116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Here are seven Gazette-area teams to keep an eye on during the 2022-23 Iowa high school boys’ wrestling season.
Iowa City High: The Little Hawks have some of the top high-level talent in the state. World champion Ben Kueter and national champion transfer Gabe Arnold are a pair of NCAA Division I competitors. Mix in two-time state medalists Kael Kurtz and Cale Seaton and you have the firepower for lots of success. City High might be more geared toward tournaments, but with ranked Jake Mitchell and Ryan Ott in the lineup the Little Hawks have a nucleus for a strong dual team. Top-five finishes in both are likely.
Linn-Mar: The Lions return 77 of 82 points from last season’s team that placed seventh in the Class 3A traditional tournament and fourth in state duals. They are loaded with seasoned wrestlers, including nine wrestlers with state tournament experience. Linn-Mar has the balance and depth to do well in duals and has big scorers in Tate and Kane Naaktgeboren, Brayden Parke, Grant Kress and Malik DeBow to thrive in tournaments as well. State trophies are within reach.
Independence: The old adage about the sum of the parts being greater than the individual is true for the Mustangs. Independence made its fourth straight state duals appearance last season, earning runner-up honors. Despite the team success, the Mustangs didn’t have a medalist. Kaden Kremer and Kale Wieland placed two years ago and are back with a strong cast that includes seven ranked wrestlers. Mitch Johnson, Korver Hupke, Tyler Wieland and Brady McDonald will help lead Independence.
Vinton-Shellsburg: Think quality over quantity. The Vikings are coming off their highest state tournament finish, placing fifth in the traditional tournament and crowning the program’s first state champion. Four of six state qualifiers return, including state runner-up and top-ranked Cooper Sanders. The Vikings have to replace nine to graduation, but lightweights in Carter Lamont and Aidan Swanson and upperweight Curtis Erickson will provide a boost and can help bring along inexperienced teammates.
West Delaware: The Hawks continued their string of success with a Class 2A state duals crown and a third-place finish at the traditional state meet. West Delaware has won four traditional team titles and five duals titles, becoming the fourth program in Iowa history to win four in a row in February. The Hawks have six state medalists back, including two-time medalists Carson Less, Logan Peyton and top-ranked heavyweight Cam Geuther. West Delaware has potential to extend its dual title streak.
Alburnett: The Pirates nudged their way into the top 10 at last year’s traditional state tournament and bring back all four medalists and all five state qualifiers. Alburnett has an assortment of underclassmen like sophomores Rowdy Neighbor and Preston Klostermann and upperclassmen in Brody Neighbor, Carson Klostermann and Gunnar Keeney. If the Pirates have increased numbers since last season and have a full lineup for better balance, they could be looking at a jump back into the top five.
Lisbon: The Lions are a perennial 1A power under Hall of Fame Coach Brad Smith. They were runner-up to Don Bosco in both the traditional and dual tournaments last season and graduated some key components. Lisbon will reload with five returning starters but seven wrestlers with more than 25 victories a year ago. Two-time state champion Brandon Paez leads the way with heavyweight Wyatt Smith and senior Indy Harbaugh. Tiernan Boots will provide a big boost with Indy Ferguson and Wes Sadler. The Lions will be in contention again.