In 1997, my brother Justin and I had a couple of tough guys from Boone in our AAU State brackets. That year, I was in 8th grade and Justin was in 6th grade. In my bracket/grade it was a dude named Bobby Miller. He and I didn’t wrestle each other, but we both placed in the top 6. Such a tough wrestler Bobby was. Justin won his 3rd AAU State title that year and along with meeting a couple of his ongoing future rivals; Moza Fay and CJ Ettelson for the first time ever in the quarters/semis, he also wrestled the Boone hammer in the finals. It was a guy named Jerod George and he kind of crashed that weight class by surprise to some fans, for if you were to listen to people discussing this bracket while reading their wall charts in the upper level at Five Seasons Center, you would think that it was a foregone conclusion that if my brother Justin made the finals, he would be matched up against a kid named Bryce Carruthers from Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln. At the time, Bryce was a 5th grader and had won AAU state pretty much every year until that point, in which I don’t know who beat Bryce on the opposite side of the bracket as Justin, but it had to have been either Wade Sundell (Ogden), Dane Reiter (Hudson) or Jerod George, for they were all on the same side of the bracket as him. However that unraveled, George obviously won some huge matches to make the finals to face my brother that year. George seemed to be kind of a mystery to some fans, for I think it was the first time he placed at AAU let alone made the finals. However, he sure as heck made a statement in that tourney and went on to have a great remainder of his career as well. And a lot of the guys from that weight range at that time wondered what happened to him in the future, for he was talented, yet most of them were never in the same bracket as him again. I’ve had a person ask me if he quit in HS. Nope, he didn’t quit. He had a great HS career and is likely considered one of the best wrestlers to ever come out of Boone. He just simply outgrew most of those guys… that’s why they quit seeing his name. He was closer to my weight range than Justin’s in HS and I have always been 30-40 lbs. bigger than Justin.
I’ve always wanted to know Jerod’s wrestling story and am happy to do so in this article. I’m also happy to give Boone wrestling some love. There have been some tough hombres from Boone that both generations of Swafford brothers encountered over the years. As mentioned, there was Bobby Miller and Jerod George, but when our baby brothers, Shea and Brennan (12-14 years younger than Justin and I) got into wrestling they also ran into some talented Boone wrestlers as well. Most notably a kid named Mason Hulse, who Brennan always ran into at big tournament in Junior High. Boone has produced some hammers over the year. Much respect to them!
1.) Justin Swafford, Mepo
2.) Jerod George, Boone
3.) Dane Reiter, Hudson
4.) Bryce Carruthers, CB Abe Lincoln
5.) Wade Sundell, Ogden
6.) Moza Fay, Anamosa
How’s THAT for a tough bracket? 3 of those guys won state in HS. All of them placed. And to think future 4X state champion, CJ Ettelson of Hudson was actually eliminated from this bracket.
A couple interesting coincidences about this bracket:
1.) It was the first of two times one of my brothers met a “J. George” in the finals of a state or national tournament. Last year, my youngest brother Brennan defeated a guy named Justin George from Reinhardt in the NAIA finals.
2.) This is a quote from Dane Reiter: “I’ve got an ironic story… so that year at AAU, I wrestled Wade Sundell on the front side of the bracket and lost, came back and placed 3rd ahead of him who ended up getting 5th…Fast forward to my junior year….same thing happened again…he beat me on the front side down at State and I came back and placed 3rd and he got 5th. My one loss of both tournaments came to him and then I end up placing higher than him.”
Here is the finals match video between my brother and Jerod that year and if you watch til the end, you will see them all standing on the podium:
What clubs, schools, etc. did you wrestle for?
Boone Youth program and Boone High School. We wrestled with the Ogden Club often during our youth years, that tradition kind of stuck through our high school years. Little Cyclones Club in Ames wrestling freestyle through the summers.
What year did you graduate?
Who or what encouraged you to give wrestling a try?
My Dad, I have pics and videos from the time I could stand with him having me balance in the palm of his hand. You could say I was energetic as a kid and needed an outlet to burn energy…. wrestling kinda fit the bill.
Do you have any family who wrestled or wrestles currently? Parents, children, brothers, etc.? How did they do?
My Grandpa and Dad both wrestled. My Dad wrestled for Gilmore City, he was pretty humble about his career and never went into much detail other than some really fun stories of his team and teammates. A couple years ago I was talking with my Grandma and she let me know he didn’t get a point scored against him his Senior year before a season ending injury at districts. My son is 11 and has been wrestling since he was 4. He enjoys wrestling but we haven’t been very intense with it at all and typically hit a few tournaments a year…we’ll get serious when he’s ready. My 7-year-old daughter just informed me the other day she would like to wrestle which I think is great with the women’s wrestling taking off! Just had twin boys 4 months ago…. boom!
What were your youth results? Any rivals there?
If I remember correctly a kid named Justin Swafford beat me in State finals as a 6th grader…he was decent (funny, I still remember him mean mugging me in the staging area…lesson on mental toughness). 7th grade I decided not to go to state after winning districts, not sure what my Dad or I was thinking but I’m guessing it had something to do with me being a sh@#head. 8th grade I honestly can’t remember, I know I placed just not sure what place. Wade Sundell and I had all out brawls pretty much every youth tournament. We were friends off the mat, I’d say we split wins/losses it was always fun.
What was your record in HS?
We’ve recently moved so info is packed away, 92-13, I believe.
How did you place at state every year?
5th, Q , 7th
What were some of the most notable adverse challenges or moments you experienced in wrestling and how did it turn out?
Honestly, I think cutting weight and the battles within were the toughest on me. We were allowed to cut a lot of weight back then and for some reason that was the thing to do. (pity party) I just think it took away from how fun and how much I enjoyed the sport. I was a choke artist during the State tournaments, I always thought I had a good mental game but looking back I was a mess up there. I would beat the studs during season and just plain ass not show up for the big show…it’s that simple.
How would you describe your wrestling style?
I was aggressive, I loved scoring points and working for a pin until the whistle blew.
How many guys in high school did you go back and forth with or exchange wins with?
I was growing a lot during high school so I didn’t really have any rivals. I would just move to a different weight class the next year and get exposed to a whole new group of animals!
Who was your most influential coach?
Simply put, my Ol’Man. Dave Christiansen was my High School coach; his brother Mark and Bud Smith were amazing coaches. Back to my Dad, he would load the van almost every weekend through the winter months and a group of us would go hit tournaments, most of that group continued wrestling for Boone. He had a way of motivating me/us to work but always had fun doing it.
Was your team competitive in HS/College?
Our High School team was tough from my freshmen year thru Senior year. We were always a small 3A team but were competing and beating the big dogs. We went to State duals my Junior year, we drew Iowa City High first round, they were stacked so that ended fairly quick. I got the chance to wrestle Anthony Watson who had just won state the week before, he got me in double overtime.
Who was your most influential wrestler that you looked up to growing up?
Who would you consider the GOAT Iowa HS wrestler?
How do you feel in terms of the potential that Boone wrestling has? Are you excited to get involved?
I recently moved back to the Boone area after living in Humboldt for 8 years. My brother-in-law Ryan Ross just took the head coaching position and has been involved with coaching Boone wrestling since 2012. He has been with most of these kids since middle school, these kids WORK! They are some of the hardest working individuals I’ve come across in a long time! I’m helping coach and excited to see where this group goes. Our youth program has been gaining a ton of momentum and we have some great people/coaches involved in the program and community.
What are some interesting hypothetical matchups between guys from different eras that you would have been interesting in seeing?
Its always fun thinking about hypotheticals. Wrestling has evolved with technique and having access to more high-levelclubs popping up within the states. But at the end of the day, the greatest in the world mostly did the basics better than anyone else. So, really any old school wrestler vs new school wrestler is intriguing.
Who are some Iowa HS wrestling guys from your era that you have an immense amount of respect for?
The late 90’s into early 2000’s was a hell of an era to be a part of. There were just some downright animals across the weight classes. Growing up in Boone I was with the Odgen crew quite a bit thru our wrestling days and got to know most of those guys pretty well. I was a sophmore when Jessie Sundell won his 4th state title and I just remember it impacting me differently at the time, just realizing the amazing feat of becoming a 4 timer in the State of Iowa!
Who are your favorite current wrestlers?
My son, the Boone crew! Sprinkle in most of the Hawkeyes
What music would you listen to back in the days?
ACDC/GNR/Jim Croce/Linkin Park/Bluegrass
What was the most upset you ever felt after a loss?
My senior year at state I lost my first-round match to Jessie Dalton of Indianola. He was a great wrestler and I believe he went on to place 3rd that year as a Junior. I had wrestled most of the top ranked guys in the state and was either ranked 1 or 2 with Nick Hayes going into the tourney. Tom Koch from SEP was my only loss late in the season but I wasn’t really concerned with the loss, it helped me re-focus at the time. I felt prepared and just got the wind taken out the damn sails…that one hurt.
If you could go back and change one thing about your wrestling career, what would it be?
I wouldn’t have cut as much weight. Being strong and healthy is so damn important in this grueling sport!
What was your best wrestling memory or accomplishment?
Bouncing back as a sophomore and placing 5th felt pretty good. Jason Wedgbury was an assistant coach in Boone that season and was able to get in my head and turn it around. I lost to Ben Moss from Council Bluffs on an iffy call to wrestle for 3rd /4th. I about went to a dark spot and he pulled me out. I beat Ty Edwards for 5th who had beaten me at the Cedar Rapids Jefferson tourney earlier in the season.
Who were some of your most notable competitors in high school, college?
That’s tough, there were a lot
Did you wrestle all year or was it seasonal for you?
I wrestled year-round once I got into high school. But summers weren’t really intense we just had fun with Freestyle and hitting a few tournaments.
How would the guys from your day stack up against the guys today?
Its amazing watching the high level of wrestling from youth programs into high school and college these days. But if were talking meeting in dark alley scenario…I’m on team 80’s/90’s/2000’s allll day!
Did you wrestle after high school?
I didn’t, maybe a little regret but I think most of it goes back to cutting weight and not enjoying it as much as I should have been.
What other sports did you play?
I played football and baseball until my freshman year then focused on wrestling.
What are your favorite sports teams?
What are your hobbies other than wrestling?
Family, Hunting, Fishing, I play acoustic gigs here and there so I’m always playing music.
How good does it make you feel to give back to the sport?
It’s amazing! Watching the youth and these guys grow as individuals is just hard to beat.
How has wrestling shaped you as a person to this day?
It’s pretty cliché but a wrestler’s mentality is going to get you where you wanna be in life. The hard work, perseverance, dedication and values learned in that wrestling room transition really well into “the real world”. I have grown as person/father/husband/coach every day with the same mentality I had wrestling…bring it on!
What do you do now?
Precision Farming Specialist (geek squad of farming) with Red Power Team (10 location Case IH Dealership).
Are you still involved with wrestling?
Boone High School program and youth
Any advice for upcoming wrestlers?
Just remember to keep it fun while working on your own journey. Sometimes when you’re so entrenched in the grind it’s easy to lose sight of why you wrestle. You’ll always run across a competitor more talented than you are…. don’t let’m out work you! Side Note: don’t bleach your hair while cutting weight it’ll make you go bald when you get old…that or genetics but who really knows.
Any chance we see you wrestle again at an Old Timer’s tournament?
I’ve wrestled Corn Cob Nationals a few times and prolly will again…it hurts, I’m an idiot.
Would you like to give a shout out to anyone you wrestled with, against, coached, etc?
All wrestlers! You are awesome