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Who Is The GOAT IA HS Wrestler? PART 1 of MANY to Come: The Case For CJ Ettelson


NOTE: This is not an article that is crowning CJ the GOAT. This is the first article in what will be many to come in which I state the case that guys may have for being the GOAT. There may end up being 100 of these, for an argument can likely be made for that many. Some arguments better than others, but an argument at least. Plenty of guys have had their eye-opening moments. Heck there are a couple of 1xers who have pulled off feats that were out of this world. Dan Davila from Underwood in 2002 may have been the best ever 103 lber I have ever seen…and that’s the only title he won. Plenty of examples like that… and you’ll read all of them.

I get hung up quite a bit on the “Who Is The GOAT Iowa HS Wrestler” topic every time I merely see it referenced. I have gone back and forth with my own opinion and just can’t seem to settle in. I have come to the conclusion that this is a question that has no right or wrong answer and you can make a case for MANY guys who have gone through. And with this series, I plan on doing just that. I plan on starting with the 4 timers and 3 timers and eventually just writing about anyone who has a case, regardless of how much of a stretch it is.

The most common GOAT’s on RTW are Jeff McGinness, Eric Juergens, Mark Schwab, TJ Sebolt and Dave Kjeldgaard. Each of these guys have strong arguments to be made on their behalf. Heck, Juergens and McGinness never lost a match in HS. But something that is more intriguing to me is who hasn’t been mentioned… one of these that sticks out to me is CJ Ettelson from Hudson. I understand that there wasn’t much grey area with him…people either loved him or hated him and I always felt that he was misunderstood. He was animated and this was often perceived as “cocky.” However, if you meet the guy, he goes out of his way to be friendly…in my experience anyways. I can’t help, but wonder if he hasn’t been mentioned yet because of potential misperceptions affecting their recollections of him… For CJ most certainly has a case for being among the greatest ever.

  • CJ won 4 state titles. He didn’t lose a match in Folkstyle after his freshman year.
  • CJ was the first to win 4 titles starting out as a Freshman at a weight heavier than 103.
  • In 2 of the years that CJ won state, he dominated defending state champs. As a Freshman, he majored Senior returning state champ and SEI legend, Joe Honts. This was an incredibly impressive win for anyone, let alone a Freshman. His Senior year, he dominated returning state champion, Kyle Burkle from North Linn in the finals. The other two years, he dominated both Brady Dolan from Indee who made it to the finals twice and who knows what he would have done if he had a Senior season. And in the finals match that tested him the most, he defeated lat drop king, Chad Hutchinson from Mepo by 4-5 points. He had a scare in that match, but fought through it and won… shows how he responded to adversity.
  • Other notable wins: he defeated Christopher Johnson by a large margin. Chris won a few world/national titles in HS and wrestled for the Hawkeyes. He was legit. He also defeated 2X state champion and future D3 national champion, Jacob Naig in a close match.
  • What was notable about CJ was the large margins of victory that he’d have over top-tier competition. His style was like nothing that had ever really been seen at that time or duplicated since… it was just his own and it was foreign to some guys. Sure, there were guys he struggled with more so than others, but he could tech guys out who beat the guys who gave him a 1 point match. There’s really been nothing like him. He had his own style that he perfected via years of trial and error and some guys didn’t know how to make sense of it and it showed.
  • CJ Ettelson, love him or hate him, is one of the most dominant and unique HS wrestlers in IA HS history. His finals matches in his Freshman, Sophomore and Senior seasons…no one has been on top of their games better than CJ was in those. Just listen to the commentary in CJ vs. Burkle.
  • He had a respectable college career.
  • Part 2 coming soon.

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