Wrestling takeaways: Elite Iowa prep wrestlers shine at Agony in Ames showcase
AMES, Ia. — The Iowa high school wrestling season doesn’t start for another month. But inside the Lied Recreation Center over the weekend, some of the state’s best prep wrestlers put on a show in a nationally-renowned showcase.
The third-annual Agony in Ames, a preseason wrestling exhibition that features some of the nation’s best high school wrestlers in a dual-style competition, took place on the Iowa State University campus Saturday.
Among the victors were Fort Dodge’s Drake Ayala, Waverly-Shell Rock’s Brayden Wolf, Mason City’s Cullan Schriever, and Albia’s Aden Reeves. Iowa commit and Arizona native Jesse Ybarra also made the trip for two matches, winning both.
Albia’s Reeves pinned a Cadet world champ
The event saved the most-anticipated match for last as Reeves wrestled Matt Ramos, an Illinois standout who won a Cadet freestyle world title this past summer. Competing at 120 pounds, Reeves considered the matchup a test to see how he compared to a wrestler with international success.
Reeves proved why he is considered among the best in the nation. He pinned Ramos in the third period, hitting an inside trip to stick Ramos in 5 minutes and 59 seconds.
“This is a really good measuring stick going into the season,” Reeves said. “I haven’t competed since the Fargo finals, so it’s good to get back and see where you’re at and what you need to work on.”
Prior to that third period fall, Reeves put on an offensive clinic. He scored takedowns in the first and second to lead 5-0. Ramos countered with a pair of takedowns to close within 7-4 in the third, but Reeves halted momentum with a double leg-turned-body lock that led to an inside trip and put Ramos on his back.
Reeves re-adjusted to get the fall with a second left in the third period.
“I went out and was attacking him,” Reeves said. “In a perfect world, I should’ve finished the double, but I knew I could hit something with the momentum moving forward. I went to the inside trip and it worked out."
Iowa commits Ybarra, Schriever secure victories
The two future Hawkeyes went a combined 3-0 on Saturday. Mason City’s Schriever beat Colorado’s Vince Cornella 3-0 in a match at 116 pounds. Jesse Ybarra of Arizona wrestled twice at 126 and won both.
After a scoreless first period that featured some good shots and defense, Schriever, ranked third nationally at 113 pounds, scored an escape in the second and connected on a shot moments later for a 3-0 lead. He rode Cornella, ranked fourth at 106, the entire third period, failing to score turns throughout the final two minutes.
“I need to find more offense," Schriever said. "It was a little bit tough on a kid like him, who was kind of disengaging a little bit. I need to find a way to get to the legs more. Once I finally did, it felt good to get a clean shot off.”
Ybarra showcased speed and savviness in his matches. His first, a 5-3 win over Missouri’s Jeremiah Reno, featured a takedown in the second period in which he wiggled out of danger after Reno nearly had both legs for a takedown. Ybarra then broke free and came out underneath to gain control and score.
His second match was another highly-anticipated bout as he squared off with Ankeny’s Caleb Rathjen. The two met earlier this summer in the Cadet freestyle national finals at 120 pounds. Ybarra won that match, 4-2.
Saturday’s rematch was low scoring — a 3-1 Ybarra victory — but featured plenty of excitement.
Both wrestlers produced scrambles, took shots, and the action was intense. Ybarra and Rathjen traded escapes in the second and third before Ybarra countered a duck attempt to score the winning takedown late in the third period.
“I think I could’ve wrestled better in the second match," Ybarra said. "But I gave full effort, came in with a good attitude and was happy to wrestle.
“I like competing in stuff like this because there’s like a spotlight. It’s not like a big tournament, where there’s a bunch of mats. There’s just one mat, and all eyes are on it. I like that.”
Fort Dodge’s Ayala gets big win
Ayala, a sophomore and returning state finalist, overcame a slow start to roll to a decisive victory over Texas standout Braxton Brown in a 106-pound match. The bout was one of the most entertaining of the day, featuring three lead changes and four takedowns between the two wrestlers.
Brown, the nation’s No. 3-ranked 106-pounder by Flowrestling, led 5-4 entering the third period, but Ayala, ranked 15th, scored an escape, a takedown, and two back points to secure the decision.
Ayala admitted afterward that he's a "slow starter" and knew he could perform better.
“I feel like if I wrestled that match again, I could win by a lot more," Ayala said. "I could score earlier and more often.”
Other Iowa preps compete
Two other Iowa high school wrestlers were in action on Saturday.
Waverly-Shell Rock’s Brayden Wolf, a 2018 state medalist at 195 pounds, came from behind to defeat Brandon Hoselton of Illinois, 5-3. Wolf trailed 3-1 in the third, scored a late reversal to force overtime, then rolled through a throw attempt by Hoselton on the edge to circle around for the match-winning takedown.
Lisbon’s Cael Happel, a two-time Class 1A state champ, took the mat against Missouri’s Wyatt Henson, the No. 16-ranked 126-pounder in the country. Competing at 132, Happel scored the first takedown, but then Henson rolled up four unanswered takedowns to win 10-3.
Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.
Agony in Ames
- 106: Drake Ayala (Iowa) dec. Braxton Brown (Texas), 9-5
- 126: Jesse Ybarra (Arizona) dec. Jeremiah Reno (Missouri), 5-3
- 130: Jesse Mendez (Indiana) dec. Vinny Zerban (Missouri), 5-2
- 138: Eddie Bolivar (Illinois) md. Brant Whitaker (Missouri), 12-3
- 178: Jackson Turley (Virginia) dec. Greyden Penner (Missouri), 6-4
- 195: Brayden Wolf (Iowa) dec. Brandon Hoselton (Illinois), 5-3 OT
- 152: Baylor Fernandes (Illinois) fall. Brock Ellis (Indiana), 3:10
- 154: Alexis Gomez (Illinois) dec. Hunter Robinson (Texas), 9-6
- 132: Wyatt Henson (Missouri) dec. Cael Happel (Iowa), 10-3
- 116: Cullan Schriever (Iowa) dec. Vince Cornella (Colorado), 3-0
- 120: Aden Reeves (Iowa) fall. Matt Ramos (Illinois), 5:59
- 126: Jesse Ybarra (Arizona) dec. Caleb Rathjen (Iowa), 3-1