The best week on Iowa’s wrestling calendar has returned once again.
The 2023 boys state wrestling championships are set for this week at Wells Fargo Arena in downtown Des Moines. With an expanded field this year — 24 qualifiers per weight across all three classes — the state’s top wrestlers will fight for team and individual glory starting Wednesday morning all the way through Saturday night’s finals.
Our coverage starts here, with this primer to get you ready for the week.
We’ve listed the top 10 teams in each class and their number of qualifiers; all of the past state champs that are back again (even those who won other state tournaments); each remaining undefeated wrestler in all three classes; and, as a treat, all the Caels, Gables and other fun names to listen for over the loud speakers.
Wells Fargo Arena is the place to be this week. Hope to see you there.
RELATED:How to watch, follow the 2023 Iowa boys wrestling state championships
Top 10 teams in each class
Rankings from IAWrestle
- Southeast Polk — 13 qualifiers
- Waverly-Shell Rock — 12 qualifiers
- Fort Dodge — 10 qualifiers
- Bettendorf — 14 qualifiers
- Ankeny — 9 qualifiers
- Iowa City High — 9 qualifiers
- Johnston — 12 qualifiers
- Linn-Mar — 10 qualifiers
- Waukee Northwest — 10 qualifiers
- Ankeny Centennial — 12 qualifiers
- Osage — 10 qualifiers
- Notre Dame, Burlington — 6 qualifiers
- West Delaware — 10 qualifiers
- Webster City — 5 qualifiers
- Mount Vernon — 9 qualifiers
- Union — 3 qualifiers
- Greene County — 4 qualifiers
- Sergeant Bluff-Luton — 9 qualifiers
- Glenwood — 8 qualifiers
- Davenport Assumption — 8 qualifiers
- Don Bosco — 11 qualifiers
- Lisbon — 9 qualifiers
- Wilton — 10 qualifiers
- Alburnett — 9 qualifiers
- Columbus Catholic — 4 qualifiers
- West Hancock — 6 qualifiers
- Nashua-Plainfield — 13 qualifiers
- Logan-Magnolia — 8 qualifiers
- Underwood — 6 qualifiers
- Emmetsburg — 7 qualifiers
2023 STATE DUALS:Waverly-Shell Rock beats Southeast Polk in another thrilling Class 3A state duals final
22 Returning State Champions
Three-time state champs (1)
- Ben Kueter, sr., Iowa City High — 2020, 2021, 2022
Two-time state champs (9)
- Ryder Block, sr., Waverly-Shell Rock — 2020, 2022
- McCrae Hagarty, sr., Waverly-Shell Rock — 2021, 2022
- Tate Naaktgeboren, sr., Linn-Mar — 2021, 2022
- Brandon Paez, sr., Lisbon — 2020, 2022
- Kale Petersen, sr., Greene County — 2021, 2022
- Gable Porter, sr., Underwood — 2020, 2022
- Wyatt Reisz, sr., Logan-Magnolia — 2021, 2022
- Carter Freeman, jr., Waukee Northwest — 2021, 2022
- Max Magayna, jr., Columbus Catholic — 2021, 2022
One-time state champs (12)
- Nick Fox, sr., Osage — 2022
- Barrett Muller, sr., Osage — 2022
- Jared Thiry, sr., Don Bosco — 2022
- CJ Walrath, sr., Notre Dame-West Burlington — 2022
- Eli Becerra, jr., Missouri Valley — 2022
- Koufax Christensen, jr., Waukee Northwest — 2022
- TJ Koester, soph., Bettendorf — 2022
- Jace Hedeman, soph., Union — 2022
- Garrett Rinken, sr., Nashua-Plainfield — 2021
- McKinley Robbins, sr., Greene County — 2021
- Reanah Utterback, soph., Sigourney-Keota — 2021 Iowa girls
- Cooper Sanders, sr., Vinton-Shellsburg — 2020 (in Utah)
More on Reanah Utterback:During Iowa’s first girls wrestling season, why one girl continues to wrestle boys
31 undefeated wrestlers entering the 2023 state championships
- Ryder Block, Waverly-Shell Rock — 41-0, 138 pounds
- Jacob Helgeson, Johnston — 39-0, 152 pounds
- Danny Diaz, Waverly-Shell Rock — 20-0, 160 pounds
- Owen Helgeson, Johnston — 9-0, 160 pounds
- Gabe Arnold, Iowa City High — 37-0, 182 pounds
- Jaxson Hildebrand, Denison-Schleswig — 41-0, 220 pounds
- Ben Kueter, Iowa City High — 35-0, 220 pounds
- Maddux Borcherding-Johnson, Norwalk — 29-0, 285 pounds
- Carson Hagan, Dowling Catholic — 19-0, 285 pounds
- Jace Hedeman, Union — 44-0, 113 pounds
- Kaden Weber, Nevada — 27-0, 113 pounds
- Kale Petersen, Greene County — 38-0, 132 pounds
- McKinley Robbins, Greene County — 38-0, 138 pounds
- Kale Hansen, Monticello — 50-0, 145 pounds
- Tucker Stangel, Osage — 36-0, 145 pounds
- Isaiah Fenton, Notre Dame-West Burlington — 35-0, 152 pounds
- Jack Wajda, Spirit Lake Park — 12-0, 160 pounds
- Ethan DeLeon, Bishop Heelan — 41-0, 170 pounds
- Kellen Moore, Forest City — 41-0, 170 pounds
- Jarrett Roos, Sheldon-South O’Brien — 40-0, 182 pounds
- CJ Walrath, Notre Dame-West Burlington — 52-0, 182 pounds
- KJ Fry, Clarke-Murray — 38-0, 195 pounds
- Nick Reincke, Dike-New Hartford — 41-0, 220 pounds
- Brandon Paez, Lisbon — 49-0, 120 pounds
- Garret Rinken, Nashua-Plainfield — 47-0, 126 pounds
- Kellen Smith, West Hancock — 44-0, 152 pounds
- Dominic Lopez, New London — 54-0, 160 pounds
- Wyatt Reisz, Logan-Magnolia — 48-0, 160 pounds
- Jackson Dewald, Westwood — 43-0, 195 pounds
- David Hammer, Ogden — 25-0, 285 pounds
- Wyatt Smith, Lisbon — 47-0, 285 pounds
Earlier This Year:Iowa’s top high school wrestling teams provide postseason appetizer at Ed Winger
Cael, Kael, Cale and Gable (and other great names in this year’s tournament)
One unique thing about the state wrestling tournament every year is seeing all the kids named Gable and Cael who have qualified. We’ve compiled a list here, as well as other cool names to listen for inside Wells Fargo Arena this week.
There are two Gables — Gable Porter, a senior from Underwood, and Gable Dayton, a senior from Williamsburg.
There are many more Caels. In 2002, when Cael Sanderson won his fourth NCAA title to cap an undefeated college career, 76 newborns in Iowa were named Cael. Those kids will turn 21 (cheers!) this year. There are 8 with the same spelling in this year’s state tournament, plus 4 Cales, 2 Kaels, 5 Kales, one Caelan (we see you, Southeast Valley), and even a MaCael (from South Tama). Wrestling parents are getting creative these days.
Similar to our Cael, Cale, Kael, and Kales, there are many names that have different spellings, like Aiden (13 in this year’s field), Aidan (3), and Ayden (5). Or Kaden (12), Kaiden (3), and Caden (8). There’s also two Kades (Bauer and Johnson), four Cades (Shirk, Bonnette, Korsmo, Bennethum), and a MaKade (Bloker). At 132 in Class 2A, Washington’s Caden Greiner wrestles Sioux Center’s Kade Bauer in round one. Winner gets a Kale in round two.
There’s also nine Tates. One of them, Tate Mayer, has to wrestle Taite Peach in the first round at 195 pounds in Class 1A. At 138 pounds in Class 2A, Tate O’Shea is the 3-seed and Tate Slagle is the 4-seed. At 160 in 1A, Max McGill is the 5-seed and John McGill is the 8-seed. They could hit in the semifinals, or in the medal round. There’s also seven Braydens, three Bradens, a Bradyn, a Braydon — and two Braylons!
At 152 in Class 3A, Logan Stotts has to wrestle Logan Redig. At the same weight in Class 1A, Kyler Crow has to wrestle Kyle (so close) Kuboushek … and the winner gets another Kyler (Knaack, from Don Bosco). Remember 132 in 2A? Another first-round match features Trey Chestnut against Trey Miller. Money’s on Trey.
We love our nature names in this exercise, like Nate Fish, Blake Forrester, Drew Burds, Derrick Bass, Cole Storm, Evan Meadows. There is a Fox in every class: Cody Fox in 1A (285 pounds), both Blake (120) and Nick Fox (170) in 2A, and Kaia Fox in 3A (170). There’s also a Hunter in every class: Hunter Wemli (132) in 1A, Hunter Campion (106) and Hunter Steffans (152) in 2A, and Hunter Bagby (152) in 3A.
Some names go together, like Carson Less and Kellen Moore, or Jordan Dusenberry and Vinny Mayberry. Lisbon has a senior named … Junior (Krob). Another Lisbon fact: This is the first year in a decade that there won’t be a Happel competing in this year’s state tournament (but surely Dawn Happel will still come support the Lions).
Some names are just fun to say, like Sir Brandon Watts and Rowdy Neighbor and Kinnick Munson. Kinnick’s parents have to be Iowa fans, right? Or Koufax Christensen. His older brother’s name is Thurman. Their parents have to be baseball fans, but at least their kids still consistently hit singles and doubles, right?
We could keep going, but we’ll end with two wrestling names to kick-start the week. Hempstead’s Mitchell Pins is the 3-seed at 106 in 3A, and he’s recorded 22 pins this year (so far). But our favorite, by far, is Ogden’s David Hammer, the 5-seed at 285 in 1A. He’s been the hammer all year, with a 25-0 record — and this week, everybody would rather be the hammer instead of the nail.
Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at@codygoodwin.