To start, I am going to discuss primarily Iowa guys. I am not going to lie… when I start ranting about Iowa tournaments with out of state competition in it, I am for sure, rooting for the Iowa kid. Because that’s where my heart is. I don’t know about anyone else, but with wrestling, my heart consists of layers… at the nucleus is Mediapolis. The next layer is Southeast Iowa and after that, it’s Iowa. Unless I’ve gotten to know an out of state kid personally (Mizzou phenom, Rocky Elam was one of the coolest cats I interviewed all season last year), I just can’t seem to get myself to care about their outcomes in Iowa tournaments…that is unless, of course, an Iowa kid is whooping up on them. So if an out of state kid won the bracket, I probably won’t go into it much. In fact, I will refer to the outtastaters mostly as “Outtastater McOuttastaterpants” in this article…because most of them I do not know at all and have no desire to look up right now. I will mostly discuss the out of state kids if it is in regards to them being beaten by an Iowa kid. Because that’s how I roll.
So the full-sized, folkstyle version of #3 ranked Brandon O’Brien from Linn-Mar has finally arrived. This kid has accomplished some major feats on the national level. He’s won the Pan Am, Super 32, Greco-Fargo and is a 3 time Fargo AA in freestyle. And he’s been stuck either on the bench or playing the role of “David” vs. Goliath at 106 due to being so undersized. Well, he’s here…so get comfortable because I don’t think he has any intentions of leaving. He WBF in the semis today against 1A #1 ranked Quincey Happel. Obviously a big win. Quincey has been good for years. And then in the finals he defeated MN standout, Cash Raymond. #2 ranked Grant O’Dell was also in this bracket and didn’t have a hot start to the season, for he placed 7th, but I would expect him to put things together soon, unless he is cutting too much weight. He beat O’Brien by 1 point at state last year. I’m guessing that’s why he’s ranked above him. Placed 8th. Good kid. Quincey placed 5th. He will be fine. There were some tough outta staters in this one that created some logjams. On a sidenote, I thought it was really cool when Quincey created a highlight reel for his brother, Cael this past summer. Kid is creative!
Chalk up another one in the “Fousek vs. Trever Anderson vs. Blaine Frazier” chronicles. Last year, Aiden Riggins was in that mix, but I don’t think we will see him on the same mat as any of those 3 again, for I think he’s pulling a “Jay Borschel” and growing fast. Last year these guys all beat each other up throughout the course of the season. Blaine made a splash in his HS campaign when he dominated his way to the Indee title. He defeated Fousek in the finals, 9-0…a result that Fousek turned in his favor by defeating Frazier in a nail-biter in the state finals. Fousek defeated Anderson in the semis at Indee last year, 8-4, which Anderson reversed later on in the season. This weekend, Anderson and Frazier met in the semis with Anderson edging Frazier out, 5-4. Fousek defeated Outtastater McOuttastaterpants in the semis to make the finals this weekend. A showdown between the returning 2A 106 state champ and the 3A 106 state champ took place here. And you are probably shocked to learn that the match was determined in OT. Fousek was victorious. This is a situation where, with all 3 of these guys, I can see them beating each other back and forth for the remainder of their HS careers AND I can see all three of them never losing another HS match again. They are all that good. Cade Siebrecht from Lisbon and Lane Cowell from Fort Dodge were also in this bracket. Cowell beat Siebrecht for 5th and 6th. These guys will be fine this year. Tough bracket.
• Sidenote: One of the things that I am most pumped up to see this year is Notre Dame in the 3A division. As mentioned above, I am an SEIA guy, so of course I’m going to follow Notre Dame, but that’s not it. The Bill Plein and John Siegel duo have dominated the competition in both 1A and 2A several times in their run. Even if their guys are underdogs, they still have always consistently won. They always have their guys ready to go and they are geniuses with tweaking the lineup. I think it will be cool as hell if they are to have a good run in the 3A division as well. What other coaches have done that? Been successful at all 3 levels? Brad Smith was 1A (Lisbon) and 3A (City High), Dan Mashek was 1A (Don Bosco) and 3A (North Scott)… has anyone ever been successful in all 3 divisions?
• Another Sidenote: I have no idea why, but a response Fousek gave in an interview after winning state last year made me laugh. The question was something like, “how do you feel being a state champ?” His response was, “I’m happy!” Haha, I dunno, the way he said it, it was like, “duh, I just won state. How do you think I feel?” Funny kid.
Last year at state wrestling, I had a night where I partied with some New Hampton people who were staying at our hotel. Cool people! Anyways, a real smart dude from NH who knows wrestling like the back of his hand, asked me, “who do you think is the best HS wrestler in Iowa history?” My response surprised him, for I don’t think he expected me to have the same opinion as him. I said, “TJ Sebolt, Cullan Schriever and Eric Juergens were the best that I think I have ever seen at the HS level in Iowa.” He agreed on Schriever and Sebolt, but couldn’t remember Juergens, for he was too young. With that said, if I were to rank all the guys in Iowa, pound for pound, class for class, I would put Schriever at #1 and Ayala at #2. It’s nothing against Ayala, it’s just that I don’t feel that Schriever placing 6th as a Junior on a broken ankle was enough justification to have anyone pass him on the list. However, Drake Ayala is getting good to the point where saying that he isn’t on the same level as ANYONE is kind of…silly. Schriever has done nothing to lose the #1 spot and has the best set-ups that I have ever seen on his feet. But man, Ayala is making a case himself as one of the best HS wrestlers to ever go through the state of Iowa. It’s crazy that these two actually met in the finals two years ago. Potentially two of the best in Iowa HS wrestling history at the same weight, at the same time, in the same class. Crazy. And Cael Happel belongs in this discussion as well, FOR SURE… Ayala did have a close match this weekend against Outtastater McOuttastaterpants, but of course in the world of Ayala, 6-1 qualifies as a close match. He dominated this weekend. Austin Kegley was at this weight this weekend. Most people who have talked wrestling with me, know that I love that kid’s wrestling style. It’s fun. He throws “hydrogen bombs.” He took a couple losses to a couple Outtastater McOuttastaterpants guys, but he will be fine. He had 2-3 losses last year to Ayala and Harmison and an Outtastater, but won every other match either by pin or tech with an exception of 1, I think…that he won by major. Kid is fun to watch. Cael Cox will bounce back.
Returning state champ, Carson Taylor from Fort Dodge is off to a good start. He won a nice match in the finals against another kid who is off to a good start, Bryce Parke from Linn-Mar. Carson pinned returning runner-up from Indee, Isaiah Weber in the first period to reach the finals where he defeated Parke, 7-5. Parke won a big match vs. Outtastater McOuttastaterpants and followed this with a nice win over returning placer, Joe Sullivan from Osage. When I did the rankings last year, Parke was one of the most frustrating kids to rank, for I couldn’t make sense of some of his results. It appears he has taken a step up this year though. Good showing for him! Weber placed 5th, Sullivan 6th. Outtastater McOuttastaterpants placed 3rd. So who placed 4th? Sam Stevens from Clear Creek Amana. Stevens really started stepping up last year at the right time and qualified for state when several people didn’t seem to expect him to. He is well-coached by Kyle Forness and seems to have kept the momentum going. Had some nice wins this weekend.
You know who else will be making a strong claim to being the best pound for pound wrestler in the state by the time he is at the end of his HS tenure? Robert Avila Jr from Lisbon. You can throw Hunter Garvin from IC West in the discussion as well. And Avila beat Garvin 11-8 in the finals at this tourney. It’s hard to believe that both of these guys are just Sophomores. They wrestle like college guys. Those two are a match made in heaven, given their styles. Avila is smooth, slick, fast AND pulls all kinds of crazy athletic moves that only crazy athletic people are capable of doing. And Garvin wrestles unlike anyone I’ve ever seen. So much feet to back stuff with him from the most odd situations. Both these guys are very acrobatic. It’s cool that they met up. I hope it’s not the last time. Placing 3RD and 4th were Cadin Herrmann from Waterloo East and Kael Scranton from Clear Creek Amana. I heard a lot about Herrmann last year and the year before and he had the standard streaky Freshman season, but was obviously very talented and it was only a matter of time before he began making major waves. I was on the Scranton train for most the season last year and witnessed him qualifying for state as a Freshman and wrestling real smart in doing so. Both guys had nice wins this weekend. Keep an eye on both of them this season.
So 138 saw another showdown between Cael Happel from Lisbon and Caleb Rathjen from Ankeny. Happel won 6-5… Happel won last year as well by 1 point, I believe. As this match was taking place, I hope anyone who saw it took a second to acknowledge how fortunate to see such a matchup…for you can’t pair up a better battle than Cael Happel and Caleb Rathjen. Rathjen is one of the smartest wrestlers…reminds me of Anamosa/UNI phenom, Moza Fay at times. Happel, at this rate, is on pace to being the most dominant wrestler at the state wrestling tournament. Ever. The kid has pinned or teched everyone he has faced with an exception of 1 match…his finals match last year. He won that match by 14 points. That is incredible. In the finals he defeated Outta…..haha just kidding. I know who Ryan Sokol is. A heavily recruited phenom from MN. And Happel beat him. Griffin Molle from Notre Dame placed 6th. He did get injury default, though so I hope he’s ok. He’s a tough kid and well-coached by the Plein-Siegle Express. State qualifier as a Freshman. Fell short last year. If he’s healthy, he will have a nice year this year.
Hayden Taylor from Solon won this bracket. He defeated an outtastater kid named Kendall Norfleet (who I know for some reason) in a nail biter. They had a nail biter last year as well. Taylor defeated 2018 qualifier, Reed Abbas from Clarion-Goldfield-Dows first round today, beat Norfleet and then defeated Sam Kallem from Ankeny in the finals. Kallem was another frustrating kid to rank last year because I always knew that he was better than where I would have to put him. He would have a loss here and there that he shouldn’t have had and it’d force me to bring him down a couple notches when I didn’t want to because I knew he was better than where I’d have him. He placed 7th at state last year. Had a 2-1 win over Brandon Mills from Fort Dodge, a 12-4 win over Ben Faber from Hempstead and went 7-2 with Hayden Taylor. Not a bad start to the season. And not a bad start to a HS career that Freshman, CJ Walrath from Notre Dame had. He knocked off the #1 seed in the first day…when they were still wrestling in pools. You know how many texts I received about that? 7. I received 7 texts from people telling me that Walrath had won a huge match. A coworker of mine told me a couple weeks ago to watch out for that kid.
Eli Loyd steam-rolled his way to the finals where he ran into that Zerban kid from Christian Brothers College who has been wrecking guys at Indee for years, I believe. If Loyd stays consistent, I can’t imagine him having too many more blemishes this year. When he’s on, he’s on. Marshall Hauck from Lisbon… Lisbon is in my general vicinity. I know a lot of Lisbon people. Why am I now just hearing about this kid? He beat two state place-winners (Zeb Gnida from Solon and Graham Gambrall from IC West) this weekend and got 3RD. Where did this kid come from? Did I just miss the boat entirely, or what? Gnida is a real good, under the radar kid who did well this weekend. He beat Gambrall. Placed 4th.
If you would have asked me which Freshman in this class I was most interested in seeing in terms of how they adjusted to the HS level, I would tell you, Tate Naaktgeboren from Linn-Mar. And I think I have my answer. I knew he was legit, but it was a matter of when for a Freshman at his weight… and well, he’s legit already. He won the Indee Invite and beat past state placers, Zach Williams from Osage and Carson Babcock from New Hampton in the process. That’s impressive. Those 2 guys are good. Williams had a nice tourney. Placed 2nd to Naaktgeboren. Had a real solid tourney with some nice wins. Babcock placed 3rd. Also keep an eye out for Hunter Bye from Crestwood. I am guessing he is Colter’s brother. Kid is a Junior this year. Had an up and down tourney.
Mickey Griffith from Des Moines Lincoln has joined the party. He had an up and down year last year that was likely a result of being an Freshman at a tough weight. His talent was unavoidable, though. I saw him wrestle at Ottumwa and I believe the CIML last year and was impressed. He won the Indee Invite this weekend, so statement made. He won his 3 matches today by a margin of 5 total points. He started out by beating 2018 placer, Matt Doyle of Indee first round. He then beat returning 3RD place finisher, Ashton Barker, of IC West in the semis. Then he beat an outtastater named Wanzek in the finals…I’ve heard that name before. So for those of you reading, remember the name Mickey Griffith..he has arrived. Ryan Plummer from Linn-Mar (returning SQ, I think) had a nice tourney. He placed 3rd. Beat Barker on the backside. He was defeated in the first round by an outtastater and then beat that kid for 3rd and 4th. Don’t worry about Barker. May just be a slow start. He gradually progressed last year and by the end of the season, was one of the best kids at his weight. I mean, hell…he placed 3RD. He is still and always will be a force to be reckoned with. He had a nice win over Doyle for 5th and 6th. Doyle is good. Pretty crazy when the 6th place guy is a former state placer.
This weight had several solid Iowan wrestlers in it. Placer, Will Hoeft from IC West, Jax Flynn from Solon, placer Cole Davis from Indee, Legend Killer Abe Michel from Maquoketa, Austin Lee from Fort Dodge. Unfortunately, the bracket was won by none other than Outtastater McOuttastaterpants. He beat Hoeft in the finals. Hoeft is really, really, really good and has a very high ceiling when healthy. All these guys had solid matches this weekend.
Cole Clark from Lisbon had a nice showing here. He placed 2nd. He beat Levi Egli from Fort Dodge first round today. Egli placed as a Sophomore in 2018. He missed all of last season due to injury. He placed 4th this weekend and had solid results. Ashton Stoner-Degroot took more losses this weekend than he did all of last season, I believe. He is a very good multisport athlete who is able to do things a lot of wrestlers can’t because of his athleticism. He was straight-up dominant last year prior to meeting up with Brayden Wolf at state. I think he placed 3RD. He defaulted out of the tournament. I hope he’s ok.
220 was won by you guessed it, Outtastater McOuttastaterpants. Some strong showings by Iowans though. Andrew Hamilton of Algona placed 2nd. He had a nice win over 2 time placer from New Hampton, Evan Rosonke of New Hampton. It’s nice to see Algona…land of the Bjustrom’s. Rosonke placed 3rd…beat Christian Kremer from Indee for 3RD and 4th. Kremer may be a name to watch. Placed 3rd at districts last year…
What a nice showing by Taven Rich from Maquoketa. He is a returning 3rd place winner and I don’t think he had a match that went past the 1ST period. And it’s not like he was wrestling puds. He beat a returning 8th place finisher, Danen Settles from Fort Madison in the finals. Settles will have a nice year this year. A very capable wrestler and is in good hands with Coach Ryan Smith and company. Meints from Algona placed 4th.