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How Close Were The 3Xers To Winning 4? Cole Pape, Robert Walker, Clark Yoder, Jim Lord…Plus Interesting Connections Between Them

Cole Pape marched out there as a Freshman at state wrestling in 1998 looking like a reincarnation of Stacey Rice from Storm Lake who won 3 titles of his own in the late 80’s. They were both blonde for one… Stacey won state at 2A 126 as a Freshman while Cole Pape won it at 2A 130 as a Freshman, which are very difficult weights to win it as a Freshman… Both won close matches in their finals match, with Rice defeating future Osage HC, the legendary Brent Jennings from Clarinda in the finals and Pape pulling off some late match heroics to defeat future Luther College D3 National Champ, Garrett Kurtz from Waukon.  It appeared as if both were on the right path to becoming historical 4X state champions (being a 4X state champion is history in itself, but these two were on pace to becoming the first to ever do it when not starting at the lowest weight their Freshmen seasons, which CJ Ettelson became the first to accomplish in 2003). However, Rice just had one bad tourney as a Sophomore while Pape just had one injury-plagued season that may have affected how he performed as a Junior.

Pape was in my grade and weight range. And I wrestled him in the semifinals at state when we were seniors… So I am probably more familiar with him than I am the other 3 timers. The first time I saw him was at a youth tourney in Wapello in 4th grade in which he wrestled my practice partner, Adam Roberts. Roberts was up pretty big to start the match and Pape ended up pinning him with a cradle late in the match. Some late match heroics that he would become masterful at. He was simply never out of a match… no matter how much trouble he appeared to be in, he could always pull off the win, it seemed. At the time, he looked real raw and inexperienced and I didn’t really think we’d see much of him after that match, but later that year, he was one of the guys who went to state with me at my weight/district and placed 2nd in our bracket at state behind Shea Stamp and it was all uphill from there for Cole Pape. I want to say he went on to win 2-3 AAU titles before entering HS. He was considered one of the best in my grade.

He defeated Kurth from Waukon as a Freshman in the finals. As a Sophomore he defeated Ryan Utterback from New Hampton in the finals. Another battle. As a Junior it had been rumored that he sustained an injury of some sort. I couldn’t decide of these rumors were credible or not, for he kept notching W’s over Jeff Wiele from West Liberty in the regular season, which is another wrestler I hold in high regard. Then at state as a Junior, I remember sitting in the basement around the semifinal round when a bunch of commotion erupted with people saying, “Pape got beat! Pape got beat!” “To who?! Are you sure?!” I asked. And my question was answered when I saw a distraught Pape pace through the basement and not long after, a pumped up Norwalk squad. He had been beaten by Dustin Bussanmas from Norwalk in the semis. Dustin was another good wrestler in my grade and had been a top guy for years. Everyone from SEI knew him as “The Buss” but he was from nowhere near Southeast Iowa so I don’t know what the rest of the state called him. My practice partner Phillip Klees always talked about him. It was a matter of time before “The Buss” made his mark at state and I suppose that was his coming out party. He went on to finish 2nd Bart Mehlert from Laporte City-Union and Pape got 3rd.  I’m pretty sure a lot of people were interested in seeing a Pape vs. Mehlert match… I can’t remember if they met during the regular season or not?

It was a pretty safe bet that whoever he met in the semis the next year was going to be put through a gauntlet…So let’s take a few moments of silence to feel sorry and flourish that poor schmuck with some sympathy, whoever it may have been. Welp, it was me. Thanks for the moment of silence and the sympathy you all gave to me, for I have felt sorry for myself about being convincingly beaten in that match for years. I kid, I kid. But yeah, I had the unfortunate task of wrestling Pape in the semis when he was out for blood and things did not go my way. Pape was generally a real classy guy… very polite to most people off the mat and always just took care of business on the mat and moved on. I must have been an exception to this, for Cole was my age and my weight range and in my district since we were little kids and he never seemed to like me too much in our interactions off the mat and especially in the shenanigans on the mat in the semis match. In my career, I had never taken more straight up cheap-shots in a match than I did in my match against Pape. Elbows, after-whistle shoves, pushing my head in the mat well after the whistle was blown and we had gone out of bounds, etc. I don’t think he liked me too much, for he normally wasn’t like that. In fact, I’m 99% sure he didn’t, which wasn’t totally uncommon… there were a few who didn’t over the years. And he had a PERFECT game plan against me coming in. Or was coached perfectly on how to take everything away from me. I came into that match feeling real good. I was confident, I wasn’t anxious, I was hydrated, I was focused…I was feeling much better than I was in my first two matches and I won those. I had caught the vibe that he didn’t like me too much years before this match took place, so to be honest, I didn’t really like him either at that point and felt fully ready to go out there and beat him. Mentally, I was in a much better place than I was for 99% of the matches I ever wrestled. And this changed about 2 seconds into the match. Right after the match started, he immediately locked up a Russian tie on my left arm. This threw me off INSTANTLY. In my 12 years of wrestling to that point, I had never had anyone in practice or in a match lock up a Russian tie, let alone to my left arm. On my feet, I used my left arm to set up EVERYTHING. I liked to lock that left arm up and lure someone into a left-sided sag headlock and if they sniffed that out, I liked to go into an outside carry or fireman’s from it and would try to set up scrambles where I could switch directions, usually while controlling my left arm. It was as if my thumbs had been cut off. The thumb is more important of a body part than people realize and no one fully realizes this until they have one of them missing… I had no idea what to do with it and while I got frustrated and would try to shake him off or do whatever felt right, he’d use it for a set-up to a shot and would take me down.  Then we’d get back to our feet and same thing. Russian tie to my left arm. I was clueless. Eventually I just started throwing haymaker throw attempts that ended up being mirages for whoever watched the match. I had a ton of people come up to me and say that they couldn’t believe how close I was to throwing Pape on his back and ending it at like 3 different points in the match. I still have someone mention that to me at least once a year. I’ve always just nodded my head like, “yeahhhhh, I was SUPER close.” When you read The Hawkeye Newspaper story on the match, you’d get the vibe that I had Pape on the ropes and was close to putting him away with a throw on multiple occasions in the match… I just kind of took that and played along with it. “Yeah, I was SO close to throwing him. Darn!” HAHA, ok I am going to clear this up. Those throw attempts were mirages. I was NOT close to getting Pape in any sort of danger in that match, regardless of how it appeared. I have no idea why it appeared the way it did, but I felt it and he was never even close to being in any sort of danger against me. He dominated the entire match and I was absolutely clueless on how to adapt to his Russian tie to my left arm. That match was nothing, but smart, dominant wrestling on his part and desperation out of frustration on my end. Nothing more, nothing less. And the final result of this “crazy” match between Pape and I, was him pinning me at the end of the 2nd period. Nothing to see here. He took everything away from me and he wrestled me perfectly. I mean it was that simple…take away my left arm and I’m hopeless. Hell I didn’t even know that about myself. He sure did.  

So Pape went on to win in the finals soundly against Joe Weiser from Clarke Osceola after a scare where he was taken down with a carry to start the match. He regrouped and dominated the rest.

Pape had moments where he was streaky, IMO. After the season, he took a loss or two that made me scratch my head for it’d be against a guy that I beat. And then he’d go on to beat nationally ranked opponents, most notably at the Dream Team Classic he beat Marcus Levesseur from Minneapolis 6-4, who was like the top ranked guy at 152 in the entire nation. In retrospect, I wonder if his injuries still nagged at him around that time. I could never make sense of it, but it was quite obvious that Pape, at his best, was capable of doing a lot of damage at high levels. He went on to wrestle for Iowa. My parents took my little brothers; Shea and Brennan to a Hawkeyes meet in the early to mid 2000’s and they were real young at the time. They handed out wrestling card type deals to kids who came to the meet and my brother Brennan got one of Paul Bradley who he idolize for years because of it.  Shea got Cole Pape for his card… Go figure.

He was smart and he had heart… Nobody can argue with that. Not even a salty loser like myself.

1998 2A 130

  1. Cole Pape, Fr., Maquoketa
  2. Garrett Kurth, Sr., Waukon
  3. Ryan Utterback, Jr., New Hampton
  4. Buc Broyles, Jr., Adel-DeSoto-Minburn
  5. Dan Varner, Jr., Northwood-Kensett
  6. Cade Kelly, Sr., Clarke, Osceola

199 2A 135

  1. Cole Pape, So., Maquoketa
  2. Ryan Utterback, Sr., New Hampton
  3. Benn Christiansen, Sr., Glenwood
  4. Brandon Uhlenhopp, Sr., Aplington-Parkersburg
  5. Mark Sturm, So., Emmetsburg/Armstrong-Ringsted
  6. Jeff Wiele, Jr., West Liberty

2000 2A 140

  1. Bart Mehlert, Sr., LaPorte City Union
  2. Dustin Bussanmas, Jr., Norwalk
  3. Cole Pape, Jr., Maquoketa
  4. Jeff Wiele, Sr., West Liberty
  5. Andrew Knaack, Jr., Gladbrook-Reinbeck
  6. Kolby O’Brien, Sr., Atlantic

2001 2A 152

  1. Cole Pape, Sr., Maquoketa
  2. Joe Weiser, Sr., Clarke, Osceola
  3. Matt Doebel, Sr., Clear Lake
  4. Cody Downing, Jr., Creston
  5. Danny Ebling, Jr., South Tama
  6. Josh Swafford, Sr., Mediapolis


CLARK YODER, Sigourney

Clark Yoder was a 3X state champion and likely would have been a 4X state place-winner if there were wrestle backs at state back in the day. He won state championships in 1978, 1979 and 1980. When he was a Freshman, he won districts and the other qualifier from his district who went with him was Brian Swafford from Mepo, my uncle. In 1978, he won districts again and the guy from his district to go with him was Mark Swafford from Mepo, my father. I grew up on Clark Yoder stories. His career record was 112-4.  Lost 3 times as a freshman, 1 time sophomore and was undefeated junior, senior years.  He lost twice to Jim Lord (Lisbon), once to Pat Vogel (Benton Community, Van Horne), once to Dave Lott (Denver)… all previous or future state champs. Dave Lott was who beat him first round at state his Freshman year which prevented him from being a 4X state champion. Clark had a short stint of wrestling for UNI, but after a short tenure in which he experienced injury, enlisted in the Army.

1978 2A 126

1. Clark Yoder, Sigourney
2. Scott Johnson, Nashua
3. Randy Steward, Dewitt Central
4. Kurt Nelson, Corning
5. Kevin Mehan, Emmetsburg
6. Todd Stumberg, Grundy Center

1979 2A 132

1. Clark Yoder, Jr., Sigourney
2. Dana Robinson, Sr., Humboldt
3. Jeff Vance, Sr., Griswold
4. Don Jennings, Jr., Atlantic
5. Dave Capitani, Sr., Knoxville
6. Garry Miklus, Sr., Saydel

1980 2A 132

1. Clark Yoder, Sr., Sigourney
2. Bill Bowers, Sr., Mount Vernon
3. Bob Kauffman, Jr., Emmetsburg
4. Todd Stumberg, Sr., Grundy Center
5. Dave Nelson, Sr., Tri-Center Neola
6. Russ Rasmussen, Sr., Wilton


JIM LORD, Lisbon

Jim Lord from Lisbon won titles in 1976, 1977 and 1978. When you read about the Lisbon wrestling empire and the generations of greatness that have accrued there for decades, a lot of their wrestling legends of today grew up idolizing guys who grew up idolizing Jim Lord.  Lord was a 4X state finalist meaning the only year he did not win state, he was runner-up. This was his Freshman season at 98 lbs and he lost to David Lott from Denver that year in the finals. Lord went on to wrestle at Iowa State.

1976 1A 98

  1. David Lott, Denver
  2. Jim Lord, Lisbon
  3. Tom Dappen, Logan-Magnolia
  4. Mike Murphy, West Branch
  5. Randy Reinier, Pekin, Packwood
  6. Rex Hartwig, Rockwell City

1976 1A 105

  1. Jim Lord, Lisbon
  2. Dave Lott, Denver
  3. Mike Murphy, West Branch
  4. Rick Leander, Greenfield
  5. Dan Harris, Morning Sun
  6. Kelly Griffin, Laurens

1977 1A 112

  1. Jim Lord, Lisbon
  2. Robert Cole, Highland (Riverside)
  3. Jim Jordan, Plainfield
  4. Steve Struck, Tripoli
  5. Rick Leander, Greenfield
  6. Wade Ballinger, Sidney

1978 1A 126

1. Jim Lord, Lisbon
2. Mike Blasberg, Tripoli
3. Luther Beenken, Reinbeck
4. Bill Troshynski, Guthrie Center
5. Rodney Cole, Highland-Riverside
6. Kevin Wahe, Alburnett


ROBERT WALKER, Martensdale St. Mary’s 

Robert Walker won 3 state titles as a Sophomore, Junior and Senior in 2010. As a Freshman, he qualified for state and that’s the one year he did not win state. He won 3 brackets that were littered with future state champions like Tyler Foubert from EBF and future national level studs like Grant Henderson from Alburnett, but a 3X NAIA National Champion for Grand View. Robert has a twin, David, who also reeled in a couple of state championships of his own. Last I knew, Robert was wrestling for the Air Force, but I have no idea how long that tenure lasted. He was a nice boost for a respectable program at Martensdale St. Mary’s.

2010 1A 140
1st: Robert Walker, Martensdale-St. Mary’s SO 41- 4
2nd: Brode Hills, Louisa-Muscatine SR 35- 5
3rd: Matt Finch, Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn JR 47- 1
4th: Dallas Houchins, Interstate 35 Truro JR 32- 5
5th: Mason Waddell, St. Edmond Fort Dodge SR 43- 7
6th: Jake Slocum, West Branch SO 31- 12
7th: Cole Hopkins, Coon Rapids-Bayard SR 40- 5
8th: Taylor Wedeking, Nashua-Plainfield SO 36- 10

2011 1A 140
1st: Robert Walker, Martensdale-St. Marys JR 46- 0
2nd: Nolan Oviatt, Logan-Magnolia SR 44- 3
3rd: Skyler Rice, Emmetsburg/RA SR 28- 5
4th: Wes Prill, Pleasantville SR 39- 9
5th: Tait Simpson, Lisbon JR 36- 4
6th: Braiden Vrzak, Turkey Valley Jackson Jct SR 35- 13
7th: Tyler Foubert, Tri-County-Montezuma FR 48- 7
8th: Matt Steffen, Kingsley-Pierson SR 33- 9

2012 1A 145
1st: Robert Walker of Martensdale-St Marys 30-0 Sr.
2nd: Jake Slocum of West Branch 44-5 Sr.
3rd: Tyler Foubert of Tri-County-Montezuma 48-6 So
4th: Ben Huber of Hudson 46-6 Sr.
5th: Teddie Harvey of St. Edmond, Fort Dodge 30-4 Jr
6th: Grant Henderson of Alburnett 41-6 Jr
7th: Spencer Kelly of Rockford 47-6 Sr.
8th: Mike Novotny of Underwood 40-5 Sr.



* I compared and contrasted Cole Pape to fellow 3 times, Stacey Rice from Storm Lake… Stacey’s little brother, Skyler placed 3rd in one of Robert Walker’s championship brackets.

* All 4 of these guys had brothers who were very good as well. Pape’s brother, Dane was a 3-4 time placer and a 2X finalist. Jim Lord’s brother, Doug was a state champion. Robert Walker’s twin brother David was a 2X state champion. Notice how all of them start with a D? Clark Yoder’s brothers Greg and Ross were wrestlers and I know Ross won state.

* Jim Lord’s brother Doug was beaten in the finals in 1974 by a man named Marty Bussanmas from Norwalk. The one guy to ever beat Cole Pape was Dustin Bussanmas from Norwalk. One can assume that those two may be father-son or uncle-nephew?

 * Jim Lord’s only loss at state ever was to David Lott from Denver in the finals as a Freshman. Ironically this was also Clark Yoder’s only loss at the state tournament as well, which took place first round at state his freshman year. Which means David Lott prevented two guys from being 4X state champions. To make things more coincidental, despite Lord and Yoder being in 1A and 2A, they wrestled Lott in two consecutive matches… Lord beat Lott in the finals in 1976 as a Sophomore and Lott’s next match at state was vs. Clark Yoder first round at state the next year.

* I described Pape’s Russian Tie to my left arm in the semis at state my senior year that essentially disarmed me in more ways in one… Clark Yoder, who also beat a Swafford in the postseason (my dad, Mark in his senior season) was asked to describe his wrestling style and here is how he responded:

Clark Yoder: Aggressive… I had a saying that I would always repeat: “Tough, Tight, Mean, Russian”.  To me it meant, ‘Tough’ – stay aggressive, always try and score more points.  ‘Tight’ – stay in contact, keep the pressure on all the time.  ‘Mean’ – (not dirty) just hard -nosed wrestling, drive through the opponents best, like driving through a hard crossface and never let them see you give up.  ‘Russian’ – at the time I felt that the Russians were the best technical wrestlers, greatest drilling and precise techniques.


  • Lord, Pape and Walker began their HS careers NOT at the lowest weight.
{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Marty Bussanmas November 21, 2020, 4:24 pm

    Farther son was the answer to how they were related

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