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PinDox Profile: Mike VanArsdale; Waterloo West HS ‘83/Iowa State Cyclones/Waterloo Boys Club

PinDox Profile: Mike VanArsdale; Waterloo West HS ‘83/Iowa State Cyclones/Waterloo Boys Club

Mike VanArsdale was one of the premier wrestlers to come from one of the premier wrestling clubs of the 70’s/80’s…The Waterloo Boys Club. The Waterloo Boys Club was a wrestling club that was run by a man named Bill Tate Sr. This club produced talent ranging from state placers to NCAA Champions such as Johnny Scott, Bill Tate Jr., Tim Klinghammer, Jeff Gard, The Sallis brothers, Stewart Carter, Mark Kay, Donny Delong, Chuck Pearson, Marcus Mangum, Todd Elson, Rusty Horn, Brandon Tate, Ray Cole, Tony Hanson and of course, Mike VanArsdale.

Mike was a 3X state qualifier/2X state finalist/1X state champion in HS. His first trip to state was his Sophomore year in 1981. He qualified at 3A 138 with a 20-5 record and was defeated first round by DJ Kline, a Senior out of Mason City with a 10-3 record. He finished the season 20-6. Chalk that one up for experience.


In 1982, Mike VanArsdale officially put himself on the map. He won a loaded bracket that had AT LEAST 3 state champions in it, including himself. The other ones were Bill Tate Jr. of Waterloo Columbus and John Hughes of Clinton, both who would win state the following year. Mike defeated Kevin Lunn of Fort Dodge, Steve Crew of Fairfield, Jim Fox of Marshalltown and John Hughes of Clinton en route to winning the state championship that season. 3 of his 4 wins at the tournament placed 2nd, 3rd and 5th. He finished the season with a record of 28-2.

In 1983, Mike entered the state tournament with a record of 23-2-2 and made the finals again. When you look at who he had to beat in order to make the finals, it is pretty wild. First round, he defeated Chris Geneser of Dowling by a point or two. Geneser would go on to become one of the best wrestlers to never win state. He wrestled D1 for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish where he was a 3X D1 National Qualifier. Next round, he faced Scott Diviney of Muscatine. Diviney was also one of the best wrestlers of that era to never win a state title. VanArsdale defeated him 7-2. Diviney went back to place 3rd and ended up becoming a 2X National Qualifier for Drake University. In the semifinals, VanArsdale defeated Randy Ewing of Fort Dodge by the score of 4-0. Randy would go on to become a state champion himself a couple years later as well as a teammate of Mike’s on the Iowa State Cyclones. In the finals, Mike was defeated in OT by criteria or referee’s decision against an opponent who he probably spent more time competing with/against than anyone else in his life… Bill Tate Jr. of Waterloo Columbus. Bill was the son of Bill Tate Sr., Mike’s club wrestling coach at the Waterloo Boys Club. Bill Jr. was a longtime practice partner of Mike’s and those two had competed against each other in more matches than most people could count throughout the years. Tate would become a teammate of Mike’s and AA at Iowa State.

Mike had a big summer after graduating HS in 1983. That summer, he became Junior National Champion as well as a Junior World Runner-Up.

Mike went on to compete for the Iowa State Cyclones, where he started off in good form by being named a 1st Team Freshman All American. He followed this up sigh a 25-10 campaign as a Sophomore that concluded with a 6th place finish at D1 Nationals. He continued to build from the year before as a Junior when he finished 3rd at NCAA Nationals with a record of 28-7.

As a senior, Mike was the 1988 Division 1 NCAA Champion at 167 lb, capping off one of the best Folkstyle wrestling careers that anyone from Iowa has ever put together to this day.

After college, VanArsdale won a World Cup Championship in 1991, a CISM (military) World Championship, was a two-time Olympic alternate and was a six-time member of the National Freestyle Wrestling team.


Following his wrestling career, VanArsdale pursued an MMA career in which he started out in the no-rules, International Vale Tudo Championship, which was a tournament in which VanArsdale won three consecutive fights in one evening to claim the title. With a record of 7–1, VanArsdale signed with the UFC and made his in 1998 against Joe Pardo, defeating him via submission. Van Arsdale won  his next bout via unanimous decision over John Marsh.  His next appearance was at UFC 54 in 2005 vs. UFC Hall Of Famer and former Oklahoma State NCAA runner-up, Randy Couture, in which he was defeated via submission in the third round. Mike lost a few fights via submission before going into coaching, in which he was the head coach for the “Blackzillians” when the team was initially formed in 2011. He has since moved on from that team and it was rumored that he started another club in Arizona.

Mike has one of the most decorated resumes out of any wrestler to come from the State of Iowa. He was inducted into the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2011.

1982 3A 145

1. Mike VanArsdale, Jr., Waterloo
2. John Hughes, Jr., Clinton
3. Jim Fox, Sr., Marshalltown
4. Brian Hampton, Sr., Davenport Central
5. Kevin Lunn, Sr., Fort Dodge
6. Steve Anderson, Jr., Mason City

1983 3A 155

1 ) Bill Tate, Sr., Waterloo Columbus
2 ) Mike VanArsdale, Sr., Waterloo West
3 ) Scott Diveney, Muscatine
4 ) Bill Peters, Sr., Newton
5 ) Bill Whitters, Sr., Cedar Rapids Prairie
6 ) Randy Ewing, So., Fort Dodge

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