182 Best of the Best, Jacob Wempen, Linn-Mar

By Joshua Swafford for The Predicament

1.) Jacob Wempen- Linn-Mar
2.) Tristin Westphal- Washington
3.) Kyler Fisher- Southeast Valley
4.) Gabe Pauley- AHST Avoca
5.) Thomas Even- Don Bosco
6.) Devin Ludwig- Western Dubuque

* Jacob Wempen has been a state champion caliber wrestler since he was a Sophomore. I say that because I witnessed him destroying the 2A state champ…when he was a Sophomore….and proceeding to keep raking them in.. He had a great season, great career. 2nd state champion in his family. His brother, Matt Wempen won a championship at 106 one year.

* To be honest, Tristin Westphal has a valid argument for the #1 spot. He’s the only undefeated state champ. He placed just as many times as Wempen and he’s been to state 2 more times. Westphal became a 4x qualifier this year and placed 7th as a Sophomore.

* Kyler Fisher- Southeast Valley- This poor Kyler Fisher kid. Man….. In 2016: Fisher qualified as a Freshman, did not place. 2017: Fisher qualified for state and was runner-up to Brock Jennings from Osage. 2018: Fisher qualified for state and was runner-up to Julien Broderson. 2019: As a SR, Fisher was runner-up to Tristin Westphal. He got 2nd, 3 years in a row. And to top it off, as an 8th grader, he wrestled at AAU State and guess what place he got? You guessed it…he was runner-up to Gabe Pauley. I don’t know if this kid is wrestling in college or not, but this kid may be a good wildcard pick to win a title at whatever level he is at. He is due.

*Gabe Pauley is the only 2-timer on the list, yet he isn’t ranked #1….why? Because he got beat in the regular season to Kyler Fisher. Only reason… I think a lot of these guys could go back and forth with each other. It’d be interesting to see a Pauley vs. Wempen match. Pauley placed 3rd as a SO and won it as a JR and SR. He’s really, really good.

* Thomas Even was one of the most improved this year. And he placed last year. This kid has become a straight up force. He only lost twice on the year. Once was in the finals in an OT match vs. Pauley. Out of all of his wins, all were pins except 3… Crazy. Who in the world is gonna stop this kid next year? The 1A 170 finals match this year was a battle between a couple guys who were not only really, really, good, but guys who look like they can bench press an Oldsmobile. Fun times.

* Devin Ludwig qualified as a SO, JR, SR and placed 7th as a JR and was runner-up to Wempen as a SR. He had some big wins over guys like Will Hoeft, Nic Leo, Brett Mower, Destin Schroder, etc. Also placing 3rd in this bracket was a kid named Nic Leo from Ankeny Centennial. He won several matches throughout the year vs. eventual placers.