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Wrestlers Who Won a National or World Title in HS/College, but Did Not Win State

So today I was thinking about Mepo’s Drew Foster and my brother Brennan and how Drew won D1 last year and Brennan NAIA this year, but neither won state in HS and it got me thinking about who all has done this. This will likely be a recurring series once other names get brought to my attention…but the guys I thought of so far are:



PITTSBURGH, PA – MARCH 23: Drew Foster of the Northern Iowa Panthers celebrates after winning the 184 pound title during the championship finals of the NCAA Wrestling Championships on March 23, 2019 at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Hunter Martin/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

Drew Foster, Mediapolis: Placed 3rd, 7th and 2nd at state. Was an NCAA D1 National Champ for UNI in 2019.




Chuck Yagla, Waterloo Columbus; Was a runner-up In HS and a 2X NCAA National Champ for Iowa.




Brennan Swafford, Mediapolis: Placed 6th, 5th, 2nd, 2nd at state in HS… Won NAIA Nationals in 2020 for Graceland University.





Aaron Drain, Mediapolis: In HS he went DNP, DNP, DNP, 4th. However, he won AAU Nationals as a Sophomore and Junior and won stacked brackets with several of the guys who placed ahead of him at state. My take is, Aaron Drain (and others) tended to peak about a month after the state tournament.





Chris Johnson, West Burlington-Notre Dame: In HS, he placed: DNQ, 3rd, DNP, 3rd. However, he won Reno World’s, Tulsa Nationals and AAU Nationals in HS. Like Aaron Drain, he peaked a month after state. The brackets he would win had future D1 champs in them. Chris was elite.





Grant Henderson, Alburnett: In HS I think he qualified a couple times and placed, but he won multiple NAIA titles at Grand View. I want to say he won 3.




Corey Kalina, Belle Plaine And Wartburg… he placed 4th or 5th as a Sophomore and 2nd as a Junior and Senior. He is one of the best wrestlers to never win state. His Tulsa National championship provides some proof of that.



{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Ken seery May 21, 2020, 4:25 pm

    Zac weiglein new hampton 2x d3 champ wartburg. Never won at state

    • Rico Swaff May 21, 2020, 5:08 pm

      Awesome! Thank you! Yeah this will have multiple parts…will include him in the next one!

  • Jamey Koehler May 21, 2020, 7:02 pm

    Garrett Kurth from Waukon, D3 champ at Luther.

    • Rico Swaff May 21, 2020, 8:26 pm

      Oh yeah! I should have remembered that one… next one he will be in there… thank you

  • Ken Crews May 22, 2020, 2:31 am

    very fortunate to have seen many of these mentioned wrestle 🙂

    • Garrett south May 25, 2020, 1:32 am

      Tom Meester didn’t win a state title and won two D2 titles at Augustana. Would have won a third if not for injury.

  • Keith Massey May 22, 2020, 3:44 am

    I can’t think of anymore IA guys but Bruce Baumgartner was the 1st wrestler that came to my mind. Arguably the best American wrestler ever.

  • Steve wonderlin May 25, 2020, 8:04 am

    Evan brown was a D3 National champ for university of Dubuque in 2009 was not a place winner. Wrestled for Nevada

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