Prep Wrestling

Iowa 3A state wrestling finals: Ben Kueter wins battle of freshmen, Iowa City West goes 3-for-3

City High's Kueter beats Linn-Mar's Tate Naaktgeboren at 160

DES MOINES — This was more expectation than aspiration for Iowa City High’s Ben Kueter.

The Little Hawk freshman had his sights on a state title and he captured it.

In a battle of highly-touted and talent freshmen, Kueter scored a late takedown for a 4-3 decision over Linn-Mar’s Tate Naaktgeboren and won the 160-pound title of the Class 3A state wrestling tournament Saturday night at Wells Fargo Arena.

“It was amazing,” Kueter said. “I loved it, but that’s what you expect to do, so you’re not going to freak out about it.”

Kueter (24-0) and Naaktgeboren (36-3) had met once previously with Kueter winning, 3-2, at the Mississippi Valley Conference finals.

This time, Naaktgeboren scored the first takedown for a 2-0 lead to end the first. It was just the second takedown surrendered by Kueter all season.

“I didn’t let it fluster me,” Kueter said. “I’m going to score the next point and that’s what I did.”

Kueter answered with a reversal in the second, but still trailed by one in the third. Naaktgeboren shot and Kueter countered, horsing him over and coming out on top of a scramble.

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“The last period was a blur to me,” Kueter said. “I just wrestled and that’s what happens.”

Iowa City High Coach Cory Connell has seen what Kueter can do and knew he was fine in those spots.

“He wrestles from every position,” Connell said. “He’s a good wrestler no matter what position you put him in, so I knew when they started scrambling I had confidence in him that he was going to find a way to come out on top.”

Kueter was reserved afterward, pointing to the crowd briefly before leaving the mat.

“I have the best family in the world,” Kueter said. “They are always behind me no matter what. It just really paid off.”

Iowa City West crowns 3 champions

Kueter’s victory helped crosstown rival Iowa City West leapfrog Linn-Mar for fourth in the team standings. The Trojans were powered by going 3-for-3 in the finals.

Top-ranked Hunter Garvin (132), 145-pounder Graham Gambrall and No. 2 Will Hoeft at 182 all earned titles for West.

“It’s a different feeling from last year,” said West Coach Nate Moore, who coached his first champions. “They came out and did what exactly they needed to do. You get that feeling from last year. They didn’t want to replicate that so they went out and took care of business.”

Garvin (33-3) dominated Waverly-Shell Rock’s Aiden Riggins, using three takedowns and a reversal for an 8-1 decision in the final. It was the first takedown that was key.

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“It felt awesome,” Garvin said. “Getting the first takedown was really crucial. It made me know I got this.

“I kept picking off that right side. It really set the pace for me and I felt good.”

Garvin endured a long year after a runner-up finish last season. He suffered through negative thoughts and self-doubt, but overcame with hard work.

He was elated well after the win. He said he flexed, threw his ankle bands and ran around the mat during the immediate celebration. He couldn’t control his emotions.

“I went crazy,” Garvin said. “I went nuts.

“I was watching it go six, five, four, three, two, one, zero,” Garvin said. “At zero, I was like a cat out of a box, man.”

Gambrall (36-5) scored four takedowns in a 10-5 win over Ankeny’s Sam Kallem. Hoeft (23-1) scored a late escape to down Boone’s Taner Harvey, 5-4.

West brought seven wrestlers to state and placed five on the podium, tallying 99 ˝ points.

In addition to the three finalists, Ashton Barker placed third at 170, while 106-pounder Grant O’Dell was sixth. Barker ran the consolation gauntlet, dropping his first-round match and winning five straight for his second straight state bronze.

“I’m extremely proud of all the guys, parents and coaches and all the things that we did as a team,” Moore said. “With that being said, we have to keep building, building and building and hopefully we’ll be on top one of these years.”

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Linn-Mar has 6 medalists

Linn-Mar’s third-ranked 106-pounder Brandon O’Brien (21-2) reached the finals in his second state tournament appearance, facing Waverly-Shell Rock’s No. 2 Ryder Block for the second time this season.

Similar to the first meeting in December, it was Block that came out on top. Block scored a reversal midway through the second and a takedown midway through the third for a 4-0 decision.

Ryan Plummer (35-5) added a runner-up finish at 170 for the Lions.

Linn-Mar led all area teams with six medalists. Bryce Parke finished fifth at 126, Luke Gaffney was seventh at 220 and Abass Kemokai came in eighth at 152. The Lions finished fifth in the team race with 92 points.

Waverly-Shell Rock won the team race with 181 points, beating runner-up Southeast Polk by 40.

Cedar Rapids Prairie second-ranked duo Austin Kegley (120) and Ashton Stoner-DeGroot (195) pinned their way through the first three rounds to reach the finals against defending state champions.

Kegley (36-5) never reached the third period through the semifinals and faced Fort Dodge’s top-ranked Drake Ayala for the championship. Ayala built a 6-2 lead, getting a fall in 45 seconds.

Stoner-DeGroot (35-3) opened with the fastest pin of 3A’s first round and posted an overtime fall in the semifinals. He fell to Southeast Polk’s No. 1 Gabe Christenson, an Iowa recruit, 12-7, in the title bout.

Kegley and Stoner-DeGroot capped their careers with three state medals apiece and their first finals appearances.

Cedar Rapids Kennedy’s Jay Oostendorp (182) and Gavin Bascom (220) placed fifth and eighth, respectively.

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Cedar Rapids Xavier’s Christian Stanek (138) and Cedar Jefferson heavyweight Dawson Sweet finished sixth.

Western Dubuque had two medalists in seventh-place Sawyer Nauman at 195 and heavyweight Jonathan Savolt, who was eighth.

Class 3A results

106: No. 2 Ryder Block (Waverly-Shell Rock) dec. No. 3 Brandon O’Brien (Linn-Mar), 4-0

113: No. 2 Bailey Roybal (Waverly-Shell Rock) dec. No. 4 Ryder Downey (Indianola), 5-1

120: No. 1 Drake Ayala (Fort Dodge) pinned No. 2 Austin Kegley (Cedar Rapids Prairie), 0:45

126: No. 1 Cullan Schriever (Mason City) dec. No. 2 Carson Taylor (Fort Dodge), 9-4

132: No. 1 Hunter Garvin (Iowa City West) dec. No. 3 Aiden Riggins (Waverly-Shell Rock), 8-1

138: No. 1 Caleb Rathjen (Ankeny) major dec. No. 2 Dreyzon Phillips (Fort Dodge), 17-6

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145: No. 5 Graham Gambrall (Iowa City West) dec. No. 3 Sam Kallem (Ankeny), 10-5

152: No. 5 Evan Yant (Waverly-Shell Rock) dec. No. 3 Caleb Corbin (West Des Moines Valley), 3-2

160: No. 2 Ben Kueter (Iowa City High) dec. No. 4 Tate Naaktgeboren (Linn-Mar), 4-3

170: No. 2 Mickey Griffith (Des Moines Lincoln) dec. No. 5 Ryan Plummer (Linn-Mar), 9-2

182: No. 2 Will Hoeft (Iowa City West) dec. No. 6 Taner Harvey (Boone), 5-4

195: No. 1 Gabe Christenson (Southeast Polk) dec. No. 2 Ashton Stoner-DeGroot (Cedar Rapids Prairie), 12-7

220: No. 1 Brayden Wolf (Waverly-Shell Rock) dec. No. 4 Gage Linahon (Newton), 8-6

Hwt.: No. 1 Griffin Liddle (Bettendorf) dec. No. 3 Gabriel Greenlee (Ames), 7-2

Commens: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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