Team Iowa finishes strong week with 8 All-Americans at Junior Greco-Roman national championships
High school wrestling in Iowa is as good and deep as it’s ever been, and a collection of the state’s top wrestlers spent all week proving it.
The Under-16 and Junior national championships, USA Wrestling's largest national-level high school competition, ran all week long at North Dakota State’s FargoDome. A record 6,647 wrestlers from across the country competed in six different tournaments.
The final competition was the Junior Greco-Roman tournament, which concluded on Friday afternoon. Team Iowa capped a historic week with a fifth-place team finish thanks to eight more individual All-Americans.
West Delaware’s Wyatt Voelker led the way with a runner-up finish at 195 pounds. He ended the week as a double All-American, taking third in freestyle and second in greco with a 12-2 overall record across both tournaments. Voelker earned double All-American honors last year too, and was a double 16U All-American in 2019.
The future Northern Iowa wrestler was one of three Iowa high-schoolers to earn that distinction at the Junior level this week in Fargo. He was joined by Linn-Mar’s Tate Naaktgeboren and Nashua-Plainfield’s Jayden Rinken.
Naaktgeboren, an Iowa State recruit, finished third in freestyle and fifth in greco at 182 pounds. He went 12-3 overall and reached the semifinals in both styles, a strong follow-up performance after he went 15-1 overall at the Junior national duals last month in Tulsa, helping Iowa to both the freestyle and greco dual crowns.
Rinken, a sophomore-to-be at Nashua-Plainfield, was an All-American in both styles at 100 pounds, taking third in freestyle and seventh in greco. He went 5-1 during the freestyle competition and 4-2 in greco. He reached the quarterfinals in both styles, then rallied through the wrestlebacks to earn podium finishes.
Behind them were five more Iowa high-schoolers who rebounded from tough freestyle outings with strong greco performances:
- Underwood’s Gable Porter went 6-2 and took fourth at 126 pounds, which came after he went 5-2 and finished one win shy of All-American status in the Junior freestyle competition;
- Glenwood’s Matthew Beem added to his growing greco résumé by taking fourth at 132 pounds, which comes after he took sixth at the U17 greco world team trials earlier this spring;
- Osage’s Nick Fox, a double 16U All-American last year, finished sixth at 170 in greco this week after stumbling to a 3-2 mark in freestyle;
- Nashua-Plainfield’s Garret Rinken, Jayden’s older brother, took seventh at 120 pounds with a 5-2 record, which included a ferocious rally from down 9-2 to winning 10-9 in his bloodround match on Thursday evening;
- and Don Bosco’s Jared Thiry, a Junior folkstyle national champ who finished 3-2 in freestyle earned a seventh-place finish at 220 in Junior greco by winning six straight wrestleback matches after a first-round loss.
Their individual placements gave Iowa 75 team points, good for fifth-place in the Junior greco team race. Illinois ran away with the title, scoring 164 behind four individual champs. Wisconsin (104), Idaho (100) and Florida (93) went second, third, and fourth.
But their overall performance puts the cap on an all-time week for Team Iowa at the 16U and Junior national championships.
Across this seven-day competition, 42 different Iowa wrestlers combined for 48 total All-American finishes, the most Iowa's ever had in the 51-year history of this multi-age-level national championship event.
Six wrestlers were double All-Americans: along with Voelker, Naaktgeboren and Jayden Rinken, Connor Fiser and Max Riggins did so in 16U, and Decorah's Naomi Simon was both a 16U and Junior All-American in women's freestyle, just the third in state history.
Team Iowa won a pair of team titles, in 16U women’s freestyle for the first time ever, and Junior men’s freestyle, for the 11th time in state history but for the first time since 2008. Iowa also finished sixth or better in three of the other four age-level team races.
Seven wrestlers won individual national championships: Underwood’s Molly Allen in 16U women’s freestyle; Mac Crosson and Dreshaun Ross in 16U men’s freestyle; and Nate Jesuroga, Ryder Block, Aiden Riggins and Bradley Hill in Junior men’s freestyle.
This weeklong competition was the individual-oriented follow-up to last month's Junior National Duals, where Iowa won both the freestyle and greco titles — freestyle for the second year in a row; greco for the first time ever.
It was also a reminder that the state of Iowa’s high school wrestling is not only as deep and as talented as ever, but also consistently among the best in the country, too.
Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.