that.  Unfortunately, the second thought that comes to mind is his that he won the important matches. We were 2-2 our senior year with him beating me at my high school and again in the state finals.  I do not recall a lot of the scores, but I know that every one of them were close.

The first time I wrestled Kyle on my home turf at Columbus High School I was at 99 career wins and I did not get to celebrate my 100th that night in front of my home crowd because Pedretti beat me. Then we wrestled 3 Saturdays in a row, each in the finals of sectionals, districts, and state.  We were definitely familiar with each other by the end of the season.  I knew he was a returning state champ and that I respected his wrestling ability. 

Whenever we wrestled, I would say I felt a mixture of confidence, nerves, and excitement each time. My gameplan against Pedretti was to stay where I was good at and wrestle my match.  He was good on his feet so I wanted to make sure I was the one attacking. 

If I’m being honest, the best match we had from an outsider’s perspective was the state finals.  Two returning state champs looking for their second title.  I believe it went into multiple overtimes with Kyle getting his hand raised and the 2A most valuable wrestler of the tournament. After the finals loss I wanted to have a rematch, but knew it was over and had to be at peace with it.  The most upset I ever felt after any loss was after losing to Kyle in the finals.  I learned a lot about myself from the entire experience.


PINDOX: Did you wrestle after HS?

JJ Krutsinger I wrestled for The University of Iowa. I never made the lineup or was in the limelight, but had some good moments where I won some nice matches and tournaments. My time at Iowa was a period of my life where I learned a lot about myself.


PINDOX: Do you follow other sports besides wrestling? Who are some of your favorite athletes for each sport? Favorite teams? Did you play any other sports? How did you do at them?

JJ Krutsinger Yes I do follow other sports.  I don’t really have any favorite teams, moreso favorite athletes. In wrestling my favorite is Jordan Burroughs, in basketball, I like Lebron James, in football I like Russell Wilson and in baseball, I am a fan of Mookie Betts.  I played football for two years, cross country for two years, baseball for four years, ran track for four years and went out for tennis one year, which did not make the track coach very happy.


PINDOX: What are some of your hobbies besides wrestling?

JJ Krutsinger:  Some of my hobbies include hiking and camping with my wife and dog, mountain biking and trail running.

PINDOX: How has wrestling shaped you as a person today?

JJ Krutsinger: It has taught me about my character and it has improved by ability to respond in challenging situations. In wrestling I have learned to be uncomfortable.  In life I am still trying to push outside my comfort zone, attempting to be comfortable being uncomfortable. Knowing that when one door shuts another opens.


PINDOX: Is there any advice you would like to give to upcoming wrestlers?

JJ Krutsinger: Knowing that sometimes working smarter, not harder, can get you there.  I think I focused too much on conditioning and fitness, instead of slowing down and focusing more on being technically sound.


PINDOX: Will we ever watch you wrestle at an Old Timers tournament?

JJ Krutsinger: I have my coaching hat on now.  Probably not, but never say never.


Author: Joshua Swafford

*** The Pin Doctors does not and has not ever monetized and does not include a subscription or charge a fee for premium content. If you would like to donate to ensure that we can continue producing content in this fashion, you may do so by donating to us via our Venmo account. Our Venmo username is @thepindoctors. Thank you!


Remember The Wrestler: Brady Wilson; Logan-Magnolia ‘17

Brady Wilson was a 2X placer out of Logan-Magnolia who graduated in 2017 and impressed me the two years he wrestled at state due to his ability to grind away at guys during a match as well as take a lot of stuff away from some of the stiff competition he faced and more often than not, beat. He was in my youngest brother, Brennan’s bracket at state when Brennan was a Junior and out of everyone in his bracket that year, he was Brennan’s favorite one because he was so funny. Logan-Magnolia… they sure have produced some sneaky-good wrestlers over the years. I don’t think people fully realize.

2016 1A 152
1 Conner Shulista (Sr.) Alburnett
2 Zach Axmear (Jr.) English Valleys
3 Karsen Seehase (Jr.) Sumner-Fredericksburg
4 Sawyer Phillips (Jr.) Pleasantville
5 Hunter Robinson (Sr.) Lisbon
6 Drew Anderson (Jr.) Westwood-Sloan
7 Dalton Nelson (Jr.) North Butler
8 Brady Wilson (Jr.) Logan-Magnolia

2017 1A 152
1 Zach Axmear (Sr.) English Valleys
2 Brennan Swafford (Jr.) Mediapolis
3 Drew Anderson (Westwood Sloan
4 Kaden Kilburg (Jr.) Lisbon
5 Skylar Solko (Sr.) Alta-Aurelia
6 Brady Wilson (Sr.) Logan-Magnolia
7 Tyler Van Houten (Sr.) Panorama
8 Sawyer Phillips (Sr.) Pleasantville

How did you start wrestling? What club(s) did you wrestle for?

I wrestled for Shenandoah until 5th grade. I moved to Logan in 6th. I wrestled for Matt fletcher at cb panthers, who was from Shenandoah.


What year did you graduate and from what school?

Graduated from Logan in 2017.


Did you have any family members who wrestled?

My family all wrestled but my dad Terry Wilson got me going when I was six. I have younger cousins that wrestle.


How did you do at the youth level? Any rivals there?

Youth rival was Mac Southard he wrestles at iowa state now. I beat him the very first time we wrestled and never again 😂.

What was your record in HS? How did you do at state?

Not sure what my high school record was. I placed 8th and 6th at state.


Did you encounter any adversity in HS wrestling? How did you deal with it?

Figuring out weight-cutting my freshman year was a challenge for me.


How would you describe your wrestling style?

I was a rider could ride just about anyone. Pretty solid on my feet more of a counter wrestler.


Who were some of your most influential coaches?

Kent Kersten, Jeff Kuhl, and my dad, Terry Wilson were my most influential coaches.


Who were your favorite wrestlers growing up?

My cousin Nolan and Jordan Burroughs were my favorite wrestlers growing up. Nolan taught me to be tough-nosed. I wasn’t as slick as him, so I had to be a grinder to be successful.


Logan-Magnolia wrestling has been just phenomenal in its history. Do you feel they get the credit they deserve?

I don’t think Logan gets as much love as they should. We do well at the state level every year and we’re never pulling kids out of the school district. (Cough! Don Bosco and Lisbon! Cough!)

Were you satisfied in how your career turned out?

Have always felt like I could’ve done more but honored to have got the opportunity to wrestle in Logan.


What was the toughest loss you ever took?

Losing to Drew Anderson at state deflated me pretty good.

Was wrestling an all-year thing for you or seasonal?

Wrestling was seasonal for me did a couple camps in the summer. But I always had summer jobs.


Did you play any other sports?

Played football and ran track as well.

How has wrestling affected you as a person today?

Wrestling makes everything in life easier.I don’t care what anyone says.

Each passing year, it is becoming more and more popular for common fans to assume that 3A is a more dominant class when compared to 1A and 2A. Do you agree with this?

1a can go toe to toe with any class in iowa.Hypothetical matchups. I’d love to see the 2011 Logan team against any dual or tournament team in Iowa in the last decade. That team sent 10 to state and placed 8. We won both tournament and dual titles that year and did so without a state champ on the team. It was a total, balanced team effort. 


Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)