Looking ahead to the Iowa Free Tournament and the Greco-Roman State Tournament


So the state wrestling tournament is this weekend.

No no this state tournament.

It will be a small celebration of the statewide wrestling, scheduled for Saturday and Sunday at Southeast Polk High School. It will feature many of Iowa’s top high school students competing in Olympic, freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling.

And rather than being the to finish season is really the start of a potentially important spring and summer for high school wrestling in Iowa.

If those aren’t enough reasons to be interested in the action this weekend, maybe the next outage will be.

First of all, there is the competition itself. The freestyle and greco seasons are broken down by age, not by school size. There are 16U and Junior divisions. Many of the state’s top wrestlers will likely face off in tantalizing clashes this weekend.

Consider the following weights:

At 145 pounds in the junior division, there’s Hunter Garvin from Iowa City West, Caleb Rathjen from Ankeny, Cael Rahnavardi from Don Bosco and Ryder Downey from Indianola, among others. These four have a combined total of four state titles and 10 state final appearances.

Southeast Polk's Carson Martinson takes on Ankeny's Caleb Rathjen in their 152-pound Class 3A semifinal match at the Iowa High School State Wrestling Tournament on Friday February 19, 2021 in Des Moines, IA.

At Junior 120: Camron Phetxoumphone of Webster City, Garret Rinken of Nashua-Plainfield, McKinley Robbins of Greene County, all state champions, as well as Braden Graff of West Sioux and Chad Bellis of Dubuque Hempstead, both finalists this year.

One more weight, at 126: Carter Fousek of Crestwood, three-time State Champion in Class 2A, Gable Porter of Underwood, two-time finalist and one-time champion, and Garrett Funk of Don Bosco, two-time medalist who beat many of the best state light weights.

At Junior 182: Adam Ahrendsen from Union, three-time finalist and 2020 champion; Griffin Gammell of Waukee, finalist; and Ashton Barker of Iowa City West, three-time medalist. One more weight, at 195: Wyatt Voelker of West Delaware and Spencer Mooberry of Osage, both state champions, as well as Jackson Dewald of Westwood, state runner-up.

Another weight, at 220, includes 2021 State Champion Bradley Hill of Bettendorf, two-time State Champion Ben Kueter of Iowa City High, and Southeast Polk’s Kalob Runyon, a recent double All-American in Trials. of the UWW World Junior Team.

And the 16U division? At 113 pounds, there’s Blake Gioimo from Prairie and the Waukee duo of Carter Freeman and Koufax Christensen. Freeman beat Gioimo for the Class 3A title at 106, and Christensen also reached the state final.

It is also only a sample. There is statewide firepower at many other weights.

But more importantly, this weekend’s tournament puts the rest of spring and summer in motion.

Gage Linahon, right, wrestles with Kalob "Tank" Runyon 97kg during the UWW Junior National Freestyle Championships on Sunday, May 2, 2021 at Xtream Arena in Coralville, Iowa.

The freestyle and greco seasons are already well underway. Last month, Southeast Polk’s Nate Jesuroga was on the World Cadet Freestyle Team. Last weekend, a handful of the state’s top high school students competed alongside young college wrestlers in the World Junior Team Trials.

Many more high-level competitions are planned for this summer. In June, the 16U and Junior national duels, where many of this weekend’s winners will face off against their counterparts from other states. In July, National Freestyle and Greco 16U and Junior Championships in Fargo, North Dakota.

Each is an opportunity for the best high school kids in Iowa to take on some of the best wrestlers in the country. These are chances of getting on the national radar in terms of recruiting and ranking. College coaches will be watching at every turn, hoping to tap Iowa for the next stars on their schedule.

In June, the NCAA will end its recruitment deadlines for Division I programs, which has been in place since the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Coaches and wrestlers will be able to meet face-to-face, schedule visits, do whatever goes with the high-intensity recruiting process.

These are opportunities that Iowa high school wrestlers missed last summer due to the pandemic. All tournaments were canceled and the dead period limited recruiting opportunities.

Currently, 18 seniors from Iowa have signed up or signed up to wrestle in Division I programs, with many more pursuing opportunities at other levels. But only 10 were considered the top 300 prospects nationwide in MatScouts’ Big Board 2021.

These next two classes have a chance to overtake them.

On MatScouts’ Big Board 2022, which has just 200, there are eight wrestlers in the state:

  • Hunter Garvin from Iowa City West, at # 52
  • Wyatt Voelker of Western Delaware, # 78
  • Hayden Taylor of Solon, No. 90
  • Hagen Heistand de Logan-Magnolia, n ° 143
  • Mickey Griffith from Des Moines Lincoln, n ° 148
  • Carter Fousek of Crestwood, # 166
  • Joel Jesuroga from South East Polk, # 178
  • Robert Avila Jr. from Lisbon, n ° 184

On MatScouts’ Big Board 2023, which has just 100, there are five wrestlers from Iowa:

  • Ben Kueter from Iowa City High, No.9
  • Nate Jesuroga from South East Polk, # 26
  • Tate Naaktgeboren from Linn-Mar, n ° 29
  • Ryder Block from Waverly-Shell Rock, # 88
  • Underwood’s Gable Porter, # 97
Ben Kueter of Iowa City High competed in the UWW Cadet Freestyle World Team Trials last weekend in Wisconsin.  Kueter reached the semifinals at 92 kilograms (202 pounds).

So many more will be joining these rosters in the coming months – both because the rosters grow longer and because of their accomplishments this spring and summer – helping to strengthen Iowa’s position as one from the country’s most important wrestling talent pools.

That’s why this spring and summer will be important for 2022 guys like Bradley Hill from Bettendorf and Aiden Riggins from Waverly-Shell Rock, for example. Both are state champions, in the national rankings, and recently reached the final in the World Cadet Team Trials. The number of coaches who have already called them will likely increase.

It will also be important for guys in 2023 like McCrae Hagarty of Waverly-Shell Rock, Ben Kueter of City High, Tate Naaktgeboren of Linn-Mar and more. These three, in particular, are also in the national rankings and have produced strong performances in the Cadet World Team Trials. More great performances this summer will open up more opportunities to move forward.

Entering this weekend, only one 2022 wrestler announced his engagement in a Division I program: North Butler-Clarksville heavyweight Chet Buss, who is heading to northern Iowa. None have committed from 2023, that’s understandable.

Both classes could produce some of the best wrestling talent Iowa has seen in a long, long time. We saw this last month at the World Cadet Team Trials, where six wrestlers from Iowa reached the semi-final, three reached the final and Nate Jesuroga became the first member of the team. World Cadet World since 2014.

The next chapter is this weekend at Southeast Polk, where some of the country’s best kids will be in action again. You already know several. You will know more soon enough.

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

Iowa USAW Freestyle and Greco State Championships

south-east of Polk HS

Saturday – Freestyle

  • Junior starts at 8:30 am and ends
  • 16U starts at 12 p.m. and ends

Sunday – Greco-Roman

  • Junior starts at 9 a.m. and ends
  • 16U starts at 11 a.m. and ends


Robert J. King