113 Best of the Best, Drake Ayala, Ft. Dodge

By Joshua Swafford for The Predicament

1.) Drake Ayala- Fort Dodge (SO)
2.) Matthew Lewis- Centerville (SO)
3.) Aidan Noonan- Cascade (SO)
4.) Devin Harmison- SE Polk (SR)
5.) Beau Klingensmith- Woodbury Central (SO)
6.) Austin Kegley- CR Prairie (JR)

* #1 Drake Ayala pinned or tech falled everyone he has wrestled this year with an exception of now 2x MN state champ, Joey Thompson of Totino-Grace who he defeated 5-4. What’s there to say?! The kid is one of the best I’ve ever seen go through Iowa. And he has two years left. When we watch him, we are witnessing the works of a surefire future D1 wrestler.

* Matthew Lewis won his 2nd title and is only a Sophomore. He had a loss to a kid from out of state this year. He is the only one in his grade on pace to becoming a 4 time state champ. This prompted me to think of some of Centerville’s other multiple state champs and I realized that they have a handful of them by now… Off the top of my head, I thought of, Lewis (2), TJ Sebolt (4), Justin Brown (3), Chad Zapitil (2) and Chase Zapitil (2)… Pretty impressive.

* I was filled in about the Noonan brothers (Nolan and Ayden) prior to Ayden entering HS. I was told about how talented are and to make sure that I followed them when the state tourneys arrived. I never forgot, for the source of who told me about them was very reliable. Ya see, I went to school with 2 of the 3 Andrews brothers from Cascade of the late 90’s-early 2000’s. The youngest brother, Tim, was a pretty common practice partner of mine. He is the current Head Coach at Maquoketa Valley. I worked out with the middle brother, Tom, as well. Both these cats were excellent wrestlers and they were multi-sport athletes all the way through…both played baseball along with wrestling and Tim also played football on top of it…a 3 sport athlete who consistently made the Dean’s List in college. The oldest brother was a couple years ahead of my time. His name is Travis and he is the current Head Coach at Cascade. Great guy. All 3 of the Andrews bros are great people, great students and great athletes and their advice carries a lot of weight with me. A couple years ago, 2 of the 3 Andrews brothers insisted that I keep up with the Noonan brothers, for they were going to do big things.. Here we are in 2019 and Ayden Noonan won state at 1A 113 and never even really came close to losing as a Sophomore this year. He beat Beau Klingensmith from Woodbury Central, a Sophomore who Noonan used to struggle with mightily 2-3 short years ago. This kid is on a great path and has a fantastic staff working with him.

* Devin Harmison from SE Polk aka the “Gremlin” as he is referred as by the rest of the Southeast Polk wrestlers and fans. I am not going to lie, sometimes he confused me a bit. He won some huge matches and established him as a top-notch competitor years ago, but every once in a while he would take a loss that would leave me baffled, for I didn’t think 1-2 of these guys were capable of beating him. Holy cow did he put it together in the postseason this year, though! I’d say the initial smash was when he pinned Bailey Roybal from Waverly-Shell Rock, who had a great Sophomore season, at State Duals. And then he had that crazy semis match with Austin Kegley from CR Prairie. Kegley took Harmison down, Harmison got out and took Kegley down to his back briefly in which Kegley reversed Harmison to his back briefly to make the score 4-3 in favor of Kegley… Then with 5 seconds left in the 1st period, Harmison reversed Kegley to his back and was awarded the pin to make the finals. This was a pretty crazy moment. At that moment, the entire Well was put on high alert that it had been invaded by a gremlin by the name of Devin Harmison. Great career for him.

* Beau Klingensmith from Woodbury Central placed 3rd as a FR and placed 2nd to Noonan as a Sophomore this year in 1A. He had a sort of up and down year, mostly up. Had huge wins over Stevie Barnes of Underwood, Thurman Christensen of Waukee and of course his unforgettable back and forth extravaganza in the state semis vs. Sigourney’s Mason Dye. This kid was one of the most hyped kids in the 2021 class and he has been living up to it.

* Austin Kegley from CR Prairie had one of the most interesting seasons this year. I think it’s safe to say that he is, hands down, one of the most dangerous wrestlers in the state. He only wrestled a full 6 minute match one time all season. And that was in a 15-5 MD over Dawson Biermann from Western Dubuque. He was pinned in his 3 losses, one being to Ayala, one Harmison and one kid from out of state. He pinned or teched everyone else who stepped on the mat with him this year…usually pinned them.

IN THE HUNT: Haden Heistand from Logan-Magnolia had an unbelievable FR season this year. He split with 1a 106 runner-up, Stevie Barnes, split with Brayden Graff from Sergeant Bluff-Luton who placed 3rd in 2A, defeated Beau Klingensmith and was def. by Ayden Noonan. This kid is for real. Isaiah Weber from Indee placed 2ND in 2A as a Freshman and was solid all year. Colby Lillegard from Bondurant-Farrar, Thurman Christensen from Waukee, Brayden Graff from Sergeant Bluff-Luton and Bailey Roybal are some other guys who had huge seasons and beat one or a combination of guys in the top 6. Mason Dye, from Sigourney is a guy who is just right on the brink. Expect him to possibly jump a couple-few weight classes for his Senior year next year!