Senior Spotlight: Sam Kallem, Ankeny
*When did you start wrestling? Who introduced you to the sport?
I started wrestling when I was five. At the time I went to Saydel, so my dad got me started at the little kids club there.
Do you have any family who wrestled before you? How did they do?
My dad wrestled in high school at Clarion.
Did you catch on to wrestling quickly or was it a gradual process?
Honestly is was a gradual process. As a little kid I hated going to practice but as I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to love the grind.
What club did you wrestle for growing up and how would you describe your experience with the club?
I wrestled at the Saydel Eagles little kids club, The Wrestling Academy, VWC, and Sebolt wrestling academy. All of those clubs are a big reason I am the wrestler I am today and I am grateful for all of them.
What are a couple memorable moments from youth wrestling?
I would say the most memorable moment was placing 2nd at USA state in 8th grade. That’s when I realized how good I could be.
How did you finish at state tournaments in youth?
I never placed at any state tournaments until 8th grade. I got 2nd at USA state and then 7th at AAU state.
What are some of your more memorable moments from high school wrestling to this point?
My favorite moment so far would be last year wrestling at state with my teammates. Another memorable moment would be Coach Dave Ewing coaching me at the state tournament.
How did you finish at the state tournaments you wrestled in at the HS level to this point?
I’ve only qualified for state once, and placed 7th last year.
Who were your wrestling heroes growing up? Who are your current wrestling heroes?
Growing up my wrestling heroes were Jon Reader, and Kyven Gadson. Now I am a really big fan of Yianni and how entertaining he is.
Was there ever a point in your career where you noticed yourself jumping levels and making huge strides?
I would say 8th grade is when I noticed that I could be good, and the start of last year is when I knew I could be great.
This Ankeny team is just right there. Such a stacked, talented team. How much do you think this team is capable of this year? How cool is it being a key contributor for them?
I think that the sky is the limit for our team. We have tons of good guys that will be in the lineup this year and I couldn’t be more excited. I love being a part of this team.
Who have been some of your toughest competitors in HS to this point in your career?
My toughest competitors have been Brock Espalin, Cody Anderson, and Conrad Braswell.
What was your most memorable state tournament match?
Watching my best friends Caleb Rathjen and Trever Anderson win state titles.
How did you feel the moment you punched your ticket to the grand march by placing in a loaded 3A 132 lb bracket last year?
It felt great accomplishing something I had worked towards all year.
What are your wrestling goals for this coming season?
How would you describe your wrestling style? Who would you compare yourself to?
I would say I am physical and offensive, always moving on my feet. And a hammer on top. I don’t really compare myself to anyone I just try to wrestle my own style.
Do you have any regrets you want to make up for as a Senior this year?
I have no regrets over the years, I believe it’s all a learning process.
What other sports do you play and how have you done at them?
I used to play baseball, soccer, and football but I quit them all by 8th grade to focus on wrestling.
What are some of your hobbies besides wrestling?
I like to hangout with my friends, watch football, and fish.
What is some of the best advice you ever received?
Probably the best advice would be from my mom, helping me with what to eat when cutting weight.
Do you have any advice for up and coming wrestlers?
Never take a backseat to anyone.
What is your favorite style of wrestling? Folkstyle, Freestyle or Greco?
I love freestyle and wish we could wrestle it in high school.
Who were some of the most influential coaches you worked with?
Brian Van Houten, John Lame, Brandon Benvenuti, TJ Moen, Nate Gallick, Brandon Wright, TJ Sebolt, and Jack Wignall.
What are your college plans? Is wrestling in your future whether it be competing or coaching?
I am committed to wrestle at Grand View University. And I hope to coach one day.
What is the future outlook for Ankeny wrestling? I think Ankeny Wrestling will be a top ten program for the next ten years.