This pic was pretty funny because there were a couple years where they couldn’t get the “red eye” out of them so they put tiny black dots in our eyes where our pupils would be. Haha so when you look at this pic, our eyes make us look like aliens. Not sure if it’s that noticeable on here, but you can see it on the actual newspaper clip.
I’ll go through all these guys and write something about them.
FRONT ROW (L-R)
Joe Honts- Louisa-Muscatine. This was his Senior year. This guy was solid as hell. Was a state champ as a Junior and Runner-Up as a Senior. Real smooth, solid wrestler and didn’t make many mistakes. Everyone liked this guy. Wrestled at Buena Vista.
Justin Kramer- Mepo– This dude was my practice partner my entire career. He only qualified for state one time, but I kid you not, he was absolutely good enough to win multiple titles and I don’t think many would disagree with me on that. I bet the amount of state champs he beat in HS is above 5. Barely ever lost…things just didn’t seem to work out for him in the postseason. Some freak thing would happen at districts or he’d have a rare bad day and it just didn’t work out. One of the best wrestlers I knew back then, though.
Aaron Drain- Mepo: This was my best friend and partner in crime back then. Mepo’s first ever 4 time qualifier and placed 4th at state as a Senior. He actually fared better on the national scene. He won AAU Folkstyle Nationals 2 times, I believe. Wrestled for the Air Force.
Chad Hutchinson- Mepo: Hutch qualified 3 times, I believe. He placed 2nd as a Senior to CJ Ettelson. Everyone remembers Hutch for his lateral drop, which was deadly.
Luke Foor- Wapello: This dude was in the mix with like, Jesse Sundell, Mario Galanakis, Dustin Hinschberger, Joe Reiter, Nick Lee…all those guys. Has a brother named Billy Foor who was also really good. I want to say Luke placed at state at least 2-3 times. Wrestled at Coe.
Justin Swafford-Mepo: I’ve talked a lot about him. 4 time placer, 3 time finalist, state champ. Wrestled at UNI.
MIDDLE ROW (L-R):
Steve Blow, New London: He was a 2 time state qualifier for New London and got put in a tough part of the bracket both years. Racked up tons of wins for New London. Great guy. Had an arm drag from hell.
Grant Weisinger- Fort Madison: If I remember right, Weisinger was ON FIRE that year, which was his Senior year. He was like, a legend killer that season. I am pretty sure he placed at state that year.
Paul Johnson- Keokuk: Holy cow this guy was cool. He was at every youth tourney that I remember being at growing up and was always the nicest dude in the world and was good on the mat as well. I used to wrestle his brother, Michael. I can’t remember what he did at state… someone will have to help me with that.
Joshua Swafford-Mepo: That’s me…Barf. I was a state champ in wrestling……ARM wrestling. Bahaha, the only state championship I ever won in anything. No joke, I randomly showed up to this big “state” arm wrestling tournament at this big club and signed up to compete in the light HWT division. I drank beer and arm wrestled all day. Had about 7 matches (the brackets were huge…there were like 50 guys in mine) and I won them all. Beat the returning champ in the finals. He got pissed. Qualified for nationals and went 0-2 there…got my ass kicked. The arm wrestling scene is an interesting one…pretty funny, really. It takes a very high IQ to prosper in the sport of arm-wrestling. Oh, and I didn’t win state in wrestling. Placed once. I was a head case in competition. Practice warrior!
Dusty Nelson- WMU: I’ve had some fun times with this dude. He was on fire his Senior year. I don’t think he placed at state, but if they did top 8 in those days, I think he would have. He was undefeated or something crazy going into state his Senior year. He did some MMA after high school. A tough dude. Good athlete. He was the star of that Winfield-Mt. Union team in 2000.
Dustin Bliven- Louisa Muscatine: I don’t think a Dustin Bliven can be replicated. The way he wrestled and made things work the way he did and made it look flashy as hell. Plus his personality. The dude is a character. There was a time in HS where one of my best friend’s hated him and those two had an MSN Messenger war. My friend was 100% ticked off about the whole thing and sent me a copy of his conversation to show me how he “owned” Bliven in this MSN war… Well, I kept this to myself, but he didn’t “own” Bliven in this exchange. Bliven ran a straight-up cyber clinic on him and it was funny as hell. I came across that conversation randomly in college when I checked my email or something and me and a couple Loras teammates spent like 30 minutes reading it and laughing our butts off about some of Bliven’s comebacks that went clearly over my poor friend’s head in this dispute. Bliven was fun, not only for the fans of his school, but for the random fan from other towns who didn’t even know him. We had a couple non-parent wrestling fans at Mepo that were fans of him. I don’t think anyone could pull off his style the way he did and holy cow did he dominate his way through state his Senior year.
Ryan Phillips- Burlington: Ryan has come up a couple times on the site already so far, but as I’ve said a couple times before, he may be the best athlete that Burlington has ever produced. Combine his natural athleticism and his work ethic and it’s no wonder that he was a state champ and D2 champ after a late introduction to the sport. Not many people can do that. Phillips did.
Riley Ball- Burlington: I need to catch up with Riley. It’s been probably over 5 years. He was in the same Burlington-Mepo youth club that I was part of growing up that ended up splitting when we got into HS. Riley placed twice, I believe as a Freshman and Sophomore. He would destroy people with the legs. He caught on to using the legs as a weapon at an incredibly fast rate after just starting out in the sport.
Jake Poling- Van Buren: This dude was a good all around athlete. I used to see him tearing it up at cross country meets. He gave Justin Kramer some fits. Not many people were able to do that. If they placed 8 when he was a Senior, he would have been a place winner. He used to be very good on the cross country scene as well.
Nick McTee- Mt. Pleasant: If it was one club that the Mepo crew hit it off with pretty well back in those days, it was Mt. Pleasant. They were a lot of fun. McTee was at the center of that. He placed a couple times at state, I believe. This man wasn’t afraid to say anything that came to his mind and it was hilarious. Good person and a St. Louis Cardinals fanatic to boot!!!