Last year we released our first ever series of Freshman to Watch at the state tournament. Our criteria for selection o n the list was simple: any freshman that was ranked in the top five of their weight and qualified for the state tournament was someone we considered worth keeping an eye on. The results did not disappoint.
Of the 13 wrestlers on our list all but one managed to medal in their first trip to the Wells Fargo Arena, and three of those wrestlers competed in the finals. One, Matthew Lewis of Centerville, came away with a state title.
Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that of that returning group nine wrestlers are ranked in the top three of their current weight class, and a tenth wrestler is ranked #9. Considering one of the 13 moved out of the state that means that nearly all of the freshmen we labeled as one’s to watch still applies in 2019 as these wrestlers are very much in the hunt for a title this season.
Looking at this year’s class one fact definitely will jump off the page…there are a lot more wrestlers that meet our criteria. The class of 2022 has an impressive 17 wrestlers ranked in the top five at their respective weight classes. Four wrestlers enter this week as the #1 ranked competitor (by our rankings, maybe not by the seed assigned to them by the state’s seeding committee).
#1 106 Stevie Barnes (Underwood)
#4 106 Marcel Lopez (New London)
#1 113 Hagen Heistand (Logan-Magnolia)
#1 126 Robert Avila (Lisbon)
#3 138 Nick Hamilton (Underwood)
#2 160 Carson Tenold (Don Bosco)
Last year’s 1A Freshmen to Watch:
Beau Klingensmith (Woodbury Central) #2 at 113
Briar Reisz (Logan-Magnolia) #3 at 126
Class 1A accounts for the largest chunk of top ranked individuals in the class of 2022 as three of the four #1 ranked competitors reside in this class. Coming in as top ranked wrestlers according to our final set of rankings are Stevie Barnes (Underwood), Hagen Heistand (Logan-Magnolia), and Robert Avila (Lisbon).
This is also the only class to feature a wrestler north of 126 pounds. Nick Hamilton (Underwood) is ranked #3 at 138 and Carson Tenold (Don Bosco) is ranked #2 at 160 pounds. This group of freshman has also received national recognition, with Avila and Barnes each being named a top 100 freshman national by Flowrestling.
#2 106 Blaine Frazier (Notre Dame, Burlington)
#3 106 Carter Fousek (Cresco, Crestwood)
#3 113 Brayden Graff (Sergeant Bluff-Lutton)
#5 113 Isaiah Weber (Independence)
#3 126 Hayden Taylor (Solon)
#5 126 Eric Kincaid (Camanche)
Last year’s 2A Freshmen to Watch:
Matthew Lewis (Centerville) #1 at 113
Keaton Zeimet (Central DeWitt) #1 at 106
Kain Luensman (Monticello) #2 at 126
Nathaniel Genobana (Centerville) #2 at 120
Class 2A presents its own set of title contenders as six freshman find themselves ranked in our top five. Two big names are Blaine Frazier (Notre Dame, Burlington) and Carter Fousek (Cresco, Crestwood) who are ranked #2 and #3 respectively at 106 pounds. Both have a long week of wrestling ahead of them each will likely need to go through Keaton ccc(Central DeWitt) in order to reach the top of the podium. Zeimet was one of four freshmen profiled last season in this class.
The final big name in 2A is Solon’s Hayden Taylor who is a top 100 freshman according to Flowrestling, but given this weight’s depth he is ranked third at 126 pounds. Taylor was drawn to the same side of the bracket as returning state champion Andrew Flora (ADM, Adel) which will be a tall ask for the young wrestler, though IAwrestle’s 2A analyst Lars Underbakke’s preview referenced the potential meeting as one of the best matches of the state tournament. If Taylor manages to make to the finals he will likely see Monticello’s Kain Luensman, the #2 ranked wrestler at this weight and one of the top freshmen to watch a year ago.
#1 106 Aiden Riggins (Waverly-Shell Rock)
#2 106 Trevor Anderson (Ankeny)
#4 106 Ryder Downey (Indianola)
#2 120 Hunter Garvin (IC West)
Last year’s 3A Freshmen to Watch:
Drake Ayala (Fort Dodge) #1 at 113
Caleb Rathjen (Ankeny) #1 at 126
Caleb Corbin (Valley – WDM) #3 at 145
Graham Gambrall (Iowa City West) #9 at 138
Last year’s crop of freshmen looked like it was going to be pretty tough to beat in terms of talent. Not only did two of last year’s wrestlers on this list make the state finals, but both of those wrestlers also competed in the finals of two of the nation’s toughest high school tournaments. Fort Dodge’s Drake Ayala came into high school a national champion and made the finals at 106 last year. Over the next half of a year he placed third at Fargo and was runner-up at Super 32. Ankeny’s Caleb Rathjen was second at 113 a year ago, and had a second place showing at Fargo.
So while last year’s 3A crop is definitely going to be tough to top, this group has some individuals that just may be capable of answering that challenge. At 106 pounds ranked #1 and #2 are Aiden Riggins (Waverly-Shell Rock) and Trevor Anderson (Ankeny) considered to be the top threats at this weight. Unfortunately with both wrestlers on the same side of the bracket the best case scenario is a semifinals meeting between these two.
Other top wrestlers in Class 3A are Ryder Downey (Indianola), Hunter Garvin (Iowa City West)). Garvin is in a tough weight with two-time state champion Cullan Schriever looming as a threat, despite coming off an injury.
Riggins and Garvin were also tabbed a top 100 freshmen by Flowrestling.