By Dana Becker | Photo by Matthew Putney
What a first weekend of prep wrestling in Iowa fans was treated to. There were meets statewide with the best of the best in action against one another.
The stacked Dan Gable Donnybrook went down inside the Xtream Arena in Coralville, while Independence once again hosted the Cliff Keen Invitational. But that was far from it.
Humboldt, who welcomed in Iowa State vs. Grand View for a collegiate dual in front of a packed house earlier this year, did the same for high school wrestlers, while meets were also held in Cedar Falls, Brooklyn, Cascade, Mount Vernon, Manchester, Grimes, Wapello and others.
Iowans battle best of best at Donnybrook
In just a short amount of time, the Dan Gable Donnybrook has become one of the state's premier high school wrestling tournaments. This season was no different, as wrestlers from Iowa, Nebraska and other surrounding states came together inside the Xtrream Arena in Coralville to heat up the action.
Defending state champion Koufax Christensen of Waukee Northwest came out on top, besting Hunter Taylor from Liberty, Mo., for the crown at 120 pounds.
Iowa City West’s Alexander Pierce secured the 106-pound title, Ryder Block of Waverly-Shell Rock did the same at 138, while Grant Kress of Linn-Mar claimed first at 152. Iowa City Highs’s Gabe Arnold and Ben Kueter shined bright, winning their respective weight divisions, while a handful of others finished out on the awards stand.
Kueter, who made a name for himself over the summer on the international wrestling scene, pinned his way to the finals before scoring a technical fall vs. Dubuque Hempstead’s Joseph Lewis in the finals at 220 pounds.
Pierce was on the opposite end of the spectrum from Kueter, as he claimed close decisions on his way to gold. That included a 6-5 decision over Marmion Academy’s Nicholas Garcia in the finals.
Cliff Keen title goes to Osage
Prior to the start of the Donnybrook, the Cliff Keen Invitational hosted by Independence constantly drew some of the top talents in the state. The event remains one of the big ones of the early season, and Osage made a statement by racking up 359 points to capture the team title over Alburnett, Carlisle and others.
Tucker Stangel proved why he is an elite wrestler, winning the 145-pound title with a razor-thin 3-2 decision over Carlisle’s Jaxon Miller in the finals. He racked up 45.5 points toward the Osage total.
Nick Fox did the same at 170 pounds, earning 47 team points with four falls and a major decision, which came in the championship match vs. Caden McDermott of Pleasant Valley.
Anders Kittelson advanced to the finals before losing to defending state champion Kale Petersen of Greene County, scoring 42 points for the Green Devils. He had three pins and a pair of major decisions.
Blake Fox overcame a semifinal loss to the highly regarded Blake Gioimo of Cedar Rapids Prairie to place third, going 6-1 on the day with 38 team points scored. Mac Muller was also a runner-up, earning silver at 285 pounds with four pins during his tournament run.
The likes of Carter West, Jace Hedeman, Brandon Paez, McKinley Robbins, Isaiah Fenton, Carson Klostermann, CJ Walrath, Braden McShane, Rusty VanWetzinga and Wyatt Smith were all individual champions.
Paez had one of the wins of the tournament, besting Gioimo, an Iowa State commit, in the finals, 7-0.
The Dons do it again at Keith Young
Over in Cedar Falls, Class 1A power Don Bosco got the better of West Des Moines Valley, North Scott and the rest at the Keith Young Invitation.
Jaxon Larson, Kaiden Knaack, Kyler Knaack and Jared Thiry all finished undefeated to win their respective weight divisions, while Cole Frost, Myles McMahon, Jacob Thiry and Mack Ortner secured silvers to add to the team total.
Jabari Hinson of Ames gave the Little Cyclones a positive finish, as the sophomore bested Valley’s Nate Bierma for the 126-pound with a major decision. Another youngster from Ames, freshman Danarii Mickel, topped senior AJ Petersen of North Scott, 1-0, to win at 195 pounds.
Maddux Borcherding-Johnson, one of the top football recruits in the state, was the heavyweight champion, as the Norwalk senior topped Ortner in the finals with a 59-second fall. The 6-foot-3 lineman committed to Iowa State earlier this year.