116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MARION — Tate Naaktgeboren owns an eclectic taste in music.
Funk, rap and even golden oldies have a time, place and purpose for the Linn-Mar junior. His playlist also serves as an aide when the two-time state finalist transitions from his laid back personality off the mat to a fierce competitor on it.
The defending Class 3A 160-pound state champion admitted he geared up for the 2021 finals, listening to the classic “Rocking’ Robin.” As a freshman, he grooved to the wedding reception staple “Cupid Shuffle” before his title match.
“I’m a big music guy,” Naaktgeboren said. “I don’t even want to look at the hours I’ve spent listening to music on my phone.
“Music helps me flip the switch. Just seeing the wrestling mat, putting on my shoes and taping them also helps. When you step on that line against me, I’m ready to go. It doesn’t matter who it is.”
Naaktgeboren’s diverse choices in music is mirrored by his versatile wrestling skills. The top-ranked 170-pounder has developed into one of the state’s elite competitors and has the chance to join select company this season. He will attempt to become just the third Linn-Mar wrestler to win multiple state titles.
“I’m feeling ready to roll,” said Naaktgeboren, who placed fifth at the Super 32 tournament at Greensboro, N.C., in October. “I’m always ready but I think this is going to be a really good season for me. Plus, our team is looking really good. Our team is working really hard in the room. When you have the coaching staff Linn-Mar has and provides, you’re going to keep improving throughout the season. I’m excited to see how far this team comes.”
Naaktgeboren earned Linn-Mar’s 14th state title in February, becoming the ninth Lions’ wrestler to achieve the feat. He could join Jay Borschel and Matt McDonough as the only Lions to win more than one. Borschel won four from 2002-05. McDonough was a three-time titlist from 2006-08.
Complacency isn’t a factor.
“You have one but why have one when you can have two? Why have two when you can have three? You just keep building and improving,” said Naaktgeboren, a member of Big Game Wrestling Club in North Liberty. “My mindset is the same, coming into any season, and pushing myself in the room doesn’t change. I’m pushing myself harder, or as hard as I can, every day, picking tough partners wherever I’m at, whether it be Big Game or Linn-Mar.”
Naaktgeboren is a unique personality in an intense sport. He balances a serious, hard-working demeanor in practice and in competition with a fun-loving attitude that likes to hang out with friends and be active away from wrestling. Naaktgeboren is ultra-dedicated, but isn’t consumed with the grind every hour of each week.
“He is very easy-going,” Linn-Mar Coach Doug Streicher said. “He would do anything for you. He’s as free as his (shaggy) hair.”
Streicher and his staff recognized Naaktgeboren had special potential as early as middle school. Naaktgeboren started to excel on the AAU and national scene in Tulsa, Okla. Steicher had seen others succeed in the youth ranks, but fail to make the commitment to reach their goals. The opposite was true for Naaktgeboren, who had visions of becoming an NCAA Division I wrestler.
“He had a mission,” Streicher said. “He had a focus. He had big aspirations and he was ready to follow it up with his work. A lot of kids have aspirations until the rubber hits the road. When it was time for him to work for that aspiration there was never a doubt.
“You knew he was that type of wrestler. Every time there was a chance to get better he took that chance. Obviously, he is supported by his family. It was one of those things where he was willing to put the work in. He wasn’t all talk. He was all action.”
Many components make up Naaktgeboren’s success. Streicher praised his work ethic and maturity that were advanced beyond his years, whether it is training, academics or relationships.
“He keeps things in perspective, so he’s very focused that way,” Streicher said. “His work ethic, self-motivation and internal drive helps separate him.”
Naaktgeboren said he developed his work ethic from the influence of his parents and the requirements to reach his goals of a D-I wrestler.
“It kind of came from both,” Naaktgeboren said. “From the time I was little, my dad has always sent me motivational quotes and videos. My coaches preach it. The other side of it, personally, why show to the room and give half effort? You’re there. Why wouldn’t I just get better? Why wouldn’t I push myself the hardest since I’m there anyway?”
Coming into the season, Naaktgeboren has continued to evolve in every position. An emphasis has been placed on the bottom position, preparing him for his college career. His strength remains the ability to dominate in all three phases.
“I wouldn’t put it in one category,” Streicher said. “He’s extremely strong. He has some speed and a lot of really good technique. He can do a lot of different things so he’s not a one-trick pony.
“He’s a well-rounded individual that can do a lot of high-level skills.”
Naaktgeboren recently announced his verbal commitment to wrestle at Iowa State. The decision provided some relief, fulfilling a dream formed when he watched national champions get their hands raised on television. He said he liked the bond and the approach of the Iowa State wrestlers.
“I love the coaching staff and what they have for me,” Naaktgeboren said. “I think my style is a mix of all three of them — (Cyclone assistant Derek) St. John’s length, (Cyclone assistant Brent) Metcalf’s aggressiveness and (head coach Kevin) Dresser’s technique.
“It meant a lot, having that college decision done with and seeing all the hard work paying off. It gets me excited.”