I won’t forget the first time I met Seth Noble. I met him at AAU state in 2001. My Senior year in high school.I had just finished my own high school wrestling career at state a couple weeks prior to that. I went up to watch AAU state, for my dad was the Mediapolis youth club coach for decades and I wanted to watch the future of Mepo do their thing. One of these kids in my dad’s youth club at the time, was a 3rd grader named Seth Noble. On Day 2 of AAU state, I sat down in the Mepo section and there was an empty seat next to me. A couple minutes after sitting down, this little blonde haired kid with a haircut that could only be described as O.G.B. (overgrown butch) sat down next to me and said, “hey Swafford.” I replied, “hello.” The next thing he said was, “it’s good that you placed at state, but if you had a better game plan, you would have placed higher.” I was kind of taken off-guard… here is this little 3rd grade kid who I just met and he sat down by me, seemingly to lecture me. I said, “excuse me?” And he replied, “why would you spend an entire match trying to throw someone who is working on their 3rd state title?” He was referring to my semifinal match at state against 3X state champion Cole Pape. And this little kid was right. I wrestled like an idiot. I gave the guy way too much respect and wrestled pretty stupid against him. I spent the entire match trying force throws against a guy who had probably never been thrown in his life. This mouthy little shit officially had my attention. I figured I could give this kid some advice to learn from. Some words from the wise. So I just kind of rolled my eyes and said, “well, I gave him too much respect and that’s a lesson to learn from. Never give your opponent too much respect on the mat.” With that said the kid replied, “don’t worry, I wouldn’t ever do that. I think you need to learn that yourself.”
One of life’s harshest realities. More often than not, the wise man gets shat on by the smart ass.
After lecturing me, he went on to talk about all these wrestling names and what they placed in different years. The kid was a 3rd grade wrestling Encyclopedia. I knew this because I have some wrestling Encyclopedia in myself, and the stats he was listing off were right on. He went on for about 10 minutes about his opinions of who would beat who, who is best at what, who underperformed, who is overrated, who is underrated, how much he liked watching my brother Justin, etc. before he said, “well, I have a big match to go warm up for. I’ll talk to you later after I beat him.” I laughed and said, “alright, kid.”
When he left, I said to my dad (who didn’t have any of his wrestlers on the mat at the time), “that kid is a character. Who is he?” My dad replied, “that’s Seth Noble. He’s one of the best kids on our squad. Hates to lose. Boy does he hate to lose. He’s the son of Glenn Noble.” I immediately knew the name Glenn Noble, for I had spent hours sitting at the table at Swafford family reunions every year, listening to my dad and his older twin brothers, Kevin and Brian talk about wrestlers they had battles with and had a lot of respect for. The names I heard most frequently were Clark Yoder of Sigourney, Jay Johnson of Morning Sun and brothers Glenn and Mike Noble from Morning Sun. From what I gathered, none of the Swafford brothers of the late 70’s ever beat a Noble despite meeting frequently.
So I followed and avidly rooted for this kid the remainder of his career and the conversation we had when we first met was just the intro of what has become thousands of infinite debates and arguments that at times reached a point where I can’t believe I never ripped the hair out of my head. If this kid thinks he is right about something, he becomes the poster boy for the impossibility or reason… and he will state his case and constantly let you know how stupid you are for arguing whichever point of view you have in said debate. He will argue with you until 10 in the morning…about the same topic. I am serious. I’ve had this happen multiple times. And he still thinks he’s right about everything we ever argued about.
And if you are catching the vibe that I think this is a bad thing, then you have the wrong idea. Thank God there is another soul out there who is willing to argue with me about these things and in such prolonged fashion because I absolutely love to argue about things (mostly sports) and if I am in the mood to do that for whatever reason, I know exactly who to call. I just always need to make sure that I am prepared, because he’s a bright little dude. Heaven forbid I lose an argument.
And my dad thinks the world of him. I think he loves him more than he loves me. Seth and I can be arguing about what color the sky is. I can take the stance of, “the sky is blue,” and Seth cam argue that, “no, the sky is brown with pink polka-dots” and my dad could walk by and Seth could ask him to settle it by asking, “hey, what color do you think that sky is? Rico thinks it’s blue. I think it’s brown with pink polka-dots. What is it?” There’s about a 99% chance that my dad look at me, scowl and say, “how can you not see that the sky is brown with pink polka-dots, dumbass!” This would be followed by Seth screaming, “BOOOOOM!!! TOLD YA!!!”
Who or what encouraged you to give wrestling a try?
My old man was the one who eventually talked me into going out for wrestling when I was 8. He tried a few years before, but I was more concerned about Stone Cold Stunning people and giving them The People’s Elbow at that time. 8 was when I decided to give this other wrestling a try.
Do you have any family who wrestled or wrestles currently? Parents, children, brothers, etc.? How did they do?
My old man and his two brothers Mike and Scott all wrestled for Morning Sun. Mike was a qualifier and Scott placed 2nd one year. Currently my little nephew, Camden, is wrestling over at New London. He’s doing well and still learning the basics and having fun with it so that’s encouraging to see.
How did you do on the youth wrestling scene?
I placed every year except 4th grade in AAU. Not positive but something of the sorts of: Pee-Wee-4th. 3rd grade-7th. 4th grade DNP. 5th grade-6th. 6th grade-7th. 7th grade-4th. 8th grade-3rd.
What was your record in HS?
Record in high school was 183-6.
How did you place at state in high school?
5th, 1st, 2nd, 1st.
What were some of the most adverse situations you experienced and how did it turn out?
Just bouncing back from tough losses, which there were plenty. Starting back in 7th grade the losses started to mean more. So just always training your mind and body to always try and come back with the highest medal you can after you know you can’t win. The process was still the same into college.
How would you describe your wrestling style?
Probably a question better suited for spectators or competition. But I liked to score points.
Did you have any opponents you exchanged wins and losses with?
Only kid I exchanged a loss with was Tanner Hiatt.
Who were your most influential coaches?
Most influential coaches were Bill Plein and Doug and Mark Schwab.
Was your team competitive in high school?
Our team was pretty competitive in high school. We placed 5th in traditional my sophomore year and 4th my junior year. One of my biggest regrets in high school wrestling is that I never got the chance to compete in state duals. We got second in our sectional to L-M in ‘07 by a few points, and they went on. We beat them in the dual that year, too. In ‘08, 09, and 2010, we couldn’t get past Assumption.
Which wrestlers did you look up to growing up?
The most influential high school wrestler I looked up to when I was a kid was the kid that was the best in the area where I grew up. And that was Justin Swafford. Not just folk style, but in freestyle as well. TJ Williams, Eric Juergens, Doug Schwab were the super heroes at that time.
Who would you consider the GOAT of HS wrestling?
The GOAT high school wrestler is tough. There have been a lot over a long period of time. I’d say the best high school wrestlers I actually watched were Long, Sebolt and Borschel. I’d say the best ever would be Mark Schwab.
Other than wrestling, what would you say you are the most passionate about?
Other than wrestling, I’d have to say I follow the St. Louis Cardinals more than anything else.
Compare and contrast the Cardinals and Cubs franchises and their fanbases.
Well there really is no comparison between the franchises. A blind man could see that. As far as the fan bases, I didn’t know a Cubs fan until October of 2015.
Who are your favorite current wrestlers?
There’s a few really. It’s tough to not pick Avila, Ayala, and Happel. And I’m sure I could think of a few more if I tried. Kids who put up points and do it with high class technical skills.
What tunes did you listen to before matches?
I never really listened to music before matches or anything. We would listen to some while we lifted and got down to weight. And I have a very wide spread taste. We went from listening to Dust on the Bottle to Shine by Collective Soul to Dear Mr. Fantasy by Traffic.
What was the most upset you felt after a loss?
Most upset was probably my junior year in the finals. It was upsetting because I had no one to blame but myself. Those are the ones that stick. But it was also my very best lesson I ever learned about competing in any sport.
Would you change anything about your wrestling career if you could?
Win more and lose less. (Joking, kind of) I wouldn’t change anything. Everything I did or didn’t do has all shaped me into what I am now.
What was your favorite accomplishment?
Just being out on the mat and competing at the D1 level. The practices, the traveling, the beatings, the beat downs, all of it was a great experience.
Was wrestling year-round or seasonal for you?
I wrestled all year around once I got into junior high. It didn’t stop me from playing other sports, but always found ways to get on the mat after workouts and lifts for other sports. There’s always time to get on that mat.
Did you play any other sports?
Played football until my junior year then ran cross country last two years.
What are your favorite sports teams?
Cardinals, Blues, Broncos.
Besides wrestling, what are your hobbies?
I like to fish and golf.
What do you like better, coaching or wrestling?
Coaching is a completely different feeling than competing. But neither is better or worse than the other. Coaching is very rewarding in its own ways. And I love it.
How has wrestling impacted your life?
Wrestling mostly consumed my life. And still does. So I’d say it has shaped me in every way.
What do you do now?
I live in Iowa City. I work at Procter and Gamble and help Coach Forness and other out at Clear Creek Amana.
Any advice for wrestlers who are going through the grind now?
Advice for upcoming wrestlers: Learn the basics, and learn the well. There’s no trick moves to win. Work hard and buy in. But most importantly have fun with it. Make it fun. Maybe that’s a message better for their parents. Gotta make it enjoyable.
Any chance we get to see you at an Old Man’s Tournament?
Oh I highly doubt it haha. The competition would have to be very appealing.
Would you like to give a shout out to anyone you wrestled with, against, coached, etc.?
Yeah I would like to give multiple shout outs. Big one to the guy who put two gold medals around my neck, Jason Utter. Only very few know how much he helped me. Coach Plein was the brain behind everything. Without him nothing would have happened. Jason Payne was always a big, mouthy brother to me and always there for me in high school, college, and after. Jake Keller was my summer workout partner and lifting partner for years. A lot of times it was just him and me. Gil Martinez is still one of my best friends and he came a very long ways as a wrestler with hard work. He is coaching at WACO now with Columbus legend Seth Pugh. And all my other teammates and coaches that helped me get through and made it a fun and enjoyable time. Also one last one to the kid I wrestled more than anyone else in my life, Brode Hills. Brode is giving his time back reffing now and is doing a fine job. Another one is Tyler Endres. For keeping me on the straight and narrow and being a great person to coach with.