The Junior Team Iowa Fargo team comes in with some rather high expectations in 2015, after a fifth place finish in freestyle (and a disappointing 20th place finish in Greco-Roman) and to repeat in the top five they will need a few of their older hammers to replicate their success, and a few of the new Juniors (or old Cadets) to make their mark on the next age level. My one wish is that I could dedicate time to breaking down more wrestlers, but for now I will hit on some of the big names or past All-Americans.
A lot of Iowa’s hopes are going to be resting on Lisbon three-time state champion Carter Happel’s shoulders, with the biggest thing Happel will bring to the table is experience. We have learned that not only is Happel pretty darn good at folkstyle, he is a nationally known freestyler, and the proof is his 2013 Fargo Cadet national title, and a 2014 FILA Cadet national title. Happel missed out on Fargo last year to wrestle on the Cadet World Team, but I think his return to North Dakota could be a good one. He has shown he can hang with the best of them, and if you under estimate his ability, you are making a big mistake.
The other hammer is four-time Fargo freestyle All-American Fredy Stroker, who will be returning to the 145 pound weight class according to the registration sheet. Stroker took fifth his last year in Cadets, and has placed fourth each of the last two years in the Junior bracket while a part of the Iowa team. He is still chasing that coveted “stop sign”, which of course is a reference to the octagonal shape of the first place trophy, and he is one of Iowa’s top threats to get one.
Future UNI Panther Max Thomsen may not have placed at Fargo last summer, but he did finish the year as the state’s best recruit for the 2015 class. The state’s 24th four-time state champion and all-time wins leader should be a name to watch in the 145 pound bracket.
It’s hard to do a Fargo preview and not talk about one of the two national champions Iowa crowned from a year ago, and here in 2015 Dubuque’s Gannon Gremmel will be going up a weight and division as he will try and go from Cadet to Junior national champion at 285 this summer. Gremmel is a top ten heavyweight, and most overlooked him in their 2014 previews to capture the Cadet national title. Heavyweight tends to be a little more challenging than the 220 pound brackets, so it will be interesting to see how the sledgehammer does in his first crack at Fargo heavyweight.
Southeast Polk’s Ethan Andersen is another key name that should be mentioned. One of the nation’s top 220 pound wrestlers, Andersen is in a prime position to dominate the field. In 2014 Andersen captured the FILA Cadet Greco-Roman title and earlier this summer wrestled in the Junior Pan-American Championships. Iowa will need Andersen in both styles to make a push to the top of the team race.
Speaking of raising our Greco-Roman finish, Highland’s twin duo of Drew and Bryce West will be key to Iowa improving from 2014. Drew is a highly accomplished Greco wrestler taking second last summer and he also won a FILA Cadet Greco-Roman national title. He also has a 2013 Greco All-American finish so the chances are he gives Iowa a bump in that style. Bryce was also a Cadet Greco runner-up in 2014 and was one of the few who managed to place in freestyle as well. Brenden Baker, who should be at 113 pounds, was a Greco All-American last year as well.
Iowa has a slew of names at 120 pounds to watch and two of them are future Panthers. Tanner Rohweder didn’t win a state title in 2015, but he does have a Junior national title already under his belt. Rohweder took fifth in 2013, and was the 100 pound Junior champion back in 2012. The other future Panther, Jacob Schwarm has risen to the top 20 of his weight class rankings. Referenced in our Cadet preview, Jakob Allison is expected to compete at 120 as well.
126 pounds also has it’s share of heavy hitters with top 100 recruit Nolan Hellickson being the top guy. Hellickson finished third in 2013 in the Cadets. Probably the #2 guy, Ryan Leisure is coming off a fourth place Cadet Greco performance in 2014. Brock Rathbun has recently moved into the top 75 of the 2016 recruiting class rankings, and is rated top ten at his weight.
Two future Hawkeyes that I am interested in are 132 pound Paul Glynn and 152 pound Cole Erickson. Both don’t have the Fargo background as some other Iowans, but are highly regarded for their work ethic and are known to push the pace.
Colton Clingenpeel is one of the wrestlers Iowa will need to step up from the Cadet level after he put together a fourth place finish last year. Clingenpeel has added some weight from a year ago, but has given a lot of wrestlers tough matches over the past 12 months. With a big senior season on the horizon, Clingenpeel can really be labeled as a late bloomer with a solid performance. Also at 152 pounds is returning Greco-Roman All-American Chase Straw, who will look to build off his strong senior season which saw him capture his first state title.
170 pounds features Jacob Holschlag and Dale Hilleman who are also a pair of interesting wrestlers. Holschlag has never made the stand, but has risen to the middle of his weight class rankings, which would put him right up there for a top eight finish. He also was a preseason Folkstyle national champion. Hilleman is a former Cadet All-American, taking eighth in 2012.
Max Lyon is quickly gaining momentum in recruiting circle so he will be a name to watch at 182 pounds as will the wrestler ranked ahead of him in our FRECO rankings, Deion Clayborne.
We have seen Joe Teague wrestle as solid as they come the past year on his way to a state title for Algona. The top dog at this 195 pound weight is probably two-time All-American Cash Wilcke, who took sixth a year ago at 182 pounds behind future Hawkeye Mitch Bowman. Wilcke also took fourth at Fargo in the 2013 Cadet bracket. Donovan Doyle is another interesting name, as he traveled all the way to Vegas to wrestle in the Western Regional qualifier. He took third at what is usually a well-attended regional.
Aside from Gremmel, Iowa also features another nationally ranked heavyweight in Carter Isley. In fact if you look at Flowrestling’s rankings, Isley is rated higher than Gremmel, so take that for what it is worth. Cyclone bound Alex Silberstein, who capture the 2A state title will be another big man to watch.
Bettendorf’s Jack Wagner has informed us that he does plan on going to Fargo, so he should be another lightweight hammer to be on the lookout for. Due to his busy schedule, his freestyle record is rather limited, which is why he didn’t show up in the FRECO rankings.
2014 Junior All-American Bryce Steiert will not be competing this weekend. Steiert was fourth at 160 pounds a year ago and was one of the biggest surprises of the tournament. After winning his first state title at 145 pounds, he went up to 160 where he went off, torching the competition. Iowa fans can rest easy knowing that Steiert will be staying in state, but for the Fargo team it looks like they will be without one of the nationally ranked stars.
SCHEDULE FOR CHAMPIONSHIP FINALS IN FARGO
Saturday, July 18 – Cadet Women’s Finals at 7:00 p.m. Central
Monday, July 20 – Cadet Greco-Roman Finals at 2:00 p.m. Central
Tuesday, July 21 – Junior Greco-Roman Finals at 2:15 p.m. Central
Tuesday, July 21 – Junior Women Finals at 5:45 p.m. Central
Wednesday, July 22 – Junior Women Freestyle Duals Finals at 3:30 p.m. Central
Friday, July 24 – Cadet Men’s Freestyle Finals at 2:00 p.m. Central
Saturday, July 25 – Junior Men’s Freestyle Finals at 10:00 a.m. Central