I always run into Aaron Helmrich at the most random places. I ran into him in Cedar Rapids one night when my friends and I stopped at a gas station prior to a NIN/Queens of the Stone Age concert once. I ran into him once at Pancheros in Iowa City a couple years after that. Last time I saw him was a year or two ago. I was a groomsman in my friend, Gotch’s wedding and he was there, for he was family of the bride. Every…single…time I see him, he remembers me immediately, which is always pretty cool for me, for it’s come at times in my life where I was feeling pretty forgettable. And he doesn’t get me mixed up with my brother like many do, despite the fact that he actually went on a wrestling trip to Orlando in which he and my brother were teammates. You ever run into someone and start talking to them and you can tell that they are genuinely happy to see you, not just going through the motions? Helmrich comes off that way to me. Always happy to run into me and even happier to start discussing wrestling. I talked to him for a good hour or so last time I saw him at the wedding reception… I don’t think the topic of conversation strayed from wrestling at all. And he definitely knows his stuff. Past and present, he seems to remember everything. I don’t know Aaron THAT well, but what little interaction I have had with him, he has always come off as a very good person to me. Is equally friendly to everyone. That was actually one of the first things I heard about him, from my brother. He thought Aaron was the nicest guy on their Orlando team. And that’s the vibe I have gotten from him every time I have been around him. Good dude… As I type this, I haven’t read his questionnaire yet, but I am excited to learn about his journey.
Who or what encouraged you to give wrestling a try?
My older Brothers Rick and Justin found a flyer when I was in kindergarten about a Sunday wrestling practice and that was all she wrote.
Do you have any family who wrestled or wrestles currently? Parents, children, brothers, etc.? How did they do?
I have 2 older brothers. Rick never qualified, but he has been officiating for the past 10 years has been selected to officiate at state the last few years and really enjoys it. My brother Justin was a 2x qualifier and helps out with North Linn little kid program. Our oldest son Gable 8 years old won state in Colorado in 2019. He has been wrestling for 4 years now. Our daughter, Zadie is 6 Years old and son Gracin is 4 years old and they just started going to practice this year.
What were your youth results? Any rivals there?
Youth results? There were none, really. I went to state my eight grade year. I wrestled Rhino Cox of Wapsie Valley and Adam Schulte from West Delaware. I don’t know about rivals, but those were guys who pushed me to be better.
What was your record in HS?
How did you do at state?
3X Qualifier. Placed 6th at weight 1A 112 in 2000. Placed 1st in 2001 at 1A 112.
What were some of the most notable adverse challenges or moments you experienced in wrestling and how did it turn out?
I was in a car accident my senior year on Jan 4th, 2001 and was told by the doctor I should probably not wrestle for the rest of the season and that wasn’t an option… I was on the mat 2 days later with a brace.
Who was your most influential coach?
Larry Henderson coached my from elementary all the way until my state finals match, I really enjoyed all the North Linn Coaches, Chris Anderson knew how to get wrestler ready for big matches, Doug Leclere was just the hard working coach in the room. Brad Bridgewater was there my senior year and is a very knowledgeable coach.
Was your team competitive in HS?
In high school we were competitive we just wrestled Don Bosco and that still doesn’t go well for eastern Iowa teams
Did you have fun at the Orlando trip you guys went on in HS?
I enjoyed hanging out with some of the best wrestlers from the state on the Orlando trip and showing our talent as a state against other state top guys.
Who are your favorite current wrestlers?
Spencer Lee I enjoy his motor. He doesn’t stop scoring points.
What was the most upset you ever felt after a loss?
My sophomore year I went 0-2 at state I lost 4-1 and 4-3 and I thought I could have done more and that pushed me during my Junior summer. Or my junior year I lost to Joe Honts in the Marion championship match 1-0, I was upset that he didn’t get stalling call.
What was your best wrestling memory/accomplishment?
Winning state, I would say that feeling never leaves and every Saturday night that im at state that feeling comes back. Or when I pinned Ray Blake at the Iowa All-Star meet vs. the National Dream Team. He was ranked 5th in the nation at the time.
Who were some of your most notable competitors in high school?
I wrestled Tom Gorman like 10 times in high school. He was just a funky wrestler but all 10 matches went my way.
Who was the fiercest competitor you ever faced?
Looking back I would say Senior year 2nd round at state when I beat Justin Bohlke 4-3 he pushed everything I had out of me that match.
Did you wrestle all year or was it seasonal for you?
Seasonal in elementary and all year once I got into High School.
Did you wrestle after high school?
I went to Ellsworth CC to wrestle and 9-11 happened and I stopped wrestling and joined the Army. I felt that where I needed to be.
How would you describe your wrestling style?
I would say leverage and controlled wrestling. I was 5-10, 112 pounds as a Senior and stood a good 4-5 inches over most of my competitors. Also, I enjoyed pinning people for I ended my career with 98 pins of my 132 wins.
What other sports did you play?
I played football. DB/WR
Did you have good practice partners to help push you in the room?
I had Nathan Broghammer who placed 3rd at 145 and Kyle Burkle who placed 2nd at 132 and won state and we wrestled a lot of coaches as well. I also had my older brothers to practice with at home to go over moves with whenever they were free.
What are your favorite sports teams?
Iowa Hawkeyes and all Chicago teams in pro except the White Sox.
What are your hobbies other than wrestling?
I enjoy fishing/hunting on my time off.
How has wrestling shaped you as a person to this day?
Well, wrestling takes a lot of hard work and determination and so does the US Army. If I hadn’t wrestled, I don’t know if I would still be in the Army, but here I am and I have enjoyed it for the last 18 years.
What do you do now?
I currently am still in the US Army as A 19D Cavalry Scout at Fort Carson, Colorado. I’m at 18 Years of service and will be retiring soon and moving back to Iowa. I have deployed 6 times now: Iraq 3 times, once to Afghanistan, once to Germany and once to Saudi Arabia.. I earned my Purple Heart when I got wounded in Combat in 2011 in Afghanistan.
How fun is wrestling history to you?
I love wrestling history. There were guys I looked up to who inspired me to wrestle and I learned to love the sport through them and that whats keeps me involved.
Are you still involved with wrestling?
Since joining the Army I have coached 2 years in Kentucky, helped with 2 different clubs here in Colorado and I’m currently at Fountain Fort Carson with their little kids program, helping coach our 2 sons and 1 daughter. I also coached 3 years at Sergeant Bluff and still talk with those coaches as much as possible.
Any advice for upcoming wrestlers?
Offseason wrestling and weight lifting was what helped me make the jump to the top of the podium my Senior year. So make sure to that. Also, spend time with your families and your parents/grandparents while you can, for they are the ones who take you to every Saturday meet while you are growing up.
Any chance we see you wrestle again at an Old Timer’s tournament?
There was one here in Colorado. I would have wrestled in it, but I just had foot surgery. I will wrestle at Corn Cob after I retire. So yeah, Old Timers tournaments… I’m game, just let me know when and where.
Would you like to give a shout out to anyone you wrestled with, against, coached, etc.?
A whole bunch to many to name but the Iowa national team guys for Orlando, The Iowa all star team. You guys were the hardest working guys I know.
Do you have anything to add? Funny/interesting stories? Trivia? Etc.
Thank you guys for doing this it has brought a lot of memories. From guys I watch wrestle when I was young to guys who wrestled in our era. I have one funny story after the Iowa all-star meet 4 wrestlers plus Myself pilled into my little car and drove to swisher to the dance hall one of the wrestlers was Steve Mocco and if you know how big he was it was funny to see him cram into the front seat of my Bonville.
SFC Helmrich, Aaron
1. Aaron Helmrich, Sr., North Linn
2. Corey Kalina, Jr., Belle Plaine
3. Justin Bohlke, So., Kingsley-Pierson
4. Andy Norton, Jr., Clarksville
5. Travis Stangel, Jr., Nora Springs-Rock Falls
6. Doug Bloes, Sr., Gilbertville (Don Bosco)