I have been writing about wrestling in some way or another since I was a Sophomore in high school. That was around the time the Des Moines Register forums kicked off and when they did, they were a huge hit. Everybody was reading the forums for quite a few years. In Iowa, for high school wrestling, the forum traffic began at the Des Moines Register in 1999, moved to the Iowapreps forums in 2001 or so and in 2005 or so, traffic swarmed to The Predicament forums and to this day, I believe those are still the most hopping Iowa high school wrestling forums, although forums in general aren’t as popular as they used to be. With that said, one of my favorite topics over the years has been the “whatever happened to” topic. There have been several wrestlers over the decades that were total hammers at one time and suddenly a year would come where some of them would not be around. Guys who were some of the best for almost a decade on the youth scene…vanished. Jamie Hotchkin, Austin Stogdill, Brad Leyse, Troy Thatcher, Shea Stamp, Ryan McDaniel, Ivan Wolfensperger, Willie James, Brian Tipps, Shane Strachan, Zach Thomas, etc. The list goes on and on and on. Tons of extremely talented wrestlers in Iowa have quit or moved elsewhere over the decades. And every time this topic has come up, Jeffrey Newby has always been one of the first ones I have inquired about. Jeffrey was in the grade below me. I was a middle weight-range guy from the time I started wrestling as a 1st grader all the until I graduated HS and by the time I hit the college (D3) wrestling scene, I was more of an upper-weight, for I continued to grow until I was 21-22 years old or so. Anyways, Jeffrey was one of the few guys in that grade below me who could consistently battle and place high competing against the guys in my grade in the middle-weight range. The other guys who stick out as being able to do this are Emmett Hughes, Dan Elsbury, Anthony Bribriesco and Jacob Smith. Every single year Newby was right in the mix with the “older” guys in my grade, generally placing in the top 2-4 in odd years and was top 1-2 in even years. I never wrestled him… he was always in the bracket 5 lbs. above me or 5 lbs. lighter, but my practice partner of 8 years, Adam Roberts from Burlington was at his weight a few times and I heard Newby’s name come up a few times while Adam and I were wrestling in practice and his dad would try to pump him up.
Jeffrey Newby was really, really good and the friendliest person you could run into at one of these tournaments and after he won AAU State as an 8th grader, I assumed that he would be right in the mix the following year as a Freshman in High School, but oddly, I never heard or read his name again. I had no idea what happened to him and he just didn’t seem like the type of kid to just quit, for he seemed to take wrestling very seriously in the limited conversations we would have as kids. And as mentioned, every time the “what ever happened to this guy” topic was brought up, I always inquired about Jeffrey Newby and no one on the boards ever seemed to know what happened. So you can about imagine how excited I was when I saw that he “liked” the Remember The Wrestler story on Rick Moreno a couple weeks ago on Facebook. I immediately added him as a friend on Facebook, caught up with him a bit and asked to do a Remember The Wrestler on him in which he gladly accepted.
Did Jeffrey Newby quit wrestling? Ha! I won’t give much away other than this: He most certainly didn’t quit! Wait until you read how decorated his wrestling career ended up being after 8th grade and how much of an ambassador for the sport that he continues to be. It’s seriously rare to come across someone with a more impressive resume than this man and he is still just as friendly of a person as he used to be back in the day. Usually the “whatever happened to” discussions have bad, sad or crazy unfortunate endings. The story of Jeffrey Newby took off in the total opposite direction as most.
What clubs, schools, etc. did you wrestle for?
- Glenwood (Youth in Iowa), Box Elder (High School in Utah), Boise State (college), Utah Valley University (college).
What year did you graduate?
Who or what encouraged you to give wrestling a try?
- My Dad put my brothers in wrestling so I went along with them.
Do you have any family who wrestled or wrestles currently? Parents, children, brothers, etc.? How did they do?
- My two sons, Nixon (5 years old), started wrestling this year and Oakley (3 years old) does his best to keep up, he gets through the warm up and then typically goes off and does his own thing. I had one brother, Justin, that wrestled through high school and placed 2nd in state as a senior and I have a nephew (Bryon) that wrestles in the 8th grade.
What were your youth results? Any rivals there?
- I won state in 8th grade, 7th grade I broke my wrist so didn’t get to compete at state and won state in 6th grade. 6th grade was the first year I won state. As for rivals…I wouldn’t call them rivals, but I had a bunch of kids that I remember wrestling a bunch such as Emmett Hughes, Ryan Terry, Marshall Marquardt, David Emch etc.
What was your record in HS?
- Something like 146-19…I may be off by a little, but that’s pretty close.
How did you place at state every year?
- I won state all 4 years in high school.
What were some of the most notable adverse challenges or moments you experienced in wrestling and how did it turn out?
- One of the biggest challenges in my wrestling career was dealing with Ulcerative Colitis during my college career. I got diagnosed with this right before starting my freshman year at Boise State and had a hard time keeping this under control throughout my five years wrestling at Boise State and Utah Valley University. It was something that, for me, was a constant roller coaster.
Did you notice any differences in the wrestling scenes that you competed in? Did you consider Iowa’s competition tough compared to Utah’s? How would you compare and contrast the two states in terms of their wrestling scenes?
- The biggest difference in wrestling between Utah and Iowa is the depth. Iowa has so much more depth than Utah. The top wrestlers from Utah can compete with the best in the country, but the depth drops off quickly in Utah compared to Iowa. Iowa just has so many more wrestlers. I remember as a kid when I went to the state tournament, they were 32 man brackets and I hadn’t even heard of half the kids in my bracket and would wrestle kids I had never wrestled before. In Utah by the time the state tournament comes around you have wrestled pretty much everyone and know who everyone is.
Do you feel that wrestling could ever take off in Brazil, given Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is such a huge part of their culture?
- To be honest I have no idea, when I lived there I didn’t get to really look into that stuff too much as we were always busy with helping people or teaching about Jesus Christ. I talked with people about that stuff occasionally but overall I left wrestling behind for two years.
Did it take you a while to become a well-known wrestler in Utah, or did people pretty much know right away that you were a good wrestler?
- Before we moved to Utah my dad looked around for the good programs so he had already talked with the coach so my new coach knew who I was. I had some cousins in that town as well so overall I think people in my town knew, but not sure who else knew until wrestling started.
Did you ever keep up with some of the results from the Iowa HS State Wrestling tournament just out of curiosity to see how it went? How do you feel you would have done in HS in Iowa?
- Yeah I kept up with it the best I could. Back then you didn’t have flowrestling or trackwrestling so it was much more difficult but I kept up with it the best I could. It was fun to see how everyone I grew up with did. I think I would have done just fine had I stayed in Iowa. It would have be a lot of fun going through the Glenwood program with all my friends. From a young age I worked out with Kirk Artist and Quenton Moreno so it was difficult leaving especially with the workout partners I had in Glenwood at the time.
How would you describe your wrestling style?
- Throughout high school I wrestled on my feet all the time, that’s where I was comfortable but with time and as I got older I got much better on the mat.
How many guys in high school did you go back and forth with or exchange wins with?
- There are 2 of them that I can think of off the top of my head, Matt Hodges and Brady Mock. Brady, I only wrestled my sophomore year and we traded wins and then Hodges I feel like I wrestled him every year in high school and I know we traded wins a couple times.
Who was your most influential coach?
- Most definitely my high school coach, Coach Mike Ripplinger.
Was your team competitive in HS/college?
- My high school team, Box Elder was actually very good. We won state as a team my Freshman, Sophomore and Junior seasons and came 2nd my senior season. My Junior year we were very good, we were a top 20 Nationally ranked team that year and I think we had 5 state champs.
Who was your most influential wrestler that you looked up to growing up?
- I am not sure if I had just one but I guess I would say the high school team in general in Glenwood. I remember back then the state finals were on TV (probably still are but I have no idea) and I remember watching Clint Madison hitting a spladle with like 3 seconds left in the state finals match and scoring 2 takedown and 2 nearfall and taking the match into OT and winning in overtime with a takedown. I remember going to the Glenwood home duals and watching and just thinking how good they were. I remember one dual I watched and Glenwood was losing (I think) and then we got like 2 pins back to back (I think one of them was Ryan Hankins but not 100% sure) or something like that and we won the dual. It was definitely one of my favorite duals growing up. It was things like those that helped motivate me to be better so I could one day be in that position. So I guess I would have to say the different experiences I was a part of helped influence me to want to get better.
Who would you consider the GOAT Iowa HS wrestler?
- I have no idea……I guess the one that comes to mind that I remember growing up the most was David Kjeldgaard, but I have no idea who the GOAT Iowa HS wrestler is.
Who are your favorite current wrestlers?
- I don’t have necessarily a favorite wrestler, but I like to watch wrestlers that score points or ones that are a bit unorthodox, Seth Gross, David Taylor, DeSanto, Burroughs etc.
What music would you listen to back in the wrestling days?
- I never got into listening to music…mainly listened to sports talk radio growing up.
What was the most upset you ever felt after a loss?
- For sure my sophomore season in high school. I broke my hand in mid December so I was out for most of the season. I was able to come back before the end of the season and I was wrestling in the finals at region and the score was tied with about 3 or 4 seconds left on the clock and the official called me for stalling and gave the other kid a point. It was a rough loss for me, but is probably what helped me beat that same kid the next week at the state tournament in the finals.
If you could go back and change one thing about your wrestling career, what would it be?
- You always look back and think you could have worked harder or done this or did that, but in the end I had a fun wrestling career and it led me to where I am today with my family and career so it all worked out, so not sure I would change things at this point.
What was your best wrestling memory or accomplishment?
- Probably winning state as a freshman. I definitely wasn’t the favorite to win that year and quite frankly, I didn’t know if I could. My coach kept telling me every day that I was going to win it and beat the #1 ranked kid. I think he brainwashed me into believing it because when I hit the #1 kid in the semifinals my thinking changed and I went out and beat him in overtime. In the finals I beat the #2 ranked wrestler, who I had lost to earlier that same year, in overtime also.
Who were some of your most notable competitors in high school? College?
- Josh and Zach Lamano, Brady Mock and Matt Hodges.
Did you wrestle all year or was it seasonal for you?
- As a youth it was seasonal, I was really big into baseball at the time so I didn’t have time to wrestle year round. I actually probably played baseball more than I wrestled as a youth. As I got into high school, around my sophomore year, is when I started wrestling more year round.
How would the guys from your day stack up against the guys today?
- I think they would have been fine. You always look back and think that your era was the best but there are good wrestlers coming up all the time.
Did you wrestle after high school?
- I wrestled at Boise State University for 2 years and then transferred to Utah Valley University and wrestled there for 3 years.
What other sports did you play?
- I played baseball and football. I stopped playing football after my freshman year so I could play baseball in the fall which then changed to wrestling in the fall.
What are your favorite sports teams?
- Notre Dame football
What are your hobbies other than wrestling?
- I still get out and play some slow pitch softball, used to play a lot more but with a family and kids I have scaled back a bunch. Now my hobbies center around my wife and two kids (soon to be 3 boys in August).
How good does it make you feel to give back to the sport?
- I love being able to give back to the sport. I am fortunate enough to have a full time job in wrestling where I am able to work on growing the sport all the time. I love coaching as well and being able to see the kids grow and have successes.
How has wrestling shaped you as a person to this day?
- It has taught me so many good things, most importantly it has taught me a good work ethic and how to push through when things are tough.
What do you do now?
- I am the Executive Director of USA Wrestling Utah and I run a youth wrestling club (Westlake) in Saratoga Springs, Utah.
Are you still involved with wrestling?
- Yes very much so, my full time job is centered around wrestling and I run a youth wrestling club that I started about 6 years ago and has grown like crazy.
Any advice for upcoming wrestlers?
- Just have fun and parents, let your kids enjoy the sport. If the kids are having fun with the sport they are going to progress much quicker.
Any chance we see you wrestle again at an Old Timer’s tournament?
- No chance, I wrestle around at practices a little and that is as close as I will ever come to wrestling competitively again
Do you have anything to add? Funny/interesting stories? Trivia? Etc.
- Just thanks for doing this, it has been fun to reconnect with my Iowa roots and think about the time growing up there. It is always fun to reconnect with those I grew up wrestling with and think about the good old days back in Glenwood!
This was an awesome piece! Thank you! Jeff is such a huge contributor to Utah Wrestling, our local club and in my sons life. We were just talking last night about my boy needing a good practice partner close to home so he can prepare for his Sr. season (and he hopes a 4th State title) and he said, “I’ll call Newby. He gets out on the mat and gives me a great match/workout.” Jeff supports these kids morally, physically and emotionally. He is a great example.