DES MOINES — Iowa City High’s Ben Kueter has the image saved on his phone.
He enjoys the daily reminder of his goal to be a part of it this year, even as a freshman. The motivating picture is the arena floor set up for the state wrestling finals.
“It’s fun to imagine,” Kueter said. “It’s actually my lock screen. I’m looking at it every night. It’s just the three mats.”
Second-ranked Kueter will try to make that image a reality. He is unbeaten and seeded fourth at 160 pounds at the Class 3A state wrestling tournament at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, beginning Thursday at 9 a.m. He faces Norwalk’s Cade Schmidt (18-6) in the first round.
He isn’t content to just be in this event.
“I’m going to make some noise,” Kueter said. “I’m going to put my will on my opponents and just dominate.”
Kueter hasn’t been your typical freshman, posting a 20-0 record. He got a late start because of an injury suffered during football. Kueter was in the lineup just once before the holiday break and has been a constant since then.
He has tallied 12 pins, four technical falls and two major decisions. His lone decision was a 5-3 victory over Linn-Mar’s fourth-ranked and third-seeded freshman Tate Naaktgeboren in the Mississippi Valley Conference finals.
Kueter is happy with the season and simply appreciates being able to compete.
“I think it’s gone really good,” Kueter said. “It was just hard not being able to wrestle. It was good watching my teammates wrestle and supporting them during it.
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“I’ve done everything I can. I haven’t missed a morning practice. I love it. You kind of miss it for a while and then you get back to it (and) you don’t want it to go away.”
Kueter has not only not lost a match, he hasn’t even allowed a takedown this season. He excels in all three phases, but he’s best on his feet.
“I just move my feet a lot, so it really keeps guys off balance,” Kueter said. “It really keeps them guessing on what I’m doing and it can force them to shoot a bad shot.”
Kueter also has proved to be a handful for his teammates and the coaching staff in practice.
Little Hawks Coach Cory Connell resorted to bringing in alumni and even current college wrestlers to work out with Kueter. Even Connell was impressed when West Liberty attended a pre-district practice and Kueter locked horns with the Comets’ two-time state medalist and 2A top-ranked 152-pounder Will Esmoil.
“He wrestles so hard,” Connell said. “It was a lot of fun watching him and Esmoil wrestle. I almost felt like I should pay admission to watch them. We’ve had a lot of other people come in.”
Connell said Kueter is a special talent and one of the hardest workers in the City High wrestling room and the classroom.
“He wrestles year-round,” Connell said. “He’s just a great kid. He does everything right. The payoff is coming. He does a lot of good things.”
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