2016 2A 138
1 Ryan Leisure (Jr.) Clear Lake
2 Wyatt Thompson (Sr.) Creston-OM
3 Austin Staudt (Sr.) Charles City
4 Kyler Rieck (Fr.) Spirit Lake Park
5 Brennan Swafford (So.) Mediapolis
6 Tanner Abbas (So.) Clarion-Goldfield-Dows
7 Lucas Roland (Fr.) PCM
8 Kirk Mommsen (Sr.) Assumption
This match/bracket was epic for a variety of reasons. For one, it was a close, OT match that took place between two absolute hammers. Secondly, the bracket was deep, especially when you look at what some of the other guys in the bracket went on to do in following years. Lucas Roland won state 2 years later. Kyler Rieck won it 3 years later. Brennan Swafford would finish 2nd twice and won an NAIA title last year. Tanner Abbas is an NAIA AA and has a great chance of winning it this year. Pretty deep. Those guys were all underclassmen in this particular year though and when the 3 top spots were all officially occupied they were represented by upperclassmen; 1st: Ryan Leisure (Jr.) of Clear Lake, 2nd: Wyatt Thompson (Sr.) of Creston and 3rd: Austin Staudt (Sr.) of Charles City.
The finals match was also epic because of how goofy some of the shenanigans were following it… In which you can’t expect anything less than finding yourself laughing about something if Ryan Leisure is a part of the equation. Leisure was a 3X state champion, so he’s an all-time great Iowa HS wrestler…. And in my book, he’s one of the all-time funniest wrestlers, to boot. Maybe the funniest ever. My first impression of this guy was when he and my brother, Shea were in the same bracket at a big tourney when they were 8 or 9 years old. Shea was going through a phase where he was throwing ridiculous fits after losing. After a loss at this tourney, Shea went on this big kick about how he lost because the referee was “terrible” and the ref called him “stupid” after the match. The referee most certainly did NOT say this…Shea was just being dramatic, and it was annoying me to no end. Just when I was about to lose it and scream at Shea for acting that way, little 8 year old Ryan Leisure walks up with a huge grin on his face, patted Shea on the back and said, “don’t be upset, buddy! He said you did SUPER! He didn’t call you stupid!” I died laughing. Even Shea tried not to laugh despite knowing dang well that Ryan was razzing him. And this funny little kid went on to win the bracket, so apparently along with being funny, he was really good at wrestling. The kid won countless youth titles through the years. He was one of, if not THE best guy in that entire 2017 class all the way from youth through his HS career. And along the way, he never lost his sense of humor, which was on full display after this finals match.
So at state in 2016, Ryan Leisure was working for his 2nd of what turned out to be 3 titles. Wyatt Thompson from Creston was a Senior who had been on the podium just once before, and was looking to climb to the top of it in his final year. I sold the kid short all year. I watched him a few times the season before and thought that if my brother met up with him, we would be fine, based on the few times I watched him (freestyle events), and not being necessarily blown away. But Creston….holy cow that Creston program gets the most out of their guys every year and Thompson was the poster-child for this. Wyatt Thompson as a Junior was not even in the same ballpark as Wyatt Thompson the Senior. It was night and day. He was ranked 2nd the entire season and it was easy to understand why when you watched him in the early rounds at state. Not only did he look great, but he looked like he had a logical shot at giving Leisure a run for his money…which says a great deal, for there weren’t a lot of guys who were legitimate threats to Leisure at the time. And holy cow, did Wyatt Thompson ever threaten Leisure.
Ryan Leisure looked great in the matches leading to the finals and had obviously been in a major battle of some sort before the tournament even began, for he was missing at least one of his front teeth. He looked like a hockey player out there. It was super funny…because it was him and you just knew he would get the most out of his missing teeth at some point. Wyatt Thompson had a great tourney leading to the finals match as well and was wrestling his best match yet in the first 6-7 minutes of the finals match vs. Leisure. He was seriously having the match of his life and the momentum seemed to be shifting in his favor the more the match went on…. and the match went on a while. All the way to double OT where Thompson started down with Leisure on top. Just when you thought, “wow, I think Thompson might actually pull off an upset here,” Ryan Leisure woke up from what seemed to be a coma at that point of the match and struck with something deadly that ended the match before you could even figure out what happened. He hit a spladle off the whistle and pinned Thompson in a matter of seconds after that OT period began. From Thompson’s point of view, it probably seemed like a cruel joke. He was out there battling one of the best pound for pound guys in the state and appeared to be on his way to winning the match when BOOM…a spladle ended his run.
So the match ended and it was time for the guys to stand on the podium. Two things happened in a matter of a second or two that resulted in the entire crowd collectively laughing in their seats. The first thing wasn’t noticed by everyone, but those who did notice it seemed to laugh. There was a kid (who needs to be identified so I can give him props) who was sitting behind the podium and was photo-bombing in the background every time he got the chance… And he never bombed more perfectly than he did when Leisure was given his medal. When Leisure crouched down to be given his gold medal, this kid timed everything PERFECTLY and it resulted in this:
Just masterful photo-bombing if I’ve ever seen it… And he pulled out what appears to be Borat, to boot! 😂😂😂 Seriously, to whoever that kid is, GREAT JOB!!! Man that was funny… I laughed immediately when I saw it… 1 second later, I was laughing to the point where I was wheezing, for something even funnier happened… When they announced Ryan Leisure’s name as the state champion, he took full advantage of his missing teeth and he gave the camera the world’s most cheesy, toothless, homeless-looking smile…
The entire crowd laughed when they saw this. Thank God for guys like Ryan Leisure who take wrestling ultra-seriously on the mat, but don’t let this interfere with them maintaining a sense of humor off of it.
And I can’t reiterate enough how good of a tournament Wyatt Thompson had that week. He really opened my eyes with how much he improved from the year before and how quickly he jumped from a placer to the level of “stone cold stud” who could go with anyone out there.