Payton Rice was born into some pretty hefty wrestling expectations. This goes without saying when your father is 3X state champion and maybe the closest 3Xer ever to being a 4X state champion, Stacey Rice of Storm Lake. Not to mention, his grandpa, Steve Rice was a 3X placer/2X finalist/1X State Champ himself. Payton, by my standards, lived up to those hefty expectations. He was a 4X state placer who made the finals 1 year and placed in the top 3 at state 2 years and was right in the thick of some absolute savages for competition. And he was right there…every year.
The Rice family is one of Iowa HS wrestling’s greatest wrestling families. They definitely make Western Iowa wrestling proud. And he continues to give back to the sport by coaching…Check out his story, it’s a good one!
What clubs, schools, etc. did you wrestle for?
Wolf Pack (Alta), Sioux Central, Manson in high school and Upper Iowa in college
What year did you graduate?
Who or what encouraged you to give wrestling a try?
Family I guess but was just something I grew up around and loved on my own
Do you have any family who wrestled or wrestles currently? Parents, children, brothers, etc.? How did they do?
Steve Rice (Grandpa) – DNQ, 1st, 2nd, 4th
Stacey Rice (Dad) – 1st, 5th, 1st, 1st
Skyler Rice (Uncle)- 4th, 3rd, 3rd, 3rd
Chance Rice (Brother)- DNQ, SQ, DNQ, SQ
What were your youth results? Any rivals there?
I won 3 state titles and 2 national titles. The 2 rivals that come to mind are Dougie Miner from Spirit Lake and Kyler Kiner from Ogden.
What was your record in HS?
How did you place at state every year?
6th, 2nd, 5th and 3rd
How would you describe your wrestling style?
Attacking with some funk…if you hadn’t seen me wrestle before, I could pin you quick and score in bunches but along with that came growing pains of taking unwarranted risks trying to score and giving up falls in matches I should have won otherwise.
How many guys in high school did you go back and forth with or exchange wins with?
The only one I had an opportunity to beat after they beat me was Ryan Hall from Jesup. My freshman year I was up 4 in the 3rd period and gave up a throw to lose by 1 which knocked me to 5th/6th. My sophomore year I wrestled him in the semifinals and pulled out a tight 5-4 decision.
Who was your most influential coach?
My dad was and is always in my corner.
Was your team competitive in HS/college?
High school – we qualified for state duals my freshman year but fell at regionals every year after to Don Bosco my sophomore year and Clarion Goldfield my junior, senior year.
College – placed 4th if I remember right at national duals my only year there.
Who was your most influential wrestler that you looked up to growing up?
Richie Thacker from Sioux Central now AD at Eagle Grove.
Who would you consider the GOAT Iowa HS wrestler?
Brandon Sorensen if I’m not bias and pick my dad.
Are there any wrestlers you’ve seen, past or present that you would compare your style to?
From my feet definitely my dad, but my best position was top which is more comparable to Spencer Lee style wise…obviously not to his level but I ran those types of tilts.
Who are some Iowa HS wrestling guys from your era that you have an immense amount of respect for?
I loved watching the guys I grew up wrestling with like: Kyler Kiner, Thomas Gilman, Cash Wilcke, Brandon Sorensen.
Who are your favorite current wrestlers?
All my West Benders.
What was the most upset you ever felt after a loss?
After my semifinals loses my junior, senior year.
If you could go back and change one thing about your wrestling career, what would it be?
I’d love to say I won a title, but only if it didn’t change where I’m at today.
What was your best wrestling memory or accomplishment?
My favorite memories are definitely with my teammates and athletes I coach! Too many to list, but the one that stands out the most is after qualifying for my sophomore year for state my workout partner, Caleb Smothers, chanting “Roommates! Roommates! Roommates!” as I walked off the mat.
Who were some of your most notable competitors in high school? College?
Logan Mulnix in the finals my sophomore year and Montel Marion at Corn Cob after my freshman year of college.
Did you wrestle all year or was it seasonal for you?
All year around.
How would you in your prime do against your dad in his prime?
Not even close! Easy tech in the first, lol!
With your dad being Stacey, what was it like growing up as one of Iowa HS Wrestling’s all-time greats?
Honestly didn’t feel it much…I put more pressure on myself to be the best I could be than trying to out do him.
Did you wrestle after high school?
1 year at Upper Iowa.
What other sports did you play?
Football was my only other sport.
What are your favorite sports teams?
What are your hobbies other than wrestling?
Coaching wrestling and being with the family.
How good does it make you feel to give back to the sport?
Awesome! Nothing better than helping great young men attempt to achieve their goals.
How has wrestling shaped you as a person to this day?
Made me mentally strong. Not to many things bother me when I have a full tummy, lol!
What do you do now?
Are you still involved with wrestling?
Head coach at West Bend-Mallard.
Any advice for upcoming wrestlers?
It’s not an easy road but embrace the grind and enjoy the little things it goes by fast.
Any chance we see you wrestle again at an Old Timer’s tournament?
Nope my competition days are over unless you talk to my wrestlers they still try to push me to go.