I wish I had more to write about Michael Kist, but the fact is, I have only met him one time and we didn’t run into Eagle Grove very often so I only saw them compete every so often. However, that one time I met him, he was extremely nice and he for sure, was a warrior on the mat.
There are some of these that I get and when I read them, I don’t have much in common with them because our journeys were so different. I read them and basically learn from them, for it’s interesting the different and equally important perspectives wrestling produces. Michael Kist’s journey, though is one that hits home with me in a lot of his responses for we seem to have a lot in common in terms of the trajectories and outcomes of our careers, our upbringing/family involvement with wrestling and the trajectories/outcomes of their career and I can relate to how he processes these things when viewing his own career in retrospect. He can describe things that we both experienced a lot better than I can and I commend him for that, for there are so many things I have tried making sense of and pinpointing for decades when looking back on my own career and Michael did it with ease. So props and thanks to him for doing that and again, I can’t say enough good things about this Eagle Grove wrestling community… A community that I knew close to nothing about prior to doing these and I am glad to have learned a bit more about them.
Who or what encouraged you to give wrestling a try?
I don’t know that any one person encouraged me. It was more I was around wrestling basically from birth. My mom’s younger brother was still in high school when I was born and I’ve been told I was at his meets starting at about 2 weeks old.
Do you have any family who wrestled or wrestles currently? Parents, children, brothers, etc.? How did they do?
Basically my whole family. My dad placed 5th twice and 2nd once; my brother Mark placed 6th as a freshman and is a 3 time state champ; both grandpas and a couple uncles and a cousin wrestled as well.
What were your youth results? Any rivals there?
I qualified for AAU state 4 times but never made it on the podium. I seemed to wrestle Jared Burma from Boone a lot. Wade Satern from Twin River Valley/Humboldt as well.
What was your record in HS?
How did you place at state every year?
Qualified as a junior and placed 4th my senior year.
What were some of the most notable adverse challenges or moments you experienced in wrestling and how did it turn out?
My freshman year, practices were rough. I made the varsity lineup at 130, but I was on full feed to do it. Really I probably should have been at 119 but I couldn’t beat Brook Beisell who was our varsity guy at that spot, so it was 130 or JV. During practice I’d be going against anyone from Luke Reiland who was at 103 and placed 2nd at state, to Justin McClintock who was at 112 and also placed 2nd at state, Brook who was a state qualifier at 119, or Kurt McGonegle who was at 125 and placed 4th at state. I definitely took some beatings from those guys but it made me a better wrestler overall.
How would you describe your wrestling style?
I was kind of a jack-of-all trades guy. I had a little bit of everything in my bag. Singles, doubles, outside fireman’s, snap downs, headlocks, I could hit them all depending on the match. On top I could ride with the legs (probably did that too often) and power half, work bar arms, and cradles. I was always looking for the fall though.
How many guys in high school did you go back and forth with or exchange wins with?
Me and Mike Piper from Clear Lake had our battles for sure. I think we wrestled twice each of our sophomore, junior, and senior years. If I remember right, he beat me in the dual meets our sophomore and junior years while I got him back at the conference tournament both years and then got the better of him both times our senior seasons. Keith Hebrink from Lake Mills too my freshman and sophomore years
Who was your most influential coach?
Darin Schreck. He was my coach the last 3 years of high school and pushed me harder than I thought I could be pushed.
Was your team competitive in HS/college?
My freshman year we finished 2nd at sectionals to the Lake Mills team that won State duals. We won sectionals the next 3 years, advancing to state duals my sophomore and senior years. My sophomore year we finished 4th there and my senior year we got beat by Don Bosco first round.
Who was your most influential wrestler that you looked up to growing up?
There are a lot. Mark Reiland and Jesse Whitmer both went from Eagle Grove to wrestling for Iowa and winning National Titles there. Kurt Morgan and then Kurtis Williamson both were state finalists while I was in junior high. I always looked up to Luke Reiland as well, being a year younger than him and seeing his success first hand.
How would you describe Eagle Grove Wrestling to someone who doesn’t know firsthand?
In one word, tradition. You walk into some schools wrestling rooms and they list all the state place winners in school history. You walk into Eagle Grove’s wrestling room and there are two boards: State Champions and State Runner-Ups. There are over 50 names listed on each. You see those boards every day during practice and you know exactly what you are trying to accomplish: get your name on those boards.
How cool was it watching your little brother do what he did?
It was really cool to watch him accomplish all that he did. Being able to see all the hard work he put in behind the scenes pay off was really fun.
Did you and Mark ever have a sibling rivalry or was it 100% mutually supportive with you two?
We are 3 years apart and I was always bigger than him, so there wasn’t really a rivalry per say. More of a friendly competition pushing each other. I’ve always tried to be 100% supportive of him regardless.
Who are your favorite current wrestlers?
I mostly watch ISU meets, so David Carr, Ian Parker, and Jarrett Degen. Spencer Lee and Yianni Diakomihalis are fun to watch too.
What tunes would you listen to back in the wrestling days?
Linkin Park, Disturbed, and Nelly were on during practice a lot. I also listed to “Lose Yourself” by Eminem a lot my senior year.
What was the most upset you ever felt after a loss?
I think it would have to be after going 0-2 at districts as a sophomore. I had won sectionals then got beat first round of districts by 1 point after choosing down in the 3rd period and not being able to escape. The kid that beat me ended up winning the district final too, beating Keith Hebrink from Lake Mills in the finals, who I had beat at sectionals. I had to sit on that feeling the whole offseason.
If you could go back and change one thing about your wrestling career, what would it be?
Man, that’s a tough one. I hope this doesn’t come across wrong, but I’m going to say my district finals match my senior year. I got beat by a kid I’d beaten twice earlier that season and because of it, ended up on the same side of the bracket at state as Ryan Morningstar and Henry Wahle. The kid who ended up in the finals against Morningstar I believe got majored at districts by the kid I pinned first round at state. I fully believe had I won my district finals match, I would have been the one in the finals with Morningstar.
What was your best wrestling memory or accomplishment?
Team wise I would it was my junior year at districts. We took 6 guys there and all 6 of us qualified for state, even though I think only 2 or 3 of us were favored to qualify. That was a fun ride home.
Individual wise I would say my senior year our dual meet against Clarion-Goldfield in our gym. At the time they hadn’t beaten us in a dual in something like 15 years and the talk was this was the year they were going to break that streak. They brought a ton of fans over and the place was electric. We started the dual at 152 and it was back and forth the whole way. Our coach bumped me up to 145 for that meet based on matchups. We had a 1 point lead going into the 140 pound match, and the kid who slotted in there went out and got stuck. Their fans were going nuts. So it came down to me wrestling up a weight against a decent opponent. There was no way I was letting them pull that off in our gym, and I went out and got a quick takedown, got his left arm barred up, and had reached over his head and under his right arm and grabbed his left wrist with my left hand. He tried standing up which was a bad decision. I hipped in and he landed flat on his back and that was that. Their fans went silent while ours went nuts. Coming through in that moment was pretty cool.
Looking back, placing at state is a good memory obviously, but at the time finishing 4th felt like a disappointment to me. I didn’t go there just trying to get on the stand, I went with the goal of being on top of the stand, so I didn’t appreciate 4th as much as I should have at the time. But still, placing my senior year was my best accomplishment.
Who were some of your most notable competitors in high school? College?
I ended up wrestling a lot of guys who went on to win state titles and a couple that were runner-ups. Colby Goetsch, Jake Naig, Aaron Wernimont, Dallas Kuper, Ryan Morningstar, Todd Becker, Mike Piper, Dana Vote. I wrestled Topher Ewing in freestyle, but not in folkstyle. Also, I wrestled Luke Reiland in practice pretty much every day my sophomore and junior years.
Did you wrestle all year or was it seasonal for you?
Mostly seasonal. I only ever wrestled in a handful of freestyle or Greco tournaments and those were all after my junior year.
How would the guys from your day stack up against the guys today?
I think guys would still be competitive today. A lot of guys now it seems specialize a bit more than we did, and do more tournaments in the offseason than we did, but I think the top level guys from our day would match up well with the top level guys from today.
Did you wrestle after high school?
What other sports did you play?
Football, golf, and baseball.
What are your favorite sports teams?
ISU for all sports, Mariners for MLB, 49ers for NFL
What are your hobbies other than wrestling?
Spending time with my wife and 2 little girls. I also enjoy golfing and traveling.
How has wrestling shaped you as a person to this day?
It taught me you have to be disciplined and that things aren’t just going to be given to you, that you have to go work for them and earn them.
What do you do now?
I work in the Financial Crimes department for Wells Fargo in Des Moines.
Are you still involved with wrestling?
Just as a fan.
Any advice for upcoming wrestlers?
Control what you can control. Your mindset, your attitude, your effort. Control those, and give them all your best and you’ll be happy with how things turn out. And enjoy the journey.
Any chance we see you wrestle again at an Old Timer’s tournament?
Ten years ago you might have been able to talk me into it but probably not anymore.
Would you like to give a shout out to anyone you wrestled with, against, coached, etc.?
I always had a great supportive family. My parents and grandparents were at just about every meet and tournament I ever wrestled in. A lot of times my aunts/uncles/cousins would be there too. They spent a lot of time on hard bleacher seats and I appreciate all the sacrifices they made for me.