As with every start to the high school season, a lot of buzz gets thrown around which wrestlers will join the elite of the all-time high school ranks by entering the prestigious three-time state champion club, and even more exclusive four-time state champion club.
Since the turn of the century, Iowa has crowned 13 of it’s four-time state champion members. Prior to 2000, only 11 wrestlers had obtained the feat. This year Lisbon’s Carter Happel will look to become just the 25th four-time state champion the state has produced and oddly enough he won’t even be in rare company at his own school. This past year Happel became the eighth wrestler from Lisbon in state history to win three state titles, joining his father Dean in that group. Of those eight wrestlers, the younger Happel will look to one up his dad and join Scott Morningstar and Shane Light in the four-timers club. There is a ton to be said about the talent of Carter Happel, but just taking a look at those last few sentences should also make you stop and take a moment to recognize just how good the Lisbon program has been as well. Happel has won state titles at 120, 126, and now 138.
As far as three-timers go, four seniors will look to cap off their careers with their third straight state title at the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. Bettendorf’s Jack Wagner didn’t make the lineup as a freshman, but he has made the most of his last two seasons winning titles at 106 and 113 for the Bulldogs. With his third title he can join Fredy Stroker, who is the most recent Bulldog to join the three-time state champion club.
Brock Rathbun of Center Point will also look for his third straight title after winning back-to-back at 113 and 120 in 2A. Rathbun can also join another special group of wrestlers from Iowa, as he has made the finals all three years so far, with his freshman year a loss to Patrick Woods in the 106 finals.
Ethan Andersen of Southeast Polk will look to join teammate Cory Clark as the only SEP wrestlers to win at least three titles. Clark was a four-time state champion winning his last title in 2012. Andersen, who is a Oklahoma State commit, won his first two titles at 220, and after talks with one of the nation’s top upper weights, we may not see a change as he could win all three titles at the same weight.
Josh Portillo of Clarion Goldfield has won state titles in each of his first two trips to the Iowa High School state tournament. As a sophomore he won the highly anticipated quarterfinal against Bryce West and then went on to win a title at 113; last year he captured the 126 pound 1A title. This season Clarion will join the 2A ranks which should make his chase for his third title more interesting.
The following juniors all have a chance to join the three-time state champion club – provided they win titles this year and the next; all of the wrestlers won at least one title in their first two years at the state tournament. Drew West of Highland is the only member of the five to have won as a freshman, but was unable to repeat as a sophomore. His brother Bryce West leads a talented group who all won as sophomores and they are Clear Lakes’s Ryan Leisure – who lost to Rathbun as a freshman in the finals, Ames wrestler Marcus Coleman, and Creston’s Chase Shiltz.
Three freshmen were able to capture titles this past season, which means all will be watching their progress with heavy interest to see if they too can be a part of these clubs some day. Fort Dodge’s Brody Teske won the 3A 106 weight class, Crestwood’s Michael Millage won the 2A 106 weight class, and Alex Thomsen of Underwood knocked off Drew West to capture the 1A 113 weight class in 2015.
|Potential Four-Time Club|
|Potential Three-Time Club|
|Brock Rathbun||SR||Center Point|
|Ethan Andersen||SR||Southeast Polk|
|Josh Portillo||SR||Clarion Goldfield|
|Ryan Leisure*||JR||Clear Lake|
|*still have two to go|
|Freshmen Who Won Titles in 2015|
|Brody Teske||3A – 106||Fort Dodge|
|Michael Millage||2A – 106||Crestwood|
|Alex Thomsen||1A – 113||Underwood|