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The 2018-19 Iowa Eight wrestling picks: Drake Ayala, Julien Broderson, Cade DeVos, Cael Happel, Caleb Rathjen, Aden Reeves, Cullan Schriever, Spencer Trenary. Cody Goodwin, cgoodwin2@dmreg.com

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The Iowa Eight is the Des Moines Register's list of the eight best wrestlers in Iowa, weighing past performances and future prospects, both in their high school season and in other competitive statewide and national competitions. Incoming freshmen through seniors are eligible.

The team is selected based on Register staff observations and consultations with high school, college and recruiting contacts. They are listed alphabetically. Records were compiled through Trackwrestling.

Drake Ayala

School: Fort Dodge

Year: Sophomore

Weight: 113 pounds

Record: 44-2

College Choice: Undecided

Why he’s one of the Iowa Eight: Ayala may be young, but he's already established himself as one of the state's and nation's best wrestlers. He won a Cadet freestyle national title before his freshman season, and followed up with a 44-win campaign wherein he reached the state finals.

Ayala followed with another All-American freestyle performance last summer, and then reached the finals of the prestigious Super 32 Challenge, arguably the toughest preseason tournament in the country. He's ranked No. 2 nationally by Flowrestling at 106 pounds, but plans to go 113 this season for the defending state champion Dodgers.

Julien Broderson

School: Davenport Assumption

Year: Senior

Weight: 195 pounds

Record: 118-17

College Choice: Iowa State (signed)

Why he’s one of the Iowa Eight: Broderson has been one of the state's most dominant wrestlers the past two years, winning back-to-back state titles in Class 2A. He went 39-0 last season with 31 pins, including 26 in the first period.

On the national scene, Broderson has proven his worth, as he's a two-time Greco-Roman All-American at the Cadet and Junior levels. Flowrestling ranks him No. 15 nationally at 182 pounds. He will bump up for Assumption this winter, where he's expecting to win a third title come February.

More prep wrestling:

 

Cade DeVos

School: Southeast Polk

Year: Senior

Weight: 160

Record: 140-7

College Choice: South Dakota State (signed)

Why he’s one of the Iowa Eight: DeVos is a two-time state finalist in Class 3A, and he captured the 145-pound crown a year ago. He lost just three times a year ago, and only one was to an in-state opponent. Of his 39 victories last season, 25 were either by pin or technical fall.

DeVos is more than proven nationally. This past summer, he was a double All-American at the Junior national championships, finishing seventh in both the men's freestyle and Greco-Roman competitions. He's ranked 10th nationally by Flowrestling at 152 pounds, and is a heavy favorite to repeat as state champ this season.

Cael Happel

School: Lisbon

Year: Junior

Weight: 126

Record: 111-5

College Choice: Undecided

Why he’s one of the Iowa Eight: The Happel name will sound familiar. Dean, Cael's father, was a three-time state champion for Lisbon in the 1980s. Older brother Carter, now an Iowa Hawkeye, was a four-timer for the Lions and an Iowa Eight pick ahead of the 2015-16 season.

Cael Happel is trending in the same direction. He's won 111 matches in his first two seasons, both of which ended with state titles. In his eight matches at Wells Fargo Arena, he's recorded three pins and five technical falls. The Open Mat ranks him at No. 16 nationally at 126.

Caleb Rathjen

School: Ankeny

Year: Sophomore

Weight: 126

Record: 20-2

College Choice: Undecided

Why he’s one of the Iowa Eight: Despite how it looks, Rathjen's name is actually pronounced "rah-chee," and you'll want to make sure you remember that because you're going to be hearing about Ankeny's star sophomore a lot over the next few years.

Rathjen battled through an injury-riddled freshman campaign and still reached the state finals a year ago. Once fully recovered, he stormed to the Cadet men's freestyle national finals over the summer, earning his second All-American honor. Flowrestling ranks him No. 15 nationally at 126. A healthy Rathjen will put on a show this season.

IOWA'S GREATEST:

Aden Reeves

School: Albia

Year: Senior

Weight: 120

Record: 142-3

College Choice: Iowa State (signed)

Why he’s one of the Iowa Eight: Reeves has long been one of the state's most exciting wrestlers, and enters his senior season as arguably the best pound-for-pound talent in Iowa. He's a three-time state medalist, a two-time champ and has won his last 73 matches. He went 50-0 last year, and 49 matches included bonus points.

Reeves has been a consistent presence on the national scene as well. Five times, he's earned All-American honors. This past summer, he reached the finals of the Junior men's freestyle national championships. He's currently ranked No. 3 nationally at 120 pounds by Flowrestling. 

Cullan Schriever

School: Mason City

Year: Junior

Weight: 120

Record: 89-1

College Choice: Iowa (committed)

Why he’s one of the Iowa Eight: Schriever created plenty of hype prior to his first varsity match, and he's only exceeded those expectations. He enters his junior season a two-time Class 3A state champ, winning back-to-back crowns at 106 pounds. Of his 89 victories, 43 have included bonus points.

Flowrestling ranks Schriever as the No. 8 113-pounder in the country, though he plans on wrestling 120 this season for Mason City. His accolades suggest he's much better, as he's won men's freestyle national titles at both the Cadet and Junior levels. He's also a past Super 32 Challenge champion. Easy to see why Iowa pushed hard to recruit him.

Spencer Trenary

School: Clarion-Goldfield-Dows

Year: Senior

Weight: 285

Record: 113-16

College Choice: South Dakota State (signed)

Why he’s one of the Iowa Eight: Trenary has long been one of the nation's best heavyweights. Flowrestling ranks him at No. 7 nationally. He's earned All-American honors five times, including a double showing at the Junior national championships this past summer, taking fourth in Greco-Roman and seventh in men's freestyle.

Here in Iowa, Trenary is a three-time Class 2A state medalist and a 2018 finalist. Twice at the state tournament, he's lost to the eventual champ. He's the runaway favorite this year, entering his senior season with 113 victories.

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JUST MISSED

Adam Allard, West Sioux — A two-time Class 1A state champ who's 93-1 entering his junior season. Allard also got a small bit of international experience last spring.

Gabe Christenson, Southeast Polk — The son of Southeast Polk head coach Jason Christenson is a two-time state medalist who enters this season ranked No. 1 at 195 pounds in Class 3A.

John Henrich, Akron-Westfield — Henrich, a Nebraska signee, has turned in back-to-back undefeated state championship seasons in Class 1A, quietly establishing himself as one of the state's best.

Nick Oldham, W.D.M. Valley — Oldham returned to the state finals last season, winning the 113-pound crown (over Ankeny's Rathjen in a wild, back-and-forth bout). The senior is a three-time state medalist.

Lance Runyon, Southeast Polk — Runyon, a Northern Iowa signee, is a three-time state medalist — twice for Indianola, and then again last year for the Rams. The senior will be a favorite come February.

Anthony Zach, Waukee — Zach, who signed with Northern Illinois, is a returning state finalist and a Junior folkstyle national champion. He's ranked No. 11 nationally by The Open Mat at 170 pounds.

Last year's list: Kyle Biscoglia, Michael Blockhus, Nelson Brands, Aden Reeves, Cullan Schriever, Joel Shapiro, Brody Teske, Alex Thomsen.

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

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