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Who Is The Iowa HS Wrestling GOAT?! The Case For Jason Keenan, Ogden

WHO IS THE IOWA HS WRESTLING GOAT?!?! The Case For Jason Keenan; Ogden HS ‘95/Professional Rodeo

In 1995, Jason Keenan became the  first of two 4X state champions from Ogden, the second being Jesse Sundell when he won his 4th in 2001. Jesse and his little brother, Wade Sundell grew up idolizing Jason Keenan for what he did on the mat along with another activity that he excelled at off the mat. We will get to that a bit later…

The total amount of combined losses between 4Xers, Jason Keenan and Jesse Sundell is 2, with both of them having one loss apiece in their entire HS wrestling career. To my understanding, Keenan’s only loss was by a controversial disqualification for running an illegal chicken wing too far when he was up by 8-9 points in the 3rd period. So the man was never actually beaten in a conventional manner. He was as close to flawless as a guy can get… So when the “Iowa HS GOAT” topic is mentioned, why is it that you don’t hear Keenan’s name as much as you hear other 4X state champions that won their 4th titles around the same time he did, like undefeated 4X champ, Jeff McGinness from IC High who won his 4th in 1993 and  undefeated 4X champ, Eric Juergens from Maquoketa who won his on 1996? Keenan wasn’t technically undefeated considering his one disqualification loss, but come on… let’s get real. Jason Keenan, in my book was an undefeated 4X state champion…I don’t count his DQ while up by 8 points to be an actual “loss.” He wasn’t “beaten” ever. So why don’t you hear his name mentioned in these conversations as much as some of the others? My guess is this…Jason Keenan did not wrestle in college. The over-whelming majority of the other 4Xers did and most of them saw success at that level. And in my opinion, when discussing the greatest Iowa HIGH SCHOOL wrestler of all-time, you can’t hold that against someone. However, people subconsciously tend to do that, I think. I mean, come on, it’s difficult to think of Jeff McGinness, Eric Juergens, Cory Clark, Mack Reiter, etc. without also thinking of their brilliant college careers. I try not to while debating this. I will never hold something against someone that is beyond their control OR if they chose to pursue other ventures in life after HS that brought them more happiness than they felt wrestling could. Nothing can ever downplay the fact that Jason Keenan was a borderline flawless HS wrestler who won 4 state titles and was absolutely dominant in doing so.

So what did Jason Keenan do after HS, if he didn’t wrestle? If any of you are thinking that he took some sort of “cupcake,” easy road after HS, guess again. Jason Keenan decided to RIDE BULLS professionally after high school opposed to wrestling in college. When Keenan was asked about his reason for choosing rodeo over wrestling in a documentary called “Wrestling With Iowa,” here is what he had to say:

JASON KEENAN: Unfortunately I didn’t do anything after HS with wrestling. After my senior year, I had decided that that was enough. I met my wife and it’s gonna be 15 years in January. We’ve been rodeoing ever since. We’ve now got two kids that rodeo, pretty much 10-11 months a year down here in Arizona. It’s not that I didn’t have the drive. I love wrestling and wanted to always do it and always thought I’d be coaching by now, but with everything we do with rodeo right now, I’m just happy with where I’m at.”

Hey, he’s happy with that choice that he made, we should all be happy for him…

So in Keenan’s decorated wrestling and rodeo careers, he proved himself inspirational not only with wrestling, but with his passion for rodeo, for two fellow Ogden brothers who looked up to Keenan growing up, Jesse and Wade Sundell, ended up being decorated bull riders as well as wrestlers…just like Keenan. As mentioned, Jesse became one of the best ever Iowa HS wrestlers by becoming a 4X state champion and had moderate success in rodeo.  He almost couldn’t wrestle at state his Junior year due to breaking his leg in a bull riding accident. Wade Sundell placed at state wrestling in 2003 and became a world champion saddle bronc rider. You can’t help, but wonder how much influence Keenan had on their rodeo skills as well as their wrestling skills. Pretty cool, really

Both Ogden 4Xers, Keenan and Jesse Sundell had a couple of the most emotional 4th state title matches in terms of when you watch it, you can just tell that they were feeling an immense amount of pressure to win and when they did so, a gigantic weight was lifted off their shoulders. Sundell has actually credited Keenan with being a guy who was so influential to him that it enabled him to find it within himself to win his own 4 titles.

The way Keenan wrestled was fun to watch for a guy like myself who loves watching wrestlers who are persistent on pinning their opponent from the top position opposed to the “takedown clinic” style that more and more wrestlers implement into their games as time goes on. Jason Keenan almost resembled Dan Knight from Clinton in that regard and seemed to operate by the philosophy that Wade Schalles from the University of Pennsylvania preached of providing “intense legal discomfort” to give himself an edge and an advantage to accomplish what it was that he was best at… winning. Not to say that he was mean or dirty, for he was most certainly not that. He was just physical, tough and would put opponents through a gauntlet if he had to in order to ensure that he walked off the mat victorious.

So does Jason Keenan have a case for the GOAT Iowa HS wrestler? 119 wins, 1 loss by means of an illegal arm-bar, 4 state championships and surely passes the eye-test. Can someone provide an argument as to why on Earth he wouldn’t have a case?! If someone were to not even give him consideration for the Iowa HS wrestling GOAT, then I would love to see Jason Keenan come out of retirement to try to rope one of the other GOAT’s.  Jason Keenan is the most underrated Iowa HS wrestler ever.

1992 1A 103

1 Jason Keenan, Ogden

2 Travis Johannes, Montezuma

3 Matt Brown, Wayne (Corydon)

4 Jake Krob, Tipton

5 Todd Kuhse, Edgewood-Colesburg

6 Jeremy Sprague, Bondurant-Farrar


1993 1A 112

1 Jason Keenan, So., Ogden

2 Todd Kuhse, Sr., Edgewood-Colesburg

3 Jason Norem, Sr., Gilbertville (Don Bosco)

4 Jay Gorsh, Jr., Williamsburg

5 Roy Weber, Jr., Rock Valley

6 Tim Backer, Fr., Clarksville

1994 1A 119

1 Jason Keenan, Jr., Ogden

2 Don LaGrange, St., Montezuma

3 Shannon Phillips, Jr., Interstate 35, Truro

4 Jay Collins, Sr., Underwood

5 Nate Trees, Fr., Greene

6 Brian Wallis, Logan-Magnolia

1995 1A 125

1 Jason Keenan, Sr., Ogden

2 Eric Hart, Jr., Coon Rapids-Bayard

3 Nate Trees, So., Greene

4 Benjie Winegarden, Sr., North English, English Valleys

5 Mark Van Beek, Jr., Rock Valley

6 Jarret Herke, Sr., Graettinger




{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Ed Keenan July 3, 2020, 6:43 pm

    Would be well deserved! So fierce and dominant on the mat but yet kind and generous off! Very proud of him even though he chose not to go on to college, would have loved to seen him compete at the next level!

  • Brian Reimers July 7, 2020, 10:47 pm

    He was dominant in every aspect on the mat. No one and I mean no one put much of a challenge in front of him. He was the most physical and dominating wrestler I have ever coached. Certainly deserves the Goat

    • Joshua Swafford July 8, 2020, 7:55 am

      I love this comment… I feel like both Ogden guys don’t get enough credit. They were both PHENOMENAL. Jesse being in my grade, I respected the hell out of him. What I hate is ppl talking about about Jesse as if he only had the chin wrench…. they fail to mention just how much of a hammer he was on top, his mental game and his arsenal in general… and he learned from one of the GOATs who is rarely mentioned anymore… KEENAN!!! One of my fave things about finding all these recordings is now I know how good some of these guys were… I had no idea just how dominant and just fun to watch Jason Keenan was. I’m glad the world can see it now. Wow you coached some good ones.

  • Thomas Wilhite July 10, 2020, 1:08 pm

    Being his uncle I saw every match at state. I was very proud of Jason then and still am so proud of him still. I still talk about him to everyone that knows anything about wrestling. I don’t have to brag about him, because his record speak for itself. Very few wrestlers had a record as good as Jason’s. By the way, he did a great job of riding bulls too.

  • Donnie LaGrange July 14, 2020, 6:53 pm

    He’s got my vote.
    –Victim #3

  • Thomas Wilhite July 31, 2020, 6:02 pm

    Got 1st. in Iowa in bull riding. Got 3rd. at the nationals in Wyoming

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