PinDox Profile: Connor Ryan; Bettendorf HS ‘12/Iowa Hawkeyes
Sometimes when the topic of “who is the best wrestler to never win state,” “who had the unluckiest draws at state” or “who was the wrestler who was closest to winning state, but fell short,” etc. is mentioned, it sparks a great deal of heated debate with people. I’ve probably been present when this topic was mentioned hundreds of times and if I’m not in a chatty mood, I know exactly how to end the conversation quickly. I will just say, “Connor Ryan…end of story.” Because there really isn’t an argument against him being the most unlucky and agonizingly closest to winning a state title, but didn’t.
Connor Ryan made the state finals every year in HS. And he placed 2nd all four years. He may be the only one who has ever done this and if there are others, that list is short. One may assume without knowing better that Connor was a textbook choke artist who couldn’t seal the deal, but this is so far from the truth with Connor Ryan that it is outright ridiculous…And here is why:
This is the list of names, in chronological order (Freshman year to Senior year) of who defeated Connor Ryan in the state finals in HS:
9th Grade: Cory Clark, SE Polk
10th Grade: Cory Clark, SE Polk
11th Grade: Jack Hathaway, IC West
12th Grade: John Meeks, DM Roosevelt
Unbelievable, isn’t it? For those of you who don’t know, Cory Clark and John Meeks were both 4X state champions. And Jack Hathaway only won 1 title, but was elite. In fact, he was the only guy to ever defeat Cory Clark in HS. Plus he wrestled D1 at Oregon State and did well there. If you were to add the amount of state championships Connor’s state finals matchups had, that number would be 13. And when he was defeated by Meeks as a Senior, that was Meeks’s 4th title. So when Meeks experienced the joy of receiving his standing ovation from the fans at Wells Fargo after winning his 4th title, Connor Ryan had to endure the fact that he lost his 4th consecutive finals match… He was on the total opposite side of the spectrum in that moment and if you were aware of what the situation was for Connor when it happened, you’d be borderline heartless to not feel just a little bit bad for the guy. That is just excruciatingly heartbreaking, which is unfortunate, for I watched Connor compete since he was a youth wrestler and he was a brilliant wrestler. He could have very well won 2-3 titles if he were in a different era.
Besides that elephant in the room when it comes to Connor Ryan’s wrestling career, there are some other cool things. His father, Shawn Ryan wrestled for Northwest Missouri State, so Connor and his younger brother Logan (state champ) were likely born into wrestling. Connor was a key figure in helping the Bettendorf wrestling team do well in the team standings. In fact, Bettendorf won state as a team in 2012, Connor’s Senior year. Connor’s played a huge role in this, for not only was he a state runner-up, but he was also a team captain, a title he occupied for 2 years in his HS tenure. He also achieved very high grades, for he was named to the All-Academic team a couple years as well.
Connor went on to wrestle for the Iowa Hawkeyes in college and had some decent moments there while competing. He was 10-5 as a Freshman and 25-7 in his 2nd and finals full season and raked in a couple-few open tournament championships. Definitely nothing to scoff at, especially at that level.
Connor, if you read this, much respect on a GREAT wrestling career. Not to mention, HUGE props on always believing in yourself and never running from any competition, no matter who they were, what they had accomplished or what the scenario. Most people would have dodged the competition at least one of those years if they were in your shoes. Always be proud of that.
2009 3A 103
1. Cory Clark, Fr., Southeast Polk
2. Connor Ryan, Fr., North Scott
3. Jack Hathaway, Fr., Iowa City West
4. Greg Keating, Sr., Linn-Mar
5. Anthony Vaughn, Sr., Des Moines Lincoln
6. Tyler Willers, Fr., Pleasant Valley
7. Devon Feltus, Sr., Burlington
8. Johnny Jaeger, Fr., Dowling Catholic
2010 3A 112
1st: Cory Clark, Southeast Polk SO 41- 0
2nd: Connor Ryan, North Scott Eldridge SO 34- 3
3rd: Jack Hathaway, Iowa City West SO 45- 3
4th: Brandon Thomas, Valley West Des Moines JR 38- 7
5th: Tanner Werner, Waverly-Shell Rock JR 36- 6
6th: Stephen Shaffer, Johnston SR 31- 14
7th: Jake Agnitsch, Ames JR 37- 9
8th: Nick Sulentic, Lewis Central FR 37- 9
2011 3A 125
1st: Jack Hathaway, Iowa City West JR 50- 3
2nd: Connor Ryan, Bettendorf JR 26- 8
3rd: Tanner Werner, Waverly-Shell Rock SR 36- 2
4th: Kyle Larson, Valley West Des Moines JR 43- 3
5th: Tyler Feller, Lewis Central SR 44- 10
6th: Tyler McWilliams, Sioux City East JR 42- 7
7th: Caleb McDonald, Dowling Catholic W Des Moines SR 27- 14
8th: Dakota Gray, Fort Madison JR 30- 8
2012 3A 138
1st:- John Meeks of Des Moines, Roosevelt 45-0, Sr.
2nd: Connor Ryan of Bettendorf 39-5, Sr
3rd: Jack Randall of Spencer 45-4, Sr.
4th: Dakota Gray of Fort Madison 36-6, Sr.
5th: Nate Harms of Urbandale 31-5, Sr.
6th: Alex Caldwell of Clinton 40-8, So.
7th: Kegan Wakefield of Iowa City, West) 26-8, Jr.
8th: Spencer Derifield of Waverly-Shell Rock 35-16, So.