Returning state wrestling tournament points and looking ahead to the 2019-20 season

Cody Goodwin
The Des Moines Register

It’s been two weeks since the 2019 high school state wrestling tournament. This past weekend, the Des Moines Register announced its All-Iowa Wrestling Teams. Moving forward, big offseason tournaments await some of the state’s most elite prep wrestlers.

But it’s never too early to look ahead, right?

It was easy to get excited about the future of high school wrestling in Iowa this year. There was a youth movement, as six freshmen won state titles, but even more, 18 of the 42 individual state champions — nearly 43 percent — will return next season.

Waverly-Shell Rock, West Delaware and Don Bosco all claimed the traditional state team titles, and Southeast Polk joined the Hawks and Dons as state duals champions. We have every reason to believe each of those four teams will contend again next year.

Here, we offer a lookahead to the 2019-20 season, complete with returning points from this year’s state tournament, as well as names and teams to watch.


2019 state team scores

    1. Waverly-Shell Rock, 157
    2. Southeast Polk, 123
    3. Fort Dodge, 103
    4. Ankeny Centennial, 86
    5. Waukee, 75

    The Go-Hawks brought 11 wrestlers and nine finished on the podium, including seven in the top five at their respective weights. That depth and firepower paved the way for Waverly-Shell Rock’s first traditional team title since 2011, and sixth overall.

    The Rams ended up in second, despite having more finalists (4-3) and champs (3-1) than Waverly-Shell Rock. Southeast Polk still turned in a strong performance, finishing with six medalists at the traditional tournament to go along with the state duals crown.

    Fort Dodge finished third, marking the fifth-straight season the Dodgers took home a trophy from the traditional state tournament. They were led by two individual champions in Drake Ayala (113) and Carson Taylor (120). Ankeny Centennial and Waukee rounded out the top five.

    Here’s a look at what’s coming back next season:

    Returning points

    1. Fort Dodge, 85
    2. Waverly-Shell Rock, 80
    3. Ankeny, 55.5
    4. Bettendorf, 55
    5. Mason City, 45
    6. Cedar Rapids Prairie, 42.5
    7. Ankeny Centennial, 41
    8. Southeast Polk, 39.5
    9. Iowa City West, 37.5
    10. North Scott, 36

    Others to watch: Waukee (33), Johnston (29) and West Des Moines Valley (28).

    A quick glance reveals that both Fort Dodge and Waverly-Shell Rock have a solid head start over the rest of the field.

    In addition to Ayala and Taylor, the Dodgers also return two other medalists in Lane Cowell (4th at 106) and Brooks Cowell (5th at 126), as well as point scorers in Dreyzon Phillips (132) and Kody Cook (145). The only big loss is Drevon Ross, who placed 4th at 138.

    The Go-Hawks return plenty of firepower: Aiden Riggins (3rd at 106), Bailey Roybal (5th at 113), Evan Yant (4th at 132), Brayden Wolf (2nd at 195) and Ian Heise (6th at 138). Point scorers Cayden Langreck (145) and Gavin Wedemeier (170) are back, too. Waverly-Shell Rock recorded 15 pins at state. Riggins, Roybal, Yant, Wedemeier and Wolf combined for 10.

    After that, things get interesting.

    Ankeny returns a pair of state champs in Trever Anderson (106) and Caleb Rathjen (126). Bettendorf has three medalists back, led by Aiden Evans (3rd at 120) and Griffin Liddle (2nd at 285). Mason City returns Cullan, Colby Schriever and Jace Rhodes (2nd at 106). Centennial returns two state finalists in Ben Monroe (132) and Logan Neils (170).

    The Rams had plenty of youth in this year’s lineup, but also some irreplaceable senior talent in Lance Runyon (40-0, state champ at 152), Cade DeVos (40-0, state champ at 160) and Devin Harmison (31-7, state finalist at 113). Gabe Christensen, a 2019 state champ, will return, as does state medalist Justin Brindley and five other state qualifiers.

    ► 2019 All-Iowa Wrestling Teams

    CLASS 2A

    2019 state team scores

      1. West Delaware, 76.5
      2. Spirit Lake Park, 63.5
      3. Clear Lake, 62.5
      4. Union, 60.6
      5. Solon, 58.5

      A truly wild, eventful team race ended with West Delaware taking the crown despite not even having a state finalist. The Hawks’ overall depth led the day. They brought eight wrestlers, and seven finished on the podium.

      Spirit Lake Park emerged from the mess behind West Delaware, thanks to senior Kyler Rieck’s dominant run to a state title at 152 pounds. Clear Lake ended up third with four medalists, and Union and Solon, each with an individual title-winner, rounded out the top five.

      Here’s a look at what’s coming back next season: 

      Returning points

      1. Union, 60.6
      2. Centerville, 57
      3. West Delaware, 47
      4. Solon, 45.5
      5. (tie) Sergeant Bluff-Luton, 45
      6. (tie) Independence, 45

      Others to watch: Crestwood, Cresco (24), Clear Lake (17), PCM, Monroe (15.5), Clarion-Goldfield-Dows (12) and Spirit Lake Park (7).

      You read that right. Union brings back everybody from this year’s state team — champion Jack Thomsen (138), runner-up Adam Ahrendsen (152) as well as fellow state medalists Lincoln Mehlert (8th at 106) and Kolten Crawford (7th at 113).

      Centerville will be a force, too, as all three state medalists — two-time champ Matthew Lewis, two-time finalist Nathaniel Genobana and two-time medalist Kayden Kauzlarich — will be back again. West Delaware loses some key seniors, but will also return a strong, young nucleus from this year’s title team.

      Solon, Sergeant Bluff-Luton and Independence all bring back strong pieces as well. While Union might have the slightest of edges on paper, you can always expect the Class 2A team race to be the most intriguing of the three, if only because of the unknown and unpredictability.


      CLASS 1A

      2019 state team scores

      1. Don Bosco, 151
      2. Lisbon, 104.5
      3. Denver, 99.5
      4. Underwood, 97.5
      5. West Sioux, 86

      Don Bosco lapped the field this year, clinching the team title outright after Friday’s semifinal round. Despite not having an individual champ, all 10 Don wrestlers ended up on the podium, and four ultimately made the finals.

      Lisbon stormed to second place thanks to three state champs in Robert Avila Jr. (126), Cael Happel (132) and Cobe Siebrecht (138). Denver stumbled through the first day and a half, but made up the points in the wrestlebacks and ended with eight medalists. Underwood competed all weekend, too, thanks to three finalists and three other medalists.

      Here’s a look at what’s coming back next season:

      Returning points

      1. Don Bosco, 102.5
      2. Underwood, 82.5
      3. Lisbon, 72
      4. Denver, 53.5
      5. Woodbury Central, 47

      Others to watch: West Sioux (42), Central Springs (15), Missouri Valley (9).

      Kind of a scary that Don Bosco returns almost as many points as Lisbon scored at this year’s state tournament.

      The big losses are Daniel Kimball (2nd at 120), Noah Pittman (2nd at 285) and Max Wettengel (7th at 145). But state finalists Thomas Even (182) and Carson Tenold (160) are back, as well as medalists Cade Tenold (4th at 152), Easton Larson (4th at 132), Cael Rahnavardi (4th at 170), Cael Frost (5th at 138) and Michael McClelland (6th at 120). Even more, freshman 106-pounder Garrett Funk, who ended the season ranked 9th, returns after not qualifying for state.

      Underwood loses two state medalists, but returns all three state finalists in Stevie Barnes (106), Logan James (132) and Nick Hamilton (138), as well as third-place finisher Blake Thomsen (145). Lisbon brings back both Happel and Avila Jr. Denver loses some strong seniors in Cael Krueger (170), Riley Wright (138) and Brock Farley (285), but brings back five medalists.

      One thing to remember as well: None of these returning point totals takes into account the potential incoming freshmen at any of these schools. For some teams, that made a difference this season.

      The 2019-20 wrestling season officially begins with first practices on Nov. 19. Competition starts Dec. 2, and the state tournament runs Feb. 20-22, 2020. It’ll be here before we know it.

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