By Dana Becker
Feature photo of Carroll's Cael Nelson courtesy of Tiger Vision
Over the next few weeks we will be taking a look at Iowa’s top wrestlers by weight class. Today, we examine the best 120-pounders.
These lists are primarily based on where the wrestlers competed last season, as most have yet to determine which weight they plan to compete at in the upcoming season.
Carter Freeman, Waukee Northwest, junior
In just two short seasons on the mat, Freeman has made a statement. The Waukee Northwest junior enters his third year as a two-time champion, having captured the 120-pound title last year with a record of 46-1. As a ninth-grader, Freeman went 28-0 and finished first, adding to titles won at the CIML Invitational, Ed Winger and Iowa/USA State events.
Kale Petersen, Greene County, senior
The second two-time champion is one of the top senior wrestlers in the state. After winning a state title in Class 1A at West Fork, he moved to Greene County and did the same in Class 2A. Petersen, who was also sixth as a freshman, has gone 64-9 in his prep career.
Brandon Paez, Lisbon, senior
The Class 1A champion a year ago, Paez was a runner-up as a sophomore. Last year, he put together a 37-1 record, a season removed from going 35-2 on the mat.
Garret Rinken, Nashua-Plainfield, senior
Talk about a motivated individual. That is exactly what Garret Rinken is coming into his senior season. Third as a freshman, Rinken claimed a Class 1A state title as a sophomore, going 47-0. Last year, he reached the state finals again, but was defeated for the first time in 55 matches, placing second.
Cale Seaton, Iowa City High, junior
Class 3A features several returning medalists in this group, including Seaton. The Iowa City High junior finished third last year, going 42-3. As a freshman, Seaton went 16-2 overall, placing third.
Logan Trenary, Southeast Polk, sophomore
One of the reasons Southeast Polk can remain at the forefront of contention yearly in Class 3A is because of a deep and talented incoming group every season. Logan Trenary was one of those last year, as he placed fourth going 35-7 as a freshman.
Blake Allen, Underwood, junior
With 38 victories a year ago, Underwood’s Blake Allen looks to improve upon his fourth-place medal in Class 1A to conclude his junior campaign.
Carson Less, West Delaware, senior
Over the past two seasons, Carson Lee from West Delaware has qualified for state and secured a spot on the podium. Last year, he finished 42-5 and placed fifth, adding to his 33 wins and sixth place medal as a sophomore.
Dawson Schmitt, Wapsie Valley, senior
Schmitt, a two-time, double medalist, earned 49 wins on the mat a season ago to place fifth after going 33-8 as a sophomore and earning sixth.
Nate Bierma, West Des Moines Valley, senior
It might not be the same as Southeast Polk or Waukee Northwest in central Iowa on the mats, but West Des Moines Valley can still produce talent. Bierma earned sixth as a junior a season ago for the Tigers, going 37-11 overall.
Amare Chavez, South Tama County, junior
It was a strong finish to the season for South Tama County’s Amare Chavez, as he locked in a sixth-place medal in Class 2A. Chavez went 37-9.
Preston Klostermann, Alburnett, sophomore
It was a welcome to the fire for Alburnett’s Preston Klostermann last year. As a freshman, Klostermann went 48-9 and earned a medal, finishing sixth in Class 1A.
CJ Davis, Notre Dame Burlington, sophomore
When it comes to the lower weights, Notre Dame Burlington is one of the best programs in the state. CJ Davis is part of that, as he finished seventh in Class 2A last year as a freshman with 43 victories.
Gavin Reed, Waterloo Columbus Catholic, senior
After locking up a medal Reed tries to move up the podium from seventh this winter. He earned 38 wins last season.
Braxten Westendorf, Waverly-Shell Rock, junior
It takes every wrestler to compete for a Class 3A team title, and Waverly-Shell Rock is good at doing just that. Westendorf helped the Go-Hawks last year, placing eighth overall.
Caelan Oakes-Sudhish, Southeast Valley, senior
Oakes-Sudhish was the “little man” to “big man” Aaron Graves last year. Now, he will lead Southeast Valley after placing eighth in Class 1A with a record of 43-7.
Jordan Dusenberry, Wilton, sophomore
In his first season of high school wrestling, Dusenberry won 40 matches and placed eighth in Class 1A.
Ethan Sachau, Wilton, junior
While he didn’t get on the podium last year, Sachau had a tremendous season. He advanced to state and went 47-4 overall.
Payton Harger, Earlham, junior
Another 30-plus match winner, the junior qualified for state but left Des Moines without a medal.
Cael Nelson, Carroll, junior
Twice now in his career, Nelson has advanced to the state tournament. He won 37 matches last year and 25 as a freshman.
Tate Slagle, Algona, sophomore
Even though he was denied a spot in the Top 8, Algona sophomore Tate Slagle got a taste of state, qualifying for the championships and finishing his freshman campaign with a record of 41-8.