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Who Is The Iowa HS Wrestling GOAT?!? The Case For Jesse Sundell, Ogden

Jesse Sundell, Ogden, Class of ‘01. There hasn’t been anything quite like him to go through the Iowa HS wrestling scene. When Jesse stepped on the accelerator of his wrestling growth, he stepped hard and never let up. He did things that defied logic. In fact, to this day, one of the most astonishing things I’ve ever witnessed anyone accomplish on a wrestling mat was something he did at the state tournament his junior year. He won his third state title in dominating fashion in a bracket that included the likes of Galanakis and future state champs, Aaron Helmrich of North Linn and Dustin Hinschberger of Belle Plain. An impressive feat in itself, but unexplainable when considering the fact that he did this with a broken leg that he suffered in a bull riding accident… It should be mentioned that Jesse was an accomplished bull-rider off the mat. His brother, Wade Sundell (Ogden ‘03) continues to be a force in the bull-riding scene.

Entering the postseason of his Senior year, Jesse was in the process of putting together a high school wrestling career  that was flawless. With three weeks left to go in his entire high school career, not only had he won state the previous three years, but he had yet to lose a match. And nothing indicated that he was in jeopardy of not becoming an undefeated four time state champion, for he beat everyone he faced soundly. No one really seemed to come close to beating Sundell until Mario Galanakis defeated him in the Sectional finals Sundell’s Senior year, a result that was reversed a week later at districts. He remained unbeaten from there and had a come-from-behind fall in the finals vs. Chris Helgeson of Lake Mills to secure his 4th title. Take it from me, that bracket was one of the most loaded ones that we have seen at the Iowa HS State wrestling tournament.

By his Freshman year of high school, Sundell was well on his way to making a tremendous splash in Iowa wrestling history. A 103 1A state championship came back with Sundell in 1998. The 112 1A state championship was his in 1999 and 2000. He put his stamp on Ogden and Iowa wrestling history in 2001 by winning the 119 1A championship, becoming just the 12th four-time state champion in Iowa history and second four-time state champion in Ogden history, joining Jason Keenan.

Battle tested every…single…year. Every bracket had fellow elite guys/state champs in their own right:

2001 1A 103

  1. Jesse Sundell, Fr., Ogden
  2. Joe Reiter, Fr., Gilbertville (Don Bosco)
  3. Nick Lee, Jr., Columbus Junction
  4. Josh Christensen, Jr., Nodaway Valley, Greenfield
  5. Justin Weiland, Fr., Stanwood, North Cedar
  6. Brett Shields, So., Mount Ayr

2002 1A 112

  1. Jesse Sundell, So., Ogden
  2. Keith Simmons, Sr., Sidney
  3. Brian Frost, Sr., Gilbertville (Don Bosco)
  4. Jake Cline, Sr., Wilton
  5. Jason Utter, Sr., Columbus Junction
  6. Justin Weiland, So., North Cedar, Stanwood


2001 1A 112

  1. Jesse Sundell, Jr., Ogden
  2. Justin McClintock, Sr., Eagle Grove
  3. Mario Galanakis, So., Nodaway Valley
  4. Dustin Hinschberger, So., Belle Plaine
  5. Luke Foor, Sr., Wapello
  6. Aaron Helmrich, Jr., North Linn

2001 1A 119

  1. Jesse Sundell, Sr., Ogden
  2. Chris Helgeson, Sr., Lake Mills
  3. Mario Galanakis, Jr., Nodaway Valley
  4. Aaron Wernimont, Fr., Pocahontas
  5. Keefer Jensen, Sr., Missouri Valley
  6. Rhino Cox, Sr., Wapsie Valley



Does Jesse have a case for being Iowa’s GOAT HS wrestler? Indeed, he did things that indicated incredible intangibles that he possessed in which hadn’t been shown by anyone else in history… winning state on a broken leg? 4 titles? Finishing career with one loss… So close to being flawless. Yes, he has a case. Makes me proud to be a part of the 2001 class myself. 

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Clara Gansz September 4, 2020, 11:16 am

    Congratulations! Again! For such perserverance! A long hard path he chose. Small town hero!

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