Get a feel for what it's like to be on the floor as wrestlers battle for their state championships. The Des Moines Register
Many wrestling fans tend to focus much of their attention on the sport between the months of November and March. But diehards know that the spring and summer months feature just as many high-level wrestling competitions.
This past weekend, Southeast Polk hosted the freestyle and Greco-Roman state championships. For some wrestlers, that was the end of their competitive offseasons. For those who won, a busy summer of bigger competitions await.
Consider what's coming for some high school wrestlers: various regional tournaments around the country, the UWW Cadet World Team Trials, age-level national dual tournaments, and as well as the Cadet and Junior national championships.
Those who succeed will undoubtedly raise their stock on the national scene. College coaches at all levels flock to each event to seek out the future of their respective programs. A lot can be gained from competing and winning over the next few months.
As such, the Des Moines Register reached out to high school coaches, wrestlers and recruiting contacts to form this list of eight wrestlers from the 2020 class worth following this summer. These are strictly guys who will be seniors next winter, and they're listed alphabetically.
Adam Allard, West Sioux
Allard is in line to become Iowa's next four-time state champion. He is 158-1 for his career, which includes a ridiculous, 153-match winning streak. He’s won titles at 106, 113 and 120 pounds in Class 1A. Only 27 Iowa high school wrestlers have won four state titles.
A lot of eyeballs will be on Allard this summer. He didn’t compete last weekend, but says he’ll compete at the Northern Plains Regional in Minnesota this month. A strong showing will qualify him for the Junior nationals in July, where he could perhaps crack the national rankings. Division I schools are in contact, too, including Northern Iowa, South Dakota State, and Ohio State.
Gabe Christenson, Southeast Polk
Christenson’s national stock has blown up over the past year. He secured double All-American honors at the UWW Cadet national tournament last summer, then blew through his high school competition en route to a 3A state title at 195 pounds in February. He went 42-1, with 14 pins and 11 technical falls.
Christenson committed to Iowa earlier this spring and is considered one of the country’s best — the No. 78 overall 2020 prospect, according to Flowrestling, and No. 5 nationally at 195 pounds. After winning both Junior freestyle and Greco state crowns this past weekend, he will compete at the Northern Plains, Junior Duals and the Junior national championships, Southeast Polk coach Jason Christenson said.
Cody Fisher, Woodward-Granger
Fisher has consistently been one of the state’s best wrestlers. He’s a three-time state finalist and won his first title in February at 220 in 2A. He’s also a past Cadet double All-American, finishing seventh in freestyle and eighth in Greco-Roman following his freshman year in 2017.
Fisher is committed to Iowa State and is ranked No. 7 nationally at 220 pounds. He also won both Junior freestyle and Greco state titles last weekend. A strong summer, which he says will include Junior Duals and the Junior national championships, could lift him into Flowrestling’s top 100 in the 2020 class.
► MORE WRESTLING COVERAGE FROM THE DES MOINES REGISTER
- STATE: Iowa's best prep wrestlers clash at freestyle and greco state championships
- HIGH SCHOOL: IHSAA exploring the possibility of moving state duals
- RECRUITING: ISU's 2019 class ranks No. 9 nationally; UNI, Iowa in top 20
- LOOKAHEAD: What to expect from the World Team Trials, Final X
- U.S. OPEN: Kyven Gadson wins, Thomas Gilman takes second, other thoughts
- WOMEN'S FREESTYLE: Hawkeye Wrestling Club dominates women's U.S. Open
Cael Happel, Lisbon
Like Allard, Happel is in line to join the four-timer club next season. After previously winning at 113 and 120, he went 58-0 this winter en route to another state title at 132 pounds in 1A. He followed that by winning the Junior freestyle state crown at the same weight, defeating Ankeny’s Caleb Rathjen, a 3A state champ and returning Cadet national finalist, 10-5 in the finals.
Happel made his college decision shortly after the high school season, picking Northern Iowa. He’s currently ranked No. 6 nationally at 132 pounds by Flowrestling and is considered the No. 56 overall prospect in the 2020 class. He said he might compete at the Southern Plains next month — Northern Plains is the same weekend as state track — as well as Junior nationals.
Logan James, Underwood
James has steadily grown into one of the state’s best wrestlers. He’s now a three-time state medalist after reaching the 1A finals at 132 pounds this past year. Before the season, he took third at USA Wrestling’s preseason nationals and also won the always-tough Monster Match Nationals in Colorado.
This past weekend, James won both freestyle and Greco Junior titles at 138 pounds, qualifying him for both the Junior Duals and Junior nationals. Underwood coach Joe Stephens said Grand View and Northern Iowa, among others, have reached out. Many more will with a continued strong summer.
Austin Kegley, Cedar Rapids Prairie
Kegley has quietly become one of Iowa’s fastest-rising talents. He was eighth in the state in 2018 and earned Junior Greco All-American honors by the end of the summer. This past winter, he took third at state at 113 pounds, then swept both Junior freestyle and Greco state crowns last weekend.
Another low-key prospect, Kegley can continue to make noise at the Junior Duals and Junior nationals this summer. He projects as a career 125-pounder and could crack some national polls with strong performances.
Jack Thomsen, Union (LaPorte City)
Thomsen is another fast-rising talent. He went 47-0 and won a 2A state title at 138 pounds. He followed with a major-decision win over Pleasant Valley’s 3A state champ Eli Loyd at the War at West Gym, then stormed to a Junior freestyle state title at 145 pounds last weekend.
Thomsen’s success sets up a busy summer for him, one that will likely include the Northern Plains, Junior Duals and Junior nationals, according to Union coach Bart Mehlert. He added that many teams have contacted Thomsen, who is the younger brother of Northern Iowa All-American Max Thomsen. A successful summer will undoubtedly attract more recruiting interest.
Josh Vis, Cedar Rapids Kennedy
Vis is an intriguing prospect who’s popping up on national radars. This past winter, he finished third in 3A at heavyweight, going 31-3 with 22 pins. He is ranked No. 17 nationally at 285 by Flowrestling. College wrestling is in his future.
Vis didn’t compete this past weekend. Kennedy coach Dennis Hynek said Vis is recovering from a small knee procedure, but that he plans on competing at a regional once he’s cleared to try and qualify for Junior nationals. Vis finished third at both Junior freestyle and Greco state a year ago.
Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.