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Remember the Wrestler: Mike Schwab, Osage/UNI

There are people reading who probably saw Mike’s name on this article and they gasped or had to do a double-take because they can’t believe that Mike and I produced something that didn’t consist of a plethora of back and forth insults..  These people are the ones who have been following wrestling coverage dating back to the golden age of the DM Register and Iowa Preps forums. Mike and I had a very intense feud with each other…The biggest feud I’ve ever had…and I’ve been posting on forums since 1999. To the point where it got ugly. I’m not gonna go too in depth on that, because it’s a situation that I have since come to regret, terribly. And I don’t think Mike wants his “Remember The Wrestler” article to make him “remember the negative times.” 

It all started with my brother and Mack Reiter’s little wars they used to have as underclassmen.  I have mentioned several times now that I was not fair to Mack back then. I made dumb comments such as, “he will never pan out in college,” and it was all motivated by sour grapes… because I thought my brother was at that level, but he didn’t seem to get any respect outside of Southeast Iowa.  It was sour grapes…jealousy. So ridiculous. And Mike called me out via pm as he should have (and he was right, Mack was a brilliant wrestler) and I bit back and he took offense and eventually things escalated to a point where I was going out of my way to piss him off…publicly, not via pm’s anymore and of course, he came back at me. It was terribly disrespectful of me.  This is the oldest brother of the Schwab family and I don’t know if it’s the same dynamic with them as it is us, but my brothers love the hell out of their oldest brother, which is me and definitely don’t want to see someone disrespecting me. I’m sure the Schwab’s are the same way.  The Schwab family… I was disrespectful many, many times and sometimes for no reason to the oldest brother of the Schwab family. I should have known better than that. And I never really got too engaged with GOAT conversations, but since I’ve put all these videos together, I do have an opinion on who the GOAT is.  It’s Mark Schwab. And then of course, there’s Doug who was a state and national champ and coaches the UNI Panthers now. The one who started the Schwab dynasty however is Mike, who started it all. A legend in his own right. A state champ and D1 AA.  I disrespected him… Not one of my prouder moments.  

With that said, it means a lot to me that Mike was willing to accept my apology and agree to doing one of these, for I feel he is a smart man and is willing to put his voice, unfiltered out there for people to process and do what they want with it. He is willing to speak his mind, regardless of whether or not  you agree with him or not and the honesty he displays as well as the pride he has for his family and community’s he’s been involved with is commendable.  

So I had never met Mike personally until last year and it was at state through Mike coaching the Waverly-Shell Rock team.  I always wondered how it would go when I did and people always asked if I had met him.  People asked about this for a decade. That’s how memorable our feud was to people. It took 15 years since our feud began before I met him and to be honest, when I knew I was about to, I was anxious as to how it was going to go. I showed a lot of disrespect and potentially provoked a lot of stress for him and I knew that he didn’t have a good opinion of me.  So when I started interviewing wrestlers at the state tournament, there were a couple W-SR guys who I had promised to have interviews with. One of them was a kid named Ian Heise, who placed last year.  His parents texted me that they were going to send his favorite coach, Mike Schwab to help him find me and to accompany him for the interview.  The moment had finally come…I was about to meet Mike Schwab, face to face and I knew at one time, this guy probably wanted to beat the crap out of me.  I did not expect him to be pleasant towards me at all. 

So…how did Mike Schwab act towards Rico when they met face to face the first time?  Very polite, very congenial, very helpful for me in getting another interview and he even complimented me on the job I was doing for The Predicament.  It went better than I had ever imagined…Went out of his way to help me.  I felt like a weight had been lifted.

After the season, I began the Senior Spotlight series for The Predicament and covered a lot of W-SR guys.  A couple-few of these kids were “Schwab kids” who described Mike in a way that made me think to myself, “man, I wish he would have been in the Mepo room in my day. This guy’s coaching style would have helped me.” I think if he and I had met each other in a different situations with different circumstances and not on two opposite sides of an argument or debate….I think he and I would have gotten along fine. 

I think Mike Schwab is a great guy and it means the world to me to make things right with him and I am so thankful that he has given me that chance. It takes a big man to do that.  I don’t like harboring hate in my heart and I don’t like carrying moments that I am not proud of and need to apologize for on my conscience when an apology is necessary at the minimum to make things right. The first step to improving something that you are doing or have done wrong is to admit to yourself that you were wrong and I had to do that before I really began regretting things and wanting to make things right. My memory is good…I don’t forget hardly anything and it’s nice to come to peace with all this, for I never forgot it. I hope Mike feels the same way. One of the most passionate wrestling souls in the state…  Mike Schwab, everyone… the oldest bro from one of the state of Iowa’s best wrestling families. Learn something from him!!!


Who or what encouraged you to give wrestling a try?

My buddy in 7th grade, Doug Arndt from Osage, talked me into going out as a 7th grader, I ended up beating him out for a varsity spot as a freshman. Coach Bill Andrew also encouraged me to wrestle.


Family wrestlers, how did they do?

Brothers Mark and Doug were pretty average.


What were your youth results, any rivals there?

There were not as many options as there is today, played 4 sports year round, limited youth tournaments in 7th and 8th grade, did not start wrestling until 7th grade. No rivals.


What was your high school record. 



How did you do at state?

4 time qualifier, state champ as a sophomore at 98 lbs, state runner-up as a senior at 119 lbs.


What are some of most notable adverse challeneges or moments you experienced in wrestling and how did it turn out? 

Most adverse circumstances for me always involved cutting weight, figured it out, but it was tough and I made it more difficult than it needed to be.


Most influential coach?

Bill Andrew in high school, he really taught to get better everyday, he always taught us something, taught to set goals, taught that hard work pays off.

Dan Mashek – coached for Dan and he taught a lot about life, being a man, being a husband and father, beyond wrestling. Taught me to control my emotions and that get angry and yelling a little bit should be measured and rare, but do it when it is needed.

(* Editor note: my brother, Brennan has been dating Dan’s granddaughter, Maddie Mashek for 2 years. Small world).


Rick Caldwell – coached for Rick, taught me about technique and out working everyone to the point there was no doubt, about over preparing, about doing stuff the right way.

Coach Andrew really taught me how to be a wrestler, Coach Mashek helped teach how to become a better man, husband, and father, Coach Caldwell showed how to be a coach.


Was your team competitive in HS/College.

Osage – 1980 top 10, 1981 state champs, 1982 top 10, 1983 state runner-ups.

UNI – stayed in the top 20 all my years there.


Most influential Osage wrestler you looked up to growing up.

Watched Gordy Barker win a state title on IPTV, wanted to do that.


Who has been your favorites since then besides your bros.?

Joe Russell, Ray Brinzer, Mark Ironside, John Smith, Nate Carr, Kenny Monday, Mike Sheets, Dave Schultz, Jordan Burroughs


Who are your favorite current wrestlers?

Bailey Roybal, Spencer Lee, Bryce Steiert


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

1983 Junior Nationals made top 8, lost last match to miss top 6, freestyle.

1983 state finals, had a broken hand, lost in state finals as a senior.


What were the battle s like in the Osage Wrestling Room?

Doug was too young to be in the room with us. Mark and I practiced together once. Coach Andrew never let us practice together again.


What made you more nervous, wrestling yourself or watching brothers?

Far more nervous watching them compete, but coaching your own son is twice as bad.


How much does it mean to you when the athletes you coach succeed reach their goals?

It means everything, it is why I coach, the relationships, the wrestlers I work with trust me and what I am saying, I take that very seriously, so when they reach or exceed their goals, that is very satisfying. Seeing how they react to losses and failures maybe just as important. That is how coaches can help our athletes learn life lessons, life will never be fair, simply control the things you can control, like attitude and work ethic.


Any you’d like to give props out to?

Props to State Champion Bailey Roybal, Big 12 Champion Bryce Steiert, and SDSU Assistant Coach Cody Caldwell.


Were you and your brothers supportive of each other and competitive with each other?

We are very supportive of each other, always have been, including our sister Julie. I think we are competitive with each other to a point. Doug and I are very competitive. I commend him for being the 2nd best athlete in our family!


If the Schwab boys got into a fight, what was it over, did you ever fight over food?

Not a lot of fights, there was a big time gap from Mark to Doug, Mark and I once were playing football in the house, I got upset and threw a punch and that missed and hit the wall, breaking my hand.


Who is Iowa GOAT of HS Wrestling?

Mark Schwab, every day and twice on Sunday, not even close.

(Editor Note: If you catch yourself disagreeing with this, watch this video of Mark earning his 4th title and keep in mind that his opponent was one of the best wrestlers to never win a state title. Mark Schwab is the GOAT, IMO).


How proud of your brothers are you, being the oldest?

I am extremely proud of my brothers and my sister, proud of all of the lives they have touched, proud of the men they have become, proud of examples they set, proud to be their brother period!


Were there any Lisbon wrestlers in your era that you ran or wrestled with?

No one I wanted to be like, I knew Royce through Freestyle stuff, knew he was full of crap then! I really like Coach Smith, he cornered me a couple of times in freestyle and Greco one summer.


What was your best wrestling memory/Accomplishment?

Many great memories, winning a state title as a sophomore and winning the team title as well, beating Chip McCardle from North Carolina in 1987 to medal/AA for UNI, Mark’s 4th state title, Doug’s state title, and Doug’s NCAA title.



Who were some of your notable competitiors in HS, in College?

HS – Al Francis, Jason Etherington, Dave Ludeman

College – Kendell Cross(1-1), John Smith(0-2), Brad Penrith(1-2), Ken Chertow(1-1)


Who was the fiercest competitor you ever faced?

Barry Davis


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

It was more seasonal because I did 4 sports year round from 7th grade to 12th grade, there were not as many options back then, after my junior year and senior year I wrestled over 50 matches both years freestyle and Greco during the spring and summer.


Did you wrestle after high school?

Yes I wrestled at UNI, NCAA All American in 1987 placing 8th at 126 lbs, NCAA qualifier in 1988, career record of 95-35-2, wins over Kendell Cross and Ken Chertow


How would you describe your wrestling style?

I was always in great shape, but cut weight all wrong, almost wrestled entirely on my feet, never developed on the mat, very physical, hustled and scrapped as hard as I could for as long as I could.


What other sports did you play?

Football as 9th/10th, Cross County as 11th/12th, Wrestling, Track, Baseball


Did you have good practice partners to help push you in the room?

UNI – Randy Majors, Bobby Hallman, Paul Kriemeyer, Pat Pickford, Joe Gribben


What are your favorite sports teams?

BOSTON RED SOX!! Diehard Red Sox fan, all UNI Sports, Minnesota Vikings.


What are you hobbies other than wrestling?

Spending time with my kids, run almost everyday, lift 4X a week, like to golf, love to fish, still play slow pitch softball.


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

The sport of wrestling and more importantly the people’s path I have crossed through wrestling has really molded me into the man I am today. I have been blessed to have the right people come along in my life at the right time. I have learned that you typically get what you put into something, life is not fair (deal with it), be extremely grateful for everything I have, hard work is NOT over rated, grind a little bit every day and over time change will occur, control what is controllable. I thank God daily for all of the blessings I have, do things the right way, be a difference in someone’s life.


What do you do now?

I have been a Probation/Parole Officer II in the Waterloo Office for past 30 years, I enjoy my work, BUT I will get out the business when I hit the rule of 88. I am also a part time security officer at Wartburg College and I really enjoy that work.


How fun is wrestling history to you?

I love wrestling history, I get more fascinated by it as I get older, being inducted into the Gable Hall of Fame last summer as a Family Legacy Award Winner and with the best High School team in Iowa History (W-SR 2008 record setting team) was very humbling and special to me. Watching these old matches of wrestlers I used to watch or compete against is very cool.


Are you still involved in wrestling?

Yes I am still involved in wrestling. I just completed my 14 year at W-SR as an assistant coach, we won back to back 3A state titles the past 2 seasons, love coaching and love coaching in Waverly, hope to continue as long my health allows me to stay involved.


Any advice for up and coming wrestlers?

Do not cut weight, have fun, lift weights year round, learn the craft of wrestling (learn to spar, play wrestle), there are no short cuts, must work year round (but play other sports as well and take breaks from the sport).

If you are planning to compete at a high level in HS and have aspirations to wrestle in college; find a place where wrestling is important, where you have good partners and coaches, where you have decent facilities, where you wrestle a tough schedule and travel to national ranked tournaments.


Any chance of old timers? 



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

Big Shout out to the W-SR Wrestling program, back to back 3A state champions, big shout out to UNI, Doug, and big 12 Champion Bryce Steiert, big shout out to everyone that has helped me reach this stage of life, it takes a village and I have had a great village of support.


Anything to add, funny stories, trivia, stats.

Cool Story, my grand father Robert Mork, was diagnosed with cancer prior to Mark’s run at a 4th state title, his only goal was to see that 4th title match, he made it and Mark went over to give him a hug after the match (in the state title video). He died shortly after state tourney in 1985. In route to the finals that year, I was pushing my grand fathers wheelchair over to Vets and there was a dollar bill laying on the ground, grandpa and I saw it at the same time, I picked it up and put it my pocket, grandpa reached out his hand and asked for the dollar bill, said he saw it first, I was not about to argue. Anyway, after his funeral my grandma asked that I stop by the house before I left town, I stopped by and grandma handed me that dollar bill and I still have it in a frame with grandpa’s picture to this date.

Mike Schwab  Osage High School – state champion and runner up, on 1981 state championship team (OSAGE), 4 X state qualifier, 4 sectional titles, 3 district titles. UNI –  2X NCAA qualifier, D1 AA (8th at 126 lbs – UNI), 2 time Western regional champ,  Iowa State Greco Champ, Western Regional Coach of Year staff, 3 X Iowa High School Coach of year Staff, 2019 Des Moines Register All Sports Coach of the Year Staff (W-SR), between the duals and traditional tourney’s, been part of coaching 15 state championship teams, 12 team runner ups, 6 3rd place teams, 6  4th place teams, and a total of 23 state dual teams.

36 team trophies

High School; Osage

1980 – State Qualifier

1981 – 2A 98 lb State Champion

1982 – State Qualifier

1983 – 2A 119 lb State Runner –up

1981 – State championship team

1983 – State runner-up team

1983 State Greco Champ, 1983 State Freestyle 3rd place

Osage 91-7-1

4 X state qualifier, state champion 1981 @ 98 lbs, state runner-up 1983 @ 119 lbs

4X sectional champ, 3X district champ, 4X NIC champ

College; UNI

UNI – 95-35-2

2X NCAA qualifier, 1987 D1 All American, 8th place at 126 lbs.

Coaching: 3 Time Iowa High School Coach of Year staff

1998 1A – Don Bosco (Dan Mashek)

2004 1A – Don Bosco (Tom Kettman)

2014 3A – Waverly-Shell Rock (Eric Whitcome)

2019 Iowa Des Moines Register All Sports Coach of Year Staff (Eric Whitcome)

Don Bosco (Assistant Coach 1990-2006)

State Duals –  91 (4), 93 (2), 95 (1), 98 (4), 99, 2000, 01 (2), 02 (1), 03 (2), 05 (1), 06 (1)

11 appearances – 4 titles

State traditional titles 2006 – 1 title

91 (3), 93 (2), 95 (2), 99 (4), 00 (2), 01 (4), 02 (2), 05 (2), 06 (1)

W-SR (Assistant Coach 2006-present)

State Duals – 07 (2), 08 (1), 09 (1), 10 (1), 11 (3), 12 (4), 13 (3), 14 (3), 16 (5), 17 (3), 19 (2), 20 (2)

12 appearances – 3 titles

State traditional titles 2008 09 10 11 19 20 – 6 titles

07 (2), 08 (1), 09 (1), 10 (1), 11 (1),13 (4), 14 (3), 19 (1), 20 (1)

Part of 15 state champions ship teams;

1981 – 2A Osage traditional tourney team champions (team member)

1995 – 2002 – 2005 1A state dual champs – DB   

2006 1A state dual & traditional tourney champs – DB

2008 3A state dual & traditional tourney champs – W-SR

2009 3A state dual & traditional tourney champs – W-SR

2010 3A state dual & traditional tourney champs – W-SR

2011 3A traditional tourney champs – W-SR

2019 3A traditional tourney champs – W-SR

2020 3A traditional tourney champs – W-SR

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