Iowa 16U and Junior teams advance to Greco-Roman Nationals

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The Greco-Roman struggle seems to finally develop, even if little.

It was included in this year’s Final X, the final step in the USA Wrestling World Team Trials process. Wrestling fans are watching more now. Young stars are explosive and exciting.

Still, it looks like he has a long way to go to catch up with his Olympic counterpart. Both disciplines will take center stage next year at the Olympic Trials, and freestyle will undoubtedly attract more eyeballs. And that makes sense, for a number of reasons.

But greco also deserves a little love. It’s arguably just as exciting, and sometimes even more so. He features a lot of throws and a really clean offensive technique. Wrestlers are not allowed to use their legs in greco, so they must be cunning and innovative.

After this week, perhaps wrestling fans in the state of Iowa will add to the growing popularity of the discipline. Because, for the second year in a row, high school students in the state have also been very good at greco.

The 16U and Junior National Wrestling Championships wrapped up Friday in Fargo, North Dakota. In total, seven 16U wrestlers and seven other juniors became All-American in the greco competition. They’ve also been some of Team Iowa’s best performers for quite some time.

The 16U team finished in sixth place overall, their best result since 2014, when they also placed sixth. They were led by Union’s Adam Ahrendsen, who went 4-1 and reached the final at 160 pounds. Of the other six, five finished in the top four at their respective weight.

The junior team took second overall, their best result since tying for second in 2012. They were anchored by two champions – Brandon O’Brien of Linn-Mar at 100 pounds and Cade DeVos of Southeast Polk. at 160 – as well as two other finalists and three more from the top five.

None of this should come as a huge surprise. Earlier this summer, the Iowa 16U team finished fourth in the greco national duel in Washington, and the juniors took seventh place in Oklahoma.

But maybe more eyeballs will pay attention to the Greek wrestling after this week, if only because the high school kids in Iowa made it worth watching.

Over the past five years, Iowa has combined to produce 54 Greco All-Americans, including five champions and five other finalists. That’s not far from the freestyle totals – 79 All-Americans, seven champions, 11 other finalists.

Wrestling is wrestling and as the numbers show Iowa is pretty good at it.

Here are other takeaways from the Greco-Roman portion of the 2019 16U and Junior National Championships:

Double All-American Honors

Nine wrestlers from Iowa won double All-American honors this week at Fargo, finishing in the top eight in their respective freestyle and greco weight classes.

Six of them competed at the Junior level:

  • O’Brien, who was a finalist in freestyle and national champion in greco at 100 pounds
  • Of yours, who was also a finalist in freestyle and greco champion at 160
  • Spear Runyon from Southeast Polk, who finished sixth in freestyle and second in greco at 170
  • Another wrestler from South East Polk, Gabe Christenson, who finished fifth in freestyle and third in greco at 220
  • Cody Fisher of Woodward-Granger, who finished seventh in freestyle and fifth in greco at 220
  • Spencer Trenary of Clarion-Goldfield-Dows, who finished fourth in freestyle and second in greco at 285

Note: This was the second year in a row that DeVos and Trenary, both en route to South Dakota state next year, have won double junior All-American honors. Additionally, O’Brien was a 16U All-American double last year.

The other three were at level 16U and are a few names you should know if you haven’t already:

  • Nick Hamilton of Underwood, who finished fifth in freestyle and fourth in greco at 138
  • Wyatt Voelker of Western Delaware, who finished sixth in freestyle at 195, then fourth in greco at 182
  • Liddle Griffin of Bettendorf, who finished fourth in greco and reached the freestyle final at 285 pounds


Standing ovation for Adam Allard

Adam Allard, three-time Class 1A State Champion for West Sioux, has struggled in recent years when it comes to domestic competitions. Last week it looked like it could happen again, as he started out with a 1-2 record in the freestyle.

But then greco came, and holy saints, the ascending elder put on a show.

Allard lost his first Greco game this week, 3-2, to Reese Durlacher of Illinois, the nephew of 2006 world bronze medalist Lindsey Durlacher. But he bounced back to win 10 in a row and finish third at 126 pounds. He recorded 7 technical falls, 1 pin bowling and dominated his opponents 105-27.

After struggling to open offensively in his first three periods, Allard set the wrestlers on fire. Considering Allard is working with Jesse Thielke, a 2016 Olympian in Greco, none of this should come as a huge surprise.

But, still, losing in the first round and still becoming an All-American is impressive. Losing in the first round and taking the third is crazy. Losing in the first round and ripping your back like a wet paper bag like Allard did is absolutely bonkers. A standing ovation is called for.

The guys from 16U are making their mark

In addition to Ahrendsen and the three All-Americans doubles, a handful of talented young wrestlers from Iowa finished on the podium in the 16U Greek competition:

  • Stevie Barnes of Underwood, a 1A State runner-up in February, was 7-1 and was third at 113 pounds, earning four straight wins in the struggles to get bronze.
  • Hunter Garvin of Iowa City West, a 3A State finalist who placed third at the Greco Cadet World Team Trials earlier this spring, was fourth at 120 pounds, posting a 6-2 record.
  • Lisbonist Robert Avila, a 1A state champion in first year last year, also was 6-2 and placed seventh at 132 pounds. He and Garvin are now two-time Greco 16U All-Star Champions.

Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.

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Greco-Roman National Championships

16U Iowa All-Americans

  • Stevie Barnes, Underwood – 3rd place, 113 pounds
  • Hunter Garvin, Iowa City West – 4th place, 120 pounds
  • Robert Avila, Lisbon – 7th place, 132 pounds
  • Nick Hamilton, Underwood – 4th place, 138 pounds
  • Adam Ahrendsen, Union – 2nd place, 160 pounds
  • Wyatt Voelker, West Delaware – 4th place, 182 pounds
  • Griffin Liddle, Bettendorf – 4th place, 285 pounds

Iowa Junior All-American

  • Brandon O’Brien, Linn-Mar – National Champion, 100 lbs
  • Adam Allard, West Sioux – 3rd place, 126 pounds
  • Cade DeVos, Southeast Polk – National Champion, 160 lbs
  • Lance Runyon, Southeast Polk – 2nd place, 170 pounds
  • Gabe Christenson, Southeast Polk – 3rd place, 220 pounds
  • Cody Fisher, Woodward-Granger – 5th place, 220 pounds
  • Spencer Trenary, Clarion-Goldfield-Dows – 2nd place, 285 pounds

Robert J. King