116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Upper Iowa's Heath Grimm resorted to one of his signature phrases.
With a smaller field, fewer supporters in attendance and no extra workout partners on the trip, the phrase rings truer after last year's national tournament cancellation.
'You could roll a mat out in the middle of a corn field, and we call in nationals, we'd feel good about it,” Grimm said. 'It's funny because I've always used that saying to the guys ... this year it came to fruition a little more.
'We're blessed to have this opportunity.”
Upper Iowa has four qualifiers for the NCAA Division II Wrestling Championships at America's Center in St. Louis. The two-day event begins Friday at noon with the finals set for 7 p.m. Saturday.
Upper Iowa is led by Super Regional champions Chase Luensman (157) and 197-pounder Zach Ryg. Tate Murty (141) was a regional runner-up and Eric Faught received an at-large berth at 149. Ryg and Faught are freshmen, while Luensman and Murty are sophomores.
In concentrated brackets full of 'studs,” Grimm likes the potential of the four young Peacocks.
'They can win,” Grimm said. 'They've gone through it all, physically and mentally. They're prepared. They were all wrestling at the top of their games at regionals and that's why they're here.
'Seeds, records, where you are from and all that stuff is out the window,” Grimm said. 'When that whistle blows it's who is ready to go. They can battle with anybody.”
Luensman, a former Monticello prep, was a qualifier last season as a true freshman, receiving All-America status from the National Wrestling Coaches Association. He enters the tournament as the fourth seed with an 11-1 record and faces Mount Olive's Colby Teague (8-5).
Grimm praised Luensman for his work ethic, which has allowed him to make a contribution from day one.
'The kid does everything right,” Grimm said of Luensman. 'He's all-in every workout. He's a machine. He gets recognized for his effort in the weight room. He does extra conditioning and cardio workouts and is ultra-focused.
'There's no secret to it. It's just hard work.”
Luensman's devotion to healthy living and doing whatever is necessary to perform at his best surfaced during Wednesday's drive to St. Louis. He convinced Grimm to take a 2-mile detour for protein shakes in Cedar Rapids.
'He's very in tune with his body,” Grimm said. 'As long as we (coaches) have got his mind right, there's no one he can't beat.”
Ryg, a state champion for Central Springs, is the fifth seed. He will face the winner of No. 4 Luke McGonigal, of Mercyhurst, and UNC-Pembroke's Bryce Walker. Grimm said Ryg was a perfect fit and possessed the right blue-collar mentality.
'We knew we had our kind of guy,” Grimm said. 'A guy who is going to bring his lunch pail. A guy who is going to grind and believe in himself. He's got a workman-type attitude.”
Ryg (9-0) stepped in the room and would battle with former top-ranked teammate Nick Baumler in practice. He is a strong and physical wrestler, who owns wins over past All-Americans Noah Ryan of St. Cloud State and Minnesota State's Matt Blome.
'We were hoping those things would happen and they've happened quickly,” Grimm said. 'You saw it and it wasn't a big surprise. He's been this guy since we've got him in our room.”
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