So the conference tournaments have come and gone and it is the week of districts…and there are only eight undefeated ranked wrestlers left in 3A. They are: #1 at 113 Drake Ayala, #1 at 120 Cullan Schriever, #1 at 152 Lance Runyon, #1 at 145 Deville Dentis, #2 at 152 Carter Schmidt, #1 at 160 Cade Devos, #2 at 160 Jacob Herrmann and #3 at 195 Ashton Stoner-Degroot. This article will chronicle each of these wrestlers and describe how their seasons have unraveled with an emphasis of how dominant they have been in protecting their currently unblemished records this season. Now, when you measure dominance, you have to factor in things like; strength of schedule, how badly they are beating people, how often/consistently they are beating people badly, who they are beating, how many matches they’ve had, how many points they’ve given up or how close they’ve come to losing, etc. Some guys have been straight up pinning machines. Others have had their share of close matches, but are still finding ways to win against good competition. A couple haven’t wrestled much yet due to injury and what-not. Whatever the case may be, one thing is for certain…the near future appears to be very bright for these guys.
Here we go!
#1 at 113, Drake Ayala (Fort Dodge, Soph): Drake Ayala is 31-0. 24 of his wins are pins. 6 of them are Tech Falls. Drake is already successful on the national circuit. He won Fargo in 2017. Fort Dodge has an insanely tough schedule that includes the Independence Invitational, the Council Bluffs Classic, the CIML and Fort Dodge’s own Don Miller Invite. With that said, Drake has gone the entire regular season with an extremely tough schedule and has only wrestled one match where he didn’t pin or tech the guy. And that was a 5-4 win over returning Minnesota state champ, Joey Thompson. Some of his pins/techs were against Iowa standouts like Austin Kegley, Thurman Christenson, Beau Klingensmith, Devin Harmison, Cael Cox, etc. If this kid continues to do this for the remainder of his HS career, he may go down as one of the most dominant wrestlers to ever come out of Iowa. Just unbelievable.
#1 at 120, Cullan Schriever (Mason City, Junior): Cullan is 18-0 with 8 pins and 1 TF. He has long established himself as one of Iowa’s best wrestlers. He is working on 4 titles if his health will allow him and has won 2 Fargo national titles already as well as the Super 32, PSN, etc. He’s won them all, it seems!!! Mason City wrestles a tough schedule with tourneys like the Battle of Waterloo, Cheesehead, Keith Young and the CIML. Some of the most notable Iowans he’s beaten this year are Carson Taylor, Keaton Moret, Daniel Kimball and Cadin Herrmann. Tragically, he broke his ankle at the Cheesehead and if he comes back and wins his 3rd state title on a barely healed broken ankle, it may go down as one of the most amazing things any Iowa HS wrestler has accomplished comparable to Jesse Sundell winning his 3rd title with a broken leg in 2000 and Nick Moore winning his 4th with a torn ACL.
#1 at 145, Deville Dentis (DM East, SR): Deville is 2-0 with 2 pins. Ok, ok…he’s had only 2 matches, I get it. Well hear me out. Last year he finished 2nd at state and was 44-4 on the year. I think there is a good chance he would have been undefeated even if he had been wrestling all year this year. On his way to the finals last year, he wrestled a combined 3 minutes in three matches…he pinned everyone on his way to the finals and quickly. One of these pins was against Carter Schmidt who is 1 of the 8 remaining undefeated guys this year, chronicled in this very article.…Another one was the guy who beat Schmidt for 3rd and 4th. So Dentis sprinted to the finals and beat great competition on the way there. Pretty impressive. Dentis has a move that he hits better than I’ve ever seen anyone execute this particular move and it is DEADLY…If I had to describe it, I would say it’s like a slide-by-pancake hybrid that puts guys from their feet right to their backs. I’ve never seen anyone set this move up or execute it as quickly and powerfully as Dentis does. If he gets you in it, you are done for and he is explosive enough to catch absolutely anyone with it, for his opponents are rarely even able to detect that he’s setting it up, for he’s too quick and sly with it. This Deville Dentis move to Iowa high school wrestling is like Joe Frazier’s left hook to the 60’s-70’s boxing world… anyone can be put away with it and they are both able to hit these “match-enders” from any angle or position. In Joe Frazier’s case, Muhammad Ali wasn’t even an exception. Although Dentis has just begun competing for the season, look for him to eventually find his groove and pick up where he left off. Side note: If I ever see another wrestler hit this slide-by-pancake-arm-drag hybrid the way Deville does, I’m just going to refer to it as the “Dentis.”
#2 at 152, Carter Schmidt (Norwalk, SR) Schmidt is 30-0 with 12 pins and 10 techs. He’s faced some good competition this year. Guys like Cade Tenold from Don Bosco, Mickey Griffith from DM Lincoln, Adam Ahrendson from Union, Logan Adamson from Bettendorf, Luke Fistler from Dallas Center-Grimes, Alex Kleider from Sioux City North, Zach Bevans from Solon, etc. He placed 4th at state last year and has obviously put together a fantastic 2018-2019 campaign together so far. Thing is, there is another guy in his bracket who is undefeated as well. Lance Runyon. It would be cool to see two undefeated wrestlers meet in the finals, right? Unfortunately, it won’t happen. He will meet up with Lance, presumably at districts…so one of those two will not be on this short list following this weekend. Keep an eye on Schmidt… he’s obviously got the ball rolling. This entire Norwalk squad has been producing some hammers!!!
#1 at 152, Lance Runyon (SE Polk, SR) In my opinion, there isn’t a team that wrestles a tougher schedule than SE Polk. An argument can be made that various team’s schedules are “just as” tough…but not “tougher” than the schedule of SE Polk. They travel to find competition…that includes individual competition and well, when you’re as stacked as SE Polk, you have to seek out of state tournaments like the Cheesehead and the Gardner Edgerton Invite to find teams that can compete with you in the team race. They are also in the CIML and butted heads with Iowa’s top 2A school, PCM at the Red Owens Holiday Classic. So, at the conclusion of a regular season weekly cobra pit that Lance faced due to wrestling SE Polk’s schedule, he is sitting on a pretty record of 33-0….with 30 pins. And it gets better… all 30 pins were in less than 4 minutes… It still gets better… So those other 3 matches? What happened in those ones? Oh not much…it was only against 3 nationally successful opponents who he beat by scores of 10-0, 11-2 and 7-2. Not only do I think he has had the most dominant season out of anyone this year, I can’t think of anyone who has had a better season than what he is having right now. Lance will be set on capping off an unbelievably dominant season by winning state this year after falling barely short and placing his first three tries. He is a different animal this year. If you get a chance to watch him, do it.
#1 at 160, Cade Devos (SE Polk, SR) Obviously, Devos wrestles the same loaded schedule as his teammate, Lance Runyon. He has put together a great season with a record of 29-0 with 21 pins. He has had 8 matches that were decided via decision or MD, but these matches were all against guys from outside of Iowa who have succeeded on the state and national level. He even beat 2A Iowan standout, Wes Cummings by a score of 22-9. He is having an incredible year. He has already won 1 state championship…he appears hungry to win 2. To the majority of wrestling fans, Devos is the unquestioned favorite to win it this year.
#2 at 160, Jacob Herrmann (Waverly-Shell Rock, SR) This cat is 41-0 with 16 pins and 6 technical falls. Waverly-Shell Rock is a tremendous wrestling program that also faces a very tough schedule which includes the Keith Young, Waverly-Shell Rock Duals, The Clash, The Battle of Waterloo and the Bettendorf Midwest Shootout. Herrmann being undefeated and at 160 is a big deal, for not only is it possible that we see a matchup between two undefeated wrestlers at this weight with Devos being there, but it will be between guys who are from schools that are the presumed two teams that will be battling for the team title. Southeast Polk and Waverly-Shell Rock are expected to place 1st and 2nd at the 2019 state tournament…which team will place what is the big question. It may be really close between the two and if Devos and Herrmann meet in the finals, that would crank up the intensity in the Wells Fargo atmosphere. Many people aren’t aware of what Herrmann has been up to this year, for the run he is on has been somewhat quiet and wasn’t expected by many fans outside of the loyal Waverly-Shell Rock fanbase. Herrmann spent the majority of his first two seasons wrestling JV and had his first full season on varsity last year in which he went 39-17 and placed 5th at state. Now here we are, the week of districts and Herrmann is sporting a perfect record with wins over some of the best kids in the state. He has improved his skills on the mat at a very quick pace in that Waverly- Shell Rock room. While he doesn’t have the unbelievable amount of pins and technical falls as some, he has gotten the job done. Some of his wins include decisions over #9 (2A) Jared Voss, #3 (1A) Carson Tenold, #5 (3A) Voyen Adamson, #6 (3A) Kyle Hefley, #3 (3A) Ryker Kurimski, #6 (1A) Cael Rahnavardi, #5 (2A) Baylor Crigger and #7 (2A) Cam Rasing. He also picked up several big wins over standouts from out of state squads at the Bettendorf Midwest Shootout and The Clash. While Herrmann’s results don’t paint him as a stone-cold pinner, he has undeniably gotten the job done against good competition and still possesses a perfect record the week of Districts.
#3 at 195 Ashton Stoner-Degroot (Cedar Rapids Prairie, JR) Stoner-Degroot is 22-0 with 19 pins and 1 technical fall. His most notable pin was against #5 ranked Cade Parker from CR Kennedy. He also beat Parker 8-0 this year. Stoner-Degroot is one of only two wrestlers to defeat Parker this year, with the other being #2 ranked Brayden Wolf from Waverly-Shell Rock. Wolf beat Stoner-Degroot for 5th and 6th place at state last year. At 195, many people have already penciled in who is widely regarded as the presumed 195 pound state champ. His name is Gabe Christensen from Southeast Polk and he is a total hammer. A lot of people are picking Brayden Wolf as well. He would be included on this list if it weren’t for a 3-2 loss to a kid from Dekalb, IL in the Cheesehead finals. However, Stoner-Degroot appears to have brought it up a level himself since last year and has been very successful throughout his already very lengthy career. Stoner-Degroot appears to be the real deal and ironically, has an affinity for finalizing deals quickly as evidenced by his large percentage of quick pins. Don’t count this kid out.