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Remember The Wrestler: David Walker; Martensdale-St. Mary’s/United States Air Force/High Altitude Wrestling Club

David Walker… man this kid was a gamer. David and his twin brother, Robert were great multi-sporter wrestlers out of Martensdale-St. Mary’s HS and another product from Chad Tunink’s High Altitude Wrestling Club. I’ve mentioned it before and it can not be overstated just how much of an impact Coach Tunink has left on the history of Iowa HS wrestling for the mere fact that the kids who trained in his wrestling club have consistently done so well over the years.  

If you were to accumulate all of the state championships that David and Robert Walker won in HS sports, the number is 10. Robert won 3 state wrestling titles and 3 state baseball titles and David won 1 wrestling title and 3 state baseball championships. That’s just incredible. Davis won his state wrestling championship as a Senior in HS, where I’m assuming the pressure for him to win was extremely heavy on his shoulders considering his twin brother had already won 2 of them and was going for his 3rd. And this wasn’t something that would indicate that one of the two was any better than the other, they just had 2 different overall outcomes at the state tournament to that point and wrestled two different crops of wrestlers. Not to mention, luck wasn’t exactly on David’s side in terms of health, for he got injured badly at the state tournament his Junior year. And man, with the pressure being as high as it likely was for David, did he ever show up in his finals match. He put on one of the best showings of the entire tournament when he defeated a tough Lisbon opponent, Kolbi Kohl in the state finals by the score of 13-3. 

David worked very hard on this and provided a spectrum of wrestling stories as well as insight that can be valuable to anyone. Huge props to David on a great wrestling career and for being a great, well-rounded and wise individual. 

2010 1A 130
1st: Derrick Thomas, Newman Catholic Mason City SR 30- 2
2nd: Brayton Taylor, Prairie Valley Gowrie SO 41- 1
3rd: Nolan Oviatt, Logan-Magnolia JR 49- 1
4th: Drew Proctor, Tipton JR 41- 5
5th: David Walker, Martensdale-St. Mary’s SO 45- 5
6th: Nathan Van Zante, Eddyville-Blakesburg JR 39- 13
7th: Austin Demuth, Don Bosco Gilbertville SO 37- 10
8th: Chad Richardson, Lawton-Bronson JR 36- 9

2012 1A 132
1st: David Walker of Martensdale-St Marys 52-0 Sr.
2nd: Kolbi Kohl of Lisbon 31-5 Sr.
3rd: Jess Hahn of Highland, Riverside 45-4 Sr.
4th: Austin Demuth of Don Bosco, Gilbertville 43-8 Sr.
5th: Marcus Peterson of Clarion-Goldfield 23-4 Sr.
6th: Brady Meyer of Sumner-Fredericksburg 45-9 Jr
7th: Ty Gibson of Graettinger-Terril 31-7 So.
8th: Bryce Jacobs of Clarksville 28-18 Jr


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

(K-12) Martensdale- St. Marys, High Altitude Wrestling Club, United States Air Force Academy were the primary places I wrestled.


What year did you graduate?

2012 HS, 2017 College


Who or what encouraged you to give wrestling a try?

My Dad started taking my brother and me to the room when we were about 3/4. We were pretty wild children so he needed a way to give us some structure and my mom a break for a few hours.


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

My Dad wrestled in High school at MSTM and in college at William Penn for a few years.   My twin Brother Robert was a 3 time state Champ.


What were your youth results? Any rivals there?

Placed at super peewee a couple times and we started playing baseball in the spring so we didn’t do AAU.


What was your record in HS?

Something like 167-14 or somewhere close to that.


How did you place at state every year?

Freshman (130) didn’t qualify (David Ginger and Klint Stapes went out of my district)

Sophomore (130) 5th (lost to Derick Thomas in Semis and Drew Proctor in consi semis)

Junior (135) DNP (blew my left shoulder a/c joint out against Wilton kid first round I want to say his last name is Becker but not sure)

Senior (132) 1st


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

Injuries have definitely been a battle throughout my career and post career, HS and college.  The biggest thing I learned from that is you have to be training and working to get better when you’re healthy regardless of the time of year.

Not qualifying as a freshman after being ranked most the season was a big motivation to focus and get better the next year.

Losing a close one in the semis and then losing the consi semis that same night was also a big motivation.

The injury junior year was a real challenge given that a lot of my best friends and brother were winning titles and I was sitting back with a lone 5th place finish.  Going into senior year I really focused on separating myself from the rest of the field to not leave anything to chance.


How would you describe your wrestling style?

Pretty well rounded with the exception with not being very good on bottom early on.  I had several solid attacks to both sides a good front headlock and as I got older I was pretty good at leg riding on top.  Always had a great gas tank and wrestled a pretty high pace.   I would also say I was pretty mean.


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

David Ginger 2-1, Drew Proctor 1-1, Will Stetzel 1-1.  I’m sure there may be a few more but would have to really think on it.


Who was your most influential coach?

Chad Tunink.  He really helped me have fun with the sport and continue to improve.


Was your team competitive in HS/college?

My senior year in High school we got 8th in duals and 5th in individual (I think)


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

TJ Moen, Nick Pickerell, TJ Sebolt were 3 guys that I really looked up to growing up.


Were there wrestlers at Martensdale-St. Mary’s who you really looked up to growing up?

Brandon Lorton, Trevor Gehringer, Brian Stueve and Mike Cassidy were of the main ones I remember.  Mike was the lone state champ at MSTM until Rob won our sophomore year.


With you and your brother, Robert not only your sibling, but your twin brother, did you guys cheer and support each other?  How much different would your wrestling career had been if you guys didn’t have each other?

Yeah we were and still are each other’s biggest supporter and hardest critic.  Honestly without Rob I would have probably quit wrestling and went on to play Division 3 baseball somewhere.


Who would you consider the GOAT Iowa HS wrestler?

That’s a tough question with lots of very deserving individuals but my completely biased vote goes to Jake Marlin.


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

A lot of guys. I wrestled a pretty conventional style for wrestling in the state of Iowa.


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

Not particularly I don’t follow close enough to really know.


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

Robert Walker, Jake Marlin, Cody Swim, Willie Miklus, Tim Miklus, Brandon Sorenson, Cody Cline, Kane Seeley, Brandon Jones, Dallas Houchins, Brian Warren, Juwan Parrish as well as many more.


Who are your favorite current wrestlers?

Lance Runyon, Spencer Lee, Yanni D, David Carr


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

Lil Wayne, Eminem and a variety of everything else (country, rap, rock).


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

Semi Finals my sophomore year.


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

Injuries and I would have liked to be as motivated to get better as a 7/8th grader as I was as a 10/11/12th grader.


What was your best wrestling memory or accomplishment?

Being at Wells Fargo my senior year and winning a state title on the same night as my brother and many close friends.


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

Derrick Thomas (0-2) was the most accomplished HS wrestler and Bryce Meredith was probably the most accomplished College I wrestled (he beat me pretty good lol)


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

Mostly seasonal but would usually go to a few summer camps.


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

I believe pretty well since it wasn’t that long ago so the styles are pretty comparable.


Did you wrestle after high school?

Yes at the Air Force Academy.  I was in and out of the starting lineup every year except my senior year when I re-tore my labrum in my shoulder.


What other sports did you play?

Baseball we won 3 consecutive state titles


What are your favorite sports teams?

New York Yankees, GA Bulldogs, AF Falcons


What are your hobbies other than wrestling?

BJJ, Disc Golf, Whiskey, shooting/hunting, Traveling, cooking, occasionally fishing.


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

It feels good when you get the chance to impact young people’s lives in a positive way.


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

It’s given me many of the opportunities that have gotten me to where I am today.  From paying for my college to 5 surgeries, I 100% would be a different person without wrestling.


What do you do now?

I am a Captain in the Air force doing Acquisitions for the Air Force Research Laboratories at Wright Patterson Air force base in Dayton, Ohio. Specifically I work for the aerospace vehicles division where we work on developing the next generation of aircraft for the Air Force. I am recently married and living across the street from my brother’s family.


Are you still involved with wrestling?

Yes. I have my basement full of mats and do lessons down there as well as volunteer at a local high school here in Ohio.

Any advice for upcoming wrestlers?

Just keep working at it.  Success comes at different stages of life for everyone but you have to be willing to put the work in.  Also, protect your joints and take rest and recovery seriously.


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

Probably not but maybe a BJJ tournament.


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

Too many people to list.

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Josh July 19, 2021, 8:53 am

    Wow great piece grew watching him and his brother wrestle always fun to watch a lot of aggression and technique great read

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