The 2021 Luther Open Recap: Intro and 125-149
* To any fans out there who feel upset, discouraged, let down, disappointed, etc. in any wrestler that you may have been rooting for or following…Ease up on them a bit. This was the first tournament of the year. So much changes throughout the course of a full season. A lot of guys who looked sluggish today may look unbeatable in another month. A lot of guys who looked great today, may have a bad tournament in a few weeks. This tournament, for most can be used as a measuring stick for them in terms of where they are at and what they need to work on. A lot of rust is still being worked out right now for a lot of guys. It is not doom and gloom if “your guy” didn’t win their bracket today. There is a LOT of time for each wrestler who was there to learn throughout the duration of the season… If “your guy” had a bad day today, but learned a few things they needed to improve on and ultimately go on to improve these things, then I would assume that someday you may look at this day in retrospect as a good, valuable day. You never know.
So today was kind of a different situation for me, for I came in representing and rooting for what was undeniably the super-power of the group especially when compared to the smaller (but awesome) teams they faced in this tournament. Of course I am talking about The Iowa Hawkeyes, which is where my youngest brother wrestles. I don’t think I have ever been on the side of an uncontested “Superpower” squad at any event and certainly nothing comparable to Iowa at the Luther Open, and it was kind of interesting how much different this was compared to the above average squads I’ve always been a part of or affiliated with.
To start, Iowa wrestling is widely popular due to a reputation of greatness that goes back multiple decades, so they were the only squad who had a crew of non-family member fans that came to support them aka Hawkeye wrestling fans. You don’t see this with the other schools and you’d think the extra cheers from non-family fans would be an advantage, but the truth is, for every Hawkeye fan in attendance, there was a fan or affiliate of another team who was cheering just as loudly against them. Sure, Iowa Hawkeye fans root for Iowa Hawkeye wrestlers when they are out there, but man is it ever undeniable just how badly every other person in that gym who was affiliated with another team wanted them to lose every single time…. Why? Because they are Iowa and it’s generally an upset if an Iowa guy is beaten by a smaller division wrestler. And people love to witness upsets and some just plainly love to hate Iowa. It was crazy, it felt like every time an Iowa guy got beat, the entire gym would go crazy… And I’ve been on that side of the fence before myself when I wrestled vs. Iowa in college opens. It makes you feel a little different about it when you experience it from the superpower perspective. But the Hawkeye guys didn’t seem to notice all that jazz. That’s why they are Hawkeye wrestlers. They are mentally resilient and don’t get their feelings hurt over silly stuff like that.
I’ll tell you what HAS to be frustrating for the Iowa wrestlers in terms of anti-Iowa biases and that’s the inconsistency of the officiating. The officials would call the matches that had an Iowa guy in it differently than they would others. With a couple of the referees, it seemed like the Iowa guys never had calls go their way and if anything, the calls would go against them if it was questionable. Like with stalling… I would see an Iowa guy called for stalling in a certain position and then two matches later, they’d be in the same situation, but reversed roles… and it wasn’t their opponents who got warned for stalling in the same situation they did earlier by the same ref. The Iowa guy would get called for it. And it didn’t seem like the 2 officials who were guilty of this all day had some sort of “anti-Iowa” ax to grind, it just seemed like they were officiated with different standards set in place for them by the officials since they were Iowa wrestlers. It’s like the officials expected them to be “high octane” every single second of the match since they were Iowa guys and if they weren’t, they would get dinged and the other wrestlers were not held to that same standard.
With that said, the Iowa wrestlers who competed at Luther had to be on top of their game and be dominant to the point where they didn’t have to worry about inconsistent officiating. Not to mention, every one of those kids who wrestled against an Iowa guy would consider it a badge of honor to simply beat one of them at a smaller tournament, so a lot of these D3 guys came at the Iowa guys with everything they had because for real, what do they have to lose? Some of these guys really brought it, for this would be one of the only opportunities of the year to beat an Iowa guy. With that said, this was a tourney where if a guy did not wrestle sharp, he could be upset by a guy from a smaller division…An Iowa guy can’t come into this one and not take it seriously because they are wrestling D3 guy. That target on their back to some of these smaller school guys is like the color red to a bull… They had to bring their A-game to avoid being upset and a few of these upsets did happen.
I’ll just go weight-by-weight and will cover what I saw, noticed or heard about from someone.
The first thing that stuck out to me at this weight was something in the Silver Bracket. Averee Abben out of Upper Iowa has done a great job adjusting to the D2 level already and I think he is going to be a D2 force to be reckoned with for years to come. Averse, I believe was a 4X qualifier/3X placer/1X finalist for Osage HS. He had that wild finals match with Brandon O’Brien of Linn-Mar at 2A 126 (I believe) last year and was just short of becoming a state champ. It appears as if he kept his foot on the gas since his finals match, for he was impressive yesterday.
Jesse Ybarra from Iowa won the Elite Division and I hear he looked great in doing so, but to be honest, I didn’t see any of his matches and I’m not even sure which guy he is yet… I need to find out, though, for he really impressed some people out there.
Cullan Schriever out of Iowa really impressed me. This kid is extremely coachable and gets better and better every time he walks out on the mat. With him, it seemed like there were two things that set him apart from being a fringe-placer and an NCAA title candidate… 1.) Sometimes it seemed like it took him a while to find his groove. Cullan is a unique wrestler in which he seems to get better and more physical as the match goes on. Fatigue doesn’t seem to even be a factor with him, for he would look better in the 3rd period than he would in the first. He is one of the best 2nd and 3rd period wrestlers I saw there, for his style is so methodical that it is like death by 1000 cuts for his opponents in the later periods and it is enough to get guys very frustrated. There were a couple moments, mostly in the 1st period, where he would seem just simply less physical, but if he just brought his intensity up a hair to start the matches and continued to increase it as the match goes on as he is able to do now, then watch out… He is just as good of a wrestler as anybody. His crazy-impressive HS resume that he had that included the multiple Fargo titles and the Super 32 Championship… yeah, he hasn’t lost any ground since those days. He’s still one of the best. Just needs to come out as intense and physical and he finishes them. The kid he beat in the semifinals was a kid named Joe Pins from Wartburg. Schriever won 12-3. That was a NICE win for Schriever. To start, he recorded the major. Secondly, Pins is EXTREMELY good. He was a stater champion in HS and won it in only his 4th or 5th year of wrestling. Pins was still improving at a high rate in his wrestling game around the time he won state. And he got off to a great start at Wartburg, placing 3rd at D3 Nationals last year. He didn’t wrestle a bad match at all vs. Schriever… He had moments where he put Cullan on his heels for he is like an explosive ball of muscle that always stays in good position and is always looking to attack. This kid could be D1 right now, easily… But that doesn’t matter, for he is obviously in great hands with that Wartburg staff. Other than his loss to Schriever, Pins had 2 Major Decisions and a tech to place 3rd.
Austin Desanto wrestled good yesterday and his fireman’s carry to the opposite side is the best I’ve ever seen. Austin Desanto, if you read this, I hear you like to read. Check out the book, “Old Man And The Sea” by Ernest Hemingway if you haven’t yet. There are some very interesting underlying themes in that book that I feel can be used as valuable lessons of perseverance and remember, victory is not a prerequisite for honor. Instead, glory depends upon one having the pride to see a struggle through to its end, regardless of the outcome. However, none of those themes would be present had Santiago (The Old Man) failed to set his drag. His line would have snapped.
Jaydin Eierman looked like a cat pawing with a ball of yarn out there. He is really fun to watch. Looked flawless. I didn’t see it happen, but Leif Schroeder had a win over Brock Henderson out of Coe. Henderson was a 2X state champ in HS for North Linn and was a D3 Champ last year. On the backside, Henderson didn’t look like himself, but it was a big win for Schroeder no matter what the situation.
The guy who made probably the biggest splash out of the Freshmen yesterday was Wyatt Henson from Iowa. Wyatt was in the Silver (Freshman) bracket and placed 1sr. Wyatt, I believe won 1 state title as a Sophomore in Mizzou and 2 in Pennsylvania and holy cow were his skills put on display yesterday. Best Freshman I saw there. He won 4 matches yesterday. The scores of those matches: 21-6, 23-8, 28-13 and 19-6 in the finals. He is off to a great start and it will only get better from here. He’s a hammer. I’ve had a ton of people ask how he looked yesterday . He looked untouchable, really. For those who didn’t already connect the dots, he is Sammie Henson’s son. For those of you who don’t remember Sammie, he was a two-time NCAA champion at Clemson, a world champion and an Olympic silver medalist…
I did not see Bretli Reyna (Iowa) vs. Vince Turk (Iowa), in which Reyna won, but it seemed to be all that a few people in the stands could talk about for a while there. The real story here was the day that Cobe Siebrecht had. He defeated Brady Fritz from Wartburg 16-1 and Kristian Rhumph from Wartburg 6-4. I believe BOTH those two were D3 runner-ups last year. That was a huge say for Cobe and if you are a Hawkeye fan, you should feel very happy with how he is coming along. He looks GREAT.
WILL GET DONE WITH 157-285 SOON!!!