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Remember The Wrestler: Steve Farrell, Cedar Falls HS/Upper Iowa/HC at Waterloo West

When my oldest daughter Kaiya Swafford wrestled at the AAU Girls State Tournament as a 2nd grader, she ended up scoring the fastest fall of the tournament. It was the fastest out of all girls and it was tied for fastest if you include the boys. It was an 8 second pin. However, it would have been a 2 or 3 second pin if she had any other official in the world other than Steve Farrell. 😂😂😂😂😂

Big thanks to Tony Hager from iawrestle.com for granting me permission to use that.  But see! I wasn’t lying! I suppose after multiple long days of officiating a gigantic youth tournament will make a guy feel a little sluggish when it comes to ensuring that a 3 second pin is called in 3 seconds. 🙂 No need to be Usain Bolt.  

I’m kidding around, but for real, Steve Farrell was part of my family’s best overall wrestling memories just by being the appointed official for that match.  Kaiya was beyond excited and still talks about that match to this day.  

I’ve known Steve forever, it seems like. He was in my grade…Class of 2001. I have no idea how I met him or where, but it seemed like we ran into him a lot, which was odd considering he was from the Waterloo region, which is nowhere near tropical Southeast Iowa where I am from. Ran into him in college a lot as well with him reppin’ Upper Iowa and me being a Loras Duhawk… And now he’s reffing my daughter’s and nephew’s matches. I can’t get away from this guy! And I’m 100% cool with that.

Every time I’ve been around Steve, he’s making people laugh. Always making me laugh, anyways, which I don’t know if that’s something to be proud of or not considering how zany my sense of humor tends to be. But yeah, I always liked him. I don’t recall meeting anyone who didn’t. From his days of reppin’ the Wahawk Club til’ now in which he represents the Zebra Club (with his speed to get down and look for a fall, it’s more like a Zebra-Sloth Hybrid Club)… He’s always been a fun presence to have around the Iowa wrestling scene. Very kind-hearted individual, too. He’s offered to assist or help  me with a few things over the years without me even asking and it has meant a lot to me. 

And on top of all this, I have been very impressed the last couple years with a few of his wrestlers that he coaches. I did the rankings for 3A a couple years and followed it closely. They are in good hands at Waterloo West!


What clubs, schools, etc. did you wrestle for?

I started wrestling in 1st grade at the YMCA in Waterloo. Then wrestled at the Wahawk Club at Waterloo West HS from 3rd-8th grades. I went to Cedar Falls HS and Wrestled 4 years at Upper Iowa.


What year did you graduate?

2001 HS 2006 College


Who or what encouraged you to give wrestling a try?

My Dad and brothers.


Do you have any family who wrestled or wrestles currently? Parents, children, brothers, etc.? How did they do?

Dad state qualifier 1965 for Charles City HS in Iowa Brother Jim 2nd at state 1998 HWT.


What were your youth results? Any rivals there?

AAU state qualifier 4th, 6th, 7th, 8th grades. AAU state placer 6th grade. 7th place 105 pounds. 8th grade 3rd place 135 pounds.


What was your record in HS?

99 wins and a lot of losses.


How did you place at state every year?

Jr year state qualifier hwt, Sr year 6th place 215.


What were some of the most notable adverse challenges or moments you experienced in wrestling and how did it turn out?

My sophomore year of HS I was hospitalized, gained a bunch of weight. I wrestled 140 as a freshman then 160/170 as a sophomore, junior HWT and Senior 215. I always wrestled like an upper weight so it worked out fine. My Freshman year of college my brother passed away and it was tough for me to return to college, but I did and I continued to wrestle.


How would you describe your wrestling style?

I am a holding position aka stalling Okie State style.


How many guys in high school did you go back and forth with or exchange wins with?

Adam Welbes from Hempstead.


Who was your most influential coach?

I was blessed with a lot of great coaches. Jim Trainer, Greg Haslor, Jeff Gard, Jay Lewellen, Gene Doyle, Heath Grimm and Ken Gallagher.


Was your team competitive in HS/college?

Freshman year of HS in 1998 we were state champions. Freshman year of college 2002 Upper Iowa D3 National Runner-ups.


Who was your most influential wrestler that you looked up to growing up?

Ray Brinzer


Who would you consider the GOAT Iowa HS wrestler?

Dan Gable


Are there any wrestlers you’ve seen, past or present that you would compare your style to?

I am a poor’s man Okie State wrestler that stalled a lot.


What are some interesting hypothetical matchups between guys from different eras that you would have been interesting in seeing?

Mark Ironside vs Brent Metcalf


Who are some Iowa HS wrestling guys from your era that you have an immense amount of respect for?

Paulson Twins


Who are your favorite current wrestlers?

Austin Desanto


What music would you listen to back in the wrestling days?



What was the most upset you ever felt after a loss?

Freshman year wrestle back at districts in overtime.


If you could go back and change one thing about your wrestling career, what would it be?

Have more offense!


What was your best wrestling memory or accomplishment?

Placing at state senior year and senior of college winning my last college match at UIU.


Who were some of your most notable competitors in high school? College?

Akeem Carter and Mike Engelman.


Did you wrestle all year or was it seasonal for you?

I wrestled freestyle freshman-senior in hs. During The summer of my senior year I went to a lot of camps.


How would the guys from your day stack up against the guys today?

Psh! Of Course beat them 3-2!


Did you wrestle after high school?

Yes at Upper Iowa.


What other sports did you play?

Football, Track, Baseball and Soccer growing up.


What are your favorite sports teams?

Cubs, Washington Football Team.


What are your hobbies other than wrestling?

Hanging out with my beautiful wife and playing with my son!


How good does it make you feel to give back to the sport?

I love it! I spend a good amount of time helping the little kids programs and setting up camps and tournaments.


How has wrestling shaped you as a person to this day?

Wrestling has made me a better man. I have learned a lot of life lessons through wrestling and have had some great coaches help shape who I am today.


What do you do now?

Teacher and Coach at Waterloo Community Schools.


Are you still involved with wrestling?

I am the head coach at Waterloo West HS and I am Co-Owner of ISI Team Camps.


Any advice for upcoming wrestlers?

School first, athlete second. Respect all and fear none.


Any chance we see you wrestle again at an Old Timer’s tournament?

I have lost 60lbs, but my wife said not unless there is a paramedic or AED on site. She refuses to feel sorry for me if I cannot move or break something.


Would you like to give a shout out to anyone you wrestled with, against, coached, etc.?

I would like to give a shout out to Joel Allen. Baldy to the head table.


Do you have anything to add? Funny/interesting stories? Trivia? Etc.

\When I lost my wrestle back freshman year, my whole team and family left me at Waterloo West where I currently coach. I had to use the pay phone to get a ride home. Moral of the story, Win.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Sherry January 27, 2021, 1:24 pm

    Proud of YOU, son♡

  • Julie Games February 12, 2021, 11:08 am

    can you tell me Steve’s wife’s name? I am adding this article to his record and sharing it with the UIU athletic department. Also updating his record and we dont have his wife’s name. Thank you!
    Julie Games
    Advancement Operations Manager
    Upper Iowa University
    Fayette, IA

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