170 Best of the Best, Paul Ryan, Mt. Vernon

By Joshua Swafford for The Predicament

  • Paul Ryan- Mount Vernon
  • Anthony Zach- Waukee
  • Sage Walker- EBF
  • Logan Neils- Ankeny Centennial
  • Treyton Casek- GT-RA
  • Colter Bye- Crestwood


* Selecting the guy who would occupy the #1 spot at this weight, was the toughest decision out of all of them for me.  I think the votes were split on this one.  I really like both of the top 2 wrestlers and you can make a case for either of them.  If I were to select 3 cross-class match-ups that I’d most like to see, they would be: 1.) John Henrich (Akron-Westfield 160 SR) vs. Cade Devos (SE Polk 160 SR), 2.) Julien Broderson (Davenport Assumption 195 SR) vs. Gabe Christenson (SE Polk 195 JR) and Paul Ryan vs. Anthony Zach.  Zach is the more well-known of the two and Ryan has been consistently successful the past 3-4 years in very quiet fashion. Ok, let’s break it down: Paul Ryan qualified for state 3 times and placed all 3 years, getting 8th, 4th and 1st.  Zach qualified 3 times as well, placing 6th, 2nd and 1st.

Zach made some huge waves last year when he won Postseason Nationals and beat some of the guys he did in order to accomplish that.  However, it is difficult to compare Paul Ryan to offseason work, for Ryan is an avid multi-sport athlete.  For example, he was 1st team all state in football.  I believe he runs track as well..  I can’t help, but wonder if he would be even better if he was an all-year wrestler.  Paul Ryan went 43-0 on the season and Anthony Zach went 46-3.  All 3 of Zach’s losses came to guys from out of state.  Ryan and Zach didn’t have many common opponents, but Ryan did beat Logan Neils at The Linn-Mar Duals last season. Neils is who Zach beat a couple times this year, most notably in the state finals this year.  I will say this with 100% confidence in my opinion being accurate: “there is a huge difference between 2018 Paul Ryan who placed 4th and 2019 Ryan who won it.”  He was at 170 both years, but this year he really filled into the weight. He was a huge 170 lber this year, in which last year, he was pretty small for the weight. The biggest difference between SR Paul Ryan and FR-JR Paul Ryan was the way he wrestled.  Paul Ryan, for the past 4 years, has been one of the most difficult wrestlers to score on.  Has an elite-level defense.  He was good at keeping matches close and a lot of this was attributed to him having the ability to not give up points. I don’t know if I’ve ever even heard of Ryan getting turned to his back…  However, he lost a few close ones as an underclassmen, due to the match being closer than it needed to be.

If you saw a stat where Paul would win a match 4-0 against a guy who you’d expect him to tech, that wasn’t uncommon.  He is comfortable keeping matches close…and he wins them.  However, this year, he stampeded through the competition with one of the best defenses in the state, but also equipped with a dynamic offense.  And if a match was close still, no worries…Paul was still comfortable there. For the most part, he spread the score…and against good competition. He had a dominant offense this year. And Zach is a very balanced as well.  Really, the only thing that separated the two this year were Zach having 3 losses (although it’s impossible to compare the losses due to them being out of state) and Ryan having 0…however, Zach has some huge offseason feats that Ryan does not have.  I want to see this match.  Paul Ryan vs. Anthony Zach… combine those two names and you get 4 first names and an interesting box score.

* Treyton Cacek from Graettinger-Terril/Ruthven-Ayrshire qualified for state for the first time this year and well, he made the most of it, for he won it… and finished the season with a 46-0 record.  Just a JR.

* Sage Walker qualified for the 2nd year and placed for the 2nd time. Except this time, he placed 2nd at 2A 170 opposed to placing 8th at 2A 120.  He only had one loss this season…his finals loss to Paul Ryan.  He really stepped it up this year…expect him to keep it going as a SR next year.

* Logan Neils placed 4th as a Sophomore and 2ND to Zach this year as a JR.  He has a keen ability to confuse the heck out of some great wrestlers with his funky style.  He has a match here and there that you wonder how he lost, but you know that when Wells gets going, he will be a formidable foe no matter where he is at.

* Colter Bye from Crestwood finished his career by placing 7th as a JR and 3RD as a SR.

* IN THE HUNT: Keep an eye out for Wyatt Voelker. He placed 4th at 2A 170.  The kicker: This was his Freshman season.  A guy who beat Voelker this year was Blake Underwood from Valley who placed 4th in 3A.  Underwood was beaten for 3rd and 4th by Iowa City Liberty’s first ever state qualifier; Ashton Barker, SO.